Wednesday, February 23, 2005The Story So Far
On June 17, 1972, Frank Wills, a security guard working at the office complex of the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. noticed a piece of tape on the door between the basement stairwell and the parking garage. It was holding the door unlocked, so Wills removed it, assuming the cleaning crew had put it there. Later on, he returned to discover the tape had been replaced. Upon seeing this, Wills contacted the D.C. police.
Thus began the scandal that, two years later, led to the resignation of Richard Nixon from the presidency, even though there was never any direct link to the "third-rate burglary" at the Watergate and the Oval Office. An out-of-place piece of tape felled a twice-elected president. Such a seemingly small thing, such a big scandal.
But what's that got to do with anything now?
Well, here's the situation as it currently exists: a "former" male prostitute with no journalistic experience or training was granted a continuous stream of daily passes into the White House press briefing room by President Bush's own press office, enabling him to handily bypass the background searches that might have unearthed his professional history, and he was given this blatantly favored treatment while he was "reporting" on behalf of an organization called "GOPUSA" -- not Talon News, which didn't exist at the time. GOPUSA and its eventual "news department" are both owned and operated by a Republican activist and delegate to the 2004 Republican Convention. That same Republican activist even thanks Karl Rove (and, amusingly, G. Gordon Liddy) on the GOPUSA website.
All of this, of course, is occuring in front of the backdrop of recent revelations that the White House has been paying journalists large sums of money in return for favorable columns, and has at times produced honest-to-god fake news reports to boost its agenda. And none of this even touches on the massive security flaws revealed by this incident -- a man about whose personal background the White House obviously had no clue was regularly allowed to sit within twenty feet of the president. This doesn't bother any of you, conservatives?
Then there's the gross hypocrisy of Gannon's gay-bashing writings, the minor fact that prostitution is illegal in all of the states in which Guckert solicited, the point that he apparently never paid his taxes (very Republican of him), his possible connection to the Rathergate scandal and the point that he may also have some ties to the Valerie Plame outing -- itself a federal offense. So many threads, so many interesting connections. None of them, as yet, lead back to the Oval Office, but we're a mere few weeks into this; Watergate took years to come to fruition. Who was paying for Guckert's salary? Who helped him get into the press briefings? Who let him get within spitting distance of the president? And why? We intend to find out... oh yes we do.
I'll leave the almost-last words to the deeply right-wing WorldNetDaily:
Who knows why this symbiotic relationship succeeded for as long as it did? Perhaps Gannon-Guckert knew something about people in the Bush administration. Or, perhaps some inside the Bush administration knew the truth about Gannon-Guckert. We may never know the full truth.
But the whole sordid affair illustrates just why a truly free and independent press is so vital to watchdogging government.
What the pretenders did backfired. They have hurt their own ideological cause more than they know. They have tarnished the image of the administration they championed. They have undermined the cause of the responsible New Media and the free press in America.
You might remember the two-year fight WorldNetDaily waged to become credentialed by the Senate Press Gallery. Meanwhile, an activist organization -- pretending to be a journalistic one and ensnared in personal scandal -- pranced into the White House and secured access to the president of the United States.
It raises serious security questions. It raises questions of propriety. It raises questions of judgment. And it raises questions about the role of a free press in a free society.
That's what we've been saying. |