Former White House correspondent Jeff Gannon is now blogging at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. -- and is something of an activist there, serving on two committees. I asked ace reporter Joe Strupp at E&P to interview him yesterday and also find out how this came to pass.
Among other things we learn that Jeff has no full-time position at a news outlet, but as he explains, "for a single person, blogging can be profitable." He also denies all those gay escort charges. Since he is on the committee that invited "newsmakers" to speak at the club, one wonders if it was Gannon who invited Rev. Jeremiah Wright to appear there.
Since 2006, Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert, has been a member in good standing at the Press Club and currently serves on two committees, according to the organization. He also blogs on the Press Club Web site, as well as on his own online page, with a lot to say recently about the new book by his old source, White House ex-spokesman Scott McClellan, and rumors about his relationship with McClellan.
"I am not going to go away in the face of adversity," Gannon, 51, told E&P, referring to the negative attention he received in 2005 when questions about his press access to presidential briefings were raised. "Sticking up for free speech is a particularly good thing to do."
Gannon was forced to resign his job with Talon News in the Spring of 2005 after it was revealed he had used a pseudonym, had little journalism background, and had ties to several gay sex Web sites.
Press Club rules require that a new member be sponsored by at least two current members in good standing. Gannon said Rick Dunham, then with BusinessWeek and now a Houston Chronicle reporter, was one of his sponsors. He said he could not remember the other.
"My goal was to expand our membership into blogging and multimedia," Dunham, who was press club president in 2005, recalls about why he sponsored Gannon. "He was one who could do that."
Currently, Gannon serves on the press club's New Media Committee and Newsmakers Committee. The latter decides which "newsmakers" to invite to some Press Club events.
"He is an active member of the club, there is no reason he can't be on any of the club's committees," said Cary O'Reilly, a Bloomberg News reporter and chair of the Newsmakers Committee. "We need everyone we can get."
Sylvia Smith, press club president and a reporter for The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind., declined to comment on Gannon's membership, saying, "I don't want to comment on any club members."
But Dunham said Gannon is very active in the club: "I have not heard any bad developments with him in my time at the press club."
Gannon calls charges that he was a male escort "unsubstantiated rumors. That is outrageous."
Jeff said he plans to continue such blogging efforts on both sites, noting "I am doing more commentary and analyzing and not really reporting. I am going to be writing a lot about [the presidential campaign]. How the traditional media is actively campaigning for Barack Obama."
He stressed he could return to White House coverage anytime he wants: "There is no reason why I couldn't go there, it is just not the territory I am covering."
Here is link.
Greg Mitchell's new book is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq. He is editor of Editor & Publisher.
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