Convinced, I suppose, that the GannyGuck story isn't going away any time soon, surprised that the left is playing hardball, and annoyed that the "you're invading his privacy" schtick isn't working, some conservatives are chiming in with more nonsense; including Ann Coulter calling Helen Thomas an "old Arab," as you've probably seen, or this, possible the worst column I've ever read. A few others are worth commenting on in detail.
nothing is what is likely to come of it. What all the memorable scandals of the past thirty years—real and fake alike, from Watergate to the Clinton impeachment—have had in common is that the opposition party controlled at least one house of Congress, which gave it the power to hold hearings and issue subpoenas. If Bush ends up having an easier time of it in his second term than any of his two-term predecessors since F.D.R., it won’t be because the scandals aren’t there. It’ll be because the tools to excavate them are under lock and key.
Not because he thinks it's not a story. I'm certainly not surprised to see a colleague on the right taking something out of context. But then when he decides to quote a David Corn column, it gets worse:
But don't listen to me. Listen to David Corn:
But throughout this scandal, I have wondered if the Gannon affair may be smaller than it seems. I expressed several concerns in an earlier column. Still, in response to the emails, I decided to heed the call and look further. What I found leads me to ask--gasp!--if Gannon/Guckert, on a few but not all fronts, has received a quasi-bum rap. . . .
Bloggers should think hard when they complain about standards for passes for White House press briefings.
See that ellipses after the first paragraph of the Corn column he's quoting? Well, the sentence after that, that Glenn conveniently forgot to quote, is
Let me stipulate that how Gannon/Guckert came to be permitted into the White House press room is a worthy topic of inquiry.
Nor, of course, does Glenn quote the other inconvenient part of Corn's column:
Serious questions do remain as to why and how the Bush White House's press operation granted access to Gannon/Guckert, a correspondent for the Talon News. Should a fellow with a fake identity--and a questionable background--be allowed into presidential press conferences? Talon News was connected to GOPUSA, an organization run by Texas-based Republican activist Bobby Eberle, and Gannon/Guckert routinely asked softball questions of Bush's press secretaries during their daily White House briefings.
Ari Fleischer's answer, when asked how many Democrats supported a bipartisan bill was, "I'm not aware of any more than one" (turns out the the one was Zell Miller). Well, the right-wing shills in the media have learned how to play that game.
Andrew Sullivan gets it incredibly wrong:
I haven't written about it because I agree completely with Glenn. The substantive case against Gannon is trivial; the irrelevant case against him (the one that's fueled this story) is that he's gay, has allegedly been (or still may be) a prostitute, and may not agree with everything the gay left believes (although I agree with David Corn that the evidence that Gannon has written anything even remotely "anti-gay" is laughable). The real scandal is the blatant use of homophobic rhetoric by the self-appointed Savonarolas of homo-left-wingery. It's an Animal Farm moment: the difference between a fanatic on the gay left and a fanatic on the religious right is harder and harder to discern. Just ask yourself: if a Catholic conservative blogger had found out that a liberal-leaning pseudo-pundit/reporter was a gay sex worker, had outed the guy as gay and a "hooker," published pictures of the guy naked, and demanded a response from a Democratic administration, do you think gay rights groups would be silent? They'd rightly be outraged. But the left can get away with anything, can't they? Especially homophobia.
Wow, that last bit is rich coming from a gay conservative. Though Sullivan claims to detest social conservatives, he still dances with them what brung him. His unholy alliance with the militantly anti-gay party in American politics has certainly undermined his own cause, and seems to have colored his judgement about who the homophobes are. But let's examine the important bit:
Just ask yourself: if a Catholic conservative blogger had found out that a liberal-leaning pseudo-pundit/reporter was a gay sex worker, had outed the guy as gay and a "hooker," published pictures of the guy naked, and demanded a response from a Democratic administration, do you think gay rights groups would be silent?
First of all, I'm tired of this "published pictures" lie. The pictures were there. Gannon put them there. It's his own damn fault.
But to answer Sully's question, no, they probably wouldn't be silent. But they certainly wouldn't mount the full-throated defense of of Gannon that the right has. They would admit that he "made mistakes" and try to distance themselves from him. Then they'd ask that we move on.
But of course, Sully has the relevant comparison wrong. I'm not all that interested in what gay rights groups would do, because first of all, gay rights groups have very little influence in this country. (They don't have a real mainstream media presence, and Sullivan doesn't even name any members of the "gay left.") I'm more interested in what the conservative media, something that has a great deal influence in this country, would do. And let's not kid ourselves here. It would be a year long, 24-hour a day, gay prostitution festival over in Limbaughland. How do we know this? Well, we all know that the right has engaged in this sort of thing before; there's nothing they like more than to pretend like they don't care about what they consider to be sexual immorality while talking about it nonstop. Or was Andrew Sullivan living in a cave in the late 90s?
The real issue, of course, is the right-wing base really does hate homosexuals, and they're not afraid to say so. Remember the debate over gays in the military? Remember Tom Coburn? Remember Alan Keyes?
If there is a real problem with how the left has handled the more sordid aspects of GannyGuck scandal, it's that they haven't been, tactically speaking, ferocious enough. Many of us on the left still have a conscience, and so we're not going to attack, as such, GannyGuck for being a prostitute. Which is to say, we might think it's funny, we might enjoy pointing out the irony of a conservative reporter being a gay prostitute, and some might even think that there's something inappropriate about a gay prostitute being in the White House press corps.
But a lot of us aren't convinced that prostitution should be a crime. It's something that Heather and I discuss sometimes; I tend towards the "prostitution should be illegal because it exploits women," and she tends towards the "it's going to exist, so let's make sure women have protections." Neither of our position tendencies have anything to with sexual morality as such. And in this case, we'd probably both agree that we don't really care what GannyGuck does in his private life.
All of which is to say that I'd be surprised if you actually found someone on the left criticizing GannyGuck for a being a prostitute. As for Sully's claims about left-wing homophobia, well, that's really hard to fathom.
The problem with this story, in a way, is that the right isn't smart enough to get it. They just not listening to what we're actually saying about GannyGuck. Take Ann Coulter:
The heretofore-unknown Jeff Gannon of the heretofore-unknown "Talon News" service was caught red-handed asking friendly questions at a White House press briefing. Now the media is hot on the trail of a gay escort service that Gannon may have run some years ago. Are we supposed to like gay people now, or hate them? Is there a Web site where I can go to and find out how the Democrats want me to feel about gay people on a moment-to-moment basis?
Liberals keep rolling out a scrolling series of attacks on Gannon for their Two Minutes Hate, but all their other charges against him fall apart after three seconds of scrutiny. Gannon's only offense is that he may be gay.
Of course, that's just false. No Democrat or liberal has suggested that anyone should hate gay people. Coulter either knows that and is intentionally lying or is too stupid to understand it.
So, to sum up: the left, realizing that this is a story, is hanging onto it. The right, also realizing that it's a story, is making things up to try to change the story from "gay conservative prostitute in the White House press corps" (and, by extension, "Yet another sordid tale of the Bush admin's manipulation of the media") to "the left-wing is really mean," a la Mary Cheney.
So far I'm not impressed, because I think this story only hurts them in the long run. But we'll see.