Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Talon and Monsters

This is a strange story which I will summarize briefly. Jeff Gannon has been a White House "reporter" who works for Talon News and asks softball questions at White House Press Junkets. His masterpiece came in a Presidential Press Conference a few weeks back. Coincidentally enough it was also the question that got people paying attention to him with less then great results.
Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock-solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you said you're going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?
MediaMatters followed up that question with a profile of Gannon suggesting that he was not really a reporter, but a plant by an organization friendly to the Administration.

Also he made #2 on Democratic Underground's Top Ten Conservative Idiots a couple of weeks back, whereupon, in a show of good sportsmanship, he wrote in and hoped that he could make it to #1.

Now the story takes a salacious turn, so those of you with young children, well, don't worry kids it's been boring up till now, but in a few paragraphs I'm going to be talking about the cookie monster. At any rate Daily Kos and site associates have apparently discovered that Mr. Gannon apparently owns several Gay Porn websites. In light of this recent revelation, Mr. Gannon has apparently decided not to continue his association with Talon News, although obviously we can't comment on how voluntary this dissassociation was.

So what's the point? Just that this is a total flash in the pan story, and the focus is going to be on exactly the wrong story. See now Mr. Gannon fits into a pattern we've seen before; that of the seemingly moral man who seeks to impose his morality on others, but really has a shame of his own. Rush Limbaugh, Bill Bennett and Bill O'Reilly have all gone through similar stories over the last few years. We're used to that story. It's a good story.

But that's not really the problem with Gannon. Daily Kos put it particularly well.
There is some concern that focus on the more salacious details of Gannon's hypocrisy detracts from more substantive discussions and investigations currently going on by various diariests.

In a way, that may be true. Gannon is a propagandist, funded by god knows who, who essentially provide McClellan a lifeline whenever the White House press corps backs him into a corner.
This is the real story. If the White House wants to continue giving guys like Gannon press credentials, I guess that's their right, but we should be aware of who these people are.

Speaking of stories, incidentally, Jonah Goldberg has a problem with a certain type of story we tell. In his latest article, he spends some time talking about real Monsters that live around us, mentioning the child abusing Dollars as well as other child abusers in our society. Then he has this bit.
Monsters of a different sort play a big role in my life these days. My house is drenched in Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, and other cute and cuddly beasts. My daughter still can't get enough of "Monsters Inc.," a wonderful movie that nonetheless perpetuates the idea that monsters aren't by their nature evil. In the film the creatures are just as terrified of human kids as the kids are of the giant creatures.

A lovable monster is a very new concept because, first and foremost, monsters are about evilness.
Presumably Mr. Goldberg prefers G.I. Joe--stories where the bad guys are definitely bad and deserving to be shot up.

It's hard to know how to take this, as I'm quite sure that Mr. Goldberg is being, in part, facetious. The point to Monsters Inc. and dozens of other children's books and movies is that we shouldn't judge people by outward appearance (at least in relation to what Mr. Goldberg is talking about--Monsters Inc. is about a number of things in reality (I suspect another problem Mr. Goldberg has with the movie is that the head of the company turns out to be the real monster)). You can't always tell a monster by what he looks like.

Of course I suppose it's possible that Goldberg has a problem with that message as well.

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