Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 187)

February 21, 2005
Media-ocrity Edition

If there was any doubt that the fourth estate has completely lost its way, that doubt was erased last week upon further investigation into the Jeff Gannon (1) scandal - the Corporate Media (2) have proven that they're perfectly willing to bow down before the Bush Administration (4) and cover up anything that looks like it might not bode well for Our Great Leader. Meanwhile journalistic giants like Rush Limbaugh (5) are being sent to give us the good news on Afghanistan. Bah. Elsewhere, Tom Coburn (6) says breast implants make you healthier, the Department of Health and Human Services (9) doesn't like gays, and Bill O'Reilly (10) has been caught lying about lying. Don't forget the key...

1Jeff Gannon sex sex sex hypocrisy excessive spin
Despite the best efforts of the Corporate Media (more on them in a moment) the Gannon Scandal kept rolling last week. Since last week's Idiots, a number of new stories have come to light. First, it was revealed that Gannon was in fact selling himself for sex online while he was a member of the White House press corps. Then it came out that Gannon was actually in the White House as early as February 28, 2003 - a month before Talon News even existed, which completely disproves White House press secretary Scott McClellan's recent statement that "[Gannon], like anyone else, showed that he was representing a news organization that published regularly, and so he was cleared two years ago to receive daily passes, just like many others are." (Maureen Dowd meanwhile revealed that White House press passes simply aren't that easy to come by.)

Gannon himself decided to return to the airwaves, appearing on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 to "clarify" some of the earlier fibs he told, such as this one to Wolf Blitzer: "...before I came to Washington, I had registered various domain names for a private client. I was doing Web site development. Those sites were never hosted. There's - nothing ever went up on them. And the client went on to do something else. There's been so much about me on the Internet that people have, you know, made assumptions about..." During the Anderson Cooper interview (video courtesy of Crooks and Liars), Gannon refused to deny that he'd lied to Wolf Blitzer and portrayed himself as a victim who'd had his privacy violated (despite the fact that he was the only person responsible for posting naked pictures of himself online).

Our Jeff also had an interesting take on "journalism" when confronted with the fact that he'd plagiarized entire sections from White House press releases for his reports. "If I am communicating to my readers exactly what the White House believes on any certain issue," said Jeff, "that's reporting to them an unvarnished, unfiltered version of what they believe." Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, Ari Fleischer revealed that even he had doubts about Gannon's presence in the White House.

And with stories coming to light that Gannon was the person who broke the news that Mary Mapes was responsible for the CBS documents, had early access to the infamous August 6 PDB, may have had four hours advance knowledge of the bombing of Baghdad, and led the charge on unfounded accusations that John Kerry had an affair, we can't help wondering where he was getting his information from. Finally, Gannon went so far last week as to consider suing the bloggers who'd reported on this story for "political assassination." So now you can add frivolous lawsuits to the growing list of hypocrisies involved in this scandal. Heck, bring it on, I say. Let's get the whole story out there.

2The Corporate Media cowardice cowardice hypocrisy covering your ass
There are two reasons why the Corporate Media is shying away from the Jeff Gannon scandal. The first is obvious: they're plain scared of getting scooped by a bunch of bloggers who have nothing but facts at their fingertips and a willingness to actually ask questions that people want the answers to. The second reason is more insidious: the Jeff Gannon story doesn't support "conventional wisdom," and if it doesn't support conventional wisdom then the Corporate Media doesn't want to know.

After all, what would have happened if a fake journalist working for a fake news organization run by Democrats was discovered asking questions of Bill Clinton during press briefings? What would have happened if the fake journalist was later discovered to be a gay male prostitute? The Corporate Media would have been all over the story, because "conventional wisdom" is that Clinton's administration was chock-full of corruption and sleaze. But under Bush? Why, Our Great Leader returned honor and integrity to the White House! Surely the great George W. Bush could not be capable of tolerating this type of shameful behavior!

And so despite the growing evidence that there is a real scandal here, the Corporate Media have resorted to burying it because it doesn't fit into their worldview. In fact, so called "media critics" like Howard Kurtz have bent over backwards to defend Gannon and the White House from the unwashed hordes, suggesting that bloggers have gone too far by digging into Gannon's "private" life. (Kurtz in particular has been inexplicably hostile to liberal bloggers despite failing to note the rather important point that Talon News was little more than a GOPUSA blog anyway. On CNN's Reliable Sources yesterday, the headline under Kurtz's smug face reading "Online Lynch Mob?" wasn't referring to those organizations.)

Look, when a man is making money by advertising himself for sex on the Web, it's not his private life - it's his professional life. And it wasn't bloggers who put Jeff Gannon's porn pics online - it was Jeff Gannon. He put them there in order to sell himself. But this is all really missing the point entirely. We still don't know how Jeff Gannon got such easy access to the White House, and we still don't know why Scott McClellan lied about it. The whole thing stinks of organized Bush Administration propaganda, yet the Corporate Media is trying to downplay the story by turning Gannon into a victim who had his "privacy" violated.

Don't you think the public deserves to know why a male prostitute with no journalistic credentials who works for a fake news organization which is actually a front for Republican activists was given such easy access to the White House briefing room? Don't you think the public deserves to know why he was called on so many times? Don't you think the public deserves to know why the White House lied about how he was given press corps credentials? Don't you think the public deserves to know why he was able to break big stories - favorable to the Bush administration, of course - before anyone else?

There's a huge story here that exposes the entire shoddy state of journalism in America today, and the Corporate Media is understandably terrified of giving it to you.

3Free Republic hypocrisy homophobia
On Friday the DC chapter of Free Republic (all three of them) made plans to rally outside the White House to show their support for fake-journalist-slash-male-prostitute Jeff Gannon. According to Freepers the Gannon Scandal is all Bill Clinton's fault (seriously) and has nothing to do with prostitution, but is actually a First Amendment issue. It seems that when a journalist with no credentials who works for a phony news organization decides of his own accord to resign from the White House press corps because he's embarrassed over revelations that he was selling his services as a "top" for $1200 a weekend, it's a serious breach of the Bill of Rights. What this really means, of course, is that Freepers are perfectly willing to throw all homosexuals to the wolves until they find out that the homosexual in question happens to be one of their own. Then we suddenly get lectured on how being gay is a private matter. Funny - it's not a private matter when gays want to join the military, or join a church, or become a schoolteacher. In those cases a person's sexual orientation is of the utmost importance to Freepers. Heck, we apparently need a Constitutional amendment to prevent two gays from entering into a life-long marriage contract. But when it comes to shilling for the Bush administration, Free Republic is willing to stand up and fight for your right to get paid to boink as many dudes as you like. I'm gagging on the stench of hypocrisy.

4The Bush Administration excessive spin excessive spin excessive spin
But getting back to the state of the media, there's no wonder it's becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the Corporate Media and the Bush Administration. When the media aren't bending over for Bush of their own accord, they're complicit in passing government-produced "news" items onto the public. Last week the Bush Administration was warned by the GAO that "the promotion of government policies through video news releases meant to look like TV news stories may violate federal rules against propaganda," according to the New York Times. This is related to last year's government-produced "video news releases" pushing pro-Administration policies and featuring - you guessed it, fake reporters with fake names - which were broadcast on many local television stations during news reports. These segments were broadcast with no indication that they'd been made by the government. Add this to recent revelations that the Bush Administration spent almost $250 million on public relations projects during their first four years - nearly double that of Bill Clinton's administration during his last four years - and the fact that the Administration proudly boasts that "we create our own reality" and one can only come to the conclusion that, well, we're all fucked.

5Rush Limbaugh photo-opping
So, while we're still on the subject of the Bush administration and their payola tricks, let's talk about this story: "Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is expected to visit Afghanistan with the top U.S. aid official to spotlight America's aid work there, officials said on Thursday." That's right - America's most popular propagandist is on his way to help the US government spread the good news about the benefits of Middle East occupations. In the words of an unnamed US official, "It's trying to get people to pay attention to all the good things we are doing in Afghanistan." Well hell, I'm glad they got someone like Limbaugh to go. There's a man with credibility, with gravitas, a man you can trust to tell you the truth. Actually, wait a second. The fact that they've asked Limbaugh makes me even less confident that things are going well in Afghanistan. Was he the only person they could get to do this? And if not, wouldn't they have been better off with someone other than a drug addict? Afghanistan is one of the world's biggest producers of heroin, for goodness sake! Next thing you know they'll be paying Bill Bennett to do a morals seminar in Las Vegas.

6Tom Coburn dumb dumb dumb
Okay, this one's a couple of weeks old but I really have to mention it. New senator Dr. Tom Coburn (R-Obviously) showed off his vast medical knowledge recently at a meeting on a bill which would restrict class-action lawsuits. "I immediately thought about silicone breast implants and the legal wrangling and the class-action suits off that," he mused. "And I thought I would just share with you what science says today about silicone breast implants." Okay Tom - hit us with it! What does science say about silicone breast implants? "If you have them, you're healthier than if you don't. That is what the ultimate science shows... In fact, there's no science that shows that silicone breast implants are detrimental and in fact, they make you healthier." Really? Well, silicone breast implants have been banned in the United States since 1992 because they have a tendency to rupture and leak toxic silicone into the body. So... I'd be interested to know where Dr. Tom's "ultimate science" comes from. Perhaps he should get together with Dr. Bill "I Don't Know If HIV Can Be Transmitted Through Sweat" Frist and start up a practice. Coburn & Frist's Medicinal Wonders by Gaslight - We Cure Everything From Dropsy to Scrofula! Step Right Up!

7Alan Keyes homophobia homophobia
Talk about a sore loser. Fresh off his disastrous campaign for Senate in Illinois, Alan Keyes appears to have become somewhat unbalanced. It was recently revealed that his 19-year-old daughter - who, it should be noted, put off going to college so she could work on her father's election campaign, despite disagreeing with him politically - has been booted out of the house for being "a liberal queer." Yup, Alan was happy to accept her help during the campaign but has obviously gotten fed up with kicking the cat since November and has moved on to family members. Oh, did I mention he's refused to pay for her college tuition and has stopped talking to her? What an asshole. Still, at least Keyes has the nuts to stand up for his ugly beliefs, unlike, say, the Freepers.

8Homeland Defense Vehicles anti-environment anti-environment dumb
Move over Navistar! (See Idiots 171). There's a new truck in town competing for the King of the Tiny Penises title, and it's gonna blow you away! Meet the Bad Boy Heavy Muscle Truck - a 3.5 ton military vehicle soon to be on sale to the American public. For just $225,000 you can get a truck which, according to the Associated Press, will "drive through five feet of water, climb a 60-degree grade, tow six tons and keep rolling even with a quarter-sized hole in the tire's sidewall." Just the ticket for dropping the kids off at soccer practice and picking up some groceries on the way home. But the fun doesn't stop there! For $750,000 you can pick up the fully loaded "NBC" version, which - as well as providing an extra fifteen square feet of space for your Bush/Cheney bumper stickers - can apparently "detect and block out fallout from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons by over-pressurizing the cab with filtered, clean air much like an aircraft." Because as we all know, if there's one thing that'll stop nuclear radiation dead in its tracks, it's, um... air. Still, it should come in handy for when Iraq attacks us with all those weapons of mass destruction Bush told us about.

9 HHS homophobia homophobia
The Department of Health and Human Services came under fire last week for... well, acting like a bunch of idiots. At issue was a federally-funded conference on suicide prevention - specifically, suicide prevention in the GLBT community, a community in which the suicide rate is two to three times higher than average. The conference was to be titled "Suicide Prevention Among Gay / Lesbian / Bisexual / Transgender Individuals," and everything was going according to plan until HHS stepped in and said that unfortunately the conference would have to remove the word "Gay" from the title. And "Lesbian." Oh, and "Bisexual" and "Transgender." Which leaves "Suicide Prevention Among..." HHS was subsequently flooded with angry calls and emails from "scores of experts in mental health," according to the Washington Post. Despite the retitling of the conference, an HHS official said that "there is not a department-wide policy against using terms relating to sexual identity or orientation at federally funded venue." So, what, they were just being awkward?

10Bill O'Reilly lying lying lying massive ego
And finally, Media Matters has been on a roll lately, and their constant monitoring of Bill O'Reilly bore comedic fruit last week. During his show, in a response to a viewer email accusing him of lying, poor old Bill made the mistake of saying that "No lies have been told about anyone, including Senator Clinton, and you can't produce one, madam." Well maybe the viewer couldn't, but Media Matters could. Like this one, when O'Reilly said that Bill Clinton's presidential library gives Hillary "access to money because Bill Clinton's got a checkbook that he can write anything off against that library he wants." Which is a lie. And this one, when he said, "Hillary Clinton didn't go to one funeral or one memorial service of any of the regular folks killed at the World Trade Center, even though she's a senator of New York." Which is a lie. So just to clarify, Bill O'Reilly is a great big liar. See you next week!

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