“James D. Guckert recently resigned from TalonNews.com where he used the alias of Jeff Gannon along with falsified journalist credentials to gain access to the White House press room.  On a number of occasions, he had to opportunity to ask bizarrely partisan questions of both the President and Scott McClellan.  For instance, during his most recent questioning with the administration, he referred to Democrats has having ‘divorced themselves from reality.’


Guckert’s agenda becomes even more troubling when you consider the history of the news organization he was associated with.  According to dailykos.com, TalonNews.com had on been in existence for 3 days before a press pass was assigned to Guckert’s alias.  How in the world could a new, and extremely small, news agency obtain such access? 


 


McClellan was not willing to take any sort of responsibility for Guckert’s press pass:




Q As Press Secretary, what do you think about this whole —


MR. McCLELLAN: Well, like I said — what do I think about it? Well, let me explain a few things. First, as the press secretary, I don’t think it’s the role of the Press Secretary to get into picking or choosing who gets press credentials. Also, I don’t think it’s the role of the Press Secretary to get into being a media critic, and I think there are very good reasons for that. I’ve never inserted myself into the process. He, 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. The issue comes up — it becomes, in this day and age, when you have a changing media, it’s not an easy issue to decide or try to pick and choose who is a journalist. And there — it gets into the issue of advocacy journalism. Where do you draw the line? There are a number of people who cross that line in the briefing room.
And, as far as I’m concerned, I would welcome the White House Correspondents Association, if they have any concerns or issues that they want to bring to my attention, they know my door is open and I’ll be glad to discuss these issues with them. I have an open dialogue with the Correspondents Association. No one’s ever brought such an issue to my attention, in my — during my time as being Press Secretary. And you all cover the briefing room on a regular basis. You know that there are a number of people in that room that express their points of view, and there are people in that room that represent traditional media, they represent talk radio, they represent — they’re columnists, and they represent online news organizations.


Q Was the White House aware at all — was the White House aware — was the White House aware at all about the online websites that he was linked to?


MR. McCLELLAN: No. This has only come to my attention through the news reports, just a few reporters calling in.


Q But just to make it clear, the only criteria, from the White House perspective is, someone can pass the Secret Service background check


MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, that’s not — first of all, I don’t involve myself in that process, it’s handled at a staff level. Like I said, if the White House Correspondents Association ever wants to talk about issues, I welcome that. But it becomes an issue — it becomes an issue of where do you draw the line? Do you draw the line at advocacy journalism because there are a number of people that crossed that line, as I said? But there’s hard — there’s hard passes and there’s daily passes, as you are well aware. For a hard pass, you have to have a House and Senate credential, you have to regularly cover the White House, you have to apply for it, you have to go through a detailed FBI background check. My understanding was, when he started coming to the White House about two years ago, the staff asked to see that it — that he represented a news organization that published regularly. And they showed that, so he was cleared and has been cleared ever since based on that time.


What makes this story even more interesting are the links between Guckert and the illegal leak of Valerie Plame’s identity as an undercover CIA operative.  The Democrats have already contacted the independent prosecutor assigned to the Plame case regarding Guckert.


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