OK

White House-credentialed fake news reporter "Jeff Gannon" from fake news agency "Talon News" was cited by the Washington Post as having the only access to an internal CIA memo that named Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert CIA agent. Gannon, in a question posed to Wilson in an October 2003 interview, referred to the memo (to which no other news outlet had access, according to the Post). Gannon subsequently has been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury looking into the Plame outing.

The precise wording of the question posed in the subject interview is:

TN: An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?

These facts have led the Kos community to research the following questions:

1.    Who/what is Talon News?
2.    Who/what is Jeff Gannon and how did he get credentialed for the White House?
3.    How is this "reporter" and "news agency" being used to disseminate information?

Talon News/GOPUSA

Talon News appears to be a "news agency" in name only, consisting of Editor-in-Chief Bobby Eberle, Gannon and "volunteer reporters," all based on a web site with no true physical news room or work site. Much of its "news" is distributed through an organization called GOPUSA, of which Eberle is CEO and president. His wife, Kathleen, is treasurer. Both Eberles live in Texas and have been deeply involved in Texas politics - and now national politics - for years.

GOPUSA, while spouting the usual GOP talking points, has on occasion taken it a bit too far. In November of 2003 it posted an anti-semetic piece entitled "Satan Lives in George Soros" by a pseudonymous author known as "Sartre." Yes, folks, these are the kind of "agencies" that are getting White House reporter credentials these days.

In May of 2004, Bruce Eberle, Bobby's brother, folded his Millionsof Americans.com conservative web site into GOPUSA. Bruce is CEO of Virginia-based Eberle Communications, a vast fundraising/direct mail/PR powerhouse that boasts such clients as Ronald Reagan (well, when he was alive, I assume ... although his death was actually great PR too), Operation Rescue, Ollie North and Paula Jones, and which illegally sold fund-raising lists to Ashcroft during his Missouri Senate run. Despite Bobby Eberle's denials to Media Matters, Talon News and GOPUSA are clearly one practical entity; his GOPUSA email address is listed as the administrative contact for Talon, and the two groups share a server and listserve. So here we have a conjunction of fundraising, direct mail, a public relations firm, and an official news agency with a reporter in the White House who asks such questions as the following:

"Thank you. 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've said you are going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"

Gannon himself is a registered user at Free Republic and has made various boasts on those boards about being involved in "breaking" various stories, including (but certainly not limited to) the CBS memos regarding Bush's service in TANG and the fact that liberals want to eliminate Christmas. Bobby Eberle as well has posted on Free Republic, and Gannon has his own weekly radio program on "Righttalk," streamed through Free Republic. In the interesting case of the paid GOP blogger in the smear campaign against Daschle, Gannon was the chief "news source" cited, creating the surreal case (as one commenter noted) of a fake blog citing a fake reporter from a fake news agency.

Jeff Gannon Identity

Gannon's claim to a journalistic background prior to his apparent immaculate conception on the web (first greeting the world, as far as we can tell, in a November 2002 article) was his enrollment in a two-day seminar at the Leadership Institute for Broadcasting Journalism, which appears to be a right-wing pundit training ground, with many of the members of its board of directors active in anti-union, pro-management groups.

Gannon's biography on his own site is vague:

Some people don't even remember my name because I am an average type guy.  I've been a preppie, a yuppie, blue-collar, green-collar and white-collar.  I've served in the military, graduated from college, taught in the public school system, was a union truck driver, a management consultant, a fitness instructor and an entrepreneur.  I'm a two-holiday Christian and I usually vote Republican because they most often support conservative positions.

And the bio on Talon News has this tidbit:

Jeff is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University System and holds a Bachelor of Science in Education. He is also a graduate of the Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism.

As commenters have noted, pinning that "system" on Penn State could mean anything. And at this point, I'm taking his B.S. as well ... B.S. But it's a place, I suppose to start looking if we could get a real name.

Gannon has as many as seven websites (www.jeffgannon.com,www.theconservativeguy.com), all of which have the following registration information:

Bedrock Corp
4001 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE 19807
US
Daniels, J. bedrockcorp@aol.com
4001 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE 19807
US
202-547-8825

The phone number returns to a Bill Turnley, 616 E. Capitol St. NE, Washington DC 20003 (one commenter found it also returned to a Sean Turner, who also writes for GOPUSA, which is another tie-in between GOPUSA and Talon News/Gannon). Turnley appears to be a professor in the business program at Kansas State University, and the property is registered with its owner as the Janice N. Hedges Trust. Hedges appears to be an author of several pieces regarding labor and management. I'm wondering if there could possibly be a tie-in with the Leadership Institute here since so many members of its board are involved in anti-labor/pro-management activities.

The Bedrock Corp address seems to return to a Mailboxes Etc. dropbox in a mall. Because Delaware has notoriously complex and shielding laws regarding corporations (and their shells), I'm going to have a private investigator run the Bedrock information for me because he's much better than I am at sorting out the shielding game. I'll post what I get back when I find out.

So far eager researchers here at Kos have come up with a couple of reasonable names to follow up on: James Patrick McFarland (whose name returned to one of Gannon's addresses) and Jason T. Daniels, who appears to live in Wilmington, DE. Clearly, "J. Daniels," is the vague lead we have to follow up on.

Some posters have suggested that someone named Dave Rayboen might be Gannon, but I'm not quite clear as to why he's a prime candidate beyond the fact that he looks like him. If someone wants to spell out the textual connection beyond the visual resemblance, I'd appreciate it.

Where We Stand Right Now

1.    I'm going to get the Bedrock Corp. information run today.
2.    Fauxreal is taking on the task of going through the May 2004 morning press briefing gaggles to document the most egregiously ass-kissing of Gannon's questions. Other volunteers are sought for the other months. (Froomkin cites a horrible example in February 2004 ... Does anybody know when Gannon actually began showing up at the White House?)
3.    Baltimoretim is looking into the Leadership Institute.
4.    Mnemosyne is cross-checking all phone numbers associated with Gannon.
5.    Conntexdem is looking into Bruce Eberle.

Where We Need to Go

I'd like us all to start mulling over the CIA memo thing again. What was the timing on it exactly, in terms of when Novak published? Why would the administration leak it to its own planted reporter? Just to shake up Wilson in an interview in an obscure news service? This doesn't seem likely to me. I'm wondering if someone could put together a timeline on the CIA leak and see where this fits into it.

I think we also need to look more at the Eberles in general. Since Conntexdem is covering Bruce, are there any volunteers to dig deeper and put together a detailed background on Bobby and Kathleen? (Something's niggling at me about Kathleen, completely out of this context, that I'm going to look into separately.)
Here are links to the previous diaries on this, with all the information above cited somewhere in there:

Diary I: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/1/28/203014/655

Diary II: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/1/29/152730/137

Diary III: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/1/29/233122/523 (Started overnight by Cosette when Part II got too long. Thanks!)

I think in all fairness to other posters at Kos who aren't interested in this issue, it's time to unrecommend the two previous diaries so they drop off the Recommended List. After all, the links are now in here, or those who are researching this project can hotlist them. If we move this one onto Recommended and the others off, it will serve its purpose.
Free Speech Foundation research diary posted by sean mykael: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/1/30/14024/9923

Originally posted to Susan Gardner on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 06:41 AM PST.

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