[This is kind of a long post, so if you want to just skip down to the heart of it, you can click through the break and scroll down toward the bottom of the page - look for the text in bold and italics, which gives a basic summary. The rest is all to put it in context in case you're interested.
In my previous diary entry, I'd asked if perhaps Talon News was created specifically because Gannon has been turned down for the Congressional passes, in hopes that it would help him with getting daily passes for the White House. I was pointed to a MediaCitizen that says Gannon had applied - and been rejected - for the Congressional pass in January 2004, well after Talon News' start date.
Something about that, however, struck me as odd, because I had remembered reading an interview with Gannon where he said he started using the daily passes because he'd been turned down for the Congressional pass, and without it, he couldn't get a White House hard pass. It took a bit, but I finally found the interview I'd remembered at Editor and Publisher
He said he sought the permanent "hard pass" when he first wanted to cover the White House, but after finding out he needed a congressional press pass -- which he'd been denied -- to get that far, he utilized only the day passes. "I made several attempts to get a congressional pass, and each time they said 'no.' They were concerned with the Talon News business model," he said. "They didn't feel that we fit the criteria."
On joining Talon News
He said he had been writing op-ed pieces since 2001, when he was in Pennsylvania, and that he had them submitted to several Web sites and "advocacy groups," including MichNews and Frontiers of Freedom. He said he could not think of any others. "I wrote about 20 or 30, over several years," he said, "on subjects like Trent Lott and other conservative issues." (An E&P search of online archives at MichNews turned up no articles by Gannon, and a Google search turned up no Gannon articles at either MichNews or Frontiers of Freedom.)
He said he came across Talon News while researching and liked its approach. The Texas Republican activist who runs it also manages the site GOPUSA.
"I had submitted my writings to Talon and saw they were looking for people to write news, and it was something I was interested in. I moved to Washington after Sept. 11, 2001, because I was so affected by the attacks." Guckert said he first went to work for Talon News in February 2003 after writing several test stories for them, becoming a stringer at first and later a full-time salaried reporter.
"I asked them if I could go and cover the White House, and they said I could try. Ari Fleischer was the press secretary then, and he went precisely row by row, so I was skipped over many times in the beginning. I don't recall when I finally got to be called on. McClellan came in and did it differently; he skipped around a lot."
He said that when he first joined Talon, "it was a lean organization and I was compensated on a stringer basis." He would not say how much he made as a stringer or a full-time reporter. Did he receive money from other sources? No, he said, he lived off savings during his stringer stretch. "As time went on," he said, "my salary increased."
Talon went online just a few days before Gannon started showing up a the White House, yet he claims that he had liked their approach. Now, it's possible that he came across an ad for Talon looking for reporters or something of that nature and like the way they approached that, but if that were the case, I would expect him to say "While I was researching, I found an ad for Talon....". Instead, he just says he found Talon News and liked their approach that he applied to them. He says he joined them in February of 2003, but the domain wasn't even registered until March of 2003. This seems a bit problematic to me because I know that if I'm planning to put up a website (and I don't do them as a business, I just do them because I'm bored) as soon as I come up with a name I like, I register it, even if all I have is a very basic concept of what I want to do and am not going to be ready to start building it for quite a while. While it's possible that Talon could have put off buying its domain until, essentially, the last minute, I find it a bit hard to believe that they would. Graphics and promotion are going to be directly tied to the site's name, so it would make sense they'd want to be sure they actually had it before going through all the rest of the work.
So the timeline, at least as indicated by Gannon's interview, is that he was researching places he could write for and found Talon News. He liked their approach and applied to join them. They had him write several test stories for them before hiring him in February 2003. Talon News's domain name was registered in March 2003. He initally wanted a White House hard pass, but couldn't get it because he'd been turned down for a Congressional pass, so he started getting daily passes and he first started appearing in the White House briefings in April 2003.
In essence, it looks like he found and applied to Talon News at least a month or two before they bought their domain name - even though he chose to apply to them because he liked their approach - and he says he was getting day passes because he couldn't get a hard pass after being turned down for Congressional passes - yet, near as most people can tell, the information we have indicates he didn't apply for a Congressional pass until January 2004.
It just seems like something's off there....