Milbank intends to read the diary and comments and forward emails to me answering questions (or posing them, which he's really
good at doing) - unless, of course, there's some breaking news that means he actually has to leave his computer. In that case, I'll compile the questions and comments and forward them to him in a couple of days. I'll do a follow-up diary with answers.
NOTE: The "personal life" part of the quote was made before the tie to male escort services was made on AmericaBlog. At that point in the interview process, all that had been posted was the AOL picture of Gannon/Guckert.
Dana may have different views now ... and if he begins to email me, perhaps he'll have something to say on that.
So have at it, Kossacks ... throw your questions out there. But please, be kind to Dana. He's one of the good guys in the mainstream press.
What do you make of Mr. G's pretty constant presence at the White House briefings?
This had come up before. As you know, the White House Correspondents Association has no say over access to the White House briefing room. Unlike on the Hill, often there are groups of visitors, staffers, students, etc. And there are all kinds of odd characters, most famously Les Kinsolving, who asks zany, Gannon-esque questions most every day. So Gannon was only one more bizarre character.
There are so many characters, in fact, that reporters who have the reserved seats often would skip the briefing/circus. This allowed the Gannon types to grab seats.
A caution on the Gannon thing: I really don't approve of the salacious side of this. My point was that the story here isn't his personal life or even his loaded questions, but the fact that he didn't represent anything resembling a news organization.
In a recent interview, Mr. G stated that he himself was not subpoeanaed; his "White House correspondence" was. What does that mean?
I think 'correspondence' just means emails and phone records.
You've stated that you think you've seen Gannon with a "hard press" pass. What is the visual difference between a hard pass and a daily pass?
A hard pass has your photo and news org and name on it. A daily pass is just a brown and white striped pass that says, "Press," on it and comes on a dog-tag style chain. Note that the one Gannon wears in the footage on TV is a blue lanyard - not the sort of thing a day pass comes on.
How did he get access to the August 6, 2001, PDB briefing - as evidenced by his posting quotes from it at Free Republic - before it was released to the public?
There is a huge White House email list and sometimes things are sent out before they are posted on the White House web site. As far as I can tell, anybody claiming to be a reporter will be put on it, even SusanG. Very few are actual White House correspondents.
Doesn't the non-vetted email list and the easy access to the briefing room speak of shoddy security?
Not really. Secret Service checks to see if you have a criminal record, I'd think. They have the standard x-ray/magnetometer at the entrance, and various bio/chem/nuke detection devices throughout. I must say that while I had my doubts about the legitimacy of Gannon, it really wasn't high on my list; seemed issues such as Iraq, gay marriage, economy etc. were more worthy of my time. Though I did find time to write about the missing toilet in the White House press room, so go figure.
The larger issue is that the briefings have become utterly useless since they became televised under McCurry, so it hardly matters what questions Gannon or some other loon was asking.
This gets to the larger point you seem to make-- that the mainstream press is lazy and slow. I'd argue to you that it's really a product of our resources (far fewer than you seem to suppose) and our resulting prioritizing (correctly, for the most part). It's not that Gannon, and the CNN guy's remarks in Switzerland, etc. aren't stories, it's that they're not the most important stories.
Does traditional media feel driven in any way by competition with the blogs?
I don't think we feel pressured. But it does drive the agenda in a sense that stories pop up in the blog ether and, because people start talking about them, they need to be addressed or debunked. The Kerry mistress story comes to mind.
The web is both the salvation and the demise of print journalism. Proliferating blogs make it more unlikely that an important story will be missed or slip through the cracks. Even a large news organization like the Post has only 40 or 50 national reporters; there are zillions of bloggers.
The downside is the web is contributing to the decentralization of information so that people can choose their own news, and facts, based on their ideology. I can see us reaching a point where conservatives get their news exclusively from Free Republic and liberals get it from World-o-Crap, and we're living in parallel universes.
Don't you think one of the main differences between the mediums of blogs and traditional news sources is that mainstream media have access to people that blogs can only dream of?
Access is overrated for any medium.
Do you see one of the differences between mainstream news and bloggers being the question of anonymity?
I haven't thought much about blogger anonymity. Andrew Sullivan and Josh Marshall come to mind. But I'd look at it as we do our use of 'confidential sources' in the paper. We try to minimize that because it seems much more credible if somebody's willing to put his/her name behind it. Certainly print journalists don't begrudge webbies their anonymity. We're far too vain and narcissistic to be anonymous.
In a sense, isn't what print journalism is facing now with blogs a replay of the readership fall-off that happened with TV news?
I think it's an inevitable result of the proliferation of news outlets, not just blogs but cable news, talk radio, etc. Newspapers (and newsmags, and the nets) can slow the decline but it's probably out of our power to reverse it.
Can you foresee any circumstances in which mainstream media and blogs could join forces for the benefit of both mediums?
I think there will have to be convergence. I'd like to know how you, and your readers, think this could best be done. Some of us have thought about the idea of doing a daily blog report, summarizing what the top blogs are saying and assessing the accuracy/significance. but that's just a small item.
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