2.10.2005

Gotcha Journalism for Dummies

Talon News White House correspondent Jeff Gannon abruptly resigned his post in the aftermath of oppo digs by folks on the Internet. In an interview today with Wolf Blitzer, Jeff Gannon explained some of the missing details.

His real name is JD Guckert(rhymes with Rupert). He uses the name Jeff Gannon for this very reason. It is a simple name that is difficult to misconstrue. While the use of a psuedonym as a White House correspondent seems irregular I don't know enough about the history of White House reporters to say it is wrong.

Nonetheless, Gannon told Wolf that he resigned because the nature of his work was sparking communications with members of his family. People were contacting his extended family to inquire about information into his previous business relationships as well as his background. To me this is more than reasonable to resign. Once you become the story then your reports are suspect to irrational scrutiny.

What I do witness in this story is the fervor that players on the Internet employ when they want to know more. I knew Jeff Gannon from the White House daily press briefings that are shown on C-SPAN. Other people were not as familiar with him or Talon News. It got bad once I started seeing his home number posted. Then other people were conducting background searches using "People Finder". Then the blogger "Billmon" posted a tax lien form copy for JD Guckert. Thankfully he did black out the social security number, but it didn't take long for that to be cleaned up to reveal his social security number.

The good news from this story is that we know a little more than we did the day before about the requirements to enter a White House press briefing. Apparently almost anyone can get in the room by meeting quite minimal requirements.

Now to work on the process of getting Scott McClellan to call on you.

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