In response to the public disgrace and ruin of New York Times editor Howell Raines, CBS anchor Dan Rather and CNN news director Eason Jordan, liberals are directing their fury at the blogs. Once derided as people sitting around their living rooms in pajamas, now obscure writers for unknown websites are coming under more intensive background checks than CIA agents.
The heretofore-unknown Jeff Gannon of the heretofore-unknown "Talon News" service was caught red-handed asking friendly questions at a White House press briefing. Now the media is hot on the trail of a gay escort service that Gannon may have run some years ago. Are we supposed to like gay people now, or hate them? Is there a website where I can go to and find out how the Democrats want me to feel about gay people on a moment-to-moment basis?
Liberals keep rolling out a scrolling series of attacks on Gannon for their Two Minutes Hate, but all their other charges against him fall apart after three seconds of scrutiny. Gannon's only offense is that he may be gay.
First, liberals claimed Gannon was a White House plant who received a press pass so that he could ask softball questions ? a perk reserved for New York Times reporters during the Clinton years. Their proof was that while "real" journalists (like Jayson Blair) were being denied press passes, Gannon had one, even though he writes for a website that no one has ever heard of ? but still big enough to be a target of liberal hatred! (By the way, if writing for a news organization with no viewers is grounds for being denied a press pass, why do MSNBC reporters have them?)
On the op-ed page of the New York Times, Maureen Dowd openly lied about the press pass, saying: "I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the 'Barberini Faun' is credentialed?"
Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that dyspeptic, old Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president. Still, it would be suspicious if Dowd were denied a press pass while someone from "Talon News" got one, even if he is a better reporter.
But Dowd was talking about two different passes without telling her readers (a process now known in journalism schools as "Dowdification"). Gannon didn't have a permanent pass; he had only a daily pass. Almost anyone can get a daily pass ? even famed Times fantasist Maureen Dowd could have gotten one of those. A daily pass and a permanent pass are altogether different animals. The entire linchpin of Dowd's column was a lie. (And I'm sure the Times' public editor will get right on Dowd's deception.)