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The Comings and Goings of Jeff Gannon

by GARY LEUPP

Why aren’t we hearing more about the “Jeff Gannon” (James Guckert) affair? Back in February, always the optimist I wrote, “Perhaps we are on the edge of a major scandal here,” and inquiring minds have indeed dug up more dirt.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) got on the case, using the Freedom of Information Act to precisely chronicle, on the basis of Secret Service records, the bogus reporter and real-life prostitute’s White House entries and exits. From the Secret Service material, Raw Story researcher Muriel Kane produced this listing; I’ve put the more interesting material in bold font:

2/25/03 11:46 – 1:25 (briefing 12:26-1:03)
2/26 9:56 – 2:17 (unusually long) (briefing 1:25-1:53)
2/27 11:49 – 1:34 (no briefing)
2/28 11:20 – 1:26 (briefing 12:35-1:10)

3/3/03 9:51 – 1:32 (unusually long) (briefing 12:21-1:00)
3/4 11:48 – 1:45 (briefing 12:46-1:20)
3/5 11:56 – 1:57 (briefing 12:21-1:00)
3/6 11:58 – 12:42 (no briefing)
3/6 9:11 pm exit – no entry (Bush press conference, 8 pm)
3/7 3:22 pm exit — no entry (briefing 2:20-3:00)
3/10 12:47 – 3:11 (briefing 1:23-2:10)
3/11 12:25 – 1:47 (briefing at 12:38 – no end time given)
3/12 12:55 – 2:40 (briefing 1:20-1:59)
3/13 12:12 – 1:55 (briefing 12:40-1:19)
3/14 12:02 – 1:49 (briefing 12:35-1:06)
3/17 12:01 – 1:30 (no briefing)
3/18 12:09 – 1:31 (briefing 12:21-1:05)
3/19 9:38 – 3:27 (unusually long) (12:15-12:59) (Bush speech, 10 pm)
3/20 12:19 – 1:38 (briefing 12:32-1:15)
3/21 10:52 – 12:31 (briefing 2:31-3:12 ­ doesn’t match)
3/24 1:02 – 2:43 (briefing 1:00-1:44)
3/25 1:45 – 3:30 (briefing 2:30-3:15)
3/28 12:34 – 3:51 (unusually long) (briefing 12:35-1:15)

4/4/03 12:18 – 1:31 (12:20-12:59)
4/9 1:48 – 3:48 (2:32-3:20)
4/10 12:14 – 2:00 (12:20-1:03)
4/11 12:24 – 1:52 (12:15-12:45) (arrives late)
4/14 12:34 – 1:46 (12:30-1:15) (arrives late)
4/21 3:33 – 4:19 (no briefing)
4/22 11:36 – 1:37 (12:30-1:14)
4/23 12:16 – 2:26 (1:17-1:55)
4/25 11:21 – 1:25 (12:19-1:00)
4/28 3:01 – 4:40 (11:08-11:23 ­ doesn’t match)
4/29 11:25 – 1:10 (12:23-12:58)
4/30 11:37 – 3:14 (unusually long) (12:32-1:19)

5/6/03 11:27 – 12:56 (11:50-12:30)
5/7 11:53 – 1:29 (12:30-1:10)
5/8 1:09 – 7:10 (unusually long) (1:45-2:26)
5/9 9:49 – 11:38 (no briefing)
5/14 12:02 – 1:47 (12:35-1:15)
5/14 5:15 pm – 6:56 pm (second evening visit)
5/15 12:27 – 2:25 (1:08-1:47)
5/16 12:05 – 1:40 (12:35-1:19)
5/20 12:27 – 2:04 (12:55-1:34)
5/27 11:56 – 1:31 (12:23-1:05)
5/28 11:50 – 12:53 (12:05-12:44)
5/28 3:26 – 4:53 (second visit)
5/29 11:42 – 1:43 (12:20-1:00)

6/10/03 12:13 – 1:19 (12:33-1:12)
6/17 12:29 – 1:41 (12:32-1:11)
6/18 12:16 – 1:42 (12:50-1:34)
6/22 3:32 – 4:49 (no briefing)
6/23 1:41 – 2:21 (no briefing)
6/25 12:16 – 1:01 (12:30-12:55)
6/26 11:32 – 12:35 (11:45-12:24)

7/1/03 11:25 – 1:42 (12:50-1:26)
7/2 11:50 – 1:20 (12:35-1:12)
7/3 3:04 – 4:16 (Condi Rice briefing, 3:40-4:10)
7/14 11:33 – 1:32 (Ari’s goodbye party) (12:03-12:56)
7/15 12:15 (no exit) (12:38-1:23)
7/16 12:26 – 2:05 (12:50-1:20)
7/17 4:43 – 6:13 (12:36-1:17 ­ doesn’t match)
7/22 12:23 – 1:53 (12:58-1:35)
7/23 12:21 – 2:23 (1:17-2:07)
7/25 2:08 – 3:30 (2:39-3:15)
7/27 3:08 – 5:24 (no briefing)
7/28 12:53 – 2:04 (briefing 10:12-10:23 ­ doesn’t match)
7/30 12:13 – 12:45 (no briefing) (Bush press conference earlier than that)

8/1/03 12:18 (no exit) (12:24-12:54)
8/1 12:39 – 1:20 (two sets of times if put together seem to match the briefing)

9/2/03 12:37 (A4 HC Entry Lane, no exit) (12:42-1:23)
9/3 12:10 – 1:18 (12:30-1:10)
9/10 12:17 – 1:32 (12:49-1:23)
9/16 12:23 – 1:59 (1:00-1:39)
9/17 12:12 – 1:55 (1:00-1:41)
9/22 1:54 – 3:06 (no briefing) (Bush meets with Iraqis, remarks end 4:35)
9/25 12:49 – 1:53 (12:48-1:35)
9/26 12:09 – 2:24 (12:36-1:15)
9/29 12:09 – 1:10 (12:18-1:03)

10/1/03 11:51 – 1:37 (12:44-1:30)
10/2 11:52 (no exit) (12:47-1:26)
10/6 12:58, 6:10 (no exit; checks in twice but doesn’t check out)
10/7 12:46 – 2:03 (12:58-1:46)
10/8 12:10 – 1:27 (12:16-12:42)
10/14 12:22 (no exit) (12:40-1:14)
10/27 12:32 – 1:33 (12:39-1:15)
10/28 10:54 – 12:22 (Bush press conference 11:15-12:03)
10/29 12:20 – 1:08 (12:20-12:57)

11/6/03 12:09 – 1:09 (12:35-1:04)
11/12 12:09 – 1:58 (1:10-1:47)
11/14 12:54 – 2:07 (1:36-2:00)
11/21 5:25 – 6:49 (no briefing)
11/24 8:49 – 9:43 (no briefing)

12/2/03 2:08 – 3:29 (no briefing)
12/3 12:03 – 1:11 (12:32-1:06)
12/7 3:25 (no exit – entry via A4 HC Entry Lane) (no briefing)
12/9 12:33 – 1:45 (12:55-1:21)
12/10 12:05 – 1:23 (12:35-1:15)
12/12 11:51 – 1:35 (12:15-12:52)
12/15 10:45 – 12:42 (Bush press conference 11:15-12:03)
12/18 12:44 – 2:28 (2:05-2:43)
12/19 12:21 – 12:56 (B4 Entry Lane 2) (12:30-12:50)
12/19 1:36 – 2:13 (second visit)
12/22 12:15 – 1:23 (12:28-1:01)

1/14/04 12:30 – 1:33 (12:41-1:15)
1/16 12:08 – 12:48 (12:11-12:44)
1/23 11:52 – 1:12 (12:33-1:06)
1/28 11:53 – 1:26 (12:50-1:20)
1/30 12:30 – 1:23 (12:37-1:09)

2/2/04 12:32 – 1:35 (12:48-1:28)
2/3 12:44 – 1:55 (12:54-1:20)
2/4 11:50 – 1:38 (12:56-1:36)
2/6 11:58 – 1:44 (Bush announcement 1:32-37)
2/10 11:50 – 1:55 (12:53-1:38)
2/11 11:57 – 1:09 (12:30-1:02)
2/13 12:07 – 1:08 (12:30-1:02)
2/18 12:04 – 1:29 (12:36-1:08)
2/19 12:05 – 1:30 (12:37-1:14)
2/20 12:32 – 1:29 (12:33-1:03)
2/23 12:55 – 1:17 (12:43-1:10) (arrives late)
2/24 12:06 – 1:52 (1:00-1:36)
2/27 1:55 – 3:39 (2:18-2:48)

3/1/04 12:50 – 2:04 (1:20-2:00)
3/2 12:29 – 1:23 (12:46-1:14)
3/9 12:40 – 1:49 (1:03-1:37)
3/12 12:54 – 1:00 (unusually short) (no briefing)
3/16 12:43 – 1:52 (1:10-1:46)
3/17 12:18 – 1:56 (1:26-1:50)
3/22 12:03 – 2:10 (1:24-2:04)
3/23 12:03 – 1:34 (12:47-1:10)
3/24 12:17 – 2:03 (1:10-2:02)
3/30 exit only, 12:04 (no briefing)
3/30 4:22 – 4:55 (no briefing)

4/1/04 12:42 – 1:57 (1:25-1:53)
4/13 9:42 – 10:29 (no briefing) (Bush speaks to reporters on the WH lawn)
4/13 6:59 pm – 9:49 pm (Bush press conference)
4/16 10:51 – 3:08 (2:41-3:09) (Bush/Blair press conference)
4/21 12:14 – 1:00 (12:31-1:00)
4/27 12:10 (no exit, entry via A4 HC Entry Lane instead of Entry Lane 2) (12:27- 12:59)
4/28 12:26 – 1:47 (1:20-1:47)
4/29 11:10 no exit (well before briefing) (Bush and Cheney testify to 9/11 commission)
4/29 2:15 – 2:57 (2:23-2:56)
4/30 1:24 – 2:47 (2:22-2:45)

5/5/04 12:02 – 2:25 (1:38-2:16) (arrives unusually early)
5/6 12:01 – 3:35 (12:20-12:54) (stays unusually late)
5/10 1:22 – 2:50 (2:02-2:33)
5/12 11:56 – 1:03 (12:34-12:55)
5/24 no entry, exit logged twice, 2:04:43 and 2:04:51 (1:14-1:46)
5/26 12:09 – 1:51 (1:15-1:51)
5/28 2:17 – no exit (3:02-3:34)

6/1/04 9:20 – 12:03 (Condi Rice briefing, 9:45)
6/3 9:02 – 10:32 (no briefing)
6/14 10:02 – 11:45 (no briefing)
6/15 11:03 – no exit (2:25-2:52) (there well before briefing)
6/15 5:19 – 6:38 (B4 Exit Lane instead of usual A4 Exit Reader) (after briefing)
(Bush and Karzai in Press Availability)
6/16 2:50 – 4:34 (no briefing)
6/17 11:57 – 1:25 (12:47-1:20)
6/21 9:27 – 10:03 (no briefing)
6/22 12:13 – 5:04 (unusually long) (Al Gonzales briefing, 3:12-4:55)
6/24 1:27 – 2:13 (Condi Rice briefing, 1:51-2:03)
6/30 12:21 – 1:55 (1:15-1:55)

7/1/04 12:22 – 1:36 (1:01-1:37)
7/2 9:43 – 11:53 (no briefing)
7/6 12:15 – 12:58 (12:33-12:48)
7/8 1:07 – 2:21 (1:53-2:22)
7/15 12:48 – 1:48 (12:54-1:23)
7/19 1:04 – 2:24 (1:52-2:22)
7/21 12:22 – 2:02 (1:10-1:40)
7/22 10:11 – 10:47 (no briefing)
7/29 6:03 – 6:21 (no briefing)

8/2/04 10:59 – 1:47 (1:02-1:39) (there 2 hours early)
8/9 12:07 – 1:03 (12:31-12:59)
8/17 11:06 – 12:31 (no briefing)
8/27 9:10 – 9:37 (no briefing)

9/10/04 11:19 – 12:55 (no briefing)
9/15 12:17 – 1:56 (1:11-1:45)
9/22 11:57 – 12:34 (no briefing)
9/23 11:19 – 1:14 (Bush press conference with Allawi)

11/2/04 1:31 – 2:20 (no briefing) (Election Day)
11/4 9:16 – 12:11 (Bush press conference 11:17-11:57)
11/8 11:50 – 1:08 (12:20-12:52)
11/10 12:35 – 12:58 (12:26-12:45) (arrives late)
11/12 10:57 — no exit (Bush press conference with Blair)
11/16 12:26 – 1:51 (12:20-1:32) (arrives late)
11/17 12:07 – 2:14 (12:38-1:10)
11/29 12:23 – 1:49 (12:56-1:32)

12/6/04 12:37 – 1:59 (1:03-1:36)
12/8 12:07 – 1:41 (1:05-1:39)
12/10 12:32 – 1:51 (1:06-1:32)
12/13 12:18 – 1:36 (12:50-1:18)
12/14 12:46 – 1:53 (12:48-1:23)
12/17 12:16 – 1:48 (12:47-1:14)
12/20 10:05 – 11:49 (Bush press conference, 10:32-11:25)
12/21 12:00 – 2:04 (12:35-1:10)
12/22 12:04 – 1:08 (no briefing)
12/23 12:31 – 1:26 (no briefing)

1/18/05 12:05 – 1:36 (12:28-12:57)
1/19 12:26 – 1:38 (12:48-1:19)
1/25 12:19 – 1:04 (12:23-12:53)
1/26 9:54 – 10:56 (Bush press conference, 10:00-10:47)
1/31 12:27 – 1:24 (12:45-1:16)

2/1/05 12:11 no exit (12:18-12:47)
2/7 12:10 – 3:00 (1:45-1:06)

Uri Dowbenko has also been investigating this record.

Okay, maybe there’s no scandal here. Lots of people, mostly tourists, visit the White House. But it does seem odd that Gannon was there at least 32 times on days when there were no briefings, or returned later in the day to the presidential mansion after a briefing. Seems he’d spend about an hour or hour and a half in the White House on these occasions. Or he’d be there for an hour or hour and a half before or after the briefings. I suppose that it could be shown he was there to consult with someone about what sort of questions he might raise in the next briefing, that could produce a small scandal. But the media hasn’t really taken on the president’s manipulation of reporters to date and protested and exposed it effectively.

The records also show days when Gannon checked in but never properly checked out, beginning in July 2003 or five months after he started his White House journalistic activities. This doesn’t necessarily cry out “Scandal!” since lots of people have slept over at the Bush White House. But usually they’re big fundraisers or family members. For someone like Gannon to be there, apparently sleeping over, on twelve different nights seems curious. Surely he had his own lodgings nearby. But after all, in his “reporter” capacity he was a friend of the administration and like Jacko says, friends often let friends sleep over. Dowbenko indicates that the president was in his house on all these occasions, but I imagine Laura and the Secret Service people were there too. Of course it is a big house, room for everybody and a degree of privacy even in these terror-haunted, well-monitored times.

Three months ago I wrote that “the blogs are abuzz with speculation. Did the guy sleep his way into the White House? That’s a merely amusing issue. More seriously: Why was he so involved in the effort to discredit South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle? How’d the ‘journalist’ know hours in advance about the attack on Iraq? How did he get access to the Plame memo?” That was before the Secret Service record came out. I was thinking that maybe some Bush staffer had helped the guy get a job. I certainly didn’t think at the time that what some are hinting at now was remotely possible. Not because an outwardly born-again Christian family-values man, married with kids, can’t have a complicated sexuality. But no, I never imagined those two together; that would just be too rich. Yet should what these bloggers are suggesting turn out to be true, the political situation would change overnight. What would the gay-hating fundamentalists have to say then?

You know how some people pick out Bible quotations out of context and claim they’re prophecy. Well, the one that might occur to some under such circumstances could be “How have the mighty fallen!” That’s what David exclaims in grief at the deaths of King Saul and his son Jonathan, of whom by the way David says, “thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” (2 Samuel 1:25-26). Not that that’s relevant here.

The quasi-official, deferential, intimidated press hasn’t asked many questions about Gannon’s greased entry—often via a less well-used back entrance—into the White House. This might reflect the fact that Gannon has a wide circle of connections that could include real journalists who may have reasons not to embarrass or provoke him. But for real journalists who have no reason to fear, I’d suggest they ask not him but the president, gingerly, dispassionately, showing no inclination to embarrass anybody questions like these:

Why was this gentleman in the White House at all hours, so many times, during days there were no briefings or news conferences?

Can you confirm that he stayed overnight on 12 occasions between July 15, 2003 and February 1, 2005?

Were you, Mr. President, aware of his presence in your home on these occasions?

Were you aware of Mr. Guckert’s background before it came out in the Boston Globe?

Mr. President, you’ve said you believe homosexuality is a sin. Hypothetically, if it were to be discovered that Mr. Guckert had homosexual sex in the White House, how would you feel about that?

Presumably the surveillance cameras and observations of Secret Service personnel would establish precisely where Mr. Guckert was during his visits. Have you yourself made inquiries to ascertain whether or not the prostitute may have been involved in any activities you yourself find sinful during the 20 or so overnight visits?

Since Mr. Guckert was exposed as a fake journalist last February, has the White House had any discussions with him concerning his activities in the residence, or any personal documents he might have describing them?

I think it’d be unreasonable to ask a sitting president, even one who had lied to the public repeatedly, whether he’d ever personally had sex with a particular person. That sort of thing should be private, even if Republicans didn’t think so back in 1998 when they sought to humiliate Clinton concerning some perfectly consensual Oval Office oral sex. But the above questions are all perfectly valid, reasonable ones to ask at a genuine news conference. Please somebody, do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

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