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Former WH Reporter Jeff Gannon Now a National Press Club Activist

Article excerpt

If you ever wondered what happened to Jeff Gannon, the former conservative reporter whose questionable White House credentialing and ties to several sex Web sites forced him out of a job, wonder no more.

The one-time reporter for Talon News, whose easy press pass access and softball questions sparked a review of White House credentialing policies three years ago, is still in the Washington news game. This time at the National Press Club.

Since 2006, Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert, has been a member in good standing and currently serves on two press club committees, according to the esteemed journalistic organization. He also blogs on the Press Club Web site, as well as on his own online page, with a lot to say recently about the new book by his old source, White House ex-spokesman Scott McClellan.

"I am not going to go away in the face of adversity," Gannon, 51, told E&P, referring to the negative attention he received in 2005 when questions about his press access to presidential briefings were raised. "Sticking up for free speech is a particularly good thing to do."

Gannon was forced to resign his job with Talon News in the Spring of 2005 after it was revealed he had used a pseudonym, had little journalism background, and had ties to several gay sex Web sites.

Today, he has no full-time position at a news outlet, but he explained, "for a single person, blogging can be profitable."

Press Club rules require that a new member be sponsored by at least two current members in good standing. Gannon said Rick Dunham, then with BusinessWeek and now a Houston Chronicle reporter, was one of his sponsors. He said he could not remember the other.

"My goal was to expand our membership into blogging and multimedia," Dunham, who was press club president in 2005, recalls about why he sponsored Gannon. "He was one who could do that."

Currently, Gannon serves on the press club's New Media Committee and Newsmakers Committee. The latter decides which "newsmakers" to invite to some Press Club events.

"He is an active member of the club, there is no reason he can't be on any of the club's committees," said Cary O'Reilly, a Bloomberg News reporter and chair of the Newsmakers Committee. "We need everyone we can get."

Sylvia Smith, press club president and a reporter for The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind., declined to comment on Gannon's membership, saying, "I don't want to comment on any club members."

But Dunham said Gannon is very active in the club: "I have not heard any bad developments with him in my time at the press club."

Gannon's ability to gain regular access to daily White House briefings, despite not being able to obtain a permanent "hard pass" or a congressional press pass, sparked new discussions among reporters and White House staff about who should be granted regular access at the time. …