We talked to Jeff Gannon, a.k.a. Jim Guckert, for quite a while this afternoon about life and the media, and–oh yes–that whole Talon News scandal. It had been a couple of weeks since he called, so we had a lot to catch up on.
As for his interactions with the other side of the media, Gannon says he’s not having any fun. He says that most of the television coverage and the media coverage has been “dismal,” although he singled out CNN’s Anderson Cooper for his remarkably “unfair” “ambush” interview. “I told them specifically I wasn’t going to do an ambush interview, and it was taped and cut up, and it portrayed me in a very detrimental light,” he says, “I was playing defense from the first question.” While he says that his interview with NBC’s Campbell Brown was probably his best, “the most important points never made it to air.”
On the other side, he says that the print coverage of his situation has been a lot better than the television. “Howard Kurtz did hard-nosed stuff, but I thought I was treated fairly. Kurtz kept it in the proper perspective,” Gannon says, adding, “he [reports] with much grace and aplomb. I have a lot of respect for him.”
We also talked with Gannon about the Larger Meanings of this story: “It has given journalism a wake-up call that it needs to look at the new media. The online journalists are doing the work that the mainstream media used to do,” he said. “These online guys are doing good stuff–even the people who are digging up stuff on me did great work.”
“This has really stirred up a very healthy debate about journalism: Who’s a journalist? What’s journalism?… We’re really moving the ball forward on some new ways of information gathering.”
Gannon says he thinks that the big questions surrounding his situation are still unresolved–as witnessed partly by the White House Correspondents’ Association meeting today on credentialing. He says he wonders whether institutions like the White House or Congress might move towards a “Gannon clause” or a “Gannon standard” in determining who represents a journalist.
Beyond the current saga–which he says he’s not sure it has run its course, and which sources tell Fishbowl is far from over (TIP: stay tuned to Congress!)–he’s looking to move ahead by launching his blog and by considering his future–whether it’s in journalism or somewhere else. “People are interested in what I have to say now,” he says, half-laughing.
“I’m a positive-looking guy. It’s a making lemonade thing,” he says. “I’ll always be a punch-line out there, and I’ll be that guy, but over time that fades. I’m looking forward to that happening.”
Yea, us too.