Staying out of Gannongate

White House reporters aren't happy that Jeff Gannon was in their midst, but they don't want to do anything to prevent the next Jeff Gannon from coming along.

By Tim Grieve
Published March 1, 2005 1:42PM (EST)

The reporter formerly known as Jeff Gannon is no longer a regular at White House press briefings, but there seems to be little appetite for changing the rules to keep another one like him -- could there be another one like him? -- from coming along in the future.

On Capitol Hill, a committee of correspondents has sole authority to decide who does and who doesn't get press credentials to cover Congress. Access to the White House, by contrast, is controlled entirely by the White House. And at a board meeting yesterday in Washington, the leaders of the White House Correspondents Association decided that it should stay that way -- at least for now. "Since 1914, the White House Correspondents Association has operated independently of the White House and the White House credentialing process," the board said in a statement. "We intend for the White House Correspondents Association to remain independent of that process."

Members of the association told Editor & Publisher that the credentialing question was the subject of "blunt" debate Monday, but that the board ultimately decided that it favored inclusion in the briefing room. Several members of the group are apparently concerned that day passes, like the ones Gannon used, have become a back-door way to get regular access to the White House. The board declined to take any position on that issue.

"The bottom line," WHCA president Ron Hutcheson told E&P, "is that none of us are comfortable with Jeff Gannon posing as a journalist. But none of us are comfortable with changing the system to keep him out."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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