Published February 11, 2005
WASHINGTON – A conservative writer who attracted attention by asking President Bush (search) a loaded question at a news conference last month has resigned amid questions about his identity and background.
James D. Guckert (search), who wrote under the name Jeff Gannon (search), said on his Web site that he was leaving "because of the attention being paid to me." He had been Washington bureau chief for Talon News (search), a conservative online news outlet associated with another Web site, GOPUSA.
Guckert frequently attended White House press briefings over the last two years and asked pointedly conservative questions. Called on by Bush at a Jan. 26 news conference, Guckert said Senate Democratic leaders were painting a bleak picture of the economy and he asked Bush how the president would work "with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality."
The question prompted scrutiny, particularly from liberal bloggers. Guckert was linked with online domain addresses suggestive of gay pornography. Guckert, a former resident of Wilmington, Del., told The (Wilmington) News Journal newspaper that he had registered the domain names for a client while he was working to set up a Web-hosting business.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Guckert did not have a regular White House press pass but was cleared on a day-by-day basis to attend briefings and used his real name.
"He, like anyone else, showed that he was representing a news organization that published regularly and so he was cleared two years ago to receive daily passes just like many others are," McClellan said. "In this day and age, when you have a changing media, it's not an easy issue to decide, to try to pick and choose who is a journalist. It gets into the issue of advocacy journalism. Where do you draw the line? There are a number of people who cross that line in the briefing room."
He said he had been unaware of Guckert's affiliation with any sexually suggestive domain addresses.