The editor of a popular conservative weblog is questioning why his name has appeared on the list of 'enemies' that reporter Jeff Gannon is considering suing. Swift Report executive editor Todd Fox notes that his news site has consistently sided with Mr. Gannon in recent weeks and suggests that the reporter's enmity towards him may date back to a personal misunderstanding over the difference between a professional colleague and an escort.
An evening of oysters and white burgundy ends with an invoice
By Howard Ogilvie, Swift Report Ombudsman
LOS ANGELES—The executive editor of the Swift Report, Todd Fox, is questioning why his name has appeared on the list of 'enemies' that reporter Jeff Gannon is considering suing. According to news reports over the weekend, Mr. Gannon, whose real name is James D. Guckert, may sue liberal interest groups, bloggers and others, including Mr. Fox, for what he's calling a "political assassination."
Earlier this month it was revealed that Mr. Gannon had gained access to presidential and White House press conferences using a false identity, and that he had links to patriotic websites including including hotmilitarystud.com, militaryescorts.com and militaryescortsm4m.com. Since the revelations, Mr. Gannon left his job at Talon News, and shut down his personal website.
When the story of Mr. Gannon's alleged duplicity first broke, liberal bloggers and members of the elite media were quick to condemn Mr. Gannon as a fake with a pornographic past. But the Swift Report praised his even-handed treatment of the president and Bush administration policies, calling him "a breath of fresh air," and "a real journalist." "It's unusual to see someone rise to the heights of the journalistic profession with almost no formal training," wrote Deanna Swift in an internal memo to the Swift Report editorial board earlier this month.
But the cozy relationship between the Swift Report and Mr. Gannon likely ended for good over the weekend with the reporter's alleged inclusion of Mr. Fox on his 'enemies' list. Also singled out by the former Talon News correspondent was Media Matters, what he referred to as a "well-funded" liberal group headed by longtime "attack dog" David Brock.
Drinks and hors d'oeuvres—then an invoice
According to Mr. Fox, he first met Mr. Gannon at the Leadership Institute's Broadcast Journalism School in Arlington, VA, where Fox was teaching an accelerated course in journalistic ethics. The two met up again in Washington, DC in 2000, says Mr. Fox, for drinks and 'professional chit chat.'
"I thought JG and I were getting together as professional colleagues, but at some point after we'd both consumed a great many Bluepoints on the half shell and way too much white burgundy, the evening started to feel well, romantic," says Mr. Fox. "I had to be very firm with him that we were having a journalistic meeting of the minds and that this was not a date."
But while the two parted amicably, Mr. Fox says his confusion only deepened a week later when he received an invoice from Mr. Gannon in the mail. "I opened the envelope, very thick ivory paper with JG's monogram, and inside was a bill for $200. Well, I returned it and you better believe that I didn't enclose a check for services rendered." (Click thumbnail to view invoice.)
Advice to Gannon: come clean
It was that misunderstanding, believes Mr. Fox, which may have led his name to be mentioned this weekend along with several prominent bloggers and liberal activists. "Who knows, maybe if I'd paid the bill this wouldn't be happening," says Mr. Fox.
Mr. Fox, who created the Swift Report last year, has enjoyed a long and fulfilling career in both the publishing and entertainment industries. Starting as a dancer in the 1980-81 national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, he remains active in the theatre, most recently serving as lead choreographer with the Billy Graham "Crusader" Tour. After completing his degree in journalism from California Baptist University, he worked as a professional journalist for a decade and is the author of a forthcoming self-help guide entitled "Stumbling Down the Yellow Brick Road: An Ecumenical Ex-Gay Travel Journal" (2005).
As for Mr. Gannon, Mr. Fox has only kind words to say about his former oyster bar companion and fellow admirer of President Bush. "You just have to live your life on your sleeve. You can't live a lie. I would encourage JG to come clean, especially with those he loves."