February 9, 2005 (Washington, DC) - After two weeks of controversy over his presence at White House press briefings, Talon News "reporter" Jeff Gannon abruptly resigned today.
Media Matters for America sparked the Gannon firestorm on January 26 by detailing Gannon's tendency to lob "softball" questions for White House press secretary Scott McClellan. Media Matters has also shown that Gannon's "news" stories often consist of little more than reprints of Republican talking points, and that Talon News itself is more of a partisan political organization than a news outlet.
Today, in the wake of increased scrutiny prompted by Media Matters' work, including criticism by real reporters of his presence at White House press briefings, Gannon posted the following message on his personal website: "The voice goes silent. Because of the attention being paid to me I find it is no longer possible to effectively be a reporter for Talon News. In consideration of the welfare of me and my family I have decided to return to private life."
Media Matters for America President and CEO David Brock noted: "Mr. Gannon's conduct during White House press briefings suggests that his true role is that of a partisan operative rather than an independent journalist. Gannon's announcement is welcome, but we will be watching to see who, if anyone, Talon News replaces him with."
Media Matters for America's revelations about Gannon included uncovering instances of Gannon's "news reports" lifting extensively and without attribution from an Republican National Committee "fact sheet," a White House "fact sheet" and directly from President Bush; the fact that Talon News is virtually indistinguishable from a Republican activist website known as GOPUSA.com; and the fact that Gannon and Talon/GOPUSA.com head Bobby Eberle have both attempted to organize political events via the right-wing online forum FreeRepublic.com.
On January 31, Brock sent a letter to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan detailing Gannon's and Talon's partisan ties and lack of journalistic qualifications and urging McClellan to consider revoking Gannon's White House press credentials.
News outlets including The Boston Globe, Editor & Publisher, and The Washington Post followed up on the Gannon controversy, quoting real journalists who questioned the presence of a political operative posing as a reporter at White House press briefings and disclosing the fact that Gannon's application for a congressional press pass was rejected. Gannon and Talon News were also the subject of intense research and activism conducted by participants in online forums such as DailyKos.com, among others.