Probe of faux reporter voted down
Conservative activist's access to press corps remains an issue
By ELANA SCHOR
THE SUN HERALD WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON - Thompson's attempt to begin an investigation into how an online writer was allowed to join the White House press corps is defeated.
A party-line vote Wednesday defeated Rep. Bennie Thompson's (D-2nd District) push to investigate the Bush administration's approval of a press pass for a conservative activist who became a daily fixture at White House press briefings.
Thompson, the House's top-ranked Democrat for homeland security, joined other leading Democrats to call for an inquiry into how James D. Guckert, an online writer with ties to pornographic Web sites, joined the exclusive White House press corps and gained access to an internal government intelligence memo.
"It's unfortunate that the House Judiciary Committee has chosen to politicize the issue of a proper vetting of the White House press corps," Thompson said through his spokesman, Lanier Avant. "Any time a substantive issue is put forth and Republicans first choose to protect the president instead of the American people, there is just cause for concern."
Every committee Republican voted against Thompson's resolution of inquiry, and every Democrat present voted in favor. While the Web sites Guckert was associated with, using the pseudonym Jeff Gannon, including www.talonnews.com and www.hotmilitarystuds.com, have shut down since his identity became public, his case has sparked debate over the legitimacy of Web journal writers, or "bloggers." The first blogger was admitted to the White House press room last week.
Avant said Thompson would not abandon his concern over the Guckert controversy, and that other regulatory agencies could be employed for an investigation if congressional Republicans continued to dissent. Thompson's fellow Democrats concurred.
"This is no less serious than what my (Republican) colleagues thought the proceedings of the Clinton impeachment were for them," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). "I don't believe it can be answered through (White House) self-investigation."
More of the same from the party that wanted to restore integrity to the government.