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White House-friendly reporter under scrutiny

Page 2 of 2 -- "Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the US economy," Gannon said. "[Minority Leader] Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you said you're going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"

As it turned out, Reid had never talked about soup lines. That was a phrase attributed to him in satire by Rush Limbaugh on his radio show.

Last year, during the presidential campaign, Gannon's comments could be even more pointed. In a Feb. 10, 2004, briefing with McClellan, for example, Gannon rose to deliver the following:

"Since there have been so many questions about what the president was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard? Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda, denouncing America's racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam? And did he throw somebody else's medals at the White House to protest a war America was still fighting?"

David Brock, the former investigative journalist who made his name revealing aspects of former President Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs, said he was watching last week's press conference on television and the "soup lines" question sparked his interest because it "struck me as so extremely biased." Brock asked his media watchdog group, Media Matters for America, to look into Talon News.

It quickly discovered two things, he said. First, both Talon and the political organization GOP USA were run by a Texas Republican activist and party delegate named Bobby Eberle. Second, many of the reports Gannon filed for Talon News "appeared to be lifted verbatim from various White House and Republican political committee documents."

Eberle did not return phone calls yesterday, and Gannon declined to comment. He did reply to Brock's group on his personal blog: "In many cases I have liberally used the verbiage provided on key aspects of the issue because it is the precise expression of where the White House stands -- free of any 'spin.' It's the ultimate in journalistic honesty -- unvarnished and unfiltered. If only others would be as forthcoming." 

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