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Dear Rep. Slaughter,

As a small newspaper located in your district, we are asking for your help. It has come to our attention that an individual who calls himself "Jeff Gannon" has been credentialed by the White House to attend press briefings and presidential news conferences.

He is affiliated with an organization called Talon News, and is frequently called on by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan and President Bush. This individual has no background in journalism whatsoever, and his "syndicated column" appears solely on his personal Web site, www.jeffgannon.com. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, "Jeff Gannon" isn't even his real name.

In his biography at the Talon News site, where he holds the title of "Washington Bureau Chief," he claims to be a graduate of the "Pennsylvania State University System" and the Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism.

While the 23 schools in the Penn State system award diplomas, the system itself does not, and the Daily News investigation has thus far failed to turn up a "Jeff Gannon" who holds a degree in education from Penn State, as this person claims he does. Furthermore, the Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism is a right-wing diploma mill where anyone with $50 and two days to waste can receive a degree.

As for Talon News itself, it seems to consist solely of a Web site that links directly to a Republican site called www.gopusa.com. Both Talon and GOPUSA have the same mailing address, a private residence in Texas. It isn't clear whether anyone at Talon News is paid, as one portion of its site asks, "Want to join the Talon News team? Click here to find out more about being a volunteer reporter for Talon News."

Looking at the staff biography section of the site, none of the 10 individuals listed appear to have any training or previous experience in journalism, although all list credentials as Republican activists.

We respectfully ask your office to look into how a partisan political organization and an individual with no credentials as a reporter -- and apparently operating under an assumed name -- landed a coveted spot in the White House press corps.


Bruce Battaglia, publisher, Mike Hudson, editor in chief, Rebecca Day, senior editor, David Staba, sports editor, Bill Gallagher, national correspondent, John Hanchette, senior correspondent, Frank Thomas Croisdale, contributing editor, Bill Bradberry, contributing editor, Niagara Falls Reporter.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Feb. 8 2005