Mark Crispin Miller Examines
Mainstream Media's Blind Eye Towards the Gannongate Sex Scandal
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW
Clinton's sex life was fair game.... Although it wasn't all that
interesting, let's face it--it was a consensual affair with Monica....
It made Mike Isikoff's career, gave Maureen Dowd innumerable columns,
and pushed the likes of Matt Drudge and Lucianne Goldberg into prominence.
Now Bush's White House is embroiled in a sex scandal that is both more
sordid and more serious.... This involves not just a huge security lapse,
but what appears to be yet one more case of the Bush White House illegally
deploying propaganda tactics through the institutions of the Fourth
* * *
Propaganda expert and communications professor Mark Crispin Miller has
always paid close attention to the symbiosis between the Bush administration
and the mainstream press. That's why BuzzFlash decided we needed his highly
educated take on the latest turn of the screw (so to speak) in the White
House press room. In his writings, such as Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's
New World Order and The Bush Dyslexicon, he has helped
us understand the relentless campaign to control the media and suppress
any but Bush-friendly messages and images. His one-man performances and
DVD of "A Patriot
Act," a BuzzFlash premium, have entertained and educated, as
well. Without further ado, here is Miller's take on why Gannongate happened,
and why mainstream media doesn't want to know.
* * *
BuzzFlash: Why is the so-called "Eastern
Liberal Press" ignoring the Gannon/Guckert affair or having White
House shills like Howard Kurtz covering it in the Style Section? Didn't
the Post and New York Times gobble up Matt Drudge's semen-stained leaks
from Ken Starr when it concerned a Democratic President? In the post 9/11
world, how could the mainstream media ignore the security lapse here?
Mark Crispin Miller: The media's bizarre avoidance of
this very juicy story makes a few things very clear--or I should say,
very clear again. First of all, it's further proof that there is no "liberal
bias" in the US corporate press--none whatsoever. It also reconfirms
the fact that this media system is not simply "sensationalistic,"
and therefore apt to print whatever lurid stories its employees can dig
up. There is a tabloid element, of course, but it works according to a
double standard that is more ideological than commercial. Simply put,
the US media reports sex scandals only when they seem to tar "the
left," i.e., the Democratic party. As long as they involve the Democrats,
the press is clearly willing to report such scandals even when they're
fabricated. On the other hand, the press goes deaf and blind to "moral"
scandals that involve Republicans, no matter how egregious and well-documented.
So Clinton's sex life was fair game. Not only did the press go ape-shit
over his affair with Monica, but US journalists were often not reluctant
to run rumors, or at least allow the rightist rumor mongers to rave on
uncontradicted. Clinton's sex life made careers in journalism, or what
passes for it nowadays. Although it wasn't all that interesting, let's
face it--it was a consensual affair with Monica, and he was strikingly
inhibited throughout--it took up hours and hours, days and days, weeks
and weeks of air time and print coverage. It made Mike Isikoff's career,
gave Maureen Dowd innumerable columns, and pushed the likes of Matt Drudge
and Lucianne Goldberg into prominence.
Now Bush's White House is embroiled in a sex scandal that is both more
sordid and more serious than anything involving Clinton's infamous libido.
This involves not just a huge security lapse, but what appears to be yet
one more case of the Bush White House illegally deploying propaganda tactics
through the institutions of the Fourth Estate.
Moreover, Gannon/Guckert seems to have been given classified
information. He evidently knew of "shock and awe" before it
was announced, for instance. The story's busting out all over, and getting
uglier and weirder by the day--but not on the networks, not on cable,
and, in print, primarily in opinion pieces. If this had happened in a
Democratic White House, there would be no escaping it, and the rightists
would be shrieking that the President of the United States had taught
our precious children all about gay sex for hire. (According to the right,
remember, it was Clinton--not his enemies, and not the press-- who went
public with the news about those blow jobs.)
It's typical. There was a big sex scandal back in 1989, reported by, of
all organs, the Washington Times, which broke the story of a
male prostitution ring with lots of clients in the Reagan and Bush I administrations,
and a midnight tour of the White House by six revelers, two of them male
prostitutes. Did anybody ever hear of that again?
The same silence persists today; and what's crazier about
it now, of course, is that this bunch purports to be real big on "moral
values." In other words, they--unlike Clinton--just don't do that
stuff. These are the ones imposing giant fines on radio stations for "indecent"
speech, and the ones pushing abstinence-only sex education, and--above
all--persecuting gays in every way available. And yet their various illicit
recreations get no press outside of cyberspace.
So William Bennett's gambling got a lot of press, but his employment
of Mistress Lee was not reported anywhere. Gary Condit's affair with--and
alleged murder of--Chandra Levy was The Story You Could Not Escape for
weeks right up to 9/11, even though there was no evidence that he had
On the other hand, Laurie Klausutis, an intern in Joe Scarborough's office,
was allegedly murdered, right in his office, but it was all, some would
contend, hushed up completely
(and yet Scarborough sometimes whines about it anyway). We heard a lot
about Woody Allen's situation--Newt Gingrich even crowed that it was typical
"liberal" behavior--but when it turned out that the president
of Hillsdale College, a far-right institution, had been boffing his own
daughter-in-law, who went and blew her brains out in despair, that icky
item had no legs. In fact, it had no torso, and no head. It simply wasn't,
because the press will not go there when it involved the right.
BuzzFlash: Many Democrats are afraid to touch the Gannon/Guckert
affair because he's gay, and they feel guilty about being critical of
gays. But three of the main sites that are leading the story are run by
openly gay men who find homophobe gays like Gannon/Guckert abhorrent.
In fact, the Bush administration, like the Reagan administration, has
many gays in senior positions including Ken Mehlman, head of the Republican
National Committee. Drudge himself is gay. Some of the most rabid homophobe
GOP congressmen have been outed as gay. What is this gay GOP homophobe
thing all about when there is obviously a gay bunny patch going on at
the highest level of the Republican Party?
Mark Crispin Miller: Those liberals who refuse to speak
out on this issue just don't get it. They think they're being politically
correct concerning gays, when all they're really doing is covering for
the sickest homophobes. It was much the same thing with those Democrats
who wouldn't make an issue of Bill Frist and his family making major profits
off abortion. The Frists own a chain of hospitals that do abortions. That's
astonishing hypocrisy, and ought to have been named as such, but it was
not, because of Democratic shyness about saying anything that might sound
But the sanctity of reproductive rights was not the issue
there. The issue was the insincerity and greed of those Republicans who
moralize about abortion even as they make a big fat buck from it. This
fact would have appalled some on the right, alienating them from Frist
& Co. Other, less scrupulous rightists would have been hard-pressed
to defend Frist's practices, and that would have enabled a rhetorical
victory in the eyes of the majority. That's how you play to win. And it
would ultimately have been much better for the policy of reproductive
freedom, as it would have weakened some of the leading players in the
anti-choice propaganda war.
It's much the same with this issue. The point of going after Gannon/Guckert
for his day job--and outing all his rightist clients--is not an anti-gay
move. Rather, it's a way to demonstrate the bad faith of the homophobes,
and, still more important, the psychological impossibility of their position.
To note that this whole gay-baiting movement is itself the work of closet
cases is to illuminate the pathological dimension of that movement.
BuzzFlash: BuzzFlash's most basic premise is that the
modern Republican Party is built upon a foundation of corrupt hypocrisy
and ineptitude. How does the Gannon/Guckert affair represent that?
Mark Crispin Miller: Inept and hypocritical they are
indeed, but what this scandal tells us is way more profound. As I've
both in Cruel and Unusual and "A
Patriot Act," there's a big difference between hypocrisy and
projectivity. Hypocrisy means "dissimulation" pure and simple.
A hypocrite does one thing privately while playing a very different
in public. Insofar as he's capable of happiness, he's happy just to live
such a divided life. What he does not need is to have some demon-figure(s)
onto whom he can relentlessly project those aspects of himself that he
unconsciously detests. This is the animus that drives the Bushevik
than greed, more than oil, more than imperialism. The movement is, ultimately,
pathological. Which explains its compulsive hatefulness. Every time
Bushevik vents his spleen against "the liberals," he's actually
referring to himself. "The liberals," he insists, are lying,
bitter diehards, who would do anything to stay in power; they steal
they are "a coalition of the wild-eyed"; and on it goes forever.
If the movement weren't relentlessly projective, it would just disappear.
They have to stay on the attack against the demon, which they can never
finally kill, because that demon is inside them.
So this episode is not anomalous. Guckert/Gannon is no oddity, but just
another fine example of projective nastiness.
He's by no means the only gay homophobe in this movement, which appears
to be the work primarily of closet cases. There are others who
have not been outed, but should be. The
rest of us should be taking this quite seriously, not just because it
might enable a political advantage, but because it cuts right to the
of what this Christo-fascist movement's all about.
BuzzFlash: If the Gannon/Guckert affair--which touches
upon so many of the threats that the Bush White House poses to America
and its utter moral corruption--doesn't force the mainstream press to
forsake corporate profit concerns and fear of getting Karl Rove upset,
Mark Crispin Miller: That's the question we keep asking
ourselves, isn't it? It assumes that they can get fed up, that there will
be the straw that breaks the camel's back. That may not be the proper
way to think about it. They may be so corrupt and so deluded that they
simply cannot see what's right before their eyes. In which case we will
have to find some way to force the story out. In any case, it's up to
us, the people, to take care of this mess, isn't it? The Framers saw the
press as crucial to American democracy, but it is still the people who
make all the difference ultimately. What we may need to do is reconceive
"the press" so that it includes the blogosphere, books, independent
documentaries. Until we start to manage thorough media reform, we're on
Let me add, though, that the mainstream press will be that much likelier
to come around if/when they can no longer fail to see the Busheviks' disastrous
impact on the economy. That's the one line that no US regime can cross
for long. Remember Pat Buchanan? The press winked at his fascism until
he started going populist on "free trade." It was only then
that his Falangist world-view, his racism and antisemitism, started getting
BuzzFlash: What would the mainstream media have done
if Clinton had planted a boy toy shill in the White House press corps?
Mark Crispin Miller: Question answers itself.
BuzzFlash: Where are Pat Robertson, Jerry
Falwell, James Dobson and others? How come they are not out denouncing
the sin of Satan in the White House?
Mark Crispin Miller: I suspect that there are factions
on the Christian right that are appalled, although they wouldn't say it
in public, as they're too well-disciplined to air their rifts that way.
After all, their heroes in the world of politics aren't Jesus and St.
Paul, remember, but Lenin and Trotsky. As David Brock has pointed out,
the Weyrichs and Norquists are big fans of the Bolsheviks.
Despite their public silence, some of those rightists don't approve of
anyone who's gay, and would do anything they could to purge gays from
the government, and execute the rest of them (by stoning, preferably).
This may shed some light on Doug Wead's strange decision to go public
with those tapes of Bush before the coup. The true believers have to be
disgusted, or at least uneasy, at the fact that Bush is soft on gays (or
worse). These folks aren't inclined to compromise their theocratic principles.
The top guys, like Falwell and Ralph Reed, are probably too keen on their
own power to tolerate a schismatic or rebellious move, but others surely
are more purist. As it's a revolutionary movement like any other, it tends
BuzzFlash: Now, Rove and company are advising Gannon/Guckert
to claim that he has been saved by Christianity. Isn't that "get
out of jail" card becoming a bit tired?
Mark Crispin Miller: Rove's cynicism is unbounded. That
doesn't mean that it will work. We tend by now to see Rove as all-powerful,
invulnerable, which is exactly how he wants us all to see him. But he's
fallible, and getting more so as he grows more power-crazed. He's capable
of desperation measures, and this may well be one of them.
BuzzFlash: The Republicans are against quotas and affirmative
action, but accuse the Democrats of discriminating when they don't support
a Clarence "Stepan Fetchit" Thomas or Alberto "Torquemada"
Gonzales. Now, they are making an Internet gay hustler into a victim.
How do they get away with their brazen immorality and hypocrisy?
Mark Crispin Miller: Again, it's not hypocrisy. It's
worse. When they assail the Democrats for bigotry, some of them at least
are capable of half-believing it. The propagandist who can vent straight
from the heart is always more effective, more convincing, than the one
who has to fake it. Orwell's notion of "doublethink" is pertinent
here. The rightists have the knack for being cynical manipulators and
passionate fanatics at the same time. So they can muster something like
genuine outrage that the Democrats are bigoted, etc.
Also, they are themselves more deeply into victimology than any liberals.
They actually do see themselves as persecuted. So did Hitler.
BuzzFlash: Is it possible that, if the truth about the
gay randiness in the modern Republican homophobe party got out to the
red state believers, there might be a pitchfork rebellion against Rove,
Bush and their homophobe hypocrites?
Mark Crispin Miller: Yes.
BuzzFlash: How can pro-democracy Americans keep from
banging their heads against the wall when they look at television news
or the front page of their newspaper and see this betrayal of America
ignored or belittled as a piffle, as Wolf Blitzer and Howard Kurtz have
done? When the mainstream press has covered it, they have only done so,
with few exceptions, to give Rove and company the opportunity to make
Gannon/Guckert into someone who is suffering the barbs of an out of control
Mark Crispin Miller: It's infuriating and disorienting.
Now we know how reasonable people feel, and have felt, in closed societies.
You see one thing with your own eyes, and see something wholly different
in the press. It can drive you nuts--which is, of course, the way you
feel, having that surreal experience day after day. The trick is not to
let it throw you, but to channel all that righteous indignation into trying
to tell the truth in every way you can.
BuzzFlash: Thanks for your valuable analysis
on this important piece of the Bush propaganda story.
Mark Crispin Miller: You're welcome.
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW
* * *
Mark Crispin Miller's "A Patriot Act" (DVD)
NYU's Mark Crispin Miller biography
Talking with Mark Crispin Miller, Author of Cruel and
Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order, A BuzzFlash Interview, July
Mark Crispin Miller, Author of "The Bush Dyslexicon," Talks
With BuzzFlash.Com About the Man Leading Us Toward Armageddon and Miller's
One Man Show in NYC, A BuzzFlash Interview, February 23, 2003
Mark Crispin Miller, A BuzzFlash Interview,
July 19, 2002