You think pseudonymous conservative gay pornographer-escort White House correspondent Jeff Gannon stuck out like a sore ... wait, check that ... was highly UNUSUAL among the White House press corps? Think again:
- Marlin Fitzwater, former press secretary to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said in an interview that he created day passes in response to a federal court decision in the late 1970s requiring the White House to admit all journalists unless the Secret Service deemed them threats to the president or his immediate family.
The lawsuit involved Robert Sherrill of the Nation, who was denied a press pass on the Secret Service's recommendation because, it turned out, he had punched out the press secretary to the governor of Florida.
The White House press corps has since attracted an array of unusual personalities. There was Naomi Nover of the Nover News Service. No one ever saw her work published, but Nover — whose coif of white hair somewhat resembled George Washington's wig — got past a security cordon during a Reagan trip to China after a reporter showed guards a U.S. dollar bill as evidence of how important she was.
Lester Kinsolving, conservative radio commentator, wore a clerical collar to White House briefings in the Reagan years. His loud voice and off-beat, argumentative questions often provoked laughter. President Clinton, to lighten up the proceedings, often called on Sarah McLendon, who worked for a string of small newspapers in Texas and called herself a citizen journalist unafraid to blast government bureaucrats.
"If you look at the question Gannon asked, it obviously reflected his conservative views," Fitzwater said.
"But it's no different from the ones Helen Thomas [formerly of United Press International, now of Hearst] asked of Reagan, or Dan Rather [of CBS] asked in his more famous comments about Richard Nixon.
"This guy [Gannon] got caught and he's a little weirder than most — but he's no weirder than Evelyn Y. Davis," said Fitzwater, referring to the shareholder advocate who covers the White House for her corporate newsletter, "Highlights and Lowlights."