Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), welcomed the news. In his question at the presidential news conference, Gannon had said that in an effort to disparage the U.S. economy "Harry Reid was talking about soup lines," which is not accurate and which Gannon later acknowledged was a characterization he picked up from Rush Limbaugh. "New media or old media, the fact is the question he asked was based on a lie, and that's unacceptable," Manley said. "Fundamentally, what he was reporting was not truthful."
In a letter to Bush, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said that "it appears that 'Mr. Gannon's' presence in the White House press corps was merely as a tool of propaganda for your administration." She asked the president to explain why Gannon "was repeatedly cleared by your staff to join the legitimate White House press corps."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan dismissed the propaganda charge as "just a wild conspiracy theory."
As for whether Gannon should be admitted to White House briefings, McClellan said Slaughter "must not have been watching the briefings lately, because she'd see a number of advocates in that briefing room."
Several White House correspondents say they saw Gannon wearing what appeared to be a permanent White House pass with his picture and pseudonym -- legal names are generally required because of the Secret Service background check -- and that McClellan sometimes called on Gannon when he wanted a softer question. McClellan disputed this, saying he calls on reporters "row by row."
He also said Gannon did not have a permanent pass and was admitted on a day-to-day basis like many other journalists, adding that he does not meddle with the process on political grounds.
In an interview last week, Gannon explained the pseudonym by saying that some people prefer to use more "commercially appealing" names. He complained about "nuts" on the left and said he had been stalked and threatened. He has told colleagues he was willing to shrug off the threats but became upset when relatives were contacted and harassed.
In a posting on another Gannon site called the Conservative Guy, which has since been taken down, he says he has been "a preppie, a yuppie, blue-collar, green-collar and white-collar. I've served in the military, graduated from college, taught in the public school system, was a union truck driver, a management consultant, a fitness instructor and an entrepreneur. I'm a two-holiday Christian and I usually vote Republican because they most often support conservative positions."
His mission, Gannon wrote, is to "help people to realize that they have conservative core values and are therefore conservatives" and "to expose the liberal lies perpetuated by the media, Hollywood, the teachers' unions and the Democratic Party."