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Gannon: The Early Years

by Joe Conason Before he was buttering up Bush at White House press conferences, "Jeff Gannon" was doing the GOP's dirty work in attacking Tom Daschl

by Joe Conason

Before he was buttering up Bush at White House press conferences, "Jeff Gannon" was doing the GOP's dirty work in attacking Tom Daschle.

Long before "Jeff Gannon" became a household pseudonym in the nation's capital, he had earned considerable recognition among the political elites of South Dakota. During that state's closely contested Senate race last year, the Talon News writer -- whose real name is now known to be James Dale Guckert -- dug his claws deep into Tom Daschle, the former Senate minority leader narrowly defeated by Republican John Thune.

In 2004 Republican leaders placed no higher price on any head, besides John Kerry's, than on the Senate Democratic leader's. For years, conservative organizations had attacked Daschle with campaigns that included notorious ads that paired the Army veteran with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. The smear efforts damaged Daschle's standing with the state's voters, and as the election grew nearer, Republican blogs and Web sites took up the dirty work. In what has now been exposed as a blatant Republican strategy, the seemingly independent bloggers had in fact been paid by the Thune campaign. read on

The saga deepens.

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