But Rove's dominance of White House and Republican politics, Gannon's aggressively partisan work and the ease with which he got day passes for the White House press room the past two years make it hard to believe that he wasn't at least implicitly sanctioned by the "boy genius." Rove, who rarely gave on-the-record interviews to the MSM (mainstream media), had time to talk to GOPUSA, which owns Talon.
One of Gannon's first projects was an attempt to discredit the South Dakota Argus Leader, South Dakota's major paper, and its longtime political writer, David Kranz. According to the National Journal, which reported on this last November, Gannon wrote a series of articles in the summer of 2003 alleging that Kranz, who went to college with Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle, was not only sympathetic to him but was an actual part of the Daschle campaign. These articles then got a huge amount of play on the blogs of John Lauck and Jason Van Beek, and were picked up by other conservative sites and talk radio. The paper was bombarded with messages about its bias and acknowledges that these had an impact on its coverage.
Daschle opponent John Thune's campaign manager was Dick Wadham, an old political crony of Karl Rove's; the kind of pal Rove could ask to hire his first cousin, John Wood, a few years back. Wadham put the bloggers on the campaign payroll and the symbiotic relationship between the campaign, the bloggers and "reporter" Gannon continued. On September 29, Gannon broke the story that Daschle had claimed a special tax exemption for a house in Washington and the bloggers jumped all over it. According to a November 17 posting on South Dakota Politics a site that Van Beek, who has become a staffer for now-Sen. Thune, has bequeathed to Lauck "Jeff Gannon, whose reportage had a dramatic impact on the Daschle v. Thune race (his story about Sen. Daschle signing a legal document claiming to be a D.C. resident was published nearly the same day Thune began to run an ad showing Daschle saying, "I'm a D.C. resident) has written an analysis of the debacle."
The bloggers in South Dakota want to know what relation, if any, the junior Senator had with the fraudulent journalism of Jeff Gannon. Thunewatch