BlogCall with US blogs

24 February 2005

Over at Democrats.com in America Bob Fertik has initiated a regular live conference call between upto 100 progressive bloggers and news journalists. They call it BlogCall and if you fit the bill, you should ask him for an invite to the next one.

Today's BlogCall (the first ever) was with special guest John Aravosis from AmericaBlog.com speaking about the Jeff Gannon/male prostitute scandal which has burst out of the White House in recent weeks thanks to much digging and blogging. The whole BlogCall will be broadcast today on RadioLeft.com at 6pm ET.

A fake journalist has been coming to White House press meetings for two years asking right-bent questions to President Bush. It turns out he was a front for a Republican organisation (real name James Guckert) and - as a bonus - that he was a male prostitute. The story has hit the mainstream press and "Gannon" is giving interviews left and right. You can see his version of events here.

Why is it interesting? People are wondering whether the White House knew Gannon was a plant, and let him stay to make Bush look good in press conferences. There's a national security angle, and allegations of religious right sexual hypocrisy too. In pushing the story Aravosis says that as a journalist and a blogger he is only interested in "the truth". On a more cynical note he says, "As soon as you mention George Bush and gay hooker in the same sentence, we've won".

On AmericaBlog he surprises himself by emphatically recommending an article from the consvervative WorldNetDaily. "I don't think any of us could have written this," he says during the BlogCall, and recommends the final paragraph especially: "It raises serious security questions. It raises questions of propriety. It raises questions of judgment. And it raises questions about the role of a free press in a free society."

But the main issue for bloggers right now seems to be to keep the story alive.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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