Scarborough Sex Scandal Double Standard On Hastert vs Pelosi

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, on Friday's Today show, remarked how similar the Eric Massa case was to the Mark Foley sex scandal in 2006, and back then Scarborough went with Matt Lauer's premise that Hastert should be "Thrown under the bus" - a point some Republicans and conservatives agreed with then. However when NBC's Meredith Vieira questioned if Pelosi needed to testify, let alone resign, over the Massa mess Scarborough demurred: "I don't think so." So much for holding a Democratic Speaker to the same standards.

The following is what Scarborough told Lauer on the October 4, 2006 Today show:

MATT LAUER: So in other words, are you saying that the Republicans, to turn those numbers around, are going to have to--for lack of a better expression--throw somebody under the bus other than Mark Foley?

JOE SCARBOROUGH: They're going to have, they're going to have to throw Denny Hastert under the bus. But I-

LAUER: You think he should resign?

SCARBOROUGH: I think politically if the Repub-, the Republicans have to do something dramatic. Ray LaHood, a congressman also from Illinois who came in 1994 with Foley and myself, said that just the other day. They have to do something dramatic. Of course, Matt, I just got to tell you, I think whatever they do will be too little too late. This is the final straw that broke the camel's back. Again, Republicans never trusted Bob Woodward. I mean, the thing is, it's the base that's going to be upset by the Foley scandal that will end up dooming the Republican majority. I think Nancy Pelosi's the next speaker of the House.

LAUER: Joe Scarborough, interesting prediction.

Fast forward to 2010 and Scarborough is singing a different tune, saying Pelosi doesn't even have to testify about the Massa fiasco:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Do you think Nancy Pelosi will be called before this hearing and, and, and asked to say what she knew and when she knew it?

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I don't think so, but, but I don't think she has to do it. I don't think there has to be one of those great Howard Baker moments in Watergate.

The following is the relevant exchange between Scarborough and Vieira as it was aired on the March 12 Today show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Morning Joe is a former Republican member of Congress...

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I didn't know this guy, though, I swear! No lunch dates, nothing!

VIEIRA: Nothing, nothing?

SCARBOROUGH: Nothing, nothing.

VIEIRA: It's way after your time.

SCARBOROUGH: Wasn't in the Navy, nothing.

VIEIRA: Alright, the House has weighed in.

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

VIEIRA: They want the Ethics committee to continue its investigation of Massa's behavior and what the Democratic leadership knew about it. So now the committee has to decide whether to do that. Right?

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

VIEIRA: They can cast their own vote. You've got five Republicans, five Democrats, which means at least one Democrat has to side with the Republicans here. Do you think that somebody will and that indeed they'll go forward with this?

SCARBOROUGH: I think they will, only because yesterday they had a vote on the floor. I think it was 402 to 1.

VIEIRA: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: That they needed to investigate this. Democrats know this is deja vu all over again. I can't believe how similar this situation-

VIEIRA: To the Foley situation?

SCARBOROUGH: -is to Mark Foley's a couple years ago. And so I see John Boehner up there going, "Well, you know maybe we were hiding or, or she was hiding something and staffers weren't protected." And of course, it was John Boehner who was in the middle of the Foley mess a couple years ago, where Republicans said, "We didn't know until this point," and then the investigations start-

VIEIRA: Right. And he was accused of a cover-up then.

SCARBOROUGH: Right. And, and so then we find out later after the investigation starts that they actually knew a month before, a month. So, so this is so much like Foley. And again, the importance of it is that this sort of story gets on the late-night shows, everybody talks about it, and it gives Republicans a nice bow to put on their box of culture of corruption which you sell in the fall-

VIEIRA: So, it's really not about-

SCARBOROUGH: -which is what happened with Foley. Foley was a small situation. It was bad for what he did, but it had very little to do with deficits or debt, but it was a great punch line for Democrats. It was the bow on top of a lot of other scandals.

VIEIRA: So it really doesn't have much to do with Massa's behavior anymore. It's about embarrassing the Democratic leadership?

SCARBOROUGH: It's about keeping this story going as long as it can, because when you do that, it's on The Daily Show, it's on Leno, it's on Letterman. Just like Mark Foley. We heard about Foley for a month or so, and we all laughed about it, but Republicans were slow. It's so funny, with all the things that went wrong with the Republicans from 2001 to 2006, when Foley broke, everybody was like, "Okay, that's it, it's over!" This is, Americans will wake up and say, "Those guys are out of control." Democrats are now concerned same thing may happen here.

VIEIRA: Do you think Nancy Pelosi will be called before this hearing and, and, and asked to say what she knew and when she knew it?

SCARBOROUGH: I don't think so, but, but I don't think she has to do it. I don't think there has to be one of those great Howard Baker moments in Watergate. If Republicans keep this story alive, then it will hurt the Democratic Party, especially now. My God, the timing with health care reform, that's the big issue. That's what will determine whether Barack Obama has a successful first two years or not.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.