It goes without saying that one of the defining moments in the 2006 elections was when former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Florida) resigned in September over electronic messages sent to male House pages.
The press firestorm was extraordinary, with all media outlets focusing huge amounts of air and print space on Foley on a daily basis as Election Day neared.
Yet, eleven months later, when it was revealed Friday afternoon that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement apparently hasn't found anything to actually charge Foley with, besides UPI and a brief mention by CNN's Wolf Blitzer, not one major press organization felt it was newsworthy.
Florida's TCPalm reported Friday (emphasis added throughout):
Former Congressman Mark Foley is unlikely to face criminal charges for sending sexually explicit e-mails to teenage boys, sources close to the year-long investigation have told Scripps Howard News Service.
That could change if new evidence surfaces in the next week that proves Foley, 52, sent online messages to male teenagers with the intent to "seduce, solicit, lure, entice, or attempt to seduce a child," a third degree felony under Florida law.
But as of now, the end of Foley's political career may be the most severe consequence the former congressman faces for the revelations that stunned his longtime supporters and prompted his immediate resignation, just weeks before the 2006 election. The Fort Pierce Republican represented parts of St. Lucie, Martin, Okeechobee and Palm Beach counties.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said this week the investigation should be completed within the next several days.
Sources close to the investigation told Scripps to date there has been no criminal finding against Foley. Once the investigation is completed, it will be turned over to prosecutors in Pensacola. Pensacola has jurisdiction in the case because that is where Foley was when one of the explicit messages was sent.
Joe diGenova, the former U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., said investigators likely could not prove the case had merit.
"My guess is they probably have been unable to find evidence of an actual relationship," diGenova said. "Although the e-mails were suggestive, they didn't violate a statute."
Apparently, this revelation wasn't considered important to editors and producers in newsrooms around the country. Yet, when an appeals court on August 3 ruled that the FBI violated the Constitution in the methods employed to search for evidence at the office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-Louisiana) who's been indicted on bribery charges, the press were all over the announcement.
This included the New York Times, the Washington Post - front page, no less! - the Associated Press, and up to seven separate reports by CNN. Yet, CNN only mentioned the Foley revelation once Friday during the 4PM EST installment of "The Situation Room":
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR: Former Congressman Mark Foley face -- may not face any criminal charges for sending sexually explicit e-mails to congressional pages -- the Scripps Howard News Service quoting sources close to the investigation as saying that could change if any new evidence surfaces. Foley, a Florida Republican, resigned in disgrace last year after his messages to male pages were made public.
And, that was it.
Liberal media bias? What liberal media bias?