One of the maddening things about the Mark Foley scandal is how the media can take one congressman’s creepy Internet messages about masturbating, declare it an issue in 468 congressional races, demand the head of the Speaker of the House, and then decry other people for ruining democracy with desperate negative ads that besmirch honest public servants. It’s exactly how Michael Grunwald’s Washington Post story on Friday began, with the Republican opponent to Rep. Ron Kind (who represents my dear old home town of Viroqua, Wisconsin) mocking his backing of federal sex studies. Grunwald and the Post predictably summarize, with typical spit and polish, the DNC talking points of the day, that it's the GOP that wins the prize for negativity:
Looking out your window this morning, don't be surprised to find not one but two pigs flying in tidy formation. As we noted here, on yesterday's 'Today' show, Matt Lauer eschewed the Rush-bashing bandwagon that developed in response to El Rushbo's remarks about the Michael J. Fox ad. As Matt put it: "if Michael Fox goes out there politically and puts himself into the fray, he has to expect to be, you know, taken to account."
If that was enough for Hell's equivalent of Al Roker to issue a frost warning, an editorial in this morning's NY Times is enough to send Hades into the deep freeze. For the Gray Lady has . . . endorsed a Republican, Chris Callaghan, for the statewide office of New York Comptroller.
The Times jumps into the liberal-inspired brouhaha over the RNC's supposedly racist TV ad against Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr., who is running in Tennessee against Republican Bob Corker.
"The Tennessee Senate race, one of the most competitive and potentially decisive battles of the midterm election, became even more unpredictable this week after a furor over a Republican television commercial that stood out even in a year of negative advertising.
CNN’s latest political special, "Broken Government: The Do Nothing Congress," featured Dan Rostenkowski as a quasi-ethics expert, agitation for divided government, and general trashing of the Republicans in Congress. Rostenkowski, for those too young to remember is the former Democratic Congressman who ended up being expelled from the House after being accused of, among other things, charging thousands of dollars worth of gifts to a congressional account. (CNN couldn’t find time to mention his transgressions until 34 minutes into the program.) But, mail fraud and prison apparently aren’t an impediment to being an expert on all things wrong with the GOP. Host Ed Henry used Rostenkowski as a springboard to call for divided government:
Rostenkowski: "The secret of my success, I think, is that, the 14 years that I was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, 12 of them were under Republicans."
Henry: "It seems logical that divided government, Democrats in charge of one branch, Republicans running the other, might cause gridlock. But, when you think about it, it actually seems to produce better results."
Norman Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute) : "I have come to the conclusion, reluctantly -- and I don't have a partisan dog in the fight -- that divided government now may be a better way to go, simply because the incentive, if you're leading an institution that you -- in which you share the responsibility for governing, is to try and make your institution work, because the onus is going to be on you to do so."
What interesting timing? It’s unlikely that CNN had such an appreciation for divided government in October of 1994.
As reported Friday, a Democrat staffer was suspended last week over possibly being the source of the recently leaked National Intelligence Estimate to the New York Times. New reports from the Los Angeles Times and Fox News identified the name of the staffer in question, and that he has ties to Rep. Jane Harman (D-California) who expressed such outrage over the incident (hat tip to Michelle Malkin):
The aide was identified by other congressional officials as Larry Hanauer. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation into the leak, said Hanauer had held positions with the departments of Defense and Homeland Security before joining the professional staff of Democrats on the House intelligence panel about two years ago.
The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan) is apparently fed up with all the leaks coming out of Congress, and sent a letter to Harman’s office addressing such concerns:
Tapper now patrols the political beat for ABC. But his lopsided report on congressional scandals on this morning's GMA reveals that he has lost none of his partisan edge. While Washington University prof Steven Smith was shown stating that 20 members of Congress are currently caught up in sex or money scandals, Tapper focused on seven: six Republicans and only one Democrat.
In Tapper's Republican Hall of Shame were:
George Allen, for 'macaca' and other allegations of racial insensitivity.
Don Sherwood, whose apolgetic TV ad Tapper described as standing for the proposition: "yes I had a mistress but I did not try to strangle her."
Just who is David Kuo? For starters, he used to be the Deputy Director of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives. Additionally, he has now written a book claiming the Bush White House is selling out evangelical Christians. But is he as conservative as the media would have Americans believe? The author appeared on the October 18 edition of "The Colbert Report" and seemed to fit right in with "pretend right-winger" Stephen Colbert:
Stephen Colbert: "Let's get Jesus in the Oval Office. You heard me at the top of the show. Why not do it? How does that hurt to equate God with the President? How does that- How does that hurt?"
Kuo: "Because it gives the impression that Jesus endorses a particular political agenda, you know, that Jesus is somehow, you know, pro-life, anti-homosexual, pro-Iraq war and pro-estate tax. You know, when Jesus actually wasn't about those things. You know, It's the good news. Jesus was raised from the dead. Jesus comes to give life, give it in full. That's Jesus. One is politics. A big difference."
On the October 18 edition of "The Situation Room," CNN host Jack Cafferty wondered about the possibility of an October surprise to save the Republicans in the midterm elections. He noted that "many people think Karl Rove would be the architect" behind such an event. Cafferty, who made the comments during the 5:15p.m. segment of ‘The Cafferty File,’ speculated that such a surprise could include finding Osama bin Laden. The CNN host then noted ominously:
Jack Cafferty: "It just so happens, Rove told ‘The Washington Times’ he’s confident the Republicans will keep control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. He says, ‘the Foley matter,’ his words, will have impact in some limited districts, but not overall. Perhaps Mr. Rove knows something we don’t."
After nearly three weeks of covering every aspect of the Mark Foley scandal, CNN’s "American Morning" still hasn’t tired of the story. Wednesday’s edition of the program featured over 18 minutes of coverage. This encompassed seven full reports on the disgraced Congressman and one anchor read. In contrast, there were no reports on the unfolding controversy of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and his questionable land deal. Additionally, the October 18 "American Morning" featured only two brief anchor reads on a racially charged remark made by Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
"American Morning" has actually increased their Foley coverage over a similar analysis last week. On October 12, the program devoted 18 minutes and 4 seconds to the story. Today, the scandal received 18 minutes and 19 seconds. There’s an important difference however: Starting October 16, "American Morning" shrank from four hours to three. In other words, the show allocated more time to the story, and they did it with a shorter program.
Democrats across America are measuring the drapes for the majority in the House and the Senate, preparing to swear in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. One of their major talking points this year has been the Republican majority’s “culture of corruption.”
In January on PBS, Jim Lehrer asked Sen. Reid why lobbying reform was moving so slowly. Reid replied, “Jim, it's taken a while for this culture of corruption the Republicans have developed to come into the fore.”Aspiring “Speaker Pelosi” just gave a speech at Georgetown University pledging to “drain the swamp” of GOP corruption on Capitol Hill. The Democratic National Committee even had a page on their website devoted to the “Republican Culture of Corruption.”
It should surprise no one that the media are more interested in the Foley scandal than the American public is. Even the "coverup," the media fallback point if the actual scandal isn't salacious enough, does not outrage Americans as much as it outrages media figures who denounce the Republican leadership. Reports CNN:
Only about a quarter of Americans say the scandal over former Rep. Mark Foley will be "extremely important" in how they vote in November's congressional elections, according to a CNN poll released Tuesday.
That figure falls far below issues such as Iraq, terrorism and the economy.
The Foley scandal ranked fifth on a list of five topics in a poll conducted Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corp. (Read the complete poll results -- PDF)
New York Times editor/columnist Frank Rich, fresh off last week's Oprah Winfrey appearance plugging his anti-Bush book, goes wild in his Sunday (TimesSelect $ required) column, "The Gay Old Party Comes Out," doing a little cowardly outing by proxy regarding the alleged "list" of prominent gay Republicans. He doesn't actually wave the list, Joe McCarthy style, but helpfully hints how you can dig it up.
"And while you're cruising the Internet, a little creative Googling will yield a long list of who else is gay, openly and not, in the highest ranks of both the Bush administration and the Republican hierarchy....The split between the Republicans' outward homophobia and inner gayness isn’t just hypocrisy; it's pathology. Take the bizarre case of Karl Rove. Every one of his Bush campaigns has been marked by a dirty dealing of the gay card, dating back to the lesbian whispers that pursued Ann Richards when Mr. Bush ousted her as Texas governor in 1994. Yet we now learn from 'The Architect,' the recent book by the Texas journalists James Moore and Wayne Slater, that Mr. Rove’s own (and beloved) adoptive father, Louis Rove, was openly gay in the years before his death in 2004. This will be a future case study for psychiatric clinicians as well as historians."
Gerry Studds had to die for NBC Nightly News to inform viewers of how the former Democratic Congressman had a sexual relationship with 17-year-old male congressional page, misconduct for which the House in 1983 censured him, but did not prompt Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill and other leaders to force his resignation -- nor raise calls for O'Neill's resignation. Despite the Democratic hypocrisy given their current calls for Speaker Hastert's resignation and investigations of who knew what and when about Mark Foley, Saturday night -- two weeks into the media-fueled scandal -- was the first time, according to Nexis, any NBC News program mentioned Studds' name. Anchor John Seigenthaler, who called Studds “Gary,” relayed how “from Massachusetts comes word of the death of former Democratic Congressman Gary Studds, the first openly gay Member of Congress.” Seigenthaler then gave the gentlest of descriptions as he avoided the word “sexual” in his one sentence on the matter: “In 1983 the House of Representatives censured Studds for his relationship with a teenage page.”
Keeping in line with the Associated Press' penchant for running interference for the Democratic Party, we have another fine example in today's story about the five year prison sentence handed down to Tennessee state senator Roscoe Dixon, a Democrat.
Dixon, convicted of taking $9,500 in bribes, was sentenced as a result of an FBI investigation of Tennessee politicians called Operation Tennessee Waltz.
Amazingly, the AP found no room in their story for party labels. Naturally, they also don't bother to emphasize the many OTHER Democrats that have been indicted in this scandal.
Among others, the top indictments were as follows:
State Senator John Ford (Democrat) of Memphis, TN, State Senator Roscoe Dixon (Democrat) of Memphis, State Senator Kathryn Bowers (Democrat) of Memphis, State Senator Ward Crutchfield (Democrat) of Chattanooga, State Representative Chris Newton (Republican) of Cleveland, Tennessee Barry Myers of Memphis (Democratic Political operative) Charles Love of Chattanooga (Democratic Political operative)
Now imagine if this story was about 6 Republicans and only one Democrat involved in such a deeply disturbing corruption scandal. Do you think Party labels would be left out of the AP story in that case? Who could doubt that, were it a passel full of Republicans under indictment instead of Democrats, the headline would read "Tennessee Republican Corruption Scandal" instead of "Tenn. Senator Gets 5 Years for Bribes"?
So, here we have a story of endemic corruption in the Tennessee state house featuring a gaggle of 99% Democrats... and the AP somehow forgets to mention Party affiliation.
This past week, the media made a very clear distinction between how they view a Republican scandal and one involving a powerful Democrat. MRC analysts found that, over a period of 12 days, the big three networks aired 150 stories on the Mark Foley scandal.
How did those same networks cover an investigation into Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and a very questionable land deal? They generally ignored the story. In the case of CNN, the October 12 "American Morning" aired almost 20 minutes of Foley coverage and devoted 35 seconds to Reid
Not to be outdone, print media also glossed over the emerging Reid scandal. "The New York Times" prefaced a story about Reid earning $1.1 million on a property that he hasn’t owned in three years with this headline: "Senator Offers to Amend Financial Forms." The "Times" is certainly generous in offering the benefit of the doubt...as long as you’re a Democrat.
The media’s vigorous effort to portray the Mark Foley scandal as a vicious blow to the Republican Party’s chances in the November elections continued on ABC's "Nightline" Thursday evening. Reporter Chris Bury’s segment focused on the competitive House race between Democrat Patty Wetterling and Republican Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th District. There was a noticeable difference in how the two candidates were described. While Bury hyped Wetterling as a woman who "has made child protection her life’s mission" with no mention of her ideological positions on any other issue, GOP candidate Bachmann was described as a "staunch" opponent to abortion and gay marriage.
Bury implied Republicans should be worried about their electoral prospects because the race in the "reliably Republican" seat is so closely contested. However, it should be noted that while Minnesota’s 6th district did elect President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, it also has a history of competitive House races, with Democrats being elected to the seat from 1975-1981; 1983-1993; and 1995-2003.
Thursday evening, nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin treated listeners to a round-up of NewsBuster items documenting how big liberal media outlets like CNN and the New York Times are playing down or totally ignoring questions about Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s failure to properly disclose a $1.1 million land sale.
Numerous MRC/NB staffers heard Levin cite NewsBusters in the opening minutes of his 6pm EDT radio show, which is heard live in Washington on WMAL-AM. Levin’s flagship station is WABC in New York City, where his program is the top-rated AM show in its time slot. MP3 Audio (1.35 MB)
The Web site MarkLevinFan.com posted a lengthy audio file of Levin’s entire discourse on Reid from Thursday’s show. MRC’s Scott Whitlock transcribed the portion in which Levin cited postings from himself, MRC’s Tim Graham and TimesWatch editor Clay Waters.
As they did on Thursday, ABC, CBS and NBC again this morning (Friday) omitted any reference to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s evident failure to properly disclose $1.1 million land deal (although all three programs broadcast updates on the two-week old Mark Foley scandal). So far, the only broadcast network coverage has been a benign 30-second mention on Thursday’s NBC Nightly News.
One new development skipped by the networks this morning: an editorial in the liberal Washington Post spanking Reid for showing “a casual disregard” for following the ethics rules, and declaring Reid’s claim that his transactions were “transparent” were “transparently wrong.” The networks usually aren’t shy about telling viewers when a conservative editorial page condemns a conservative leader, but they’re apparently uninterested in the liberal Post’s scolding of Harry Reid.
Today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal pointed out that Reid was actually serving on the Senate Ethics committee at the time of the undisclosed transactions, and that his financial disclosure forms were prepared by Claude Zobell, once Reid’s chief of staff.” Tagged at the end of the news story is the interesting disclaimer that Claude Zobell “is the brother of Charles Zobell, managing editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.”
The ABC and NBC evening newscasts on Thursday ran full stories on the testimony, before the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, from Kirk Fordham, former Congressman Mark Foley's Chief of Staff. But ABC had no time for anything about a late Wednesday AP disclosure of how “Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years.” The NBC Nightly News at least, after two minutes on Foley, managed to squeeze in 30 seconds about Senator Reid, but only a very benign description of the matter.
George Stephanopoulos touted how “ABC News has learned that behind closed doors, Fordham told the ethics committee that he warned Speaker Hastert's office, about Congressman Foley's inappropriate behavior with pages, more than three years ago.” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams elevated Foley to the top of his newscast by teasing: "Who knew what and when in the Foley scandal involving teenage congressional pages? Foley's former Chief of Staff testifies that he raised red flags many times." Following a story from Chip Reid, Williams asked: "What's behind this increased scrutiny for the top man for the Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid?" NBC's Reid explained how the AP reported “he may have violated Senate ethics rules by not reporting some of the intermediate steps along the way” in a land deal and Senator “Reid says it's all perfectly legal” and “he says if technical changes, as he calls them, need to be made, he will do so.”
Thursday's morning shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC stayed true to Democratic partisan form. No one covered the Associated Press investigative report on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's inaccurate disclosure forms as he turned a $400,000 Las Vegas land deal into a $1.1 million bonanza. But there were five items on the Mark Foley scandal, almost at the end of its second week: an anchor brief on ABC, two anchor briefs on NBC, an anchor brief on CBS and a full story from CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson.
MRC's Mike Rule transcribed the story, which aired eleven minutes into the first hour:
New York Times reporter Philip Shenon covers the possible financial scandal involving House Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid…very carefully. For one, "Senator Offers to Amend Financial Forms" is the most benign headline imaginable -- as if Reid is doing everyone a favor by offering to follow the law.
Contrast that with the negative headline over the Times' AP story about Republican Sen. George Allen from Monday, which has no problem focusing the blame: "Virginia Senator Did Not Disclose Stock Options."
The October 12 edition of "American Morning" demonstrated the stark difference between how the media focuses on a Republican scandal, versus one involving a powerful Democrat. The CNN program devoted 18 minutes to investigating the Mark Foley scandal and only 35 seconds to the details of a questionable land deal involving Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Despite the recent revelations that Reid earned $1.1 million on a Las Vegas property that he hadn’t owned for three years, and despite the fact that he recently hung up on an AP reporter who dared ask him about it, "American Morning," which airs from 6a.m to 10a.m., only broadcast two brief anchor reads on the subject. In contrast, the program produced five full reports and one anchor read on the scandal involving former Congressman Mark Foley and congressional pages.
This is how guest anchor Betty Nguyen reported the Reid story at 7:14a.m. EDT:
Nguyen: "Well, a Senate Democrat is now under scrutiny this morning for a land sale. Property deeds show Democratic leader Harry Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a land sale and there are questions about how he reported it. It happened in his home state of Nevada. Reid says he did nothing wrong. The Senate Ethics Committee is reviewing the case."
A second report followed an hour later:
Nguyen: "Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid is denying any wrongdoing. Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a land sale in his home state of Nevada. But there are questions about how he reported it. The Senate Ethics Committee is looking into this land deal."
Note the distinct lack of interest in those comments.
Why is it that none of the major television networks or newspapers have managed to pay attention to the biggest real scandal of the 2006 campaign season, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's real estate shenanigans? According to yesterday's AP report, Reid pocketed a $1.1 million windfall on the sale of some Las Vegas property he didn't own at the time of the sale. This makes Hillary Clinton's futures trading venture look like amateur hour. And it's time for conservatives to act because the biggest scandal is that the media are burying the story.
According to the AP report, the deal was put together by Reid's longtime friend Jay Brown, "...a former casino lawyer whose name surfaced in a major political bribery trial this summer and in other prior organized crime investigations." Apparently Brown structured the deal so that Reid could transfer his ownership interest to Brown without disclosing it to the public. And here's the kicker: Reid didn't disclose the sale on his financial disclosure forms filed with the Senate.
After his May 8 prediction that White House aide Karle Rove "will, in fact, be indicted" blew up in his face as investigators into the Valerie Plame non-scandal told Rove he would not be charged, you'd think MSNBC correspondent David Shuster would have stayed away from making prognostications based on his own reporting.
If you predicted that, however, you would've been wrong.
Last Wednesday, Shuster confidently asserted that his sources told him that GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert would be ousted from power by a week. Well, it's Thursday now and Hastert is still very much in the Speaker's Chair. Will Shuster trouble himself to issue a retraction? Perhaps the perpetually inaccurate Keith Olbermann might bestir himself to force one since he now seems slightly more interested in accuracy, especially since Shuster's remark was made on his show.
In any case, Shuster should definitely consider developing some better sources since they've steered him wrong rather profoundly on two instances in less than six months' time.
Full text of Shuster's comment is below the fold. Tip of the hat to Olbermann Watch for reminding me of when Shuster made his false prediction.
Did you happen to go home from work this evening and miss this AP Exclusive?
Funny, the following AP story broke this afternoon at 2:13 P.M. on the Forbes website yet it doesn't appear that any of the big mainstream newspapers covered it until well after most people left for home from work.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn’t personally owned the property for three years, property deeds show.
In the process, Reid did not disclose to Congress an earlier sale in which he transferred his land to a company created by a friend and took a financial stake in that company, according to records and interviews.
The Mark Foley instant-messaging scandal is playing out like a massive October Surprise for Democrats. On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, ABC News anchor Christopher Cuomo spoke insistently: "Less than a month before the elections and the Mark Foley scandal just keeps growing." Reporter Jake Tapper added: "This is the scandal that will not go away."
To measure the aggression of TV assignment editors on the Foley story, MRC analysts counted the number of stories devoted to the scandal and the repetitive insistence that Republicans are in deep political danger and may need GOP leaders to resign. On the ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news programs, from the story’s emergence on Friday night, September 29, through Wednesday morning, October 11, the Big Three networks have aired 152 stories. (A fraction of the stories were brief anchor updates.) The breakdown:
"Didn't the MSM get the memo? Keep Foley on the front page!" That seemed to be Chris Matthews' attitude when he was interviewed on this afternoon's MSNBC Live regarding Pres. Bush's press conference of this morning.
Appearing during the 2-2:30 PM ET slot, the transparently ticked-off Hardball host was asked: "The Mark Foley scandal has been dominating the news for over a week now. It was barely touched upon in the news conference today. Was the president, do you think, successful in refocusing attention on to the economy and national security today?"
A palpably PO'd Matthews:
"Well, he was successful to a large extent because the press, for whatever reason, decided not to ask him about the Foley scandal, which has dominated this network and so much else of the media for the last couple weeks and has been a big part of the American conversation. I don't know why though the correspondents - and they're the best in the business - chose to stick right to the issue of Iraq and North Korea, but they did, giving the president a chance to grab the headline tomorrow morning and tonight, with a big story about North Korea and his position on that topic. He has won the day on controlling the topic."
After more than 100 stories on ABC, CBS, and NBC on the Mark Foley Internet-messaging scandal, it wouldn’t be hard for the average Joe to conclude the Democrats are now the Party of Moral Values.
Democrats are demanding that Republicans return the monies Foley gave their campaigns. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader who would very much like Denny Hastert’s job, is predictably fanning the flames. “We want to know,” she thunders, “why the Republicans chose to protect Mark Foley's political career rather than protect the children who were in our charge.”
Jack Cafferty, the CNN host of "The Cafferty File" segment of "The Situation Room," Tuesday asserted that Virginia Senator George Allen doesn’t "have much" character and lamented the fact that Allen is leading his opponent in the polls. He derided a new advertisement by Allen that calls for voters to focus on his stand on the issues:
Cafferty: "Allen doesn’t want voters to focus on his character, because it’s becoming more and more apparent in recent weeks that he may not have much. There was the time he called an Indian American volunteer from his opponent’s campaign ‘macaca’ and welcomed him to America. Allen’s been accused of using the N-word to refer to blacks. He denies ever doing that.
He’s been in the Senate for six years, but voters just learned a few weeks ago that he’s Jewish. He claims his mother never bothered to tell him. Sure.
And the Associated Press reports that for the last five years, Allen has not bothered to tell Congress about stock options that he got for being a director of a high tech company in Virginia. Allen says he did not report the stock options because he saw them as worthless. When his lawyer was told that Senate ethics require that stock options be reported regardless of their value, his lawyer said he was unfamiliar with that provision. You want to know why things are so screwed up in Washington D.C.? In spite of all the things I just mentioned, Allen is leading in the polls, four weeks before the election.Maybe Allen is on to something, maybe character doesn’t matter to Virginia voters."