"A North Korean ICBM hit Hawaii with a 10-kiloton atomic weapon today. Now back to Meredith and Matt for the latest on the burgeoning Mark Foley scandal. Is it doom for Republicans?"
Perhaps I exaggerate a tad with that imaginary bit of dialogue, but judging by this morning's 'Today,' you have to wonder. Good Morning America devoted the lion's share of its first half-hour to the N. Korean test of a nuclear device, with no fewer than four segments focusing on it. Over at Today, after a correspondent in China gave a report, and Lauer and Andrea Mitchell batted things around for a while, it was over. No expert analysis, no nothing. It was time to move to a report on . . . the latest lettuce recall. Have a look at the clock in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. It was only 7:06.
CNN Political Editor Mark Preston posted a 160-word item on the network's Political Ticker this afternoon celebrating with glee a seven-word smack-down from "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos to Republican Congressman Adam Putnam of the Florida 12th. The Congressman, participating in a round-table discussion with show host Stephanopoulos and Congressman Rahm Emanuel of the Illinois 5th, both of whom served in the Clinton White House, contrasted the Mark Foley flap with the Monica Lewinsky scandal that erupted during President Clinton's second term. "[Foley's] resignation was demanded within hours," Putnam said. "Contrast that to previous scandals, where, frankly, two people at this table have had to cover for their former boss' sexual misdeeds while in office, and did not demand his resignation." Stephanopoulos responded to Putnam by saying that he left the Clinton administration in 1996, two years before the Lewinsky scandal broke.
Conceivably one of the finest examples of hypocrisy and liberal media bias I’ve witnessed since this blog was created occurred on Sunday’s “The Chris Matthews Show.” The first subject for the panel – which consisted of Norah O’Donnell, Tucker Carlson, Andrew Sullivan, and Maureen Dowd – was – drum roll please – Mark Foley. As one would expect, there was tremendous disgust for Foley’s behavior, and the panel enunciated ties to Republican corruption and competence. Yet, when the discussion moved to Sen. Hillary Clinton running for president in 2008, and the possibility that she would name her husband as Secretary of State, no one on the panel, including Tucker Carlson, saw the inherent contradiction.
After all, the former president was sued, impeached, and implicated in several sex scandals. If Foley’s behavior was so atrocious to all four panelists, it quite appeared that such disdain was not shared for the former president’s behavior, and didn’t disqualify him from future service to the nation. For example, in the opening segment about Foley, Norah O’Donnell said:
In Foley Case Upsets Tough Balance by Capitol Hill’s Gay Republicans, the New York Times describes the plight of gay Republican staffers in DC. According to the Times, things are so tough for them that a group gets together every week to "commiserate." The longish article makes an interesting read, but I was particularly struck by these two items. First, the article's author, Mark Leibovich, writes:
"Even though the G.O.P. fashions itself as 'the party of Lincoln' and a promoter of tolerance, it is perceived as hostile by many gay men and lesbians."
Friday's CBS Evening News led again with the Foley/page scandal, even though the two stories aired offered virtually no fresh information, as anchor Katie Couric justified the news judgment by declaring the issue is “still the talk of the town,” “is not going away” and “is overshadowing every other election issue for the moment” -- all self-fulfilling assessments sustained by the decisions of Couric and her media colleagues. Couric then moved on to Republican Senator John Warner's warning that Iraq is drifting “side-wise,” a comment trumpeted by Brian Williams at the start of the NBC Nightly News, which also led with the page scandal: “When a key Republican Senator comes home from Iraq and says the U.S. has to re-think its strategy, is this a new turning point?”
Buried: The drop in the unemployment rate. ABC's World News, which unlike CBS and NBC, led with something other than the Foley fallout (the fire at a chemical plant in North Carolina), ignored it. CBS Evening News viewers only heard of the positive trend from a clip of President Bush in the middle of Gloria Borger's lead story on how the parties are reacting to the Foley matter: “Today we got more good news: National unemployment rate is down to 4.6 percent." Only NBC offered an actual news report, 20 seconds in length, on the latest numbers.
This past week, the media hyperventilated over two developing scandals: Congressman Mark Foley, and Bob Woodward's "State of Denial." ABC, CBS and NBC produced 103 stories on the Foley scandal, quite a bit more time then was devoted to Democratic sex scandals. The "Today" show’s Matt Lauer joined with Tim Russert to slam Speaker Hastert and the GOP. Lauer also contributed to the fawning over Bob Woodward and his new book. The MRC’s Brent Baker noted that Woodward has mocked the President’s intellect in the past.
Speaking of journalists with huge egos, Chris Matthews, yet again, displayed his partisan leanings by defending Robert ‘KKK’ Byrd, claiming that Bush "won’t tell the truth" about Iraq, and praising Clinton for his anti-Fox News rant. Perhaps he should rename his show, "Hardball...For Republicans."
And to think, it was just a few days ago that the former president of MSNBC stated, prior to Fox News, "many in the media scoffed at the notion of a liberal bias." Would this not be the best time to mention that leftist MSNBC host Keith Olbermann recently called Roger Ailes a "fat ass?"
MRC's Rich Noyes has calculated the number of Mark Foley/Will Hastert Quit? stories for Week One of the scandal on ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news programs, from last Friday night, September 29, through Friday morning, October 6. So for evening shows, it's Friday to Thursday. For morning shows, it's Saturday through Friday. (One or two evening stories and a smattering of morning stories are brief anchor updates.)The number's a little shocking: 103 stories. It breaks down like this:
-- ABC: Good Morning America, 23 stories; World News, 15 stories
-- CBS: The Early Show, 17 stories; Evening News, 11 stories
Mike Luckovich, the liberal cartoonist for "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," earned a chuckle from CNN anchor Miles O’Brien by claiming that "80 percent of the priesthood" is gay. Luckovich, who appeared on the October 6 edition of "American Morning," was promoting his new collection of comic strips, "Four More Wars." O’Brien began by asking the cartoonist about the Foley scandal and then attempted to link it with a plan by the pope to ban homosexuals from serving as priests:
O’Brien: "And why don't you explain this one?"
[Cartoon appears onscreen. One priest is looking at the other and says, "Does this make me look gay?"]
Luckovich: "Well, OK. The new pope wanted to -- wants to ban homosexual priests, so you are going to have to lose 80 percent of the priesthood if that happens. But -- so I've got a bishop here saying -- he's looking down at his vestments, and he's saying, ‘Does this make me look gay?"
O’Brien: [Laughs]: "It's -- well, you know, it is a fashion statement, isn't it? All right. And, of course-"
Luckovich: "Yes. You know, I was thinking -- Miles, I was thinking about maybe making Denny Hastert maybe like an archbishop and somehow, you know, making the comparison that way. I'll let you know if that -- if that works out."
O’Brien: "Oh, okay. That sounds like dangerous turf, but I would like to see that one for sure."
On last night's O'Reilly Factor, Bernard Goldberg, former CBS reporter and author of "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News," says the Foley scandal is nothing but an "October surprise." He also says the media ignored a similar story in 1994 about Democratic congressman Mel Reynolds, who "didn't just talk about sex with an underage person, he had sex with a 16-year-old girl."
Giving the opposing viewpoint was Jane Hall, professor of journalism at American University and a dedicated defender of the mainstream media on various Fox News programs.
The editorialists at the Chicago Tribune aren't ready yet to declare that Speaker Dennis Hastert has to be tossed aside, but before they get too high and mighty about the safety of teenagers from lecherous Members of Congress, we should recall that the Trib editorialized in favor of what would become Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of Mel Reynolds, the convicted teen-sex/child-porn/obstruction of justice Democratic congressman. Headlined "Reynolds, Not Rosty, Needs Mercy," the Trib complained that disgraced Dan Rostenkowski didn't need the Clinton pardon, unlike Reynolds:
Mel Reynolds, elected in 1992 after knocking off 2nd District incumbent Gus Savage, was convicted on state charges related to his sexual relationship with a teenage girl, and then on federal charges of bank and campaign fraud. He's been locked up since October, 1995, first doing his state time and then going to federal prison to serve an unusually harsh 61/2-year sentence that, if nothing is done, will keep him behind bars until March, 2003 -- leaving his wife and three young children to fend for themselves.
Do you favor tax cuts? If so, you're no better than a congressman wanting to slip the pants off a page. Worse, for that matter. That's the reasoning of Rosa Brooks, L.A. Times columnist. In Grand Old Party of Child Endangerment, Brooks argues that:
"Foley's acts may have damaged the handful of boys unfortunate enough to have attracted his attention, but the damage to children caused by his abuse of power is still far, far less than the damage to American children caused by this Congress' disastrous mismanagement of the American economy."
By "mismanagement," Brooks makes clear she largely means tax cuts:
"Though only the Foley scandal has generated substantial media coverage, the Republican-led Congress has a long record of child endangerment. Recall that from 2000 to 2005, Congress handed out tax breaks for the rich like hors d'oeuvres at a Republican fundraiser. They slashed the estate tax and the capital gains tax, selling these cuts with an advertising campaign that misled ordinary people into thinking the cuts were going to help working Americans, instead of just the rich."
Harry Smith continued to pounce on the Foley scandal on this morning’s "Early Show." Smith talked with former Secretary of State James Baker in the 7:00 half hour, and immediately focused on the Foley e-mail scandal and whether Speaker Hastert ought to resign his position over it. Unlike Bay Buchanan on Thursday’s "Early Show," Baker disputed that Hastert should be turned into a sacrificial lamb by Republicans, and refuted Smith's assertions that if Hastert would just resign, that the story would go away.
Smith began by asking Baker what he would do if he were in charge to help Republicans get passed the Foley scandal:
"First off, you know, you were known, one of your nicknames along the line was 'The Velvet Hammer.' You had a lot of responsibility for cleaning up messes from time to time. If you were in charge right now, what would you do?"
We've been here before; the similarities are, well, eerie.
First, the sensational story in the closing weeks of an election, attributed, of course, to an anonymous source. A blogger, William "Wild Bill" Kerr of Passionate America, using clues gleaned from ABC's own website, reveals the name of one of the "victims," and the fact that he was not, as reported by ABC, under 18 at the time of the Instant Message exchange.
Rep. Barney Frank gave an interview to Advocate.com yesterday where he compared gay Republicans in
Congress to "secret Jews".
In what is billed as an Advocate.com exclusive Rep. Franks stated that the Foley scandal will result in a purge of gays from the Republican Party.
What do you think was the role of gay Republicans in all this?
Apparently, Kirk Fordham, Foley's ex–chief of staff and Rep. Thomas Reynolds's chief of staff, is a very active gay Republican [and] also had some role in the hush-up. [As of Wednesday, Fordham is no longer on Reynolds's staff.] There are others who were involved that I can't mention since they aren't out. They are all more like secret Jews.
How do the gay Republicans reconcile their consciences?
A lot of them chose between their gayness and their party. I'm sure the group of gay Republican staffers hid Foley's actions as best they could.
This is a real crisis, since before, gays in the Republican Party were willing to be tolerated, but Republicans will now be more nervous having gay people in positions of power. They have been critical of people who are out and gay—there could be a real purge of gays in the Republican Party now. It's probably just enough for people to be perceived to be gay.
What did Speaker Hastert know about former Congressman Foley’s lurid communications with a former page, and when did he know it? This is an open question that will be resolved through investigations by the House Ethics Committee and the FBI. Yet before all the facts are known, "The Early Show" continued to clamor for Hastert’s resignation. The "Early Show" has raised the subject of Speaker Hastert resigning in at least two stories in each of the last four days. On Thursday’s program, Hannah Storm spoke with CBS’s idea of a balanced panel-- a Republican and a Democrat who agree that Hastert should resign his position.
In the 7:00 half hour of today’s program, Hannah Storm spoke with Republican strategist Bay Buchanan and Democratic strategist Kiki McLean. Storm focused her first questions to each of her guests on whether Hastert should resign:
Just as PJ Gladnick and I were hypothesizing that Democrats were behind the Mark Foley page scandal, Matt Drudge is reporting this:
According to two people close to former congressional page Jordan Edmund, the now famous lurid AOL Instant Message exchanges that led to the resignation of Mark Foley were part of an online prank that by mistake got into the hands of enemy political operatives, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal.
According to one Oklahoma source who knows the former page very well, Edmund, a conservative Republican, goaded Foley to type embarrassing comments that were then shared with a small group of young Hill politicos. The prank went awry when the saved IM sessions got into the hands of political operatives favorable to Democrats. This source, an ally of Edmund, also adamantly proclaims that the former page is not a homosexual. The prank scenario was confirmed by a second associate of Edmund.
The news come on the heels that former FBI Chief Louis Freeh has been named to investigate the mess.
ABC News has just released this statement explaining how blogger Wild Bill of Passionate America was able to learn the real screen name of Mark Foley's Instant Message correspondent:
On Friday, ABC News published instant messages between a former page and Congressman Foley with the IM screen name of the teenage victim redacted. Immediately, we discovered that in one instance, the screen name of the teen on one IM exchange had not been properly redacted. ABC News immediately took down the posting [version 1], redacted the screen name and re-published the posting [version 2]. We certainly believed that we had taken care of the issue quickly. Last evening, after an inquiry from Matt Drudge, it came to our attention that a blogger was able to access our deleted file [version 1] by typing in a slightly modified web address. To be clear, no one visiting our website would have simply stumbled on the old version. We thank the blogger and Drudge for bringing this to our attention.
Talk about a double standard. On the one hand, ABC News breaks stories pushing disgust at Mark Foley's "X-rated emails" with teenagers, and suggests Dennis Hastert should resign for being unable to stop them. But wait: ABC Entertainment rolls out the adult-on-teen gay sex scenes on ABC's smutty "Desperate Housewives" for fun and profit. It wins awards for ABC as "Best Comedy." How serious is ABC and Disney about the sexual exploitation of teens by adults? Doesn't it make money presenting it as saucy?
Congressman Mel Reynolds, the Democrat convicted of 12 charges, including sex with 16-year-old Beverly Heard and asking her to take pornographic photographs of a 15-year old, was indicted on August 21, 1994. ABC, the current scourge of congressional teen-sex scandals, reported nothing – until Reynolds was convicted a year later, on August 23, 1995. In fact, on May 13, 1994, ABC featured Reynolds in a "Person of the Week" speaking out in favor of two Chicago ladies fighting child molesters:
Peter Jennings: " Their local congressman is certainly on their side. He also wants to make child molesting a federal offense."
Rep. Mel Reynolds (D), Illinois: "These ladies really illustrate how being active in your community can really make a difference."
One aspect of the Mark Foley scandal that hasn't gotten a lot of coverage is how the story even became one at all. The first public source of the story was an obscure blog called Stop Sex Predators which seemingly was started with the express intent of outing the GOP congressman's sex life.
How did such a small blog with no readership manage to score such a scoop? Its owner refuses to say. He/she/they has posted this message:
Maybe I'm not so happy that so many people are coming to this blog site.
not interested in media interviews. Thank you for your interest, but if
you were doing your job to begin with, Mark Foley would have been
exposed a long time ago. Instead of wanting to do a story about this
blog, how about covering the fact that the media sat on this story for
over a year. You're as bad as the Congressional Leadership that covered
ABC news mistakenly released the IM identity of the page who exchanged IM messages with former Rep. Mark Foley. Bloggers Wild Bill from Passionate America and Ms. Underestimated tracked the AOL profile from the unredacted IM message and are reporting that the person is a 21 year old Deputy Campaign Manager for Congressman Ernest Istook in Oklahoma.
The current age of the person would put him at 17 or 18 years of age at the time of the IM exchange although ABC released a statement saying that the messages took place before and after the man's 18th birthday.
Wednesday’s ‘Early Show" continued to hype the Mark Foley scandal. In a segment with Bob Schieffer, called "Capitol Bob," co-host Julie Chen wondered if Speaker Hastert should resign his position over the scandal, while Schieffer cited conservative sources such as "The Washington Times" to emphasize the trouble Hastert is in and conveyed to viewers his conviction that the Mark Foley scandal will cost the Republicans control of the House of Representatives.
"If I were a betting man, I would now bet that the Republicans are going to lose the House. Not by very much. But I think this may be just the thing to give the Democrats control of the House. This is really serious business for the Republicans right now."
Tim Graham pointed out to me that CNN had a real attachment to the word ‘lurid’ yesterday. As disturbing as this story is, do we need to use tabloid adjectives? If they are going to treat the story like that, why not follow it with pieces on the latest Hollywood scandal or alien abduction? They would do their counterparts at the National Enquirer proud.
Notice the systematic use of ‘lurid’ throughout the day! The Larry King people liked it so much they doubled up on "lurid" last night.
1.gruesome; horrible; revolting: the lurid details of an accident. 2.glaringly vivid or sensational; shocking: the lurid tales of pulp magazines. 3.terrible in intensity, fierce passion, or unrestraint: lurid crimes. 4.lighted or shining with an unnatural, fiery glow; wildly or garishly red: a lurid sunset. 5.wan, pallid, or ghastly in hue; livid.
In the midst of Day 3 the Today show's exhaustive coverage of Mark Foley, NBC's Norah O'Donnell actually shoe-horned in one more reference to Bob Woodward's State of Denial in her Foley story. Right before she concluded the set-up piece to Matt Lauer's interview with Joe Scarborough, O'Donnell referenced the Woodward book as yet another nail in the coffin for Republicans.
Norah O'Donnell: "Republicans are increasingly nervous that the Foley scandal raises questions about their credibility on moral values. Add to that the new book by Bob Woodward, State of Denial, that raises questions about another GOP strength, national security."
On the "Foley fallout" beat on Day 3, ABC's Good Morning America turned to their sex-scandal expert (and oh, the sex scandals he's spun for Bill Clinton!) George Stephanopoulos. MRC's Justin McCarthy reports the Foley story was still a major hurricane headed to blow away Republicans, and was coming to shore:
Roberts: For more on the fallout on this we go to ABC chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos who is also the host, of course, of 'This Week.' George, when I talked to you earlier this week when this story broke, you said it was a category three political hurricane for Republicans. Has it intensified since then?"
After all, it is remarkable that the Post would run any story comparing the disparate treatment Democrats have received at the hands of the press and their constituencies as a result of sex-related scandalous behavior compared to their Republican counterparts.
But upon further review, as surprising as Farhi's effort is, when you group all of the people identified in Farhi's article into categories by party and how they were treated, you realize that Farhi glossed over important elements relating to Democrats who were (eventually) punished, and you note at least two very, very glaring omissions.
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers previewed large chunks of his Jack Abramoff "Capitol Crimes" documentary (airing on PBS Wednesday) on far-left Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now" program on Tuesday. Asked why he was once again hammering away on conservatives on taxpayer-funded PBS stations, just weeks before the elections, Moyers predictably declared that America is going to hell in a handbasket under the right wing: "our democratic form of government is in the most precarious state since the Depression." He told host Amy Goodman:
As I listened to you begin this broadcast with the litany of reality that you report, I got a slow burn, you know, at just what's happening to this country, to our government and to America under the reign of the corporate, political and religious right. And there are so few places that, as you are doing, are just simply telling the other side of the story, letting the facts add up, that I realize I couldn't sit in the rocking chair and comfortably enjoy the books I’m reading, while our democracy, it needs all the information those of us who are independent journalists can provide. So I came back, because there just is too much to report and too much to tell, at a particular time when I think we’re in a -- when our democratic form of government is in the most precarious state since the Depression.
CBS News reporter Gloria Borger on Tuesday night broached a subject which political correctness would advise she avoid. In a CBS Evening News story about the latest developments in the Mark Foley case, she relayed the view that Foley's sexual orientation helped protect him from scrutiny: “There's a secondary story here, one that rank and file Republicans will only talk about privately: That it was common knowledge that former Congressman Foley was gay and not discreet. One senior House Republican tells CBS that there's a lot of anger at what he describes as 'a network of gay staffers and gay members who protect each other and did the Speaker a disservice.'” Borger concluded: “Republicans worry that their voters could well decide to sit this election out if they're disgusted, and that could mean the party loses control of the House.”
Network morning shows stayed on the Mark Foley scandal on Tuesday. ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN all harped on the "conservative" Washington Times editorial calling for Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign. (The Times is conservative, but no one expects the networks to describe the liberal newspapers -- or themselves -- with an ideological label.) ABC's Brian Ross came on strong, suggesting the Republican problem was "one of hypocrisy, talking tough about going after pedophiles on the Internet but not doing much about it when it comes to one of their own." CBS's Hannah Storm wondered if the scandal would "take down the Republican leadership in the House." NBC's Tim Russert used a rare P-word quoting a panicked Republican: "If there's a perception that we overlooked perversion in order to hold on to power we are finished." And CNN brought on a braying Paul Begala and found Democrats were "particularly enjoying the fact" that House campaign chairman Thomas Reynolds was ensnared in the controversy.
Better prepare yourselves for an alternate reality, folks, because the shocks came early and often in this piece (emphasis mine throughout): “Sex scandals involving politicians are as old as Thomas Jefferson, but the outcome seems to depend on which party you represent. In recent years, for the most part, Democrats have been able to survive their sordid escapades while Republicans have paid with their political lives.”
Can’t be the Washington Post, right? Checking that link about now? The article miraculously continued after briefly discussing the current scandal involving Rep. Mark Foley (R-Florida):