1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Harpers: Dems Circulating Foley E-Mails in May 05

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Deeper_Background, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. Deeper_Background

    Deeper_Background Active Member

    In May, a source put me in touch with a Democratic operative who provided me with the now-infamous emails that Foley had sent in 2004 to a sixteen-year-old page. He also provided several emails that the page sent to the office of Congressman Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican who had sponsored him when he worked on Capitol Hill. “Maybe it is just me being paranoid, but seriously, This freaked me out,” the page wrote in one email. In the fall of 2005, my source had provided the same material to the St. Petersburg Times—and I presume to The Miami Herald—both which decided against publishing stories.

    Though the emails were not explicitly sexual, I felt strongly that Foley's behavior was inappropriate and that his intentions were clear. Why would a middle-aged man ask a teenager he barely knew for his photograph, or what he wanted for his birthday? I contacted Foley and he strongly denied any ill intent. He told me there was “nothing suggestive or inappropriate” about his emails to the page, adding that if the page “was intimidated, that's regrettable.”

    The staffer said that Foley's motive in asking the page for a picture was entirely innocent: he merely wanted an image of the boy so he could remember him more clearly in the event that he wanted a job recommendation down the road. Needless to say, none of this sounded even remotely convincing.

    I tried to contact the page who received Foley's emails and the boy’s parents, but got no reply to my inquiries. However, I did speak with another former page who'd had an unsettling encounter with Foley. “He was a lot more friendly than you'd expect a congressman to be,” this page told me. “He acted like he was a kid himself.” The former page said that on one occasion when he was still working on the Hill, Foley asked him and another page if he could accompany them to the gym, an invitation they declined because it made them uncomfortable. When the page mentioned the incident to a congressional intern who worked with the page program, he was told that Foley had a history of being too friendly with the pages, and it was suggested that it would be better to avoid Foley in the future.

    Congressman Alexander's office declined to comment on the matter, apart from issuing a brief statement emailed to me on May 31 by press secretary Adam Terry: “When these emails were brought to our attention last year our office reviewed them and decided that it would be best to contact the individual's parents. This decision, on behalf of our office, was based on the sensitivity of the issue. Our office did, in fact, contact the parents, and we feel that they (the juvenile's parents) should decide the best course of action to take concerning the dialogue outlined in the emails.” I had a number of other questions I wanted to ask—for example, although the ex-page's parents were understandably concerned about their son's name coming out in the press, didn't Alexander's office have an obligation to make sure that Foley was not hitting on other kids?—but Terry did not reply to further requests for comment.

    The final draft of my story—which did not name the ex-page who received Foley's emails—was set to run on June 2. “Foley's private life should, under most circumstances, be his own business, but in this case there is a clear question about his behavior with a minor and a congressional employee,” went the story’s conclusion. “The possibility that he might have used his personal power or political position in inappropriate ways, as the emails suggest, should be brought to public attention.”

    We decided against publishing the story because we didn't have absolute proof that Foley was, as one editor put it, “anything but creepy.” At the time I was disappointed that the story was killed—but I must confess that I was also a bit relieved because there had been the possibility, however unlikely, that I would wrongly accuse Foley of improper conduct.

    While Harper’s decided not to publish the story, we weren't entirely comfortable with the decision. A few weeks later I passed along the emails and related materials to several people who were in a position to share them with other media outlets. I subsequently learned that other people had the same information and were also contacting reporters. (By this point, my original source apparently had given up on getting the media to cover the story.)

    Among those who received information about the story but declined to pursue it were liberal outlets such as Talkingpointsmemo.com and The New Republic (The Hill, Roll Call, and Time magazine also had the Foley story, though I'm not certain when it came to their attention.)

  2. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Here's the rest of Ken Silverstein's story:


    Ironically, it was ABC—which just weeks ago was being defended by Republicans and attacked by Democrats for airing The Path to 9/11—that finally ran the story. The network obtained the emails from a person who is scrupulously non-partisan.

    That was my experience of the Foley affair.

    If this was all a plot to hurt the G.O.P.’s chances in the midterm elections, why did the original source for the story begin approaching media outlets a full year ago? If either of the Florida papers had gone to press with the story last year, or if Harper's had published this spring, as the source hoped, the Foley scandal would have died down long ago. A stronger case could be made that the media, including Harper’s, dropped the ball and inadvertently protected Foley and covered up evidence of the congressman’s misconduct.

    The source who brought me the story didn't see it as a grand piece of electioneering. He viewed it as a story about one individual, Mark Foley, and his inappropriate and disturbing behavior with teenagers. The G.O.P. and its friends in the media are trying to concoct a conspiracy in order to divert attention from the failure of Republican officials to deal properly with Foley.

    It is now absolutely clear that Foley was indeed a menace to kids working on Capitol Hill. In seeking to malign the parties who sought to expose his conduct, top Republicans reveal that they are far more outraged by the possibility that the scandal might harm their party’s prospects in November than they are by Foley's behavior.
  3. Deeper_Background

    Deeper_Background Active Member

    So the Democrats in the media put children at risk for 18 months before seeing fit to publish the e-mails?
  4. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

  5. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Nope. Journalists decided not to run a story they didn't have nailed down.

    We decided against publishing the story because we didn't have absolute proof that Foley was, as one editor put it, “anything but creepy.”

    If any news outlet had run this story last year, without absolute proof that Foley was engaged in a pattern of online solicitation and inappropriate sexual gratification with congressional pages, the Right would have cried character assassination.

    Foley's drunken come-ons are not the fault of Harper's. Nor were the children ("the children!") put at risk by a magazine. They were put at risk by a Republican congressman.

    If you want to defend the sad appetites of a handsy, horny Republican alcoholic serial masturbator, you'll have to find some new talking points.
  6. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    It would be nice to blame Democrats for this, except THEY'RE NOT IN POWER. The reason Hastert and the House leadership is getting dinged is because they were in an actual position to call Foley on the carpet about this, and didn't. If you think Democrats were going to convince the House leadership to act when it wasn't even listening to Republicans about Foley, you're crazy. I mean, all Hastert probably would have had to do is quietly bring Foley into his office and say, "Cut it out," but he didn't even do that.

    And the leadership's response since the revelation has been the epitome of how not to handle a crisis.
  7. I think we have an entirely new category of d_b'ing here.
  8. Killick

    Killick Well-Known Member

    Okay, here's my thoughts on this whole "Gee, the Dems held onto it" spin the GOP is putting out now. BFD. Here's the crux of this: If you try to handle quietly, in a way that will not hurt the party, and fail to do anything significant in a timely manner, you lose all rights to bitch and moan about when it does become public. This was going on for years. Hastert and his gang may not have know the extent (giving them the benefit of the doubt), but there was clearly enough there to want the guy out. Instead, they asked him to run again.
  9. dog428

    dog428 Active Member

    Let's see, the Republicans sat on this story for weeks, more likely months (and I'm talking about the whole deal here, not just those early emails) in the hopes of retaining the seat.

    That shit didn't work out so well.

    Now they're whining like a buncha little bitches.

    Pure comedy.
  10. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Looking at the polls, this strategy of 'blame the Democrats' is not working for the Republicans.

    In fact, it's backfiring.

    So I'm happy for them to continue it...

    Blame away, fellas.
  11. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    No, there wasn't enough proof.

  12. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    Let's do some logical thinking to those who turn this into a political debate:

    Democrats supposedly knew about this but sat on it until election time. Republicans supposedly knew about this but sat on it until they were hoping the election had ended. What about what actually happened with the rep and the page? We're making a bigger deal about who knew what when instead of focusing on the actual incident.

    Priorities people.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page