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Mark Foley Goes into Rehab. FOX News Scrambles to Make Excuses, Switches Focus to Democrats.

Reported by Marie Therese - October 2, 2006 -

The conservative spin machine was in full overdrive this morning, trying desperately to do damage control in the wake of revelations that the Republican House leadership knew for a year that Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) is a sexual pervert who routinely engages in cybersex with male minors. Subsequent to his resignation on Friday, Rep. Foley has announced that he will go into rehab for "alcohol and emotional problems". On this morning's FOX News Live anchorwoman E. D. Hill muted her usual strong disapproval of sexual predators by implying that Rep. Foley's misbehavior is less horrendous because a Democrat "got a pass" 23 years ago when caught in an indiscretion with a male page.

I found Mrs. Hill's hypocrisy especially disturbing because she co-hosts The Radio Factor, which, as everyone knows, is Bill O'Reilly's baby. O'Reilly is one of the nation's strongest advocates for mandatory 25-year sentencing for child molesters. He describes himself as independent and as a person who is always "lookin' out" for the kids, yet he has been curiously weak in his condemnation of Rep. Foley and the GOP cover-up (see Deborah's earlier post). One can only assume that this is because his crack research team is gathering lots of damaging evidence - including stealth camera interviews with Rep. Foley in his driveway - which they will present to the world very soon. (Yeah. When pigs fly!)

The Foley story was broken last Friday by ABC's highly respected correspondent Brian Ross, after a last-ditch effort by Foley's supporters to squelch it.

On Friday afternoon, a strategist for Rep. Mark Foley tried to cut a deal with ABC's Brian Ross.

The correspondent, who had dozens of instant messages that Foley sent to teenage House pages, had asked to interview the Florida Republican. Foley's former chief of staff said the congressman was quitting and that Ross could have that information exclusively if he agreed not to publish the raw, sexually explicit messages.

"I said we're not making any deals," Ross recalls. He says the Internet made the story possible, because on Thursday he posted a story on his ABC Web page, the Blotter, after obtaining one milder e-mail that Foley had sent a 16-year-old page, asking for a picture. Within two hours, former pages had e-mailed Ross and provided the salacious messages. The only question then, says Ross, was "whether this could be authenticated." (Washington Post)

As we all know, not only has the story been authenticated, but it now appears that the Republican House leadership knew a year ago that such emails existed and did little to protect the pages. Reports in venues other than FOX News have reported that the GOP leadership has known about Foley's "odd" behavior as far back as 2001. (For a timeline as it stands today, go to Think Progress)

On this morning's FOX News Live, Republican strategist Ed Rogers was ably assisted by Hill as both tried to rehabilitate the GOP leadership. However, Democratic strategist Jack Quinn, former Clinton White House Counsel, managed to stand his ground and get across his strong message of disapproval despite being interrupted by Rogers and Hill. It would seem that some Democratic spokespeople are learning how to negotiate the treacherous waters at the "fair and balanced news channel".

As you can see from the video below, E. D. Hill, who has supposedly been "promoted" to the status of a news anchorwomen, engages in clearly partisan questionning, both verbally and in her demeanor. The exchange among these three made it abundantly clear what the GOP strategy will be as they try to shovel their way out from under the cascade of damning revelations that seem to show the Republican leadership more interested in keeping Foley's seat in the Congress than in protecting the kids and prosecuting a child molester.

Some pertinent excerpts:

E. D. HILL: "The FBI investigating former Congressman Mark Foley's emails as he checks into a Florida rehab. At the same time, the Democrats want to know if the GOP tried to cover up the scandal. If criminal charges are brought forth before the midterm elections, how does that bode for the two parties? ... Let me start with what we know, what we don't know. We know that the House leadership was aware at some level of emails that were not sexually explicit in nature but were of concern and that they brought these to the attention of Rep. Foley and [they] told him, basically, cease and desist, don't contact pages anymore. We do not know if they found out about these more explicit, sexually explicit, emails. So that's where we're starting right now. Let me find out from you, Ed, do you think this is something that paints the entire party as you go into the midterms or do people look at this as an isolated incident?"

ED ROGERS: "Well, it's certainly not flattering and it's definitely off message. Politically speaking, this is a message from another planet. Having said that, I think the American people are fair and they realize that this terrible incident and this inappropriate behavior doesn't necessarily reflect on the party or the institution any more than Bill Clinton's inappropriate relationship with an intern or a former Democrat Congressman's relationship with a page in a previous - previous years - was intended to indict the entire party. People are fair, but this is not good."

HILL: " Well, let's talk about that. There is a bit of fake shock on Capitol Hill, it seems, because this has happened in the past. In 1983 a Republican Congressman from Illinois admitted to having sex with a female page. A Democratic Representative from Massachusetts admitted having sex with a male page. The Republican said 'I'm sorry." He was voted out of office. The Democrat said 'what I do in my personal time is my personal business' and he was reelected until he decided to retire in 1996. Newt Gingrich called for the expulsion of both. It didn't happen. There was only a censure. So, should Foley have been kicked out or basically, what we assume - it happened behind the scenes - pushed into leaving?"

Comment: The Illinois Republican was conservative Daniel B. Crane, married and the father of six children. The Democrat was Gerry Studds, who admitted to being gay. Crane's offenses occurred in 1980 and involved hot button issues for his conservative consitutents, i.e. marital fidelity and family values. Those consitutents ousted him in the next election. Studds' offense was considerably older, having occurred in 1973. According to the Seattle Times: "Studds, a liberal Democrat who acknowledged having sex with a 17-year-old male page in 1973 and making sexual advances to two others, admitted an error in judgment but did not apologize. The first openly gay member of Congress went on to win re-election until his retirement in the mid-1990s." In her efforts to be balanced and fair, Ms. Hill decided that she would report on one Republican and one democratic indisretion. However, since the rein of "Saint Ronnie" there have been a large number of Republicans caught in various behaviors at odds with the carefully crafted and marketed 'holier than thou' image of the GOP. Go to Dkosopedia for a complete list.)

Democrat Jack Quinn brought it back to the real issue at hand, stating "...the focus now needs to be on what the Republican leadership did. As you said, we know several things. We know there was a sexual predator apparently creeping the halls of Congress, looking for pages. We know that the Republican leadership knew almost a year ago about these emails. We know that the Republican staff knew as long ago as five years ago and warned pages to stay away from him. What did the Republican leadership do? They covered it up. They handled this as a political matter. They put saving his seat in front of protecting these kids. (ED ROGERS laughed.) They made contributions ..."

ROGERS: "Come on, Jack, be a little bit fair."

QUINN: "Ed, excuse me. Excuse me, Ed."

ROGERS: "Come on."

QUINN: "Excuse me, Ed."

ROGERS: "Come on. The Democrats can't help themselves. They overreach."

QUINN: "This is not a funny matter, Ed."

ROGERS: "No, but the way you do it belittles us. The way you handle it belittles the whole mess."

****

QUINN: "I would like to finish. This was handed to the head of the Republican campaign committee, not to the bi-partisan Page Board. They made - that person, the head of the campaign committee, made a contribution to Congressman Foley after knowing about these emails and accepted a $100,000 contribution from him."

You can view the rest of the interview below. It remains to be seen whether Culture Warrior Bill O'Reilly or Paid Advertising Hack Sean Hannity will rise up to their full height, wag their fingers in the air and demand - demand, I say! - in their loudest voices - that Congressman Foley be tried by a jury of his peers and then locked up for 25 years in a Florida prison as a sexual predator.

Because, you see, thanks to Bill O'Reilly, the state of Florida adopted Jessica's Law, which sets MANDATORY penalties if someone is convicted of a sex crime against a child.