Apparently the Mark Foley story first broke on this new blog, StopSexPredartors.blogspot.com, which started in July and brought down the Congressional leadership with its sixth, seventh and eighth posts.
Color me skeptical. Maybe the blog author was an unwitting catspaw, but I would want some assurance that this was not simply a successful attempt to promote a story that wasn't quite ready for the Mainstream Media by laundering it through some blogs (and wasn't that Matt Drudge's ecological niche, back in the day?). And part of my suspicion arises because the blog posted emails about gay Congressmen in repsonse to a post about "skinterns", scantily clad young women. Where were the emails about Dirty Old Men and Sweet Young Things of the female persuasion?
The River City Mud Bugle has even more backstory:
Two hours later [following the first posting of the former page's emails], someone writing under the name “WHInternNow” published a diary on Daily Kos linking to Stop Sex Predators. The diary was met with skepticism from Daily Kos users, and received only a few largely critical comments. “This diary makes an accusation,” one commenter wrote, “a serious accusation, but provides no evidence to back it up.”
The Real Problem With Foley (0 / 0)
It’s not that he’s gay. It’s that he constantly hits on underage interns on The Hill. You guys talk about an “open secret” well Foley’s eye for the young boys in the White House and around the Capitol is what has the Republican bosses scared to death. It’s just wrong that this guy can hit on young boys and still be in the leadership.
The story was evidently not quite good enough for the D Kos, but ABC found enough to run with it.
This Editor's Note from the St. Petersburg Times explaining their handling of the story raises more questions:
In November of last year, we were given copies of an email exchange Foley had with a former page from Louisiana. Other news organizations later got them, too. The conversation in those emails was friendly chit-chat.
Foley asked the boy about how he had come through Hurricane Katrina and about the boy's upcoming birthday. In one of those emails, Foley casually asked the teen to send him a "pic" of himself. Also among those emails was the page's exchange with a congressional staffer in the office of Rep. Alexander, who had been the teen's sponsor in the page program.
The teen shared his exchange he'd had with Foley and asked the staffer if she thought Foley was out of bounds.
There was nothing overtly sexual in the emails, but we assigned two reporters to find out more. We found the Louisiana page and talked with him. He told us Foley's request for a photo made him uncomfortable so he never responded, but both he and his parents made clear we could not use his name if we wrote a story.
We also found another page who was willing to go on the record, but his experience with Foley was different. He said Foley did send a few emails but never said anything in them that he found inappropriate. We tried to find other pages but had no luck. We spoke with Rep. Alexander, who said the boy's family didn't want it pursued, and Foley, who insisted he was merely trying to be friendly and never wanted to make the page uncomfortable.
So, what we had was a set of emails between Foley and a teenager, who wouldn't go on the record about how those emails made him feel. As we said in today's paper, our policy is that we don't make accusations against people using unnamed sources. And given the seriousness of what would be implied in a story, it was critical that we have complete confidence in our sourcing. After much discussion among top editors at the paper, we concluded that the information we had on Foley last November didn't meet our standard for publication. Evidently, other news organizations felt the same way.
Since that time, we revisited the question more than once, but never learned anything that changed our position. The Louisiana boy's emails broke into the open last weekend, when a blogger got copies and posted them online.
Later that week, on Thursday, a news blog at the website of ABC News followed suit, with the addition of one new fact: Foley's Democratic opponent, Tim Mahoney, was on the record about the Louisiana boy's emails and was calling for an investigation. That's when we wrote our first story, for Friday's papers.
After ABC News broke the story on its website, someone contacted ABC and provided a detailed email exchange between Foley and at least one other page that was far different from what we had seen before. This was overtly sexual, not something Foley could dismiss as misinterpreted friendliness.
That's what drove Foley to resign on Friday.
Fine, but - why was Foley's opponent so sure that he had a solid accusation? Or was it a lucky shot in the dark?
And how did ABC round up the follow-up emails and IMs so quickly?
And was it the page in Louisiana who sent his Foley emails to an unknown web-site after declining to push this story with the St. Petersburg Times? Maybe - the St. Petersburg Times would not let him make an anonymous accusation. OTOH, if the former page was so determined to get Foley, why didn't he try another news organization - ABC, for example, didn't seem to have a problem with anonymously sourcing this.
And if it was *not* the page from Louisiana who sent the emails to StopSexPredators, who did?
KEEPING HOPE ALIVE: I welcome some help in sorting out the dates of the second wave of lurid emails and IMs. For example, one of them - "strip down and get relaxed" - was from 2003. If none of them are from 2006, then one might hope that the leadership intervention was effective.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Dennis Hastert sends a letter to the Attorney General requesting an investigation, and apparently he and I are on the same
As I am sure you are aware, there are two different and distinct communications at issue here. First, Mr. Foley sent an email to a former page of Representative Alexander in the fall of 2005. This email was determined to be "over friendly" by Representative Alexander's office but was not sexual in nature. Second, based on media reports, there is a different set of communications which were sexually explicit instant messages which Mr. Foley reportedly sent another former page or pages. These communications, of which no one in the House Leadership was aware to my knowledge, reportedly were sent sometime in 2003.
We have a bit more from ABC:
Some of the sexually explicit instant messages that led to Foley's abrupt resignation Friday were sent to pages in Loraditch's class [of 2001-2002].
And in a different ABC story:
Two sets of sexually explicit instant messages obtained by ABC News were sent to pages beginning in 2002.
For yet another reason that the timing is critical, consider this from Glenn Greenwald:
One last point: just this year, Republicans drew the line of age of consent at 18 when, with overwhelming support, they enacted the "Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006," which the President signed into law (with Mark Foley standing behind him). By definition, then, they consider the acts in which Foley apparently engaged to be criminal.
Sure its criminal - now. But retroactively? If those IMs were not illegal when Foley sent them in 2002/2003, and *IF* no one comes forward with similar emails from 2006 (after the law was signed and House leaders sort-of-warned Foley), we are looking at a moral/ethical/political problem but not a legal one. [NOT SO, says Adam Liptak of the Times, although there are plenty of constitutional and jurisdictional issues.]
Which will leave us here - when it was legal to do so, Foley flirted (inappropriately and excessively) with young men who were above the age of consent. If Foley and his target pages had actually done the deed, it would not have been illegal. At the time Foley was simply communicating by means of the internet, that apparently was not illegal either.
Look, Foley has resigned and his performance was deplorable. But it may not be illegal, and the House leadership may not be guilty of much more than having been a bit trusting. Barring a bombshell from 2006, it can also be argued that their mild intervention was successful.
COOLER HEADS MAY PREVAIL: Via Roll Call, we see this from Nancy Pelosi:
"Speaker Hastert seems more concerned by who revealed the Republican leadership's coverup of Mr. Foley's Internet stalking of an underage child than he was about ensuring the children entrusted to the House were protected," said Jennifer Crider, spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
THE ONLY ONE HE EVER FEARED: Over at DKos, PollyUSA is also puzzling over the question of how this story percolated. My familiarity with Ms. USA is on the Plame case, on which she tracked facts like a Terminator: without pity, without fatigue, without remorse, and so on. We'll see what else she can find, but let me whet your appetite with this - apparently, there are several differences between the various versions of the posted emails. Here are the emails from CREW (1,2) and from the StopSexPredators site.
Some differences (emphasis added)- "Glad" versus "glad"; "Send me an email pic" versus "send me a pic"; "How are you" versus "how are you".
There may be a logical explanation, and I am certaily not saying Foley didn't write these emails or something like them. However, it would be interesting to see the trail these emails followed and learn whether they were re-typed, and by whom.