Friday, October 06, 2006

Linchpin to a scandal

The whole Foley issue really has become quite silly. People all over the place are trying to spin this to their advantage, but there really are some facts you ought to know before you go rushing off to make your judgement in the matter.

Read it all.

Also, for the record, that WaPo article is chock-full of half-truths and implied falsehoods. Reread it after reading this.

1.) Foley was caught sending emails that would, to me, seem to be oddball but benign. Read them yourself, if you like (these are verbatim, typos aren't mine):
E-mail 1:

Glad your home safe and sound...we don't go back into session until Sept 5...si it's a nice long break...I am back in Florida now...its nice here...been raining today...it shounds like you will have some fun over the next few weeks...how old are you now?

E-mail 2:

I just emailed will...hes such a nice guy...acts much older than his age...and hes in really great shape...i am just finished fiding my bike on a 25 mile journey now heading to the gym...whats school like for you this year?

E-mail 3:

I am in North Carolina...and it was 100in New Orleans...wow that's really hot...well do you miss DC...its raining here but 68 degrees so who can argue..did you have fun at your conference...what do you want for your birthday coming up...what stuff do you like to do

E-mail 4:

How are you weathering the hurricane...are you safe...send me a pic of you as well...

2.) Republican leaders did not know about the sexually explicit IMs or online advances when they recommended for him to take counseling. Those emails were all the evidence they had, as reported here:

House leaders have said they knew about e-mails they considered "overly friendly" in late 2005 and early 2006 but were unaware of sexually explicit instant messages allegedly sent from Foley to other pages until they were reported last week.

and here:

Law enforcement officials said then that the e-mails did not provide enough evidence of a possible crime to warrant a full investigation. In the e-mails, Foley praises the physical attributes of one page and asks another teenager for his picture.

In subsequent days, unidentified Justice and FBI officials told reporters that the e-mails provided by CREW were heavily redacted and that the group refused to provide unedited versions to the FBI. One law enforcement official -- speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation -- also told The Washington Post the FBI believed that CREW may have received the e-mails as early as April and that the group refused to tell the FBI how they were obtained.

3.) Who are we really protecting by all this frenzy? For the most part, the victims want to be left alone, remain anonymous, and fade away:
The family of a Louisiana teenager who reported "sick" e-mails from former Rep. Mark Foley called their son a hero Thursday and said they want reporters to go away.

The family's statement calls the e-mails "ambiguous" and expresses support for Alexander.

Saying the family wishes to remain anonymous, the statement adds that the former page is "becoming a victim due to harassment by some of the media.
4.) Foley did not (as far as I can tell) have any physical contact with any of these young men. I say young men, because none of these pages were children. Referring to them as "boys" is really quite dishonest by reporters. So he is not
  • A pedophile
  • A child molester
  • A rapist
He does obviously have some issues, and he does need to sort them out. Please note that I am not defending his actions. But call it like it is! This is the failure of one man, not a political party. It is not deserving of this type of frenzy. So you tell me - is this really righteous action on anyone's part? Or is it (dare I say) political?

Dafydd at Big Lizards is really covering this well:

Is this a defense for Foley? Not at all... it's a defense for Dennis Hastert, John Boehner, Tom Reynolds, and John Shimkus, along with "every Republican member of Congress." You know, those who were "disgraced" by the actions of Mark Foley; just as every Republican is presumably disgraced by Jack Abramoff (and every doctor in America is disgraced by the actions of Jack Kevorkian).

Do we really need supposed conservatives buying into the liberal, even socialist idea that individuals are defined, not by their own behavior, but merely as being part of a group? Are all blacks disgraced by the antics of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? Are all Moslems guilty of the suicide bombings of jihadists? And are all Jews defined by Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 Palestinians in Hebron?

And is Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, "disgraced" by the actions of his fellow journalists at the St. Petersburg Times, the Miami Herald, and even Fox News?

Meanwhile, Florida newspapers — who were leaked copies of the e-mail with the Louisiana boy last year — defended their decision not to run stories. Both The St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald were given copies of the e-mail, as were other news organizations, including Fox News.

"Our decision at the time was ... that because the language was not sexually explicit and was subject to interpretation, from innocuous to 'sick,' as the page characterized it, to be cautious," said Tom Fiedler, executive editor of the Herald. "Given the potentially devastating impact that a false suggestion of pedophilia could have on anyone, not to mention a congressman known to be gay, and lacking any corroborating information, we chose not to do a story."

Why should we listen to a disgraced journalist like Blankley? Sure, he himself never knew anything about those e-mails; but other journalists did, and he's a journalist too. He shares their disgrace.

And yes, the journalists who did see the e-mails said they were so open to interpretation that they could not conclude there was any "there" there... not even enough to run a story or contact the authorities. But if that is a defense for the journalists -- isn't it equally a defense for the other members of Congress, who saw nothing more (and in many cases substantially less) than the reporters saw?

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