Blitzer let Reynolds baselessly take credit for Foley resignation

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN & ANDREW SEIFTER

Wolf Blitzer failed to challenge Rep. Thomas Reynolds's claim that he forced then-Rep. Mark Foley's (R-FL) resignation after ABC News released sexually explicit Internet communications between Foley and underage, male congressional pages. In fact, House Speaker Dennis Hastert has denied that the House leadership was responsible for Foley's resignation, though he later claimed credit.

During an interview with Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-NY) on the November 2 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer failed to challenge Reynolds's claim that he forced then-Rep. Mark Foley's (R-FL) resignation after ABC News released sexually explicit Internet communications between Foley and underage, male congressional pages. Reynolds, who is chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), claimed that "on Friday, September 29, when ABC News released these despicable, deplorable emails that Foley admitted that he had sent ... we moved forward very quickly to ask and get Mark Foley's resignation from Congress." In fact, as Media Matters for America noted, Foley resigned after ABC News obtained the sexually explicit instant messages and reportedly informed Foley that it was going to make them public. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) denied that the House leadership was responsible for Foley's resignation, though he, too, later claimed credit.

Moreover, Blitzer left unchallenged Reynolds's claim that "[t]here are two distinct actions I took" regarding the Foley scandal -- taking emails Foley had allegedly sent to an underage page "to the speaker of the House" and forcing Foley to resign. But Reynolds's office reportedly took a third action: According to an entry by reporter Ben Smith on the New York Daily News weblog The Daily Politics, "[t]wo senior aides" to Reynolds, NRCC Communications Director Carl Forti and Reynolds's then-chief of staff Kirk Fordham, "participated in 'damage control' conference calls concerning" the emails "days before the scandal became public." Moreover, as Media Matters has noted, even after Reynolds learned of the emails, he urged Foley to seek re-election in 2006 and accepted $100,000 from Foley for the NRCC.

From the 4 p.m. ET segment of the November 2 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: Now that -- that -- a lot of people say wasn't good enough. With hindsight, what else should you have done once you got word that there were these inappropriate exchanges?

REYNOLDS: There wasn't word that there were inappropriate exchanges, and that's exactly it. Many of the Democrats that were working in alliance with my opponent tried to combine all these instant messages and emails into one. There are two distinct actions I took. The first was when [Rep.] Rodney Alexander [R-LA] talked to me about overly friendly emails that a page he had sponsored had received. But his parents were aware, and they were professionals, and they did not want the privacy of their son affected and not to do anything about it. I still took that to the speaker of the House, a constitutional officer, second in line to the presidency, because I had access and the ability to talk to the speaker. When you look at the second instance, that's on Friday, September 29, when ABC News released these despicable, deplorable emails that Foley admitted that he had sent. At that point, we moved forward very quickly to ask and get Mark Foley's resignation from Congress. And that's the difference. Once that became public that any of us were aware, within hours Mark Foley had resigned from Congress.

BLITZER: How many seats do you think, Congressman, the Republicans are going to lose on Tuesday?

Posted In
Government, Ethics
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Mark Foley Scandal, 2006 Elections
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