In reports about former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's announcement that he will not seek re-election in 2008, The Wall Street Journal did not mention the controversy over Hastert's handling of the House page scandal, in contrast with The Washington Post and The New York Times, which did note that Hastert was involved, but glossed over pertinent details.
A New York Times article uncritically reported Dennis Hastert's statement that the ethics committee's investigation into former Rep. Mark Foley's conduct toward congressional pages "found no evidence that anyone knew about the sexually charged instant messages that led to Mr. Foley's resignation." However, it did not report evidence found by the committee that, in 2001, a former page provided Rep. Jim Kolbe with sexually explicit IMs allegedly written by Foley.
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.
Chris Matthews declared that he didn't think Republicans "would have put up with" Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky because "I think a lot of Republicans were very tough on Richard Nixon." But Republicans apparently "put up with" former Rep. Mark Foley even after House leaders learned -- months and possibly years ago -- of potential misconduct on the part of Foley toward underage former House pages.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity joined authors Melanie Morgan and Catherine Moy in comparing Cindy Sheehan's purported interest in online pornography to sexually explicit instant messages former Rep. Mark Foley allegedly sent to underage congressional pages. Morgan asserted that "[t]here's a double standard and hypocrisy at work" in the fact that there was far greater attention and criticism focused on the Foley scandal.
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The Washington Post uncritically reported Rep. Chris Shays's (R-CT) purported explanation for his reference to Chappaquiddick, claiming that he made his comment in the context of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's appearance with Shays's opponent, Diane Farrell, whose calls for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's resignation over the Mark Foley scandal, Shays said, were made before the evidence of Hastert's "serious mishandling" of the scandal had come out. But Shays himself was one of the first Republicans to comment on evidence that the House leadership knew of some of Foley's alleged communications with pages. He was quoted in The New York Times on October 1 -- two days after the scandal broke -- saying that if any House leaders "knew or should have known the extent of this problem, they should not serve in leadership."
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reported that President Bush "threw" Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) "a lifeline for the speakership" when Hastert "came out publicly, taking responsibility" for the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley, but she ignored recent comments by Hastert that undermine his assertion that he is "taking responsibility" for the scandal.
Focus on the Family's James C. Dobson baselessly claimed that Media Matters for America engaged in "sp[i]n" by quoting his on-air remark that Republican former Rep. Mark Foley's sexually explicit instant messages to a male former House page "turned out to be what some people are now saying was a -- sort of a joke by the boy and some of the other pages." But Dobson did not explain what the purported spin was.
The scandal surrounding the sexually explicit electronic communications former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) allegedly sent to underage former congressional pages -- and the House Republican leadership's alleged cover-up of Foley's behavior -- have produced a wave of misinformation. To aid members of the media in covering the scandal, Media Matters for America has compiled a list of the top myths, falsehoods, and baseless assertions surrounding the controversy.
NPR uncritically aired portions of an ad in which Rep. Thomas Reynolds took credit for "forc[ing]" former Rep. Mark Foley to resign after learning of alleged explicit Internet communications between Foley and a former congressional page. In fact, Foley resigned after ABC News informed Foley that it was going to make the explicit messages public, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert has previously denied that the House leadership was responsible for Foley's resignation.