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.
James Dobson and Daniel Henninger both echoed a claim previously made by Matt Drudge and Michael Savage that the sexually explicit communications that Rep. Mark Foley allegedly engaged in with former congressional pages were "sort of a joke" or a "prank" on the part of the former pages.
A Wall Street Journal editorial based its suggestion that Rep. Nancy Pelosi is hypocritical for criticizing Rep. J. Dennis Hastert over his handling of the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley on the false claim that Pelosi had voted "to revoke Boy Scouts' charter for its ban on gay scoutmasters." In fact, Pelosi answered "present" on a bill to repeal the federal charter of the Boy Scouts of America, which is neither a yea nor a nay vote.
Seeking to minimize the extent to which the House Republican leadership can be blamed for the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley, several congressional Republicans, media figures, and conservatives have posited various conspiracy theories and placed blame on just about everyone and everything else -- including liberals, Democrats, the media, "politically correct culture," gays in Congress, and congressional pages.
In commenting on the scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley, several conservative media figures and outlets have taken special notice of Foley's reported homosexuality and even linked Foley's sexual orientation to pedophilia.
OpinionJournal.com assistant editor Brendan Miniter falsely asserted that Rep. John Shimkus, chairman of the House Page Board, decided "to confront [former Rep. Mark] Foley and tell him to cut off all direct contact with underage pages." In fact, according to a statement Shimkus put out, he ordered Foley to cut off contact with only one specific page; he otherwise advised Foley "to be especially mindful of his conduct with respect to current and former House Pages."
In their coverage of the scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley, only a few major media outlets have noted that Foley is the third Republican congressman to leave office in scandal within the past year. A fourth Republican congressman, Rep. Bob Ney, has pleaded guilty to corruption charges but not resigned his seat.
The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger declared the story surrounding the declassified portions of the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) a "colossal waste of the time devoted to it." But Henninger offered little to explain how or why the story "had burned down to embers," nor did he explain why President Bush addressed the NIE in two recent speeches, which would seemingly contradict Henninger's claim.
OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto cited a 1998 memo to then-President Bill Clinton titled "Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks" to claim that Clinton ignored evidence of the danger Al Qaeda posed to the United States. However, the 9-11 Commission detailed an immediate and aggressive response to the memo by the Clinton administration.
Columnist John Fund claimed that Sandy Berger and Madeleine Albright "persuaded ABC to alter the scenes involving them" in the miniseries The Path to 9/11. But while the scenes were apparently edited from earlier versions, both still presented depictions contradicted by both Clinton officials and the 9-11 Commission report.
Numerous media figures have asserted that a recent report purportedly identifying former deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as Robert Novak's original source for Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative prove that Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were not involved in the leak of her identity. However, Armitage's role as Novak's first source is not inconsistent with Rove's and Libby's involvements in the leak -- both were original sources of the information for two other reporters.
Various print and television news outlets discussing a House report of U.S. intelligence on Iran characterized the report as "bipartisan" without noting that it was primarily written by Republican staff members and came under criticism from House Democrats.
Media outlets have uncritically reported the comments of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who, during interviews, have asserted that U.S. laws on detaining suspected terrorists should be modeled after British laws that allow the United Kingdom to detain a suspected terrorist for up to 28 days without charges. However, none of the media outlets noted the administration's expanded use of material witness warrants to detain people for indefinite periods.
Several media figures, including news reporters, echoed Republicans by employing the word "Democrat" as an adjective to refer to things or people of, or relating to, the Democratic Party.