USA Today's Page claimed Vitter's actions matter more to conservatives

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

On the July 10 edition of MSNBC Live, USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page suggested that Sen. David Vitter's (R-LA) connection to the alleged "D.C. Madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey, might not matter "[i]f you're running for mayor of New York City," but it matters to "a rather conservative state like -- like Louisiana. ... And especially to Republican voters who tend to be more conservative on social values." Page's comment suggests that the only relevant issue in the Vitter matter is possible sexual misconduct. But in addition to the question of possible illegality in Vitter's conduct, as CBS Public Eye editor Brian Montopoli noted -- citing posts on the weblogs The Carpetbagger Report and The New Republic's The Plank -- Vitter "said last year that the gay marriage ban was the most important issue out there" and campaigned on a theme of "stand[ing] up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts's values." Montopoli concluded: "[T]his story has hit such a nerve with some folks" because "[i]t's the hypocrisy, stupid."

Vitter apologized for "a very serious sin in my past," about which he "received forgiveness from God and my wife," after it was disclosed that his phone number was among Palfrey's phone records. ABC News Investigative Unit producer Justin Rood wrote that Hustler magazine "may have prompted' Vitter's apology, reporting that soon after "a Hustler editor contacted Vitter's office to ask his connection to Palfrey's service. ... Vitter's office released its statement." Palfrey has been indicted on racketeering charges stemming from allegations that she ran a prostitution ring.

As the weblog ThinkProgress noted, in 2004, Vitter attacked Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and then-Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) for voting against the so-called "Federal Marriage Amendment:" "This is a real outrage," Vitter said in a statement released by his campaign. "The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. Senators won't do anything about it." As New Republic senior editor Michael Crowley noted, in 2006, the New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote that Vitter clarified a remark suggesting that "gay marriage is more important that hurricane relief:"

"What I meant," Vitter said, is that "the existence or non-existence of a stable, loving, two-parent household" is the most significant predictor of success in life.

Page's comments recall NBC News congressional correspondent Chip Reid's assertion on the July 10 edition of NBC's Today, as Media Matters for America noted: "Vitter's website says he is 'focused on advancing mainstream conservative principles,' which is one reason many here in Washington are so surprised by this revelation."

From the July 10 edition of MSNBC Live:

TUCKER CARLSON (guest host): Is this -- have we reached a point, Susan -- I'm asking you this as someone who's covered Washington for a long time -- have we reached a point where, you know, "David Vitter went to a hooker, so what?"

PAGE: I don't think so. I mean, especially not in a rather conservative state like -- like Louisiana, maybe in New York. If you're running for mayor of New York City that might be different, but, no, I don't think you're at a point where this matters not at all to voters, and especially to Republican voters who tend to be more conservative on social value issues.

PAT BUCHANAN (MSNBC political analyst): I understand why Vitter worked so hard against amnesty. He did a great job on that immigration bill. He needs some work down there in Louisiana.

CARLSON: Yeah, but, isn't this kind of expected in Louisiana or no?

BUCHANAN: Well, it's -- well it's -- they had what's-his-name?

CARLSON: [Former Louisiana Gov.] Edwin Edwards [D].

BUCHANAN: Edwin Edwards, yeah. Vote for the -- They said, "Vote for the --

CARLSON: "Vote for the crook. It's important."

BUCHANAN: "Vote for the crook, not the kook. It's important."

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