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Monday, October 02, 2006


Is Hume's Apologia The GOP Spin on the Foley Scandal?
On yesterday's edition of Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume made the following argument about Republicans and Democrats on sexual misconduct by members of the government with subordinates (full transcript and video on Media Matters):

It is very serious misbehavior on the part of Congressman Foley. Whether it stems from some overall arrogance or just the weakness of the human flesh is another question. It's probably worth noting here that there's a difference between the two parties on these issues. Inappropriate behavior toward subordinates didn't cost Gerry Studds his Democratic seat in Massachusetts, nor Barney Frank his. Nor did inappropriate behavior toward a subordinate even cost Bill Clinton his standing within the Democratic Party, even though, indirectly at least, he was impeached for it. Mark Foley found out about this -- was found out to have done this, and he's out of office and in total disgrace in his party.
Here are the problems with Hume's logic:

1) Probably the most glaring omission is that for the Foley scandal, it involves an underaged person being hit on by an adult. The Clinton and Frank scandals involved sexual relations between consenting adults (I'll discuss the Studds situation later). Frank was censured by the House for his activities and Clinton was denounced for his behavior by Democrats.

2) Regarding the Foley scandal, there is evidence that the House leadership knew about Foley's behavior since 2005 but did not take adequate steps to address the matter. This refutes Hume's claim (in the last sentence quoted) that Foley got the heave-ho from Republicans once his activity was discovered.
3) Regarding the Studds matters, the scandal occurred in 1983 when it came out that he had a sexual relationship with a 17 year-old male page. At the same time, Repubican Dan Crane was caught having an affair with a 17 year-old female page. There was no difference between the two parties on the Crane and Studds matters: both Studds and Crane received the same punishment: censure by the House (Crane, unlike Studds, was defeated for his reelection bid--but that's a matters for the voters in the district).

Hume's line of reasoning was also used this morning on the Fox & Friends show by the hosts and a Republican guest (there was no Democratic counterpart--that's fair and balanced for you). Does this argument represent the GOP talking points on the matter?

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