Is Predatorgate a Democratic October Ambush?

Those few of you who read the comments on this blog may have noted a small dust-up in the comments to Predatorgate Scandal Spreads. One of the GOP spin points asserted there by an assiduous commentator is the idea that the Democrats are (at least? more?) to blame for letting a known predator run loose because they knew all about the scandal and did nothing. This isn’t a reference to the Democratic member of the page committee being totally shut out of discussions then (and now!) but rather an unsourced and unsubstantiated allegation that some unnamed Democratic sympathizer must have known all the juicy details and sat on them until the time it might do the most good. Since in fact neither I nor almost anyone else knows the source of the info that finally brought Rep. Foley’s behavior into the open, this sort of calumny is hard to rebut, although to my ear it has an element of blaming the victim — since a victim had to the original source of the damning information.

Amazingly, however, we now have some information on the subject of who leaked what to whom when:

Papers Knew of Foley E-Mail but Did Not Publish Stories: Then, in June, the reports resurfaced on Capitol Hill, where a neighborhood resident struck up a conversation in a bar with someone who had provided the e-mail messages. He said he passed them on to several news outlets. The resident, who said he was not affiliated with either party and was motivated by concern for the teenager, would talk only on condition of anonymity.

No one acted on the information until last week, and even then, it was a Web site that first posted the exchange. It is not clear who maintains the Weblog,, which appears to be largely devoted to the Foley scandal.

ABC News had its first account several days later on its Web site.

Mr. Ross said he was surprised by how quickly the congressman’s office confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail messages, first when ABC reported them on Sept. 28, and again a day later when confronted with much more explicit exchanges.

Mr. Ross dismissed suggestions by some Republicans that the news was disseminated as part of a smear campaign against Mr. Foley.

“I hate to give up sources, but to the extent that I know the political parties of any of the people who helped us, it would be the same party,” Mr. Ross said, referring to Republicans.

So to the extent we know who pushed this into the media … it’s Republicans. I have no idea who is behind, but I bet that none of the people accusing them of being Machiavellian Democrats sitting on the info for ages do either. (And since when did Democrats get so good at Machiavellian tactics anyway?)

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7 Responses to Is Predatorgate a Democratic October Ambush?

  1. Thomas says:

    Well, no, we don’t know that. We know that one reporter, who received the messages in August, suggests that his sources were Republicans.

    But that doesn’t answer the question, since we know that the story has been shopped for almost a year.

    And it doesn’t tell us who had the IMs that did the real damage to Foley.

    But, as before, it is telling what standards of evidence you deploy. Baseless accusation of coverup? Fine. Flat misstatements of the evidence? Ok. But a suggestion that the obvious question–cui bono?–might be fruitfully asked leads to insistence that there’s no basis for it.

    Of course there isn’t–the question goes against your political interests.

    You should have been a newspaperman.

  2. LACJ says:

    “we know that the story has been shopped for almost a year.”

    Link? Cite?

    “[I]t is telling what standards of evidence you deploy. Baseless accusation of coverup? Fine. Flat misstatements of the evidence? Ok. But a suggestion that the obvious question–cui bono?–might be fruitfully asked leads to insistence that there’s no basis for it.”

    Nice. Incomprehensible, but nice. You gonna back that up or go back to hiding under your rock?

    By the way, ‘cui bono’ works great in understanding why Hastert covered this up. Too bad selective logic precludes it…

  3. Thomas says:

    Jesus, LACJ, are you the laziest person in the world? Try clicking through occasionally. There’s this from the most recently featured article, for example: “The trickle of information about Mr. Foley’s messages, first made known to the news media almost a year ago,…” Does that help with your first two questions?

    As for the rest, read, well, down the page. Michael says there’s a coverup, but there isn’t any evidence for that at all. He insists on confusing the explicit IM transcripts and the emails that a FL newspaper described as “friendly chit-chat.” And he hasn’t yet asked the question: who benefits from the disclosure now?

  4. Michael says:

    1. It now seems clear that the disclosures were orchestrated by a Republican. I have no idea what the motive was — if this is an internal leadership fight (most recent GOP speakers have been forced out either by their misdeeds or by ambitious underlings), or just someone who cared about children, or someone who disliked Foley, or child predators, or gay people in general. See The Hill: Media’s Source for Foley Emails was GOP Staffer for the details.

    2. The timeline keeps getting pushed farther and farther back as staffers come forward to say they warned their bosses about the problem: see eg. Ex-Foley Aide Roils Timeline. The evidence of coverup — or at the minimum malign neglect — is now quite substantial.

    Give it up already. You are starting to look ridiculous.

    PS. I am not a mind reader so I can’t supply a certain motive for the cover-up either but I’ve heard it suggested that the cover-up (or if you prefer ‘eyes tight shut’ by people with obligations to do much, much more) was fueled by a desire (a) to hold the seat, (b) to keep the Foley money machine, or (c) to keep a compliant congressman on whom they had the goods; I express no opinion. I’ve even heard the outré suggestion that it was all run by (d) an alliance of closeted staffers protecting their own, not to mention even weirder stuff.

    All I feel confident saying is this: From what we know so far, Foley was known to be ‘over friendly’ (maybe much more than that) with pages for some considerable time — much more than a year; the issue was dealt with entirely as a political problem to manage, not one where the well-being of the pages was the issue.

  5. LACJ says:

    You just don’t get it, do you, Thomas?

    The story is not the timing of disclosure but Foley’s actions and the fact that the leadership covered up his predatory behavior. Your little ‘shopping’ phrasing does little to advance the meme that this is all politics, raised at a politically fortuitous time. Shopped by whom? If the story was shopped a year ago by Democratic operatives then does that not cut against your meme?

    How can this timing overcome the quite possibly criminal acts of a sitting Congressman? Is the meme literally ‘Pay no attention as this issue has become know at a suspicious time’ i.e. ‘Its all the fault of liberals and the MSN’? Maybe you should try out, ‘Pay no attention as this issue is all the gays’ and libertines’ fault’, I heard that one was getting better results.

    Further, you are unable to come up with any actual information in your post, so you end up merely rephrasing news reports to suit your purposes and then throwing out a litany of unrelated, unsupported phrases about ‘standards of evidence’ and who had the IMs. I am sure once the FBI gets off their duffs ABC will be happy to tell them. But no one has denied the fact of the IMs nor has anyone claimed that the IMs have been spoofed, so for our purposes the source is not important at all.

    The problem is that you are tilling the bleak fields of the non-reality-based community. All you have is off-point outrage, conjecture and slight adjustments to actual information to work with.

    Cui Bono: Hastert likes having Foley under the gun by virtue of the knowledge he was given. Hastert’s job is to get the votes together; Foley is now a good soldier when Hastert needs his vote (assuming he can stop his instant messaging).

    The leadership highly values loyalty; Hastert might face private complaints within his party if he takes action, hence Hastert has a benefit in inaction.


  6. Thomas says:

    It certainly is a developing story, but not all “developments” are true. In this case, The Hill story tells us not that the “source” was a Republican, but that the source got the documents from a “House GOP aide.” The Hill pointedly does not tell us, despite what the headline says, that the source is a Republican. Further, we know that the media had the documents before July. See, for example, the NYTimes story quoted above, which says the emails (but not IMs) were disclosed to the media almost a year ago, not in July.

    I don’t think we know more about what various people in leadership knew either. Fordham himself professed shock at the contents of the IM transcripts. If he didn’t know about the behavior at issue, no one did.

    I confess I don’t see the strength of any of the proposed (but entirely unsubstantiated) motives for “covering up” or “neglecting” Foley’s activities. Foley had proposed running for the Senate this year, and only got out of that race when left-wing Democrats threatened to make his sexuality an issue (some suggest they might have shared this story with Foley before he dropped out). If he had run for the Senate, as he planned, then Republicans would have faced replacing a relatively safe conservative seat. Not that difficult, it would seem to me. Foley was a good fundraiser, but it’s not as if he had a line to donors that others didn’t have. And, at least from what we know, the only “goods” that the House leadership had on Foley is that he was a closeted gay, and everyone in DC had those goods.

    And I find your conflation of Foley’s “overfriendliness” with his supposed sexual predation to be entirely unhelpful.

    LACJ, from what we know, the odds are that Foley didn’t do anything criminal, but if he did, I say prosecute him. I certainly disapprove of Foley’s sexual interest in adolescent boys and young men, and in particular in his taking advantage of his position as Congressman to proposition them or engage in inappropriate sexual discussions.

    If the story was shopped a year ago by Democrats, doesn’t that cut against your phony “what did they know and when did they know it?” line? If Democrats had this information, woudn’t they have an obligation to do “much, much more” than shop it to the press? Heck, they could have initiated a House Ethics investigation. If we were being consistent, we’d want to investigate them, wouldn’t we? (BTW: the fact that the media held off publishing the emails until the weeks before the election, when they’d be more damaging, doesn’t make the effort less politically motivated, does it? Only more effective.)

    We do know that the threat of outing Foley made him less conservative, not more. For example, years ago he voted for DOMA, but more recently, under threat of exposure, he voted against the FMA. Now of course it’s possible he sees these as different issues, but it’s also quite possible to see that private information about Foley has been used to force him to vote against his party’s interests, not in favor of them.

  7. Michael says:

    Eh? Are you suggesting that a “House GOP Aide” might not be a Republican? That’s … unlikely.

    And where do you get the fantasy that “the story was shopped a year ago by Democrats”? Yes, it’s prefaced by “if” but that’s no better than “if the story was shopped a year by little green men in track suits” is it? There’s no evidence at all that the story was shopped by Democrats at any relevant time — and neither you nor Rush Limbaugh have produced any (other than pointing to the well-known law of nature that Democrats are responsible for all bad things in life). Occam’s Razor suggests the source a year ago is the same source that the Hill is talking about.

    The House Democrats didn’t do anything a year ago because the GOP leadership made a concerted effort to keep them out of the loop — e.g. by freezing out the Democratic member of the Page committee. That is a fact no one has denied.

    Incidentally, which fantasy do you prefer: (1) Unknown unnamed Democrats shopped the story a year ago so Democratic congresspersons are equally to blame as the GOP leadership which knew or should have known, did nothing and froze out the Democratic members; or, (2) Democrats are to blame for not shopping it a year ago but instead waiting until just before the election.

    Just give it up: The GOP’s principal talking point bites the dust. You’re starting to sound eerily familiar

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