Monday, October 9, 2006
Personal Asides: Sudden Thought The Associated Press Reporter with Her Made-Up Mind Guess What? Ex-Congressman Foley Spent Lots of Time in Hollywood.
It just struck me that if Mark Foley were a Catholic priest, his bishop would transfer him to another parish.
Congressman Ray LaHood who spoke at my Roosevelt University class Thursday night started off the afternoon with a luncheon speech at the City Club of Chicago where Im the chairman. Of course the air was filled with reverberations of Mark Foley, the Florida Republican who resigned after tales of his supposedly sending dirty I-mails to congressional pages. When I arrived at the meeting hall and was preparing to introduce the Congressman, I was motioned by an Associated Press female reporter to get up from the table and give her an interview. She held a tiny tape recorder before my mouth. Here is the paraphrased colloquy as I remember it.
AP: Since youre a longtime Republican, would you comment on the fallout of the Foley scandal for the GOP?
Me: Sure. I dont think therell be any.
AP: Will you lose both House and Senate or just the House or just the Senate?
Me: You didnt hear me. I dont think therell be any fallout.,
AP: Do you think you can lose Roskam in the 6th, McSweeney in the 8th, either one or both?
Me: Neither. The story will have no effect.
AP: Why not?
Me: Because this is only a several day blip. Do you remember what crisis gripped the nation before last Friday?
Me: It was the National Intelligence Estimate. Do you remember that? It started with the New York Times reporting a fragment of the NIE and saying that Bush tried to cover it up. Then the next day Bush released the other part of the Estimate. The Times said Bush had only released part of it. Bush said: yeah, youve released the other half. Do you remember that?
AP: I think so.
Me: Where is that story today? This story is about a Congressman who evidently wrote dirty things to a page. Compared to the NIE how long do you think it will last? Do you think it is of more importance than the National Intelligence Estimate which gripped the media before last Friday?
AP: Getting back to the first question I asked you, nationally do you think you will lose the House lose the Senate or lose both?
Me: Did you just hear me?
AP: I did. Do you think Hastert is in danger or Shimkus? Or both?
Me: Look, I know you want me to say well lose the House or lose the Senate or lose both, lose Hastert and lose Shimkus. But I say well lose neither because of the nature of the blip.
AP: Do you think youll lose the governors race because of it?
Me: I think well lose the governors race but not because of it. As I said it will have no effect.
AP: How bad is it playing on your voters?
Me: Look, am I not getting through? Did you understand what Ive been saying? Its a blip like the NIE.
AP: Thank you.
When her story came out she had written that the Republicans are dismayed at the scandal. Not a word of what I told her appeared. But she got back at me for not playing her game. She ate the City Clubs free lunch very heartily, piled on two helpings of fish, one of chicken, called for a refill of her iced tea and listed the location of LaHoods speech as an anonymous civic group. Reporters invariably withhold naming the host club when theyre miffed even when they gorge on free food an old trick. Tacky even for the AP which, apart from the inestimable Mike Robinson, is frequently worse. She wrote the story which said Republicans were distraught with no quotes. Classy. Increasingly I find that reporters go to events with their newspaper ledes and conclusions fixedeither by the desk or their own presuppositions.
Foley in Hollywood.
Pardon me for sounding paranoid but the story has just come out that, strange for a Republican Congressman, Mark Foley has been spending a lot of time in Hollywood. Hmmm. Rahm Emanuels kid brother, Ari, is a leading Hollywood agent who is heavily involved in Democratic fund-raising and strategy. The Foley bean-ball story has all the earmarks of a typical Emanuel set-up. Now we hear from Drudge that at least one page, knowing that Foley was gay, set him up with provocative suggestions to which the old queen responded with alacrity. Nobodys exonerating Foley or the GOP (read my column about Hastert yesterday) but again: it has all the earmarks of a Rahm Emanuel bean-ball.