Saturday, September 30, 2006

St. Petersburg Times Blows It On Mark Foley

Scott Montgomery's response on the St. Petersburg Times blog The Buzz is rather hard to swallow. I will run through it and tell you what problems I have with it.


In November of last year, we were given copies of an email exchange Foley had with a former page from Louisiana. Other news organizations later got them,too. The conversation in those emails was friendly chit-chat. Foley asked the boy about how he had come through Hurricane Katrina and about the boy's upcoming birthday. In one of those emails, Foley casually asked the teen to send him a "pic" of himself. Also among those emails was the page's exchange with a congressional staffer in the office of Rep. Alexander, who had been the teen's sponsor in the page program. The teen shared his exchange he'd had with Foley and asked the staffer if she thought Foley was out of bounds.


That should have raised a red flag right away. The fact that the boy would even bring up the issue says much.


There was nothing overtly sexual in the emails, but we assigned two reporters to find out more.


Then why would Foley ask for a picture? Why is a busy member of Congress even taking the time out to play email tag?

Many other people have now read the emails and found them "overtly sexual." Obviously, the boy did. The Times simply blew off the story.


We found the Louisiana page and talked with him. He told us Foley's request for a photo made him uncomfortable so he never responded, but both he and his parents made clear we could not use his name if we wrote a story.


The boy stating that the email bothered him is another red flag. Saying that the Times could not use the boy's name doesn't wash. The names of minors are not published in potential sex crimes. Montgomery has been in journalism enough to know this. That didn't stop the Times constant Debra Lafave coverage.

The comments in The Buzz punches holes into Montgomery reasoning.


As we said in today's paper, our policy is that we don't make accusations against people using unnamed sources."

WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST ASK FOLEY'S OFFICE IF THE EMAILS WERE REAL, THEN?

If he confirmed they were real, then you would have a named source: Mark Foley. Two reporters weren't able to figure this out?


Why, indeed. It was no secret that Foley has lied about his sexuality. Being gay is not a crime. Lying about being gay is a good reason to doubt the man's credibility. Foley voted against gay adoption in Washington DC and the anti-gay marriage amendment. That is unheard of in Florida Republican circles. I heard someone say to me yesterday that Foley is a sexual predator because he's gay. No, it's because he's a seriously fucked up human being.

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