WALTER SCHOEN: Media Have Double Standard on Scandals
The nation has been treated to a nonstop barrage of stories and editorials about a sick congressman who took advantage of his position to send crude messages to an under-age congressional page.
I make no defense of Foley. What he did was reprehensible. But two further considerations present themselves. First, if they were really interested in the welfare of the page involved, why did those who possessed this information do nothing while they shopped around to ensure that their material was made public when it was too late for the Republicans to name a replacement for Foley on the ballot?
Next, it is interesting to compare the reactions of Democrats and Republicans when each party encountered equally sick perpetrators. I want to point out the difference between how Democrats react to such peccadilloes of their people, and how Republicans handle their problems.
Keep in mind that while Foley's actions are indefensible, what we know thus far is that he wrote dirty notes. When his behavior became public, he resigned.
When Sen. Trent Lott made a completely innocent comment praising a colleague on his 100th birthday, he was pilloried in the media for allegedly suggesting the country would have been better off had we elected a segregationist president.
Of course, Lott was simply saying something kind to an old man, not making a political statement. Because the media deliberately misrepresented his meaning, Lott eventually gave up his Senate leadership position. Lott is a Republican.
Note also that former Ku Klux Klan official Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia is an honored senior member of his party and a powerful senator. Byrd is a Democrat.
Foley wrote dirty notes. When Democratic Congressman Gerry Studds of Massachusetts was caught taking an under-age congressional page to Morocco for gay sex in order to avoid American laws, he defiantly refused to apologize, ostentatiously turned his back to the speaker when he was censured in the House, and claimed his homosexual activities were private matters. Where have we heard that before? Studds' Democratic colleagues gave him three standing ovations and rewarded him with a prized committee chairmanship.
Illinois Democratic Congressman Mel Reynolds was caught sending crude sexual messages to his 16-year-old sex partner. When she informed Reynolds that she had lined up a 15-year-old "Catholic school girl" for him, his response was that he had "won the Lotto." Reynolds asked her if her friend would join them in a menage a trois. After Reynolds went to jail for his fling, President Clinton pardoned him, and the morally upright Jesse Jackson gave him a plum job.
Remember Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank? When his homosexual roommate was discovered running a gay prostitution ring out of their apartment, Frank professed to know nothing whatsoever about the goings-on. Frank, like Studds, has been frequently re-elected and remains a powerful congressman.
We should also recall that a sitting Democratic president of the United States had oral sex in the Oval Office with a White House intern. When Clinton was impeached by the House, his supporters vociferously defended this outrage by claiming it was a private matter and after all, it was only sex anyway.
My point is not, repeat not, to justify what Foley did because the Dems have also had their share of sleazy behavior. No. The point is, where were the thundering editorials condemning these outrages?
When Virginia Sen. Allen stupidly used what may have been an offensive racial epithet, The Washington Post wrote no fewer than 30 news stories concerning the incident. Allen's immediate and repeated apologies did not stop The Post from running an additional 10 editorials and four Style section columns. Another Post columnist wrote five additional columns about the "macaca" incident.
Several years ago, when ex-Klansman Byrd used the N word several times to a national radio audience, the incident was quickly buried. When it was shown recently that Karl Rove had absolutely nothing to do with the alleged "outing" of CIA employee Valerie Plame, these same biased media were conspicuously silent. Neither they nor network talking heads offered Rove an apology.
When two women accused Bill Clinton of fondling them and a third woman accused him of rape, the Clinton PR machine and the cooperative left-leaning media ran numerous stories not condemning Clinton but sullying the character and reputations of the women.
Our national media are guilty of an embarrassing double standard of incredible magnitude. Pilot editors wrote gleefully about "holier-than-thou" types caught with their pants down, albeit figuratively in Foley's case. I am not defending Foley or other politicians who commit unethical or illegal acts. I am asking for more fairness and balance from the media.
Where is the Pilot editorial about Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid, who somehow made a million-dollar profit on the sale of land he supposedly hadn't owned in three years?
He had a friend pay his taxes on the deal while retaining his four sons on his Congressional payroll.
Is Pilot ire reserved only for Republican malfeasance? Just asking!
Dr. Schoen, a retired college and university professor, dean and president, may be contacted at email@example.com
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