St. Pete Times Chickened Out On Foley Story

Categories: News

In the St. Petersburg Times' article by Bill Adair on (former) Congressman Mark Foley's e-mailings with underage Congressional pages, there's a very curious passage:

The boy, who is not being identified because of his age, told the St. Petersburg Times in an interview last November, when the Times first learned of the e-mails, that he cut off correspondence with Foley.

"I thought it was very inappropriate," the boy told the Times. "After the one about the picture, I decided to stop e-mailing him back."

But the boy said he was not seeking publicity. "I don't want to get involved in any big thing," he said.


Oh boy. Is there no daily newspaper in this state that has any guts left? The St. Pete Times had the story in November and didn't run with it until ABC News showed the fortitude to break it? What an embarrassing display of that newspaper's lack of journalistic instinct.

UPDATED: So what does the St. Petersburg Times have to say? Well, this (Saturday) morning, the newspaper published this post on their political blog, The Buzz:

We've had a number of e-mails and blog posts from people who read our Foley coverage yesterday and today and see that we had looked into some of these matters nearly a year ago but never published a story. Why didn't we? Here's what Government & Politics Editor Scott Montgomery told someone yesterday:

"Adam sent me a copy of your email seeking comment. Here's what I can tell you. As a matter of policy, the St. Petersburg Times doesn't publish stories that make accusations based upon sources we can't name. At the time we first looked into this, the information we had simply didn't meet our standard. But when Tim Mahoney went on the record on the matter, we felt we should tell readers what we knew."


This explanation is incredible. They didn't print the "accusations" because the underaged Congressional Page who was complaining that a Congressman was flirting with him on-line didn't want his name published? I can't tell you how pathetic is. They had the e-mails, they knew who the Page was, what his name was, and verified he worked on Capitol Hill. But because the kid didn't want his young life thrown into absolute turmoil and chaos, they wouldn't go with the story and they let an obvious sexual predator continue to stalk the halls of Congress.

Thank God that Brian Ross and ABC News had more sense.

After the jump: Clay Shaw Throws Foley Under The Bus and McClatchy's Lesley Clark Misses Mark

-- You know it's an election year when U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, who was supposedly a good friend of Mark Foley's for many years, throws him under the bus in the coldest manner you could imagine. Here's his canned comment on his colleague's resignation:

"This type of behavior is what I try to protect my grandchildren from. It is unacceptable. He should have resigned. Members of Congress are responsible for protecting the most vulnerable among us -- our children. I support the Speaker's decision to investigate the Page Program.''

Politics is such a soulless profession. Well, somebody commented at the Post that Foley will now find out who his true friends are. We know one who isn't.

-- McClatchy Washington Bureau reporters Lesley Clark and Mararet Talev reported on it fine, except for one little paragraph. "Questions about Foley's sexuality have dogged him in the past. In 2003, as a potential candidate for retiring Sen. Bob Graham's seat, he denounced rumors that he was gay and said it was no one's business if he was."

I give Talev a break, since I believe she's from the West Coast, but Lesley Clark should have known that Foley wasn't denouncing "rumors" -- he was denouncing my column, which was a sourced news report with quotes from family friends and political insiders who confirmed he was gay. He was also denouncing follow-ups, mostly in gay publications around the country. I think Lesley even wrote a story back in the day citing the column. Get it right next time, Clark.

[UPDATE: Yeah, Clark co-bylined an article in 2003 about Foley's famous "revolting" press conference which included this line: "During his phone call with reporters, Foley lashed out at personal questions, which date to his 1994 congressional election and were addressed in detail earlier this month by a Broward New Times column headlined, 'Out with the truth; With his voting record at issue, why won't U.S. Congressman Mark Foley just say that he's gay?'"]

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