Thursday, October 26, 2006

stop misnaming news stories

an anonymous blogger has managed to loosely connect congressman mark foley's downfall to someone at the human rights campaign. note that i say loosely, as it's fairly clear on sober analysis that HRC's role in the story is little more than a cameo.

as we already knew, the original foley emails had been circulating through the media for months, but no media outlets picked up on the story. those first emails were suspicious, but they weren't sexually explicit, and most media outlets that received copies of the emails decided that they didn't have enough evidence to publish the allegation that foley wanted to boink teenage boys, so the story languished.

eventually, copies of the foley emails made their way to an anonymous blog called stop sex predators. in mid/late september, SSP began receiving tips about foley, and soon published the first batch of emails. after the emails showed up on SSP, abc news published its first story. after publishing that story, former pages immediately started sending in old sexually explicit instant messages. when foley found out that abc had those IMs, he immediately resigned.

now, a new anonymous blog called stop october surprises has discovered that someone involved with SSP was also connected with the HRC. the HRC has now fired that person (so they say).

A spokesman for the group, the Human Rights Campaign, said it first learned of its employee's role this week and immediately fired him for misusing the group’s resources. The scandal surrounding Mr. Foley, a Florida Republican, has been a burdensome distraction for members of his party in the month before the midterm elections, and some Republicans have speculated that the e-mail messages were planted by a Democrat.

The rights campaign's spokesman, David Smith, said the employee, whose name he declined to disclose, was a junior staff member hired last month to help mobilize the organization's members in Michigan. "The minute we learned about it we took decisive action," Mr. Smith said.

on one level, you have to admire the person behind stop october surprises: this person had a concrete goal ("out" the author of stop sex predators) and then carried it out, using investigative skills to tie the person to the HRC.

but unfortunately for this person (and also for other silly right-wingers like gary), the foley story was simply not an october surprise. people had been trying to get the media to cover that story for months, and the media simply wouldn't do it until abc finally got around to it in late september. gary quotes from the new york times but conveniently ends his quote right before this part:

The Miami Herald and other news organizations have acknowledged obtaining copies of the same e-mail messages months ago but declining to publish them because of their potentially ambiguous contents.

(gary also can't help but take a cheap shot at julia carson. he has a pathological need to bash julia whenever possible.)

we know that CREW received the emails back in july and couldn't get the fbi to investigate. other news outlets had the first letters last year but didn't publish. so how is this an october surprise exactly?

for the politically naive, "october surprise" is a term for a news event deliberately timed to influence elections. thus various wingnuts claim that the foley scandal, because it finally broke a month before the election, must have been deliberately timed to hurt them. but this is plainly not true: the story had been floating around behind the scenes for nearly a year before abc picked it up. if you wanted to create an october surprise, why would you start leaking information a year in advance? the whole idea is ridiculous.

the timing was a coincidence, GOP. get over it.

No comments: