Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 1, 2010

ENSIGN STILL CAN'T EXPLAIN HIMSELF.... Sen. John Ensign's (R-Nev.) sex scandal didn't hold the media's attention for very long. He refused to talk about the matter, and it wasn't long before journalists stopped asking questions.

That's a shame, because the scandal-plagued senator still has quite a bit of explaining to do. To briefly recap, Ensign's humiliation initially broke in June, when we learned the conservative, "family values" senator carried on a lengthy extra-marital affair with one of his aides, who happened to be married to another one of his aides. Ensign's parents tried to pay off the mistress' family.

The scandal grew far worse in October, when we learned that the Republican senator pushed his political and corporate allies to give lobbying contracts to his mistress' husband, Douglas Hampton. Despite laws prohibiting aides from lobbying for a year after leaving the Hill, Ensign and the aggrieved husband seemed to ignore the rule, and the senator used his office to cater to the needs of those who hired Hampton.

Ensign, again, said he didn't want to talk about it, and the media quickly lost interest. It's why Ensign's appearance on CNN yesterday was so fascinating. Ensign was there to talk about counter-terrorism -- a subject the dim-witted senator knows very little about -- but CNN's Rick Sanchez had the audacity to ask about the sex scandal the senator would prefer to ignore.

Ensign kept ignoring the questions, prompting Sanchez to lower the boom: "Did you help [Hampton] get a job because you felt bad for him or because you had been sleeping with his wife and you wanted to get him out of the way?" The senator, again, took a pass.

Republican politicians caught up in humiliating scandals tend to rely on short-attention spans to survive -- if they can just batten down the hatches and ride out the storm, reporters will move on and the public's interests will shift. If more media figures did the kind of follow-up we saw from Sanchez -- you know, asking scandal-plagued politicians questions they don't want to hear -- GOP pols might be inclined to pursue a more forthcoming strategy.

Steve Benen 11:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Comments

That was pretty gutsy of Sanchez, since it means he won't get another interview with any Republican for the remainder of the decade, and may get transferred to Butte, Montana, or whatever it is that the "liberal" mainstream media do to disruptive people who don't toe the official line.

Posted by: T-Rex on January 1, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Sanchez is using gotcha journalism on a story that is half a year old. He should be pursuing the many unanswered questions surrounding the Clinton presidency.

Posted by: Al on January 1, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Al: ROTFLMAO! That was priceless. It was a joke, wasn't it?

Posted by: T-Rex on January 1, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

And we've got to ask this and similar questions of other republican politicians.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on January 1, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

If it's Al the Treasonous Troll, no, he was serious. He really is that stupid and scummy.

Posted by: Mike on January 1, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

What no C street questions?
There lies the juicy stuff

Posted by: apeman on January 1, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

He should be pursuing the many unanswered questions surrounding the Clinton presidency.

Well, I think we should be trying to get answers to Iran-Contra before the principals all die.
And I, and I suspect many of the commenters here, would agree to more scrutiny of the Clinton Administration, provided the succeeding Bush administration came in for an equal amount of such scrutiny. A metric might be total congressional hearing and staff time, combined with hours of media coverage. By my (admittedly biased)sample, we got some thousands of hours catchup to investigate effectively the strangeness of those years, after the media frenzy surrounding the Clinton 'scandals'..
We can't ever say that Bush did or didn't serve his time for the Texas(or maybe Alabama) National Guard. And the saga of James Guckert, who ended the metaphor status of the term "Media Whore", awaits explication for the prurient minded...Never mind the stovepiping of intelligence, the corruption of the US Attorneys, the sellout of the Defence Dept. to Corporations....
Of course, Al, if you think the Rose Law firm's billing practices more interesting than more recent history, or want to pursue theories that Ron Brown's plane crash was a political 'hit',that's your fetish. Just don't pretend there has been any equity in the examinations of the respective Administrations or their parties.

Posted by: MR Bill on January 1, 2010 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Al, you're either a superb satirist, or a complete, asinine, brain-dead, teabagging horse's tomato.

Happy New Year to all, and a virulent staph infection to Cheney, Focks Noose, and all Teabaggers and their evil enablers everywhere.

Posted by: I Me Mine on January 1, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

I vote for Al being a superb satirist -- intentionally or not. See, once the neanderthal Republicans are rejected at the polls they will need to do something for a living. Wouldn't it make sense that some of the more clever ones polished up their night club acts?

Posted by: Dr Lemming on January 1, 2010 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Sanchez would do well to not predicate his questions with apologies. They aren't supposed to be friends.

Posted by: martin on January 1, 2010 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Things to do Monday:

1. Call Ensign's offices (all of them, Nevada and DC) and ask where I can read the answers that he said he has already given to Sanchez's questions.

2. Think of something else to do after that.

Posted by: Repack Rider on January 1, 2010 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Ensign's parents tried to pay off the mistress' family. My God, what fun radio and the MSM would have with that, if not a Repub.

Posted by: neil b on January 1, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Never mind Clinton, Iran-Contra,Nixon's dog Checkers- I have some unanswered questions about the Teapot Dome.

And then there's that duel in New Jersey. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 1, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

I am amazed at the number of regular commenters who don't get Al's satire.

"Sanchez is using gotcha journalism on a story that is half a year old [implying that anything that old isn't news]. He should be pursuing the many unanswered questions surrounding the Clinton presidency [implying that 9-year-old events are news]."

Do we really need to diagram each of his postings for you?

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 1, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Al is a treasure.
Happy New Year, all!

Posted by: genome on January 1, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Is it possible that CNN may return to actual journalism? Which this country needs? Which involves more than getting the hair just right and reading, without stumbling over the big words too often, off a teleprompter? Let Sanchez and this kind of question prevail. And let us all think about contacting CNN and saying how much we appreciate real questions.

Posted by: SF on January 1, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

All this means is that Ensign will go on Fucksnews to blast Sanchez/CNN as partisan.

Posted by: Winkandanod on January 1, 2010 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

I still can't quite believe that Ensign hasn't been getting hounded about his conduct. Isn't at least part of the reason why Ensign hasn't been pressured to resign the fact that Republicans need his vote to continue their campaign of obstruction? Obama won Nevada by a big margin.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on January 1, 2010 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

thanks al! i needed a laugh, and this was a classic. keep up the good work!

Posted by: mudwall jackson on January 1, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

What is up with Rick Sanchez? Is he like a reporter or something? Is CNN a news channel?

But that Ensign's got some great parents! I wish I could get mine to pay every gal I slept with big bucks! Just imagine what growing up in his house was like:

Your first doodie by yourself - a Visa card!
Your first baby tooth falls out - a visit from the tooth fairy hooker!


Posted by: Glen on January 1, 2010 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Ensign, again, said he didn't want to talk about it, and the media quickly lost interest."

Which is funny, because when the media *wants* to keep an issue in the spotlight, they run stories with headlines like "White House silence keeps saga of Salahi breach alive."

Seriously, WTF?

Posted by: Chris on January 2, 2010 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Give Sanchez credit wher credit is due...that was a good post Steve. I know you've said he wasn't your cup of tea in the past and I kind of agree but I have to say he probably asks the best follow ups, and stays on subject pretty well. Most other reporters these days are distracted too easily.

Ron

Posted by: ronald64 on January 2, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK
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