Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 15, 2010

ENSIGN 'UNDER SIEGE,' BUT NOT FROM MEDIA.... Sen. John Ensign's (R-Nev.) humiliating sex scandal -- involving personal, legal, and ethical transgressions -- grew more serious last week with reports of incriminating emails. Politico reports this morning that the scandal "has Ensign under siege."

Embattled Republican John Ensign is showing no signs of giving up his Senate seat, but the persistent drip of information about his sex scandal has some colleagues and top Republican aides asking quietly whether he can serve effectively.

The Nevada Republican admitted in June that he'd had an affair with an aide. But rather than putting the problem behind him, the admission was just the first in a long series of damaging revelations that have left other senators wary of working too closely with him -- a significant problem in a clubby body in which success depends on building relationships with other members.

"Like Vitter, Ensign doesn't get invited to a lot of press conferences because no one wants their boss in a photo op with them," said one top GOP aide, referring to Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter, who was identified in 2007 as a client of an alleged prostitution ring.

When senators are afraid to be seen with one of their scandal-plagued colleagues, it's generally a bad sign. Indeed, lawmakers are their most effective when they can partner with colleagues to advance legislation, but Ensign's GOP colleagues don't want to return his phone calls. Under normal circumstances, it's the kind of dynamic that forces a senator to resign in disgrace.

But if Ensign can survive this, he'll have to send thank-you notes to major news outlets that just don't seem interested in this controversy.

Despite new revelations pointing to possible illegalities, the Washington Post, for example, hasn't run a single article about Ensign's scandal in months. (The Post ran a piece two weeks ago that mentioned the Ensign controversy in passing. The headline: "Democrats' ethical lapses could threaten hold on power.")

What about the Sunday shows? Despite damaging new evidence published this week, the total number of references yesterday to Ensign on the five major Sunday morning shows -- "Meet the Press," "This Week," "Face the Nation," "State of the Union," and "Fox News Sunday" -- was zero. Literally, none.

Three of the five, however, found time for the Eric Massa controversy.

I don't know what political reporters are waiting for here. In general, the media loves political sex scandals. This one involves a shameless hypocrite, who ran on a "family-values" platform, committing adultery with one of his own aides, who happens to be married to another aide. The controversy features the immediate affair, plus alleged ethics violations, hush money, and official corruption.

And yet, no media frenzy. No reporters staked out in front of Ensign's home. No op-eds speculating about the need for Ensign to resign in disgrace. The Washington Post and the Sunday shows are pretending the story doesn't even exist, even after the DNC launched a pretty hard hitting ad on the subject.

"Liberal media"? I don't think so.

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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Comments

Oh , the iron knee ...

Posted by: FRP on March 15, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, Steve, it's good to see you finally noticed that the corporate media favors the GOP. What's next? Watch the sunrise tomorrow. Did you know it rises in the east?

Posted by: bikelib on March 15, 2010 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

IOKIYAR

Posted by: rea on March 15, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

To take a bit of a different view, the fact that Republicans have shut-out Ensign means that the media has nothing to work with. I can understand the media jumping only when the GOP says jump but in this case the amount of coverage is probably enough until more comes out in the ethical or legal investigations.

Remember, Rick Sanchez confronted Ensign a few weeks ago when Ensign ventured out from the cave. He probably will not do that again.

Posted by: CarlP on March 15, 2010 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Adulterers block tax hike, film at 11! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 15, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

It wasn't all that long ago when Gary Condit was subjected to a months long media frenzy- and, it turned out, he didn't do anything wrong.

I guess party affiliation does make a difference. . .

Posted by: DAY on March 15, 2010 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

If Politico is taking note, that's significant. Remember, papers like the New York Times are obediently monitoring Internet publications like that to see what the "people" are concerned about. As for Mowdy Doody Dowd, if Politico pulls the strings, she dances.

Posted by: T-Rex on March 15, 2010 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

It may be that what we need here a little stronger hint that some of Ensign's colleagues have a "There, but for the grace of FSM, go I" problem. I'd attack on it, myself-- I mean, WTF?

Posted by: MattF on March 15, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Was a blue dress involved? I think this only becomes a major story, taking over the air waves and consuming millions of taxpayer dollars, if a stained, blue dress was involved.

Posted by: josef on March 15, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Funny that Gary Condit voted mostly with the RepuGs, but, was cast adrift by the RepuG supporters.

Please, voters of Nevada, help Dr Ensign get back to what he knows best and that is giving distemper shots.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 15, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know what political reporters are waiting for here

They're waiting for Ensign to have an affair with a man and have Mom and Pop Ensign pay off the man's partner for his silence.

There's a busload of accumulated evidence that the media favors Republicans, but in this case the key differentiating point for the salacious media is that Massa was groping men. This totally freaks out the pretend-sophisticate media, whose attitude toward homosexuality is too often a combination of junior-high giggling and stern disapproval.

Larry Craig really did get a lot of coverage, remember, although I personally think that state legislator from Florida who claimed he offered to blow a black undercover cop because he was afraid of being beaten up by nearby African Americans is the gold standard for hilarity.

Posted by: shortstop on March 15, 2010 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

I am pretty sure the state legislator from Florida trembled in terror of being beaten by the flying fists of no less than the brainy pugilist , Tucher Caarlsson .
Thats right , I am calling sweet , brainy , right wing , moderate decibel neocon evangelist , Tooker Karrlson a terrorist , maybe .

Posted by: FRP on March 15, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Massa is worth mentioning on Sunday morning, but Ensign isn't. What more evidence does anyone need to conclude what has become so blatantly obvious, to many of us, that the whole corporate MSM is in the tank for the Rethugs. And that includes NPR.

Massa, who at most has been convicted by the media of being a closet case and can't quite control himself around young, but legal, males, has, as far as we know, not bribed anyone to keep quiet nor destroyed any families. So his offense is mostly that he is a married homosexual who is playful, perhaps to the point of sexual harassment, with his male staff. That's worthy of a media frenzy, and a resignation? Ensign, who has demonstrated himself to be an evil hypocrite, is ignored.

There never was a level playing field, but at least in the past there was more 'journalistic' discretion (an absolute oxymoron) about using such human pecadillos as sensational tabloid distractions. The country is in a death spiral and we worry about a congressman tickling his staff. Right.

Posted by: rRRk1 on March 15, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

That blue stained dress is being worn now by Wolf Blizter, the corporate cum slut that he is ....

Posted by: stormskies on March 15, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Most of the media loves the easy way out. Ensign isn't talking, Massa has been all over the place. Hence, Massa is the story. All the media had to do was play clips of Massa in this or that interview. Jump to "journalists" chortling over it. There, done. (In addition, Ensign is an "old" story, even if there are new revelations.)

Posted by: Hannah on March 15, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

The lack of outcry over Ensign is unbelievable. If a manager at a large company had an affair with one of his direct reports, who was married to another direct report, the lawsuits for sexual harassment would come from all directions. Any employee reporting up through that manager could sue.

That his parents provided the money to cover it up should have ended his career right there.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on March 15, 2010 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what political reporters are waiting for here. In general, the media loves political sex scandals. This one involves a shameless hypocrite, who ran on a "family-values" platform, committing adultery with one of his own aides, who happens to be married to another aide. The controversy features the immediate affair, plus alleged ethics violations, hush money, and official corruption.

IOKIYAR

Not to mention the otherwise-unemployables of the Press Corpse know what their corporate masters want when it comes to going through the list for the next round of firings.

Posted by: TCinLA on March 15, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Massa is notable because he has chosen to indulge in the most hilarious ritual of public self-immolation I've witnessed in years. Ensign is still hiding in his cave and so what's the camera angle for that? Sure, the man-on-man aspect adds spice, but this guy is verging on self-parody regardless of the details. Massa seriously needs to sit down and STFU before he hurts somebody other than himself.

Posted by: GP on March 15, 2010 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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