Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 24, 2010

RANGEL'S IN TROUBLE, BUT ENSIGN'S IN EVEN WORSE SHAPE.... The Washington Post has run a couple of items over the last day noting the ethics allegations surrounding Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.). Today's article noted that Rangel's intention to fight the charges "could wind up tarnishing the whole party just weeks before the midterm elections."

There's no doubt that the Rangel ethics matter is serious. It may even be time for the 20-term lawmaker to gracefully step aside before the probe permanently tarnishes his legacy.

But while the ethics investigation into a House Democrat has generated considerable attention, you may not have heard that a conservative Republican senator conceded yesterday that he's cooperating with a federal criminal investigation of another conservative Republican senator.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has turned over e-mails to federal authorities investigating Sen. John Ensign's extramarital affair with a campaign aide, the latest sign that the criminal probe into the embattled Nevada Republican is picking up steam.

Coburn told POLITICO that he is cooperating with the Justice Department in the investigation of Ensign, and says he's willing to submit himself to an interview with the FBI or Senate Select Committee on Ethics, which is conducting a parallel investigation into whether Ensign broke Senate rules.

"We've given them everything they wanted," Coburn said, referring to the Justice Department.

That's the right move for Coburn. A year ago, the right-wing Oklahoman suggested he might not cooperate, arguig that he, as a medical professional, considered Ensign his patient. (Given that Coburn is an OB-GYN, the argument defied any reasonable understanding of logic and anatomy.)

Coburn wisely decided not to pursue this. Rather than fighting, the Oklahoma Republican reportedly turned over more than 1,200 pages of documents to the Justice Department.

Coburn's revelations -- made late on a Friday afternoon -- come on the heels of news that Ensign's aides have told investigators that the senator knew he was violating ethics rules on lobbying restrictions, but did it anyway.

I continue to marvel at this scandal. Here we have John Ensign, a "family values" conservative Republican, who had an extra-marital sexual relationship with his friend's wife, while condemning others' moral failings. Ensign's parents offered to pay hush-money. He ignored ethics laws and tried to use his office to arrange lobbying jobs for his mistress' husband. The likelihood of Ensign being indicted seems fairly high.

And yet, there's 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. Instead, the media's fascinated with Charlie Rangel.

Rangel is facing a probe from the House ethics committee, while Ensign is under scrutiny from the FBI.

Why would Rangel "tarnish his whole party" in an election year, while Ensign's sex-ethics-corruption scandal be deemed irrelevant to the Republican Party?

Steve Benen 8:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Tsk, tsk, Steve. You keep forgetting the cardinal rule: "It's Okay If You're a Republican." Isn't that what the "liberal" mainstream media keep telling us??

Posted by: Michael W on July 24, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Ok - Now watch the right wing shout about Rangel every day on Fox and elsewhere. They will not mention Ensign, my question - will the liberal media? Or perhaps we will be too nice.
Rove's shady group of billionaires have raised millions for the purpose of sliming liberals in this election cycle, and getting the majority, will any of our rich donors help us keep it? Liberals have to begin to fight, we don't need people like Ed Schultz who is supposed to be one of us being critical of the president at every turn, we have to support Obama!
On a different subject Arizonans may be lucky on the job market this year - I understand there will be lots of lettuce to pick - due to the new immigration law.

Posted by: jJS on July 24, 2010 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

You can see the media bias on this one.
Rangel? Some real estate BS. DULL!
Ensign? Everything they should love - Clinton on steroids.
And yet...
Michael has it right - IOKIYAR.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on July 24, 2010 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah, and since this is "The Summer of Race," Rangel will be the focus. You know, ACORN, the NBBP, Sherrod, and the Kenyan Usurper...
Some white 'family values' Republican Senator caught with his dick out? Ho-hum. Call me when there's a dead girl or a live boy involved. Until then, Rangel, Rangel, Rangel!!!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on July 24, 2010 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

And what about David Vitter?

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on July 24, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Now watch the right wing shout about Rangel every day on Fox and elsewhere. They will not mention Ensign, my question - will the liberal media?

What liberal media would that be?

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on July 24, 2010 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

I agree -- Ensign matter should be getting much more attention. And the media give far more negative attention to Democrats than to Republicans. But isn't Rangel a much more senior and important member of Congress than the light-weight from Nevada?

Posted by: ally on July 24, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

The difference between the crimes of Ensign and Rangel is night and day.

-or BLACK and white. . .

Posted by: DAY on July 24, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

you ask the questions posed rhetorically as if you know the answers... (i believe you do)
but you dare not speak them out loud for fear of transgressing the unwritten rules governing acceptable 'serious' media behavior...

why should we expect couric, williams, etc to do 'better' than you, when they have huge (unearned) salaries, etc at risk, while you -no offense, relatively speaking- have little to risk ? ? ?
not to mention their direct and indirect pressures from evil korporate HQ that -presumably- you are not subject to (that being your raison d'etre (sp?)), and written/unwritten policies they have which proscribe limits of debate...
but you are expecting the korporate-owned media, who selects for vacuous talkingheads, which endlessly and baselessly repeats gummint propaganda ad infinitum, which drumbeats for war on cue, which divides the interests of 90% of us against each other, which uses 'gotcha' and slanderous 'journalism' on enemies of the state and other undesirables to be named later; in spite of this unfortunate reality of 'our' media universe, you *still* have real, enduring, practical hope that they will actually perform their fiduciary duty of being our proxies, and championing the afflicted and afflicting the champions...
good luck with that...

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Posted by: art guerrilla on July 24, 2010 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent observation, ann archy.

A small segment of the populace gets their information from the National Review.

An equally infinitesimal percentage turn to The Nation.

-but an overwhelming majority read The National Inquirer.

Garbage in, garbage out. Trust, but verify.

Posted by: DAY on July 24, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

As has been noted above, the difference is simple: IOKIYAAR.

Posted by: Davran on July 24, 2010 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Sadly, it's not all that hard to understand. Rangel is black and he has a big mouth, not to mention a fairly long history in the house. Ensign is white, his presence doesn't threaten the white leadership, and he does nothing terribly useful. So who cares if Ensign self-destructs? There's no theater in it, just a bug on the windshield. But Rangel will make everything bigger than it needs to be, even his own demise.

Posted by: GP on July 24, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

I think the simplest explanation is that journalists are lazy. Rangel represents part of New York City. Ensign represents Nevada, which might as well be Inner Mongolia as far as Beltway folks are concerned.

Posted by: Patience on July 24, 2010 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

I think it's less IOKIYAR in this case than it's IEFRL: It's Expected From Republican Lawmakers. A personal and professional life totally at odds with stated platform planks has become a feature of GOP officialdom. One only needs to look at Newt Gingrich to get the idea.

The press aren't taking a whole lot of notice here because this has become SOP for the GOP. There are too many instances of GOP sexual misbehavior, and too many of cronyism and favoritism, to justify covering any one of them in much detail, and the trend is too widespread (and hence accepted) to run a major expose without trashing nearly the entire party. Until we find a "family values" GOP congressperson running a brothel with underage illegals, or unearth some arrangement between an oil-friendly GOP congressperson and Gazprom, the story is just too tepid in the current climate for the MSM to bother writing about.

Posted by: boatboy_srq on July 24, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

One of the smartest, most prescient moves that the corporatocracy/oligarchy of this country made was actually twofold:

1) Consolidate established media toward message control and toward cementing desired memes, and

2) Then call it 'liberal media.'

Thus, they have been able to quite successfully not only control messaging, but to also ensure that those few entities left that have some semblance of independence from them - and particularly internet-driven media - are immediately and convincingly labeled as 'liberal' and therefore not to be trusted.

When indeed the message control is on the part of them - but which is instead blamed on the 'liberal media', they effectively silence or quickly emplace doubt on anything remotely critical of them or those they control.

This is where 'unserious' versus 'serious' comes from, among other things. This is also why those who have been right about things (e.g., Iraq, housing crisis, financial meltdown) are consistently sent out to the wilderness, while those who have been consistently wrong about things gain loftier and more prestigious establishment positions from which to continue crafting reality. Really quite smart, from the standpoint of evil authoritarian bastards.

Posted by: terraformer on July 24, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

actually, contra steve, the parents didn't just OFFER to pay hush money, they cut EIGHT $12,000 checks to various memebers of the woman's family [gift of 12k or less don't have to be reported to the irs]...forget the sex hypocrisy, that's just sop for the gop...that bribery charge is a slam dunk...i have no idea how ensign and/or his parents are walking around free...

Posted by: dj spellchecka on July 24, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

What Michael W just said. If there needed to be anymore proof positive that the MSM is in bed with the Republicans, this is it.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on July 24, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

I see no issue here. Being ethically challenged is a requirement for Republicans, so there is no conflict. If you are an ethical person, you are not allowed to be a Republican. The Democratic Party is different. Some Democrats are ethical and some aren't. So ethics problems are an issue. Consider two actresses: Meg Ryan and Jenna Jameson. If Meg Ryan gets naked, it's a scandal. If Jenna does it, it's her job. If you are a Republican, you are sucking BP's dick while getting banged in the ass by Archer Daniels Midland. And there's a long line of corporate interests waiting to fuck you.

Posted by: fostert on July 24, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

That's the right move for Coburn. A year ago, the right-wing Oklahoman suggested he might not cooperate, arguig that he, as a medical professional, considered Ensign his patient. (Given that Coburn is an OB-GYN, the argument defied any reasonable understanding of logic and anatomy.)

Every day Steve posts some new crazy, over the top stupidity from the GOBP. Careful, Steve. You're going to have real trouble topping this.

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Posted by: jordanto on July 24, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I have come up with a new dog whistle term for this type of one sided RW driven media coverage that we see time and time again....Breibertized.

eg "The Breibertized coverage of the Rangel House ethics probe in light of the Ensign CRIMINAL scandal is truly nauseating"

Posted by: lib4 on July 25, 2010 at 7:24 AM | PERMALINK



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