Eric Massa never had it so good.
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According to the officer, Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho tapped the toe of his right foot several times and then moved his foot toward the officer’s left foot, swiping the officer’s foot in the process. It was alleged Craig then waved his left hand underneath the stall at which time the officer waved his police badge in return.
On August 1, Craig pled guilty to a misdemeanor of disorderly conduct and paid $575 toward fines and fees. On August 27, 2007, Capitol Hill’s Roll Call newspaper broke the story of Craig’s arrest and guilty plea.
Within days, Senate GOP leaders asked Craig to step down from his leadership positions on three Senate committees. On September 1, while professing his innocence, Craig announced he would resign from the Senate effective September 30, 2007. He later withdrew this announcement and instead served out the remainder of his term, retiring in January 2009.
First-term Representative Eric Massa, a Democrat from upstate New York, made a surprise announcement on March 3, 2009 that he would not seek reelection, claiming ill health as the reason. In a matter of hours news broke that the House Ethics Committee was reviewing allegations that Massa had engaged in sexual misconduct with members of his own Congressional staff. Two days later, Massa announced he would resign from the House on March 8.
According to numerous sources, Massa hired only unmarried male staff for his office and as many as five of them were living with the Congressman in his townhouse. It was alleged Massa had groped and made inappropriate sexual comments toward several staff members, and, on one occasion, he suggested he ought to be having sexual relations with one staffer while both were attending a social function.
On a cable TV appearance, Massa admitted to having groped a staffer and “tickled him until he couldn’t breath” during an all-male wrestling session in his townhouse to celebrate his 50th birthday. Word also emerged that Massa allegedly propositioned numerous male Congressional staff members and interns during his one year on Capitol Hill.
In the days after his resignation, several Navy veterans came forward alleging a pattern of sexual misconduct by Massa while he was serving in the U.S. Navy. They claimed Massa groped and made unwanted sexual advances to male crewmembers. In most cases, Massa’s behavior involved subordinates. It was also learned that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi neglected to take any disciplinary action or refer ethics charges even though she was informed of Massa’s inappropriate behavior the previous year. Three years earlier, Pelosi demanded the heads of then-Speaker Dennis Hastert and other GOP leaders for having allegedly ignored warnings about Representative Mark Foley’s lurid text messages.
Shortly after Massa left office, House officials shut-down the Ethics Committee investigation into his behavior and the circumstances surrounding an apparent hostile work environment.
THE DIFFERENCE IN HOW specific press outlets reported these scandals is startling. In the first week after the story broke that Studds had engaged in a homosexual affair with a 16-year-old page and had propositioned other youngsters, the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and USA Today published a total of 32 stories and editorials.
One week following the revelation of Frank having a cocaine-addled, male prostitute and homosexual pimp as his live-in lover resulted in 25 articles and stories from the same newspapers.
In the first seven days, these same papers published a mere ten stories and editorials regarding Reynolds engaging in what turned out to be several criminal acts for which he served time in both state and federal prison.
Coverage of Massa’s alleged sexual groping and unwanted advances resulted in about the same amount of news coverage. These newspapers published 29 articles and editorials addressing the scandal.
However, the press treatment of the Republican Craig and Foley affairs was markedly different from that of the four Democrats.
These five newspapers published 58 stories and editorials — about twice as many as published on any one of the Democrats — regarding the Senatorial toe-tapper even though the “victim” was an undercover officer. Craig did plea guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct; however, there is no evidence — or even an allegation — he sexually assaulted anyone or engaged in any illegal activity.
In contrast, Gerry Studds’ having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old — below the age of consent in the District of Columbia — and later taking the page out of the country to engage in sexual relations was not only deeply repugnant but also illegal.
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