Waiting for the other shoe to drop

Rumors of a third Congressman with a page problem (this one involving a sixteen-year-old girl, much to the dismay of the homophobe caucus) are swirling. Tucker Carlson and Dana Milbank have mentioned them, as rumors. It seems likely that the name is known among journalists. Did the AP photo editor give a broad hint? If so, do we approve?

**** RUMOR PROBABLY FALSE: SEE UPDATE ****

Tucker Carlson and Dana Milbank have both reported rumors that a third page scandal is coming, this one involving a Congressman and a 16-year-old girl.

That would not merely seriously reignite the Foley Follies; it would also stifle the wingnut attempt to turn this into a gay scandal rather than a scandal about grown men abusing their office to make sexual advances to high-school students, and the party and institution they belong to scurrying to protect the grown-ups rather than the teenagers. If the story breaks this week or next, we could see a true landslide in November.

How likely is it that Carlson and Milbank haven’t heard the name associated with the new rumor? Not very. But what’s left of journalistic ethics keeps them from naming names unless and until the scandal breaks.

In the meantime, various bloggers, diarists, and commenters are busily speculating away. One commenter points to this AP photo as a hint.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But if it isn’t, I wonder why the AP picked this particular file photo from 2003 to use with the Foley story, and why the cutline identifies the second Congressman in the picture, who isn’t mentioned at all in the text of the story, and why the picture wasn’t cropped to show Foley alone, if Foley’s problems were all that the picture was intended to illustrate.

If in fact the AP is sending coded messages in this fashion, do we approve or disapprove? I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that, if the picture and cutline weren’t meant to send a message, they reflect some seriously careless editing.

Discuss.

Update Rich Miller of Capitol Fax, who from a partisan perspective would prefer to believe the rumor, has done some checking around and doesn’t. If this is indeed b.s., then the AP photo editor got some ‘splainin’ to do.

Second update Archpundit has switched from predicting that AP would break the story today to referring its readers to Rich Miller. So the story has definitely cooled off, if it isn’t stone dead.

Footnote This is why respectable media outlets don’t run with rumors, especially rumors that could damage completely innocent third parties, and most especially children. Yes, Wonkette.com, I’m looking at you.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

11 thoughts on “Waiting for the other shoe to drop”

  1. Don't have a name for you but can guarantee that if there is another name and he's a Democrat, Karl would have wasted no time leaking it to his talk radio pals.

  2. "But what's left of journalistic ethics keeps them from naming names unless and until the scandal breaks. "
    Hmmmm. That's the sort of 'journalistic ethics' which caused people to sit on stories until after the November, 2004 election?

  3. Or, the same journalistic ethics that caused a major network to run a scandal based on false documents right before the 2004 election.

  4. Maybe a journalist can answer this: How much interaction is there between the photo and news department? My uneducated guess is that they needed a photo with certain proportions and that leaving the second member made it more visually interesting.

  5. The other guy in that photograph is a pretty obscure congressman, who recently became the son-in-law of one of Latin America's most brutal dictators.

  6. I thought that you had to be caught with either a live boy or a dead girl for it to be a scandal. So unless someone produces a body, I don't see this one making much of an impact.
    Now if it's actually John Shimkus, chairman of the House Page Board, who's been dipping into the kiddie pool, that would probably ignite a new wave of major scandal. I hasten to add that I've heard no rumors that it was him — he's just the only congressman for whom I think this allegation would ignite a fiery national scandal. Well, maybe if it was Nancy Pelosi…
    (If you want to delete my comment for containing names then so be it, but I repeat that this is not speculation.)

  7. The rules are different now. A live girl the day after someone gets caught with a live boy IS a scandal, because the two stories become one story.

  8. Anyone who wastes 15 seconds speculating about the motives of AP editors or the coded messages they may be sending in their stock wire photos needs to go outside and breathe some of the brisk fall air.
    Seriously, it's a good old, emotion-rich pic of Foley, and that's all there is it to it.

  9. My vote is careless editing. I think the picture and the caption were provided by AP.
    For truly careless editing, check this out: http://www.christianpost.com/article/20061005/250
    Same picture and caption but (unless you click to enlarge) the other congressman is not even in the picture. So if the Globe is sending coded messages to us, they were scooped by two weeks by the Christian Post.

  10. Or, the same journalistic ethics that caused a major network to run a scandal based on false documents right before the 2004 election.

  11. Well, that's nice Mark. You trade in trashy rumors and then have the gall to point the finger at other websites. Yikes. At least we have a confession that you're not respectable. What's the appropriate description for your page now?

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