Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Page Scandal

While some are just beginning to notice Ken Silverstein's Harper's Magazine casual drop that two Democrat operatives had shopped the (non-explicit) e-mails in May, not only to Harpers, but to the St. Petersburg Times, the Miami Herald and a half a dozen others, the e-mails were party material even before that.

Washington Post, Oct 2, 2006 -
Also yesterday, a former House page said that at a 2003 page reunion, he saw sexually suggestive e-mails Foley had sent to another former page. Patrick McDonald, 21, now a senior at Ohio State University, said he eventually learned of "three or four" pages from his 2001-2002 class who were sent such messages.

[A correction at the top of the article clarifies: "An Oct. 2 article about inappropriate messages from Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) to former House pages incorrectly said that former page Patrick McDonald had seen sexually suggestive e-mails from Foley. McDonald was merely present when recipients of the messages discussed them."]
So McDonald did not actually see any [non-explicit] e-mails but someone else claims to have.

Matthew Loraditch, who runs the now-offline U.S. House Page Alumni bulletin board, claimed he had known about the "creepy" messages "for years." They, according to him, were sent after the pages left and none were reported. He claims to have seen "cut-and-paste excerpts" of messages Foley sent to one of the three. And their reactions?
"Some went along with it, others cut it off," Loraditch said. "I'm pretty sure none met with him."

A day earlier, Loraditch was instrumental in creating this glaring headline:

Oct 1, 2006 ABCNews: GOP Staff Warned Pages About Foley in 2001 Not only were the pages warned in 2001 about Foley according to Loraditch, but he said that some of the pages who "interacted" with Foley were hesitant to report his behavior because "members of Congress, they've got the power." Many of the pages were hoping for careers in politics and feared Foley might seek retribution.

Loraditch made the same claim in another ABCNews item (Oct 1, 2006 )

Former pages tell ABC News the pages involved with Foley were afraid to offend the powerful Republican congressman.

"So there would definitely be some hesitation especially for the people who want to move up in politics eventually," Loraditch explained. "You know, you don't want to get involved in something like that."
So not only were pages warned about Foley, they were afraid to offend him. Yet in an interview with Scripps Howard News Service. (Story dated Oct 1, 2006.) Loraditch had this to say about the reaction of the pages to the [non-explicit] e-mails.

"I've known about them (messages) for several years now," he said Saturday.
"It was more like, 'Hey, look at this,' " said Loraditch, 21, who served in the page program in the 2001-02 session. "I don't think the people in question felt that uncomfortable. It was more, 'Ooh, look at that creepy guy.'

"It was definitely crossing-the-line stuff. The instant message stuff, and stuff I've seen and heard about, definitely couldn't be misconstrued" as merely "friendly" or innocent, Loraditch said.
He then goes on to directly contradict his complaint that pages could not report Foley contacts for fear of retribution.
"The supervisors I worked with, if any of them had been told, it would have been dealt with at the time promptly," he said. "All of our supervisors were great people. They love pages. Half of them were former pages, and they've got kids of their own. If they had known about it, it would have been dealt with."
In another bizarre twist, shortly after the "pages were warned about Foley", Oct 2, 2006 - Loraditch backtracked from his ABC News contention. Pages were not warned. Did ABC make up the quote? Apparently not.

So how did Loraditch decide between one interview and the next that pages who were not "that uncomfortable" with the messages were suddenly victims who were unable to complain for fear of retribution? It would be interesting to find out.

It's hard to generalize about Loraditch, but hopefully the FBI will interview him. Under oath. Because it would be interesting to know which two former pages shopped the sexually explicit IMs. And whether they did so to protest their own innocence or whether they wanted to disapprove the actions of other pages who may have had voluntary explicit IMs with Foley.

In any case, few of the pages who have spoken publicly have been a credit to the page program.

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