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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

How the Networks Played the Foley Story



ABC's World News Tonight made Mark Foley's resignation its lead story Friday. "A congressional career is in ruins tonight," was how substitute anchor Terry Moran opened the newscast. Investigative reporter Brian Ross, whose online site broke the story Thursday, was first to report Foley's resignation. ABC played up the obvious hypocrisy angle -- that Foley was co-chairman of a House caucus on missing and exploited children.

"Do I make you a little horny?" Ross said, reading one of Foley's instant messages to a House page.

CBS News congressional correspondent Cheryl Atkisson was second, but her piece captured the broader political implications, that Foley's self-immolation could help Democrats recapture Congress in November. Atkisson called Democrat Tim Mahoney, who has trailed Foley by double digits, "maybe one of the luckiest politicians around."

NBC was uncharacteristically off stride a bit, without a pre-produced story. Anchor Brian Williams did an analytical Q-and-A with Washington bureau chief Tim Russert, who predicted Americans would find Foley's behavior "very reprehensible" and that Foley's seat is now "a wide-open seat."

For Florida political junkies, consider this: In all or part of eight Florida counties on Nov. 7, the general election ballot will feature Katherine Harris atop the Republican ballot followed by Mark Foley. (How's that for a winning ticket?) It is too late for Republicans to put a new candidate on the ballot (see Fla. Statute 100.111 (4) a.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:48pm]


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