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Marking the Death of Rep. Gerry Studds

The death of former liberal Rep. Gerry Studds' death garners respectful coverage from the Times. But the Times marked the death of conservative Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage rather differently.

The Times marks the death of former Rep. Gerry Studds witha respectful obituary by DamienCave. Which is as it should be.



But compare the treatment of the scandal-marked Studds to the paper's disrespectful treatment of former Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, who was apparently scandalously conservative: "Former Representative Helen P. Chenoweth-Hage of Idaho, an archconservative who ridiculed the Endangered Species Act and the protection of salmon in her own state and called for disbanding large parts of the federal government, died on Monday in a car accident in Nevada."


By contrast, here is the Times on Studds: "Gerry E. Studds, the first openly gay member of Congress and a demanding advocate for New England fishermen and for gay rights, died early Saturday at Boston University Medical Center, his husband said...A former Foreign Service officer with degrees from Yale, he was also a leading critic of President Ronald Reagan's clandestine support of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. He staunchly opposed 'Star Wars,' or the Strategic Defense Initiative, which Mr. Studds once described as 'the Edsel of the 1980's' - overpriced and oversold.


"His homosexuality was revealed through scandal. In 1983, he was censured by the House for having had an affair 10 years earlier with a 17-year-old Congressional page. For Mr. Studds, formal and dignified, a model of old New England reserve, the discovery sparked intense anguish, friends said."


The Times briefly notes why you may have heard that name lately: "Mr. Studds's past had recently resurfaced. In the final two weeks of his life, the two-decade-old controversy surrounding Mr. Studds became an issue in the 2006 midterm election campaign as a new Congressional page scandal unfolded.


"Though his name had barely been mentioned in Washington since he retired, the resignation late last month of Representative Mark Foley, a Florida Republican, revived interest in Mr. Studds's own dalliance with a teenage page in 1983."


"Dalliance" is a weasel word broad enough to cover the two dissimilar instances of Studds and Foley. Studds was censured for having sex with a teenage page, and literally turned his back on the House's judgement of him,yet was reelected several times by his liberal constituency. By contrast, there's no evidence (yet) that Foley had sexual relations with a page, andFoley resigned his seat when news of his sexually explicit IM's broke.