While Post Fronts Latest Rep. Massa Developments, NYT Files Incomplete AP Brief on A-12
The latest political development in the strange case of Democratic Rep. Eric Massa, who resigned from Congress on Monday after allegations of sexual misconduct with male staffers, was relegated to a 92-word Associated Press brief on Page 12, in the Times' National Briefing section in Friday's Times: "G.O.P. Bid for Ethics Inquiry Fails." Even that brief was absent key details, like news that Nancy Pelosi's staff first learned about Massa's inappropriate behavior back in October.
By contrast, the Washington Post treated it like a real story, putting the controversy on the front page of Friday's edition:
Republicans on Thursday pushed the House ethics committee to look into whether Democratic leaders responded appropriately to complaints of misconduct by then-Rep. Eric Massa, an inquiry that could become an election-year embarrassment for Democrats.
The G.O.P.'s move was fueled by a tidbit suggesting Democratic leaders knew more about Massa's problems than first admitted, making the story a possible parallel to the controversy that erupted before the 2006 congressional elections over Republican Congressman Mark Foley's unethical behavior with congressional pages. The Post explained:
Massa resigned his seat Monday, insisting he was guilty of nothing more than using "salty language" with members of his staff. But on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that he was under investigation for allegedly groping multiple staffers in several incidents. On Wednesday afternoon, the ethics panel met privately and decided to end the Massa investigation, citing the fact that he is no longer a member of Congress. Hours later, reports surfaced that the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had been alerted in October to the attention that Massa was said to be paying to young male staffers.
Yet the only coverage by a Times reporter of the G.O.P.'s push for an investigation was a blog post by congressional reporter Carl Hulse Thursday afternoon. Hulse, who usually sides with Democrats on matters political, procedural, and scandalous, framed the Republican move purely as a partisan grab and delayed describing the details of Pelosi's staff being alerted until the very last sentence. By contrast, Hulse's extensive coverage of the Mark Foley case was dominated by the seriousness of the allegations, not their partisan nature.
From Hulse's Thursday blog post:
Trying to keep the pressure on over the messy case of former Representative Eric J. Massa of New York, House Republicans on Thursday demanded that the House ethics committee look into whether Democratic leaders took appropriate steps once they learned of complaints of inappropriate behavior by Mr. Massa.
Hulse assured readers there were no parallels, because these young adult staff members weren't teenagers:
Republicans face some challenges in turning the Massa matter into the Foley affair. Mr. Foley's involvement was with teenage pages whose security and safety was the responsibility of Congressional leaders; Mr. Massa's involvement was with young adult staff members who later complained his behavior was making them uncomfortable.
In addition, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, said last week that once his staff was informed of complaints about Mr. Massa, aides to Mr. Massa were told to report the issues to the ethics panel within 48 hours or Mr. Hoyer would.
In Ms. Pelosi's case, she said last week that her staff was informed of rumors of Mr. Massa's conduct, but they did not reach her level. The Washington Post and Politico reported Thursday that staff in the speaker's office learned as long ago as last October that Mr. Massa was too close with young staff workers but that there did not appear to be accounts of any physical or sexual misconduct.