A big Nelson Muntz "Ha-Ha!" to the voters of Palm Beach Florida, who replaced sleazy Republican Mark Foley with sleazy Democrat Tim Mahoney. Mahoney won Foley's House of Representatives seat after it was revealed that Foley had sent sexually suggestive text messages to teenage boys working in Washington, DC.
On Monday, it was revealed that Mahoney had an affair with a staffer named Patricia Allen. Mahoney promised Allen in a cushy $50,000 per year job with the agency that produces his campaign ads, and allegedly agreed to pay her $121,000 in order to avoid a lawsuit.
It was further revealed today that Mahoney -- who is married, of course -- might have been involved in yet another affair at the same time he was seeing Patricia Allen. Ironically, Mahoney fashioned himself as a champion of family values and morality and promised to help restore integrity to the House of Representatives. (By the way, Speaker Pelosi, how is that whole "most ethical Congress in history" thing working out?)
It seems that Democrat leaders will throw Mahoney under the bus (a very unusual thing for Democrats to do to a party member accused of a sex scandal) but only because they feel assured that they will retain a majority in the House. Spealer Pelosi has called for a full ethics investigation (although the House is currently adjourned), and the FBI is reportedly involved. As for Mahoney, he released a non-descript statement that said in part: “I have not violated my oath of office, nor have I violated any laws, and I consider this to be a private matter. No marriage is perfect, but our private life is our private life, and I am sorry that these allegations have caused embarrassment and heartache.”
Naturally the talking heads on the major cable news networks are swarming all over this story:
NURENBERG: Five weeks before the election it seems unlikely that those Democrats will let the issue die.
MALVEAUX: This is the last thing they anticipated five weeks before the midterm elections.
CHRIS CUOMO: The implications could be very big for the election.
LIASSON: I think the question now is how this affects the midterms.
EPSTEIN: You begin to get a very strong, wave and a sentiment out in the public to throw the bums out.
HARRIS: A potentially massive, metastasizing scandal, just five weeks before Election Day.
Ha-ha again! That was the press buzzing two years ago about Mark Foley. The Mahoney case elicited virtually nothing yesterday. Sure, it will get lots of local coverage and plenty of writeups (like this one) on blogs, but look for the network talking heads to give this story only scant, obligatory attention.
After all, they have an election to win for Barack Obama.
UPDATE - NewsBusters is reporting that in the two weeks following the breaking news about Mark Foley in 2006, the Big Three networks aired 152 stories. In the three days following the breaking news about Tim Mahoney, there were ZERO broadcast news stories from the Big Three networks about the scandal.