Republican called on vague insinuations about Foley cover-up

You know you're in trouble when even that concern troll Wolf Blitzer starts actually practicing journalism on you.  

Check out this little gem, in which Blitzer grills Patrick McHenry (R-NC), demanding evidence to back up his insinuations that the Democrats had something to do with the timing of the Foleygate scandal/coverup coverage: /blitzer-to-gop-rep-yes-_n_31229.html

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Reynolds a No-Show on "This Week"

Just how bad are things for Tom Reynolds, the New York Congressman who chairs the National Republican Campaign Committee? So bad, apparently, that he decided to skip out on his head-to-head appearance with Rahm Emanuel, his Democratic counterpart, on ABC's "This Week", as the AP's Hope Yen reports (hat tip: Crooks and Liars).

Rep. Thomas Reynolds, who heads the House Republicans' re-election effort, would have been the chamber's top GOP official on the Sunday talk shows. Booked weeks ago for ABC's "This Week," he confirmed his appearance on Wednesday. By Saturday, his office canceled without explanation and arranged for a substitute guest, Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., a network spokeswoman said.

A Reynolds spokesman said the New York congressman had flu-like symptoms. Reynolds, whose district covers a stretch of New York between the suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester, is now trailing his Democratic opponent, Jack Davis, by a 48-33 percent margin, according to a poll conducted by Zogby International for The Buffalo News.

Reynolds has been criticized by Democrats who say he did too little to protect a page from Foley, the Florida Republican who resigned Sept. 29 after the disclosure of his sexually explicit electronic messages to teenage former male pages. Foley is now under investigation by federal and Florida authorities.

Reynolds' retreat comes a day after he went on the air with an ad trying to apologize for his role in the Mark Foley scandal. It also comes on the same day as Zogby polling commissioned by The Buffalo News shows him trailing his Democratic challenger Jack Davis by 15 points, 48 percent to 33 percent. Even if we take the results of the Zogby poll with a grain of salt, which I would tend to recommend, SurveyUSA polling conducted midweek for WGRZ-TV Buffalo showed Davis leading by 5 points, 50 percent to 45 percent.

Whatever the polling shows, it's becoming increasingly clear that Congressman Reynolds' top priority is no longer fighting, perhaps in vain, to retain the Republican majority through his position at the NRCC but rather fighting, perhaps equally in vain, to retain his own seat in the House. Frankly, that fact should have a lot of Republican Congressional candidates very worried.

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Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP Solo Opportunity to Spin

At this late point in the election season, one would think that the public affairs programs would try especially hard to ensure balance -- or at least strive to avoid the perception of bias. Yet tomorrow, two of the five Sunday shows will allow Republican officials the opportunity to offer their spin without a single Democratic official to counteract them. Kate Phillips has a roundup of tomorrow's schedule over at The New York Times' political blog.

Tim Russert moderates another Senate debate on NBC's "Meet the Press,'' this Sunday between Senator Jim Talent, the Republican incumbent in Missouri, and Claire McCaskill, the Democratic challenger and the state's auditor.

In addition, Mr. Woodward sits down with Mr. Russert as the book whirl over "State of Denial,'' (No. 3 on our new Times poli-book bestseller list released on Friday), takes another turn.

ABC's "This Week'' promises a lively discussion, as George Stephanopoulos features as his guests Representatives Tom Reynolds, the Republican national congressional chairman, and Rahm Emanuel, his Democratic counterpart. With somewhere between 40 and 50 House seats in play, and with Mr. Reynolds at the center of the storm over disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley , the two campaigners-in-chief have more than fundraising on their minds right now. (Read the House state-of-play article by Adam Nagourney as you prepare for the Sunday morning showdown.)

On CBS's "Face the Nation," Congressmen Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia, and Ray LaHood, Republican of Illinois, are sure to have answers ready about their leader, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, and the page scandal shaking up campaigns across the country. "Fox News Sunday" features Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, and retired Maj. Gen. Edward Grillo. CNN's "Late Edition'' corrals two of the more popular talk show senators, Joe Biden, Demoract of Delaware, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. [emphasis added]

It is simply unconscionable for these programs on the public airwaves to give Republicans free rein at this stage in the election season. It's bad enough that these programs generally favor Republican and conservative guests, but to do so just over four weeks before election day is nearly tantamount to offering one party free advertising time.

I understand that the Fairness Doctrine is no longer in effect and hasn't been for nearly 20 years. Nevertheless, the Sunday programs purport to be providing a public service, and they are doing so over the public airwaves that have been granted to them by the American people through the federal government. And while I would be loath to see a Federal Communications Commission stifling debate by excessive use of its powers, if the networks are already stifling the debate themselves by allowing only one side the opportunity to speak, then there would be little to lose by having the FCC actually do its job.

Do not mistake my intentions. I do not intend to suggest that the FCC should strictly enforce an equal time provision. Nevertheless, I do not believe the Commission should allow multiple networks to show such clear favoritism in the waning moments before an election.

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The Season for Apologies

Two very endangered Republican Congressmen, Tom Reynolds (NY-26) and Don Sherwood (PA-10) -- both of whose races the Cook Political Report downgraded to "toss-up" status yesterday -- have come out with ads apologizing for letting down their constituents.

It's an interesting strategy, partially owning up to part of a scandal to help deflect attention away from the remainder of the scandal (in the case of Sherwood the abuse allegations, in the case of Reynolds the allegation that he didn't do enough to confront Mark Foley with the information he had months ago). And while it's far from certain that these ads will produce their desired effects -- it could be that they seem too little, too late and actually end up reminding voters why they are unhappy with their Congressman -- given the fact that both Reynolds and Sherwood are currently trailing in the polls, it could be that they have no other option outside of admitting some guilt and hoping that voters will be in a forgiving mood.

Update [2006-10-7 19:13:17 by Jonathan Singer]: Apparently, Reynolds will holding a fundraiser for Sherwood this Thursday night. Nice.

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The House is Burning

Republicans would have us believe the outing of Mark Foley is the October surprise concocted by the Democrats.

Republican finger pointers wail that Foley's eye for the young page was well known throughout Washington and only now, on the cusp of the midterm elections, has the blow below the belt been delivered.

All in the name of politics.

Well, my view is different.

Oh, I believe Republican House members knew about Foley and his email slime trail. My guess is the Tony Soprano of the House, James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) knew as much, if not more, as Speaker of the House, Denny Hastert.

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