Sean Hannity baselessly accused Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington of "prioritiz[ing] partisan politics over the safety and security of children" regarding Rep. Mark Foley's alleged communications with former underage congressional pages. In fact, CREW provided the FBI with the emails allegedly sent from Foley to a former page two months before ABC News reported their existence. Additionally, Michael Barone stated that CREW "would also have been wise to turn [the emails] over to, for example ... the House Page Committee"; in fact, the House leadership reportedly learned of the emails long before CREW did.
On the October 5 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity baselessly accused the non-profit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) of "prioritiz[ing] partisan politics over the safety and security of children," and called for an investigation into whether "there was any contact regarding" former Rep. Mark Foley's (R-FL) alleged communications with former underage congressional pages between CREW and Democratic officials in July. In fact, CREW provided the FBI with the emails allegedly sent from Foley to a former page on July 21, two months before ABC News reported their existence, as Media Matters for America has noted.
Additionally, during a discussion with Hannity, U.S. News & World Report senior writer Michael Barone stated: "I don't think it's illegitimate to time release of documents that hurt your opponents for maximum political advantage; that's part of the game ... but I think that whoever was holding on to them, I think, had perhaps a responsibility to put this information in the hands of members of Congress." Barone later singled out CREW for criticism, stating that in addition to handing the emails over to the FBI, CREW "would also have been wise to turn [the emails] over to, for example, the three members, two Republicans and one Democrat, of the House Page Committee." In fact, the House leadership reportedly learned of the emails long before CREW did and did not inform any Democrats. As Media Matters has noted, Republican officials who learned of Foley's alleged communications kept the information from the Democratic member of the House Page Board but advised the board's Republican chairman about the communications. An October 2 Washington Post article by staff writers Charles Babington and Jonathan Weisman quoted an anonymous aide in the Republican leadership saying that the GOP had "erred in not notifying the three-member, bipartisan panel that oversees the page system" after House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) reportedly learned of the email communications in late 2005. The Post added: "Instead, they left it to the panel chairman, Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.), to confront Foley." Indeed, Roll Call reported on September 30 that Shimkus confronted Foley about the matter in 2005, but Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), the lone Democrat on the panel, said in a September 30 press statement that he was never informed about Foley's communications.
From the October 5 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
BARONE: We do have the interesting question of who sat on these sexually explicit email -- instant messages for three years and then dumped them at a politically propitious time? Now, I don't think it's illegitimate to time release of documents that hurt your opponents for maximum political advantage; that's part of the game --
DOUG HATTAWAY (Democratic strategist): Well, one newspaper said it was a Republican source.
BARONE: -- but I think that whoever was holding on to them, I think, had perhaps a responsibility to put this information in the hands of members of Congress. A bipartisan basis would have been the best way.
COLMES: Do you have any evidence that the person who was holding onto it was a Democrat, doing it for political purposes? Do you have any evidence of that?
BARONE: Well, I -- we do know that the George Soros organization had their hands on some materials, which they turned over to the FBI, by their own account, as soon as they got them.
ALAN COLMES (co-host): But they got it from a website, as I understand it, that was a nonpartisan website. Also --
COLMES: -- Denny Hastert, by the way --
BARONE: The answer, Alan, it's a question. I don't have the answer.
COLMES: We don't know the answer to that. And Gordon Liddy --
BARONE: September 29th was a --
COLMES: Let me get Gordon in here. Denny Hastert says today the people who want to see this thing blow up are ABC News and a lot of Democratic operatives, funded by George Soros. Wouldn't Denny Hastert do himself a better favor to take responsibility rather than blame a media organization or George Soros, known as a Democratic fundraiser?
G. GORDON LIDDY (radio host): Yes, he would. You know, there's plenty of blame to go around on both sides here. Look at this point. For five years, the Page Corps has been buzzing about this guy -- you know, look out for him, there's something wrong with him, he does this, he does that, he does the other thing. Now, I was once a camp counselor. And you can't be in charge of young people without knowing what they're talking about. And surely, a lot of members of Congress, including both Democrats and Republicans, were aware that the whole Page Corps was onto this guy and that there was a problem and nobody did anything, Democrat or Republican. And so the institution here, I think, is going to suffer.
HANNITY: Hey, G. Gordon, I hate -- the only thing I disagree on is, until I see evidence of that, I'm not going to believe that anybody knew these very sexually explicit instant messages were going back and forth. I am hard-pressed to believe anybody would do that.
LIDDY: No, I agree with you, Sean, on that. No, I agree with you about these particular sexual messages. But the fact is that this guy was light in the loafers and he was, you know, making various kinds of advances and so forth. It was well-known to the Page Corps. And they were talking about it, and it should have been picked up on by the members -- you know, the members of the body, and they should have done something about it.
HANNITY: Let me go back to Michael Barone here for just a second. Michael, this is an important point you were raising here. And I want a full investigation. Democrats are calling for it, but interestingly I think, you know, I'd like to see -- for example, we know that this website, CREW, funded by George Soros, had these emails now and were bragging on their website as early as July 21st. Now, that raises the questions, because a lot of these CREW members previously worked on Capitol Hill for prominent Democrats. I'd like to see emails; I'd like to see phone records; I'd like to know if there was any contact regarding these things. In other words, what did they know and when did they know it? Because what you're pointing out here, they would have put the safety and security of children, you know --
BARONE: At risk.
HANNITY: -- prioritize partisan politics over the safety and security of children.
BARONE: Well, I think that's a question to ask them. As I understand what they've said, they've said that they did turn this information over to the FBI on July 21st. I question whether or not they, with benefit of hindsight, they would also have been wise to turn it over to, for example, the three members, two Republicans and one Democrat, of the House Page Committee. That might have been a stand that they should have taken at that point, if they were primarily concerned about the welfare of the pages, because those things might not rise to the level of a criminal offense that the FBI would have jurisdiction over, but it would be an internal House matter that the committee on pages would have jurisdiction of.