In reporting that Hastert took "responsibility" for Foley scandal, NY Times ' Nagourney and Hulse both omitted Hastert's denial that he did "anything wrong"

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

In separate October 7 New York Times articles, reporters Adam Nagourney and Carl Hulse both noted that House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said he was taking "responsibility" for the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), without noting that Hastert subsequently stated at the same press conference that "I haven't done anything wrong, obviously."

At an October 5 press conference in Batavia, Illinois, Hastert expressed regret over the scandal and stated generally, "[W]e're taking responsibility." But, during the question-and-answer portion of the press conference, Hastert went on to assert, "I haven't done anything wrong":

HASTERT: [U]ltimately, any time that a person has to, as a leader, be on the hot seat and he is a detriment to the party, you know, there ought to be a change. I became speaker in a situation like that. I don't think that's the case. I said I haven't done anything wrong, obviously. And we need to come back.

In reporting on Republicans' "hope[]" that "Hastert's expression of remorse about the page scandal combined with the start of a House ethics investigation would stabilize his grip on power," Hulse did not also report that Hastert said in the same press conference that he had not "done anything wrong." Hulse noted that "[a]fter Mr. Hastert's remarks, other members of the leadership issued statements backing him, putting aside, at least for now, some of the divisions exposed over the scandal and who was responsible," and reported that an anonymous Republican official "said Mr. Hastert in his remarks had accomplished two goals sought by his colleagues: He had accepted some responsibility and had acknowledged that the response to complaints about the initial e-mail sent to a former teenage page in Louisiana had been inadequate."

Also, in his article reporting on the increasing number of Republican House seats now considered "in serious contention" in the upcoming midterm election, Nagourney left unchallenged Republican National Committee chairman Ken Melhman's assertion "that Republicans turned a corner when Mr. Hastert accepted responsibility for the mishandling of the page scandal." At no point did Nagourney report that Hastert asserted that he has not "done anything wrong" in how he handled the Foley situation. Media Matters for America has noted that in the same article, Nagourney did not point out polling that refutes Mehlman's claim that "public ... data" show the scandal has had a "minimal effect" on voters' views.

As Media Matters also previously noted, numerous media outlets, including CNN, ABC, CBS, and National Public Radio, also focused only on Hastert's initial statement of responsibility while omitting any mention of his assertion that he "hasn't done anything wrong."

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Mark Foley Scandal
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