Friday, June 19, 2009

Did Fox News Try to Cover Up Sen. Ensign's Affair? [updtd: Fox responds]

Or interfere in any way? The Las Vegas Sun asks the right questions in this article:

In a letter dated five days before Sen. John Ensign’s public confession of an extramarital affair, Doug Hampton pleaded to a national Fox News anchorwoman for help in exposing the senator’s “heinous conduct and pursuit” of Hampton’s wife.


The letter presented for the first time Doug Hampton’s view of what took place. It was addressed to Megyn Kelly at Fox News’ corporate office in New York. Kelly is the co-host of Fox News Channel’s “American Newsroom.” She also appears regularly on the “O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly,” according to the network’s Web site.

The questions:

— Did Fox News receive the letter, and if the network did, what did it do with the information?

— How did Ensign learn that Hampton had “approached a major television news channel”?

More questions:

• If they did in fact receive the letter, is Fox so entirely in the bag for the Republican Party that they would give Ensign time to come forward with an "apology" rather that break a story this big?

• Again, if Fox received the letter, why didn't they come forward when the charges that Hampton was blackmailing Ensign came out? The letter suggests that the charges aren't true.

• Why didn't they report that they got that letter after all the news came out? (That's perhaps the strangest thing about this.)

• If they got a letter about a Democratic senator having an affair - from the husband of the woman he was having the affair with, who happened to be the senator's aide - would they sit on that story, too?

That last questions too ridiculous to ask, isn't it?

Here's the full text of the letter.

Update: Fox is now saying that they never got the letter, but did get it as an email attachment about 24 hours before Ensign came forward:

"We never received any letter from Mr. Hampton," Lowell told the Huffington Post. "He might have sent it, but we never received it. He did reach out to us about 24 hours before the news conference, and he sent an e-mail to a booker on my staff."

Lowell said that a member of his editorial staff followed up with Hampton that day.

"We followed up with him, but he seemed evasive and not credible, thus we didn't pursue it," he said. "We certainly weren't going to rush to air with accusations against a sitting Senator without doing due diligence on the reputability of the claims.


"I know there are people asking if we alerted the senator," Lowell said. "Definitely no one on our editorial team called anyone in Senator Ensign's office prior to our announcement. We just hadn't gotten to that point of confirming the story yet. Somehow, somebody told the Senator something and I don't know how that happened. But I categorically deny that we ever reached out to the senator in any way shape or form prior to him making his announcement."

Some question remains: Why didn't Fox report that they had talked to Hampton the day before Ensign came forward? And why didn't they report more details about the case (they said they got the letter as an attachment to an email from Hampton) after Ensign admitted the affair? Like the report from Hampton that Senator Tom Coburn knew about the affair? And why especially didn't they come forward about the blackmail charges, which are just about completely quashed with news of this letter out there? (What blackmailer goes to a news organization? Unless he did it to cover his ass...)


From Gawker:

Two things should be noted about Hampton's letter: 1) It is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. These people actually work in the Senate? And 2) it baldly contradicts a statement released by Hampton and his wife's lawyer two days ago, which said "it is unfortunate the senator chose to air this very personal matter, especially after the Hamptons did everything possible to keep this matter private." That's a transparent lie. The Hamptons are probably not blameless in this, but if anyone had the capacity to get to the bottom of it, it was Fox. We wonder why they didn't?

Weirder and weirder.



Anonymous said...

Well, the media and Dems have been sitting on the Rep. Loretta Sanchez adultery story for a year now. This is a bi-partisan game. Google: loretta sanchez scandal. See this recent post--

LT said...

Oh frakking brother. Anonymous, you're an idiot.