On Friday, September 29, two congressional scandals went public. One of them instantly became front-page news in every newspaper in the country, and led the broadcast networks’ evening and morning news shows for the next 10 days; the other one went virtually unnoticed, and seemed to drop into a news black hole.
The first featured despicable behavior by a member of Congress against several underage congressional pages; the second one featured despicable behavior by a member of Congress against more than half a million residents of his congressional district, and against every one of his fellow members of Congress, to whom he had been lying for more than a quarter century.
The result of the saturation coverage of the first scandal was to force the resignation of a sitting member of Congress, putting his seat in danger, driving down the poll numbers of the congressman’s fellow party members all over the country, and demoralizing the base voters of his party just as the country was entering the closing weeks of the campaign season; the result of the non-coverage of the second scandal was … nothing at all.
The first featured at its center a mid-level, 12-year veteran Republican member of Congress; the second featured a 32-year senior Democrat campaigning to become House majority leader.
Could the different partisan affiliations really be the only explanation for why one scandal became front-page news, and the other one didn’t?
The first scandal, or course, is the Mark Foley congressional page scandal.
The second scandal—most likely still unknown to you, almost three weeks after it went public—is the unveiling, for the first time ever, of the full 54-minute FBI Abscam surveillance video showing U.S. Rep. Jack Murtha (D.-Pa.) negotiating a $50,000 cash bribe from a man he believed to be an agent of a rich Arab sheik—but who was in reality an undercover agent for the FBI.
The video, available at www.YouDon’tKnowJack.org, proves that Jack Murtha has been lying for 26 years about his involvement in Abscam, the biggest congressional corruption scandal in history.
Contrary to Murtha’s stated defense that he only discussed how to bring needed investment into his southwestern Pennsylvania congressional district, the video proves that Murtha believed he had cut a deal to take a $50,000 cash bribe in exchange for helping a rich foreigner get into America, and proves further that the “investment defense” was nothing more than a cover to throw suspicious reporters off the trail.
Can anyone doubt that if the video had showed a senior Republican caught on tape discussing how to take a $50,000 cash bribe to help a rich foreigner get into the country, it would be front-page news all over the nation?
As Murtha’s opponent in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, I’m taking full advantage of the scandal surrounding this newly released FBI surveillance video.
The grassroots momentum for my campaign has been building for months, fueled by conservative bloggers and talk-radio hosts who have focused on Murtha’s repeated declarations of surrender in the War on Terror. With the addition of the FBI surveillance video—along with a front-page, above-the-field article in the New York Times documenting how Jack Murtha regularly trades his vote for cash, and a recently-released report from a liberal congressional watchdog group that listed Murtha among its list of Congress’ 25 “most corrupt” members—I’m making this race about Murtha’s long history of ethical lapses.
In a political environment where upwards of 70% of voters believe that members of Congress don’t live by the same set of rules, where “scandal-a-day” coverage is reminding voters on a regular basis of the corruption in Washington, and where a strong “throw the bums out” mentality is permeating the entire American body politic, I believe I’ve found just what’s needed to topple Jack Murtha.