Mark Foley Scandal

Sean Hannity Claims Mark Foley Scandal “Shocked” Him

On the June 9 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity interviewed former Republican Rep. Mark Foley about the 2006 scandal of his communications with young male congressional pages that forced him to resign his congressional seat. Hannity said that he “remember[ed] at the time how shocked I was, like a lot of people,” and noted how “explicit” Foley’s communications were.

But if Hannity was expressing shock back in 2006 when the Foley scandal was breaking, it was overshadowed by his efforts to blame biased media for Foley’s situation and to accuse whistleblowers of using the story for political gain:

  • On the October 2, 2006, edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Hannity said: “[T]here's a bigger question here. I, these -- apparently some of these instant messages are three years old. So I think we all have to have a question raised here. I want to know why these instant messages were held back until now. Who knew about them? Why did they hold them back? Did they do it for political reasons? In other words, were they held back to maximize the political impact before an election?”

  • On the October 5, 2006, edition of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity baselessly accused the nonprofit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington of "prioritiz[ing] partisan politics over the safety and security of children," and called for an investigation into whether "there was any contact regarding" Foley's communications between CREW and Democratic officials in July 2006. 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.

  • On the October 16, 2006, edition of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity played the equivocation card, joining authors Melanie Morgan and Catherine Moy in comparing Cindy Sheehan's purported interest in online pornography to Foley. Hannity wondered whether the differing treatment of Sheehan and Foley represented a "double standard," asking: "Does it only matter if Republicans have Internet ... inappropriate messages? Is that the story?"

  • Despite his claim that the accusations against Foley were timed to sabotage his election, Hannity suggested on the October 27, 2006, edition of Hannity & Colmes that major media outlets were "bias[ed]" against Republicans in choosing not to report that Republican George Allen's Virginia Senate campaign had identified what it called "simply disturbing" portions of novels written by his Democratic opponent, James Webb, "until 11 days out" from the midterm elections.

If Hannity was as “shocked” by Foley’s behavior as he says he was at the time, why did he spend so much time complaining about double standards and trying to accuse others of manipulating the story?