Saturday, April 29, 2006

Watergate II or Hookergate?

Editor&Publisher asks a legit question:

It's almost too-perfect for the press: a Washington, D.C. sex scandal involving congressmen, lobbyists, poker and prostitutes, partly centered on, you guessed it, the Watergate complex.
So will it be called Watergate II or Hookergate? How high, or low, will it go? In any case, guess who is hitting it hard--The Washington Post, after allowing the Wall Street Journal, and then the San Diego Union-Tribune, to own it.
The Post's first big story, by Jo Becker and Charles Babcock, opened on Saturday: "Federal authorities are investigating allegations that a California defense contractor arranged for a Washington area limousine company to provide prostitutes to convicted former congressman Randy 'Duke' Cunningham (R-Calif.) and possibly other lawmakers, sources familiar with the probe said yesterday."
Investigators have contacted Washington-area escort services, two hotels and a limousine company in recent weeks, one official said.
The news media are a-buzzin' – WaPo, MSNBC (picking up WaPo's story), CBSNews – and I'm certain more will follow this juicy story. D.C. sex scandals draw a lot of eyeballs especially since the GOP has been so hot (a hunk of burning love hot!) to position itself as the "family values" party. Boy, was that a big lie.

E&P also reports:
The wider picture, involving possibly other congressmen involved with prostitutes, emerged Thursday in an appearance by Calbreath of The Union-Tribune on MSNBC's Joe Scarborough show, in which he suggested that as many as six lawmakers could eventually be named. The Union-Tribune earlier this month won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the Cunningham case.
Then Calbreath reported in Friday's paper: "Federal prosecutors are reviewing records of two Washington, D.C., hotels where Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes rented suites as part of their investigation into whether prostitutes were involved as he tried to curry favor with lawmakers and CIA officials." Two sources said "they were present on several occasions when Shirlington Limousine & Transportation Service of northern Virginia brought prostitutes to the suite. They say they did not see lawmakers in the suites on those occasions, though both had heard rumors of congressmen bringing women to the rooms."
On MSNBC, Calbreath said "the rumor mill is alive with names. The rumor mill is alive with at least half dozen names. Congressman Cunningham in today’s story in the Wall Street Journal that is really the first solid confirmation we have gotten of an eyewitness report."
Will the current batch of Washington Republicans go down as the most brazenly corrupt (and incompetent, it's hard to choose just one) government in U.S. history? They could ace it. Corruption and incompetence are two advantages in which I give Republicans my complete and utter confidence in beating Democrats.

UPDATE: I don't know what happened to the MSNBC story, now a broken link. I searched for a replacement link on MSNBC but no dice. However, besides the E&P story, ThinkProgress has video of Scarborough and Calbreath with excerpts from the transcript.