While NBC, ABC, and CBS all pushed the scandal involving New York Republican Congressman Christopher Lee into a second day of coverage, the networks made little or no mention of Florida Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney admitting to numerous affairs in 2008.
The scant coverage of Mahoney was particularly stunning given that he replaced Republican Mark Foley, who was caught sending inappropriate emails to congressional pages in 2006. At that time, the media used the Foley scandal to portray the Republican Party as corrupt and scandal-ridden throughout the 2006 midterm election, in which Democrats gained control of Congress.
While Lee was guilty of sending a shirtless picture of himself to a woman on Craigslist, as NBC correspondent Mark Potter briefly noted on the October 29, 2008 Nightly News, Mahoney "admitted he'd had multiple extramarital affairs and paid a former female staffer to avoid a lawsuit." Potter added: "Ironically, Mahoney was elected two years ago as a family values candidate after Republican Congressman Mark Foley resigned amid an e-mail scandal involving congressional pages."
On ABC, during a report on the October 18, 2008 broadcast of Good Morning America, correspondent Ron Claiborne offered even less on Mahoney: "And a married Florida congressman now admits that he had at least two affairs, but insists he broke no laws and he will not reign. Democratic Representative Tim Mahoney replaced Republican Representative Mark Foley, who resigned after a sex scandal."
According to a search of the Nexis database, CBS failed to cover Mahoney at all.
As NewsBusters' Scott Whitlock earlier reported, the initial network coverage of Lee was quick to point out his party affiliation, with NBC correspondent Kelly O'Donnell referring to the disgraced Congressman as "conservative" twice in three sentences during her Thursday report for NBC's Today.
The Friday morning show coverage sought to find ways to extend the scandal as NBC, ABC, and CBS all reported the identity of the woman Lee approached online. On Today, O'Donnell described how 34-year-old Yesha Callahan "says if he was on CraigsList emailing pictures of himself, shirtless, to all kinds of women, she says who knows who else he met and maybe the wife should get herself tested."
On Good Morning America, reporter Dan Harris noted how "Callahan, told the Washington Post that she stopped corresponding with Congressman Lee, when he suggested she send a racy photo of herself. She says she's now worried about the impact of all of this on her personal and professional life."
On CBS's Early Show, reporter Whit Johnson furthered Callahan's speculation that Lee "resigned because he's hiding some even bigger secrets."
None of the network's showed any interest in the claims of any of Mahoney's actual mistresses in 2008.