Nevada Senator John Ensign resigned from the Senate last week, but his troubles may not end there. The New York Times is reporting that the results of a Senate Ethics Committee investigation may leave Ensign liable for charges of obstructing an FEC investigation, violating federal lobbying bans, and making unlawful payments to the husband of his congressional aide with whom he was having an affair – among other things.
However, any investigation of this matter needs to include possible interference on the part of Fox News and Glenn Beck-wannabe, Megyn Kelly. There is evidence that Kelly, who received a letter from Doug Hampton revealing Ensign’s infidelity, warned Ensign that the news was about to come out rather than reporting on it. As I wrote on June 19, 2009:
“Fox News knew of Ensign’s infidelity five days before Ensign came forward. They got the information from the husband of Ensign’s mistress. That’s a pretty good source, especially when he asserts that he had corroborating evidence.”
First Fox denied having received any letter. Then they admitted that they had received the letter a day before the news broke. Then a FedEx receipt revealed that they had received the letter three days earlier. And Fox broadcast no stories about the Ensign affair during any of that time, or even for several days after.
When Ensign came forward to confess his sins, he told the press that he was doing so because the story was about to come out in the media. So the question is: did he learn that from Megyn Kelly?
The evidence strongly suggests that Kelly tipped Ensign off and set the stage for his announcement. Then she and Fox kept the story quiet in the days that followed. That is not the behavior of a “news” network. It is the behavior of an accomplice.
[Update 5/16/11] The Senate Ethics Committee report suggests former senator (and current GOP presidential candidate) Rick Santorum may have played a role in tipping off Ensign. If true, that does not mean that Kelly didn’t also give a head’s up to Ensign. And it certainly doesn’t explain the changing stories about when she received Hampton’s letter.
There is also the matter of Ensign’s reason for going public (that he was told that the media was going to break the news of the affair). That’s an alert that is more likely to come from Kelly (a Fox anchor) than from Santorum (a former senate colleague). However, it should be noted that Santorum was also a Fox News contributor at the time he is alleged to have tipped off Ensign. So Fox is entangled in this business no matter what.