Post Keeps Head In Sand On Foley

Nisenbaum (at left) with Foley

Why did Mark Foley resign so quickly? He was finished. A Congressman simply can't be caught baiting a 16-year-old boy, especially when the boy is a Congressional page.

Foley said he let down his family, which you would assume would include the (former) Boca Raton rep's own long-term companion, Layne Nisenbaum, who is described on his medical practice website as a "nattily dressed doctor, whose flawless complexion is his best advertisement." Nisenbaum is a dermatologist/plastic surgeon and Palm Beach social figure who I'm guessing

wasn't too pleased by publication of the e-mails, either.

When I first saw the e-mails, the first two words that came to my mind were "revolting" and "unforgivable." A couple of you are laughing, because you remember those are the words Foley used to characterize a column of mine in 2003 wherein I basically outed him. That column started a huge chain-reaction that ultimately prompted him to drop out of the race for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Bob Graham (he said it was to spend time with family but everybody knew the truth).

I wrote about his hidden life back then for a few reasons:

1. The GOP is so anti-gay these days that a covert gay Repubican Congressman is news. 2. At one time he was in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, but he backed off that stance because the outing birds were flying about him. In other words, some of his political platform was dictated by his secret sexual orientation. 3. Everybody in Washington and Palm Beach political circles knew it, why shouldn't Joe and Jane Schmo? 4. I suspected he was trying to diddle underage boys.

(Okay, that last one's not true. I can't claim to be that prescient).

Interestingly, the gay community was supportive and thankful for my articles on Foley. The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association invited me to be a panelist on a discussion on the issue at the Sun-Sentinel. I sat next to Earl Maucker, the Sun-Sentinel editor. He got all kinds of heat for NOT covering it properly while I was basically commended for breaking the story.

The Palm Beach Post was perhaps the only major newspaper in Florida that never covered the issue, which dominated the campaign before Foley dropped out. The Daily Business Review reported on the omission at the time:

[A]n informed source at the Post said the newspaper's policy is not to cover the private life of public figures unless it intrudes into their public life. Covering the news conference and publishing Foley's statement that it was "highly inappropriate" to ask him whether he is gay would essentially be outing him, said the source, who criticized the Sun-Sentinel and Herald for doing exactly that.

According to this source, Post reporters and columnists have been told not to mention the subject of Foley's sexuality. That policy, the source continued, has been the subject of a vigorous internal debate.

Apparently that policy is still in place at the Post. The story by Larry Lipman about Foley's resignation over the e-mails to the boy, unbelievably, doesn't mention the 2003 controversy.

Funny thing is all they're doing is cheating their readers out of important context. Fortunately, if you look at the comments under Lipman's story, some of them are capable of overcoming the Post's censorship.


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