Fox News' Megyn Kelly's Story Not Adding Up

Posted: Saturday, June 20, 2009 | Posted by Chico Brisbane | Labels: , , , , , , ,

In the many years that I have been sending greeting cards for all ocassions to friends and family via the United States Postal Service, I am pleased to announce that they have never lost or misdirected a single one. Therefore, I'm having a bit of a problem beleiving The Fox News Channels cliam that they "never" received the letter dated June 15 from Doug Hampton, the husband of Senator John Ensign's mistress.

Tom Lowell, senior producer of "America's Newsroom," hosted by Megyn Kelly and Bill Hemmer, said no one at Fox News ever received a printed letter. Yet in the same breath, Lowell says that a booker on the show received an email from Doug Hampton with the letter in question attached on June 15 — the day before the Senator Ensign's press conference.

"We never received any letter from Mr. Hampton," Lowell told the Huffington Post. "He might have sent it, but we never received it. He did reach out to us about 24 hours before the news conference, and he sent an e-mail to a booker on my staff." Lowell said that a member of his editorial staff followed up with Hampton on the 15th when they received the email with the letter that they never recieved included as an attachment.

According to Lowell, he said that they followed up with Hampton, but that he seemed evasive and not credible. "We didn't pursue it," he said. "We certainly weren't going to rush to air with accusations against a sitting Senator without doing due diligence on the reputability of the claims." - Okay....that sounds good, but we are talking about the network that went to air with Obama is a muslum, potentially not a U.S. citizen, attended a madrassa as a child, palled around with unrepentant terrorist. The same Obama whom at the time was not only a sitting Senator, but a presidential candidate to boot. I found Mr. Lowell's next statement even more laughable then the last.

"I know there are people asking if we alerted the senator," Lowell said. "Definitely no one on our editorial team called anyone in Senator Ensign's office prior to our announcement. We just hadn't gotten to that point of confirming the story yet. Somehow, somebody told the Senator something and I don't know how that happened.

Well...jeepers-creepers, that is a fucking mystery, isn't it? - Good thing he's already ruled out anyone on the editorial team. That narrows it down from a couple of hundered possibilities to just shy of a couple hundred possibilities and I think that Lowell detected the rediculousness of his comment as soon as it spewed forth because he followed that up with an emphatic denial that he could not possibly be substantiate.

Lowell stated emphatically that no one at Fox News reached out to the Senator to alert him and my follow up question(s) would be: How can you be sure? and Would you bet your life on it?
Fox News is denying reports the network received a letter from Doug Hampton, whose wife had an affair with Sen. John Ensign, sent five days before Ensign's news conference, detailing the entirety of the affair. Yet they admit that they recieved an emial on June 15 - 24 hours before Senator Ensign went public with the affair.

"I categorically deny that we ever reached out to the senator in any way shape or form prior to him making his announcement," said Lowell. Apparently Mr. Lowell made this statement unaware of the fact that Senator Ensign's spokesman
said the senator disclosed his affair with Hampton’s wife, Cynthia, because her husband had approached "a major television news channel before Tuesday," the day Ensign admitted the affair. This all but confirms that Ensign was tipped off by Fox News and the good news is that it wasn't anyone on the editorial staff.

Why didn’t Fox ever reveal the existence of what should have been newsworthy information they had. Even after Senator Ensign went public with the affair, Fox news kept the letter under wraps until The Vegas Sun got their hands on a copy. Only then did they admit recieving an email with the letter attached.

"We always evaluate people when they call into the newsroom in terms of: does this sound like its solid? Does it sound like its actionable?" Lowell said. "There were some questions here, so we decided that we would make some inquiries but that it wasn't something we needed to move on immediately. And before we could nail everything down and confirm this story the Senator had already announced his press conference."

Lowell denies that anyone at Fox News would have contacted the senator to give him a head's up on Hampton's allegations, but it may not be so simple. Here is a snip from the
Las Vegas Sun – which has done exceptional coverage of this story:

"In a letter dated five days before Sen. John Ensign’s public confession of an extramarital affair, Doug Hampton pleaded to a national Fox News anchorwoman for help in exposing the senator’s "heinous conduct and pursuit" of Hampton’s wife.

Hours before the Sun obtained an unsigned copy of the letter, Ensign’s spokesman said the senator disclosed the affair with Cynthia Hampton because her husband had approached "a major television news channel before Tuesday," the day Ensign admitted the affair. "We learned of this fact before the news conference," the spokesman noted in an e-mail."

Doug Hampton's letter is chilling, raising serious questions of threats and retaliation from Ensign that should have been considered when someone at Fox seems to have tipped Ensign off. It should be noted that Hampton does not specify the nature of his concerns nor provide supporting materials for his allegations. That said, Hampton does write that he wishes to meet with Fox News to furnish them with the information. Ensign went public only five days later, making it unlikely that Hampton had the time to meet with Fox and present them with the particulars.

Once Ensign went public, however, Fox should have immediately revealed that they had been approached, even if only to make it known they had been working this story. This morning's comment from Lowell does not address the issues. Instead, additional questions are raised.
None of Fox’s reporting on this scandal discloses something as important as Hampton’s reaching out to Kelly, at least not from what I have seen. But does that alone support Fox's claims that they never received the letter? No.

Consider that Lowell says that Hampton reached out to Fox 24 hours before Ensign's press conference and that Fox thought "that it wasn't something we needed to move on," and questioned Hampton's credibility. But why did they not revisit Hampton's allegations after the Ensign news conference, in which he admits to the affair with Cynthia Hampton?

Moreover, they have yet to provide Hampton's side of the story, even though they have now confirmed that he reached out to them. Why? If Hampton is indeed not credible, then what is he not credible about? In addition, Fox did reporting as this scandal was breaking and did not mention the letter they claim not to have gotten NOR the email they admit to receiving.

Take for example
this article from Fox News, in which it is reported that Ensign came forward about the affair because of extortion and see if you notice anything of importance missing:
"An influential Republican senator went public Tuesday about an extramarital affair he had with a member of his campaign staff -- a decision that FOX News sources say was prompted by a blackmail threat.

Two Senate Republican sources close to Sen. John Ensign of Nevada told FOX News that a former employee had asked Ensign for money in what both sources described as a case of "extortion."

The employee, Doug Hampton, worked in Ensign's Senate office, and his wife, Cindy Hampton, worked for Ensign's re-election campaign. Both ceased working for the senator shortly after the affair ended, the sources said, with Cindy Hampton receiving a severance package. The circumstances of Doug Hampton's departure remain unclear.

Ensign spokesman Tory Mazzola said the affair took place between December 2007 and August 2008 with a campaign staffer who was married to an employee in Ensign's Senate office, however, it wasn't immediately clear whether the Hamptons were the couple in question. Ensign, 51, said he would not mention the name of the campaign aide involved in the affair. He described the woman and her husband as good friends."

Fox News does not mention that they already knew of the allegations or that they already knew of Hampton’s identity. After all, Hampton did email them - they have confirmed this. Regardless of what happened with the letter, they already knew who Hampton was and what his allegations were. Even if we assume that Fox did not get Hampton's letter, the ethical lapse here is troubling.

They have reported on a story that they had been tipped off to in which at least one major allegation - the affair - was confirmed by all parties, and the person tipping them off is the spouse of the woman having an affair with a Senator. They mention none of this in any of their reporting. So why should we trust them when they say they did not receive the letter?
If we take the allegations at face value, however, then Fox had the letter five days before Ensign came forward, making the extortion claim a bit questionable. In addition, there seems to be no attempt to contact Doug Hampton for comment, even though he has already contacted them. Why?

In another article, Fox News once again makes no mention of the letter, the email - now confirmed - nor seem to be terribly interested in the other side of the story. They do not contact the Hamptons about the extortion claim they are reporting on. Why?

Prior to Fox's denials this morning, the Las Vegas Sun approached Kelly for comment before they published Hampton's letter. Kelly, however, declined to comment which, given her day job, is astounding. She is a journalist and the subject of a story tip could publicly incriminate her or someone on her team of violating something as sacrosanct as source confidentiality. Why would she at least personally confirm if she had gotten the letter or not? Why would she not confirm that she had gotten the email? Why did she not say what Lowell has said?

When you are reading the letter Hampton wrote to Kelly, reprinted below in full, the following questions should be kept in mind. Also keep in mind that we don't know for sure if the letter ever reached her. We do, however, now know that an email reached Lowell 24 hours prior to Ensign's presser:

-Why does Hampton seem to place all of the blame on Ensign for the affair? It seems to me that he is suggesting that the couple were under financial pressure and that Ensign was somehow threatening them. He also appears to be concerned for his safety. Again, although Hampton does not provide evidence to support his allegations, he indicates that he will furnish Fox with additional information when the network and he meet.

-Did Fox actually work the story and contact Ensign for comment in the process, thereby informing him of the story? If so, where is that story and why won’t Kelly say so? If Kelly and team were not working the story, then why not? What did they do with the information?
-How did Ensign find out that Hampton had approached Fox? Or did Ensign not know for sure it was Fox, but somehow know that Hampton had approached a major media outlet? Having received countless letters from various people asking me to look at their stories, I can tell you that the only people who know the tips and leads you are working on are you and your editor (once you inform him or her).

Granted, Kelly has a TV show and it is possible that she first went to Fox lawyers rather than investigate the matter. Still, if that is the case, why not simply explain that she was in the early process of the investigation rather than not comment at all when asked about the letter? Considering that Ensign came forward only five days after the letter was allegedly sent, Kelly's lack of explanation on the matter is especially troubling. Considering too that at the very least, Kelly's team was informed of Hampton's allegations and concerns 24 hours prior to Ensign coming forward, again making Kelly's silence very troubling.

Think about this. Ensign had to organize his approach, speak to his family, lawyers, and the RNC and even get a speech together. Five days is not a great deal of time to do all of this. So assuming Kelly got the letter and then did tip Ensign off and we don't yet know for sure if that is the case - it is likely that it would have happened within the first few days.

Nevertheless, Mr. Hampton must have fallen out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down if he ever thought for one minute that The Fox News Channel was going to assist him in blind-siding a republican Senator with accusations of adultry.