Massa Fumbles in Glenn Beck Interview

Tuesday, 09 Mar 2010 07:05 PM

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Fox News host Glenn Beck apologized to his viewers for “wasting your time” Tuesday after an interview in which former New York Rep. Eric Massa seemingly backtracked on his allegations that he was forced to resign over his opposition to Obamacare.

“We learned a lot I think, but what we learned I don’t think affects you at all,” Beck said, shaking his head and laughing at the conclusion of his hour-long interview with Massa, who resigned his office Monday after it became public that he was the subject of a House ethics committee investigation for possible harassment.

Staring into the camera after Massa seemingly contradicted himself on many points and refused to disclose any alleged corruption Beck suggested he had promised to disclose in a private pre-interview phone call, the conservative host apologized.

"I have to shoot straight with you. I think I’ve wasted your time," Beck said. "I think this is the first time I’ve wasted an hour of your time. I apologize for that. Because I think we could have spent a lot less time backtracking a lot....”

“I’m not backtracking,” Massa responded. “I wasn’t forced out. I forced myself out. I failed. I didn’t live up to my own codes... I own up to my misbehavior.”

Massa told Beck that:
  • Contrary to his earlier statements, he was not forced to resign but chose to because of his “inappropriate” behavior with staffers.
  • The behavior wasn’t sexual or criminal, but went too far in roughhousing “tickle fights” similar to what he had experienced in the Navy. “I tickled him until he couldn't breathe, and then four guys jumped on top of me. It was my 50th birthday. It was 'kill the old guy,' " Massa said, explaining one alleged groping incident. "You can take anything out of context.
  • White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had accosted Massa in the shower – an incident that Emanuel denies -- over his impending vote against the House healthcare bill. But Massa said he never felt threatened.
  • The problem with Congress was that there was too much money, and too much pressuring from big-money contributors. He said the surest solution to the problem was campaign finance reform.
  • The healthcare system is in “imminent crisis” but the House and Senate bills that will soon be voted on “will make it worse.”

The hour-long interview on the Beck show came as The Washington Post reported Tuesday afternoon that Massa under investigation for allegations that he groped multiple male staffers working in his office.

Massa had said he was being forced out for using "salty language" with his staff. He apologized for making some inappropriate comments and argued he was being unfairly vilified. He said some roughhousing at a New Year’s Eve wedding with a male staffer had gotten out of control.

At one point, Massa showed Beck a Naval yearbook that he said showed the type of behavior he had engaged in during his Naval service. The book appeared to be photos of Navy hazing sessions.

But sexual allegations surrounding the former lawmaker date back at least a year, the Post reported, and involve "a pattern of behavior and physical harassment.”

Massa told Beck he was the victim of a smear campaign and derided the House Ethics Committee probe of him.

“It’s a star chamber and it’s all supposed to be very confidential, never released to the public,” Massa said of the ethics investigation. “That’s why they have these incredible powers to investigate and the trade off is that it’s kept secret. But they didn’t even follow the procedures of secrecy.”

But for an hour Beck pressed Massa for evidence of political corruption only to receive platitudes about the need for citizens to become involved. The worst case he cited of seeming corruption was being denied contributions from supporters if he didn’t vote their way.
At one point, alluding to his Naval service and stint as a Congressman, Massa said he could not take serving anymore. That he had already done enough.

An incredulous Beck told him he was waving a “white flag.”

“Do you realize what some of us are doing? We’re not in elected office,” Beck said. “My family is at stake. Do you realize... my family is at stake.... You have a scandal with your children in college. I have one for all time now because I’m not going to back down.

“I have come to a place where I believe at some point the system will destroy me. That’s ok. Because I’m going to do what i can to pass on a better America. So I don’t understand the white flag. It doesn’t make sense to me. “

Massa triggered a firestorm Sunday night when he suggested on a New York radio show that a cabal led by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had forced him to resign because of his opposition to Obamacare.

Massa especially singled out Emanuel for his role, calling the former Chicago lawmaker and Obama loyalist "the son of the devil's spawn."

"He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote,” Massa said. “He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive," Massa said of Emanuel's desire to lock up vital votes on healthcare reform.

"You think that somehow they didn't come after me to get rid of me because my vote is the deciding vote in the healthcare bill? Then, ladies and gentlemen, you live today in a world that is so innocent as to not understand what's going on in Washington, D.C."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, on ABC's "Good Morning America" t, said of Massa's charges: "I think this whole story is ridiculous. I think the latest excuse is silly and ridiculous."

Massa also accused House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of "lying" in a statement in which the majority leader's office said Hoyer would have contacted the ethics committee about the allegations against Massa if Massa's staff had not done so itself.

A spokeswoman for Hoyer, D-Md., Katie Grant, vehemently denied Massa's claim.

"That's completely false," Grant said.

Massa also concluded the interview by jokingly saying he owed Emanuel an apology. Emanuel wouldn’t throw his own children in front of a train, Massa said, but he would throw Massa’s.

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