Media Blog

Thoughts on the Bogus Blog

UPDATED AND BUMPED: In Interview With The Hill, Ross’s Source Says He Started Shopping E-mails the Same Month Bogus Blog Was Created

As Jonah noted earlier, the StopSexPredators website that “scooped” ABC News on the Foley scandal holds up even less well to scrutiny than bloggers initially suspected:

ABCNews.com brought Mark Foley’s boy-chasing to national attention, but it wasn’t the first website to flog the story. That dubious honor belongs to StopSexPredators, a pseudo-vigilante blog filled with plagiarized, hastily-assembled posts, which no one seems to have heard of, visited, or linked to before last week—and whose operator has a suspiciously savvy grasp of the news cycle.
In other words, a blog whose sole raison d’etre seems to have been to get the Foley ball rolling.
If its time/date stamps are to be trusted (like most free blogware, Blogger allows its users to backdate posts), the pervert-outing anony-site was set up on July 28 as a “clearing house for the public to report sex predators and as a resource for concerned citizens.” […]
After running just six posts over the summer, the site picked up steam on September 21 when its author wrote, “the blog has been noticed and some shocking emails have been received!!!!” and posted four emails purportedly from “interns” outraged by the heretofore unmentioned Foley and his penchant for teenage boys.

The blog was set up on July 28. ABC News’s Brian Ross told The New York Times that he learned about the e-mails in August but was too busy to pursue them right away. My guess is that the blogger(s) behind StopSexPredators set up the website around the same time they started shopping the e-mails to Ross. By late September — with the election approaching — they probably thought Ross had decided not to do the story, so they tried to publicize the e-mails themselves. 
UPDATE: Well well well… The Hill scored an interview with Ross’s source:

The source who in July gave news media Rep. Mark Foley’s (R-Fla.) suspect e-mails to a former House page says the documents came to him from a House GOP aide.
That aide has been a registered Republican since becoming eligible to vote, said the source, who showed The Hill public records supporting his claim.
The same source, who acted as an intermediary between the aide-turned-whistleblower and several news outlets, says the person who shared the documents is no longer employed in the House.
But the whistleblower was a paid GOP staffer when the documents were first given to the media.

More:

That Foley’s scandalous communications came to public light during Congress’s final week in Washington was largely determined by the media outlets which obtained the suspicious e-mails in the middle of the summer, said the person who provided them to reporters several months ago. […]
The person who provided the e-mails to several D.C.-based news outlets in July claimed to have no knowledge of who gave them to two Florida papers last year.
D.C.-based media organizations declined to report on the e-mails. But one, ABC News, reported on the e-mails last week after a Weblog, stopsexpredators.blogspot.com, published a few of the exchanges between Foley and the former page. But those blog-reported  e-mails did not include correspondence between the page and a House aide in which the teen expressed anxiety about Foley’s intentions. […]
So while the primary source of the e-mails which kicked off the scandal was a House GOP aide, the trigger of the news coverage was the weblog.
The creator of stopsexpreditors.blogspot.com is unknown. An interview request e-mailed to the site was not returned.

So if Ross’s source is the proprietor of the bogus blog, he’s not telling. But the source does confirm that he started shopping the e-mails to reporters in July — around the same time StopSexPredators was created. Coincidence?