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The right wing defense of the GOP coverup for Mark Foley's sexually predatory actions toward minors is making its way into the mainstream, courtesy of compliant MSNBC journalist Mike Viqueria.  Following Dennis Hastert's press conference today, where he seemed to think the biggest problem was the people who leaked the IMs in the first place, Viqueria lapsed into right wing talking points we are certain to be hearing more of in the upcoming days.  After perpetuating the "over friendly but not overtly sexual in nature" meme regarding the original emails, he goes on to reduce the entire matter to partisan bickering (Crooks & Liars has the clip):

VIQUEIRA:   Chris, there is one thing..a little subtext today if you've been talking to staffers here as I have to what the Speaker was saying.  He started out by saying that anyone who had knowledge of those instant messages should have turned them over immediately.  Everything is partisan around here, Chris, even this; a lot of Republicans suspect that Democrats have held onto this and disseminated it at the last minute just six weeks before the midterms elections.  Of course we know the Democrats stand a better chance than ever in the past 12 years of retaking the House.  All they need is 15 seats.  A lot of people think that they can do that; Republicans whispering to us and among themselves and to us that this was the plant, there's a whole convoluted conspiracy theory that's already forming by Republicans pinning this on Democrats.   That was part of the subtext here, Chris.

You can almost here the "tisk tisk" in Viqueira's voice when he says "everything is partisan."  Funny, I didn't know that protecting children from online predators was a partisan issue, but now that the GOP is coming out so strongly against it I suppose it is. 

Then Chris Jansing brings up the report from other pages that they were warned as early as 2001 about Foley by a supervisor in the House Clerk's office, and Viqueira responds with this borderline unbelievable bit of "reporting":

VIQUEIRA:  Listen, I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb — it's obviously a very delicate situation and a very delicate topic — but there are a significant number of people who were not surprised at Representative Foley's sexual orientation at the least. 

Excuse me?   WTF does his sexual orientation have to do with anything?  That is just an outrageous comment.  But he doesn't stop there. No, he has to take a big fat saw to that limb he is out on:

I have to tell you that I'm acquainted with some former pages from the 70s and 80s and these types of warnings that you just described were commonplace.  I'm told that they used to go into the cloak rooms, the supervisors did, and point to people on the couches and say "stay away from that one, stay away from that one, stay away from that one."  I have to admit that I have never specifically heard that kind of allegation regarding Representative Foley or any other current member, Chris.

WTF?  Did he just say that this is no big deal because the House has been filled with a bunch of perverts for years, what's everyone getting so upset about now?  Grab me the Q-tips grandma, 'cos I think I need to clean my ears out.  I must've heard that wrong.

If anyone was thinking of using the Spotlight function to let the fine folks at MSNBC know that Viquiera just crossed a big, fat inappropriate line in his defense of Republican sexual predators, I'd say that was effort well spent. This needs to be stopped before it calcifies into conventional wisdom.