Amid questions, ABC says messages 'couldn't be a prank'

Brian Beutler
Published: Thursday October 5, 2006

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Network staff say ABC plans more stories involving different pages

Faced with claims by the conservative political website The Drudge Report on Thursday that lurid instant message exchanges between disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) and the former page who was outed on a conservative website yesterday were the result of an elaborate prank, insiders at ABC News say the network stands behind its story.

Drudge alleges that the young Republican "goaded Foley to type embarrassing comments that were then shared with a small group of young Hill politicos" and that "the prank went awry when the saved IM sessions got into the hands of political operatives favorable to Democrats."

Sources inside ABC News tell RAW STORY that the evidence of widespread misconduct by Foley is overwhelming and rules out the possibility that the entire scandal is based on a prank or a sting.

"This couldn't be a prank," one high-placed insider said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the story. "Everything I've seen indicates that it can't be. Clearly there's been an effort on the part of this gentleman [Drudge] and another come back at us."

"[Drudge] doesn't say anything about the fact that there's more than one conversation out there," said another source.

RAW STORY has also learned that ABC plans to release additional stories that indicate that Foley's behavior extended to other congressional pages who served on Capitol Hill during different sessions of Congress. (Confirmed here.)

Nobody at ABC would specifically deny the Drudge contention about the now-infamous instant message conversation

Drudge edited his headline by referring to the allegation as a "claim" after RAW STORY teased this piece.

He also added the following pieces of clarification to his story: "The prank scenario only applies to the [aforementioned] IM sessions and does not necessarily apply to any other exchanges between the former congressman and others."