Doug Hampton, the cuckolded husband of Sen. John Ensign's mistress, wrote a letter to Fox News five days before the story broke that Ensign had ruined his life and career. Fox never reported it, and called Hampton an extortionist.
When Hampton decided to go pubic with his tale of woe, which involved his boss seducing his wife, he chose Fox News because, according to a letter he wrote to Fox's Megyn Kelly, only Fox could "address this professionally and correctly. I could have sought the most liberal, Republican hating media to expose this story, but there are people's lives at stake and justice is about proper process as well as outcome." Bad choice!
That letter, obtained by the Las Vegas Sun, was written on June 11, five days before Ensign came forward. It detailed Ensign's "very evil and completely unjustifiable acts" and pleaded for Kelly's help in exposing them:
Here is my story. In December of 2007 in the midst of some very difficult personal issues that deeply impacted my family and marriage, Senator Ensign pursued and engaged in a relationship with my wife. Our families were lifelong friends, our children attend school together to this day, and our homes are in neighborhoods across from each other. My wife was the Senator's campaign treasurer.
The actions of Senator Ensign have ruined our lives and careers and left my family in shambles. We have lost significant income, suffered indescribable pain and emotional suffering. We find ourselves today with an overwhelming loss of relationships, career opportunities and hope for recovery. Our pursuit of justice continues to place me and my family in harm's way as we fear for our well being.
Wow! Great story. So what did Fox do? Nothing. Or at least nothing on the air. The network presumably received the letter and followed up on it, because Ensign clearly knew that the story was going to come out, which is why he got out ahead of it. Kelly and Fox didn't return the Sun's calls. Fox's failure to break the story is understandable—if the letter was snail-mailed, and the network received it, then they could have had only a couple days to nail it down before Ensign came out.
UPDATE: Fox tells the Huffington Post that a booker for America's Newsroom, which is co-hosted by Kelly, did receive Hampton's letter via e-mail on June 15, the day before Ensign's press conference. Producer Tom Lowell says "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." He also says that Fox never contacted Ensign regarding the story.
But after the story broke, Fox didn't report that it had received Hampton's letter or that it was the news organization whose pursuit of the story prompted Ensign's admission. More importantly, it repeatedly and unskeptically regurgitated spin from anonymous sources in Ensign's camp that Hampton had tried to extort money from the senator in exchange for his silence. That claim may or may not be true—the FBI says it is not currently investigating the matter, and you'd think it would if there was credible evidence. And Talking Points Memo details how Ensign's anonymous sources have walked back the allegation, most recently simply pointing to Hampton's discussions with "a major television news channel"—which we now know was likely Fox—as Ensign's motivation for coming forward.
But whether Hampton had tried to extort Ensign or not, Fox was uniquely situated to tell his side of the story, which he told Kelly involved both Hampton and his wife being fired as a result of Ensign's "heinous acts." He claimed he had "facts, a paper trail, phone records and personal witnesses to testify to its truth." So what did Fox have to say about the story after Ensign came forward?
Greta van Susteren: He says he and his wife had gone through counseling. So why did he come forward now? FOX News confirms and found an extortion was the reason the senator came forward. Allegedly, the woman's wife wanted money from the senator. The center says a relationship happened more than a year ago, and that he remains deeply committed to his service in the US Senate.
Brett Baier: Senator John Ensign has resigned his leadership post one day after admitting to an affair with a former member of his campaign staff. The Nevada Republican was chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth ranking spot in the leadership. Sources close to the senator, who insisted on staying anonymous, say he may have been the target of an extortion scheme. The woman's husband, who worked in ensign's Senate office, allegedly asked the senator for money after he learned of the affair.
No mention was made of Hampton's accusations. Megyn Kelly, according to Nexis transcripts, hasn't uttered a word about the story on the air.
Two things should be noted about Hampton's letter: 1) It is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. These people actually work in the Senate? And 2) it baldly contradicts a statement released by Hampton and his wife's lawyer two days ago, which said "it is unfortunate the senator chose to air this very personal matter, especially after the Hamptons did everything possible to keep this matter private." That's a transparent lie. The Hamptons are probably not blameless in this, but if anyone had the capacity to get to the bottom of it, it was Fox. We wonder why they didn't?