Rush Limbaugh has decreed that Dennis Hastert must not be forced out as House speaker, so that's what NewsMax thinks too.
An Oct. 3 editorial rushes (so to speak) to Hastert's defense, declaring that "we feel that in the [Mark] Foley matter he has done nothing that can be construed as malfeasance":
It is clear that Hastert and the Republican leadership did not ignore this matter, as minor as it seemed to the media outlets. They instructed Foley to cease communicating with the teenage page.
It is clear, then, that Hastert has acted appropriately, and that the only culprit is Foley himself, who deceived the Republican leadership – and the nation – by adopting a strong public stance against pornography and child exploitation.
NewsMax has also adopted Limbaugh's strategy of blaming Democrats for allegedly exposing Foley's misdeeds:
We also feel there could likely be an untold story behind the sudden revelation of the instant messages so close to Election Day – a story involving Democratic attempts to torpedo the campaign of a Republican almost assured of victory in November. Already Democratic candidates are using the Foley case to buttress their campaigns for Senate and House seats all across the country. How convenient.
Of course, there is no explanation of how this is any different than conservatives' attacks on Bill Clinton during his presidency. Nor does it explain the significance of Foley's misdeeds being revealed by political opponents, if true -- is it somehow less offensive if exposed that way?
NewsMax's editorial is mostly a regurgitation of comments made by Limbaugh. Earlier in the day, it reported on Limbaugh's claim that "the Foley scandal was part of a larger effort by the "Clinton War Room" to hurt the GOP's chances just weeks before election day." A second Limbaugh-inspired article followed, in which he (after hosting Hastert on his show) was quoted exhorting Republicans to "fight back and, led by Hastert, point out how the Democrats continue to avoid the real issues of importance ... and are trying to distract the American people from what essentially is a non-existent agenda on the part of the Democrats to deal with things that really, really matter."
Again, NewsMax fails to ask the obvious -- even if Foley's misdeeds were revealed by political opponents, what bearing does that have on Foley's guilt or innocence or his fitness to hold a congressional seat?
UPDATE: NewsMax later added yet another Limbaugh transcription accusing the "Clinton war room" of being behind Foley's exposure.