Where Glenn Beck was wrong, was apologizing for wasting our time at the end of the interview. This interview was no waste of time because it moved the story along, in the end it destroyed the myth that Eric Massa's claim had any viability.
It was classic train-wreck theater. You know that a train is going to end up derailed and on its side,and even feel uncomfortable waiting for it to happen, but you are powerless to stop the carnage. Through the whole experience you are just wondering if the train will wreck itself or will someone push it over.
In the case of today's interview, it was Massa who self-derailed. It seemed as if Glenn Beck would push him at any moment, you could see the frustration in his face, his manner became more standoffish and suspicious as the hour progressed. At points you wanted Beck to stand up and scream get out of my studio and he certainly seemed as if he was ready to do that at any moment. But that wouldn't have worked as well, letting the former Congressman hang himself was so much more effective.
The Fox News commentator destroyed him with a combination of firmness and kindness, but his biggest blow was at the very beginning, when Beck said
"So if you say that, and it comes out, you know whisper campaigns are whisper campaigns, but if it comes out..., you're one of the most evil bastards I've ever met, if you can say that and look at somebody in the eye.
Massa's bold statements of corruption on Sunday melted away today, and we learned his denials of wrongdoing were full of major holes.
Beck repeatedly pressed Massa about his reasons for resignation. If the accusations were false why he would resign. “I just can’t buy the fact that over tickle fights you would step down,” Beck said. Massa never really answered.
On Sunday Massa accused House Democratic leaders of conspiring to force him out of Congress in order to pass Obamacare. On Beck’s program today, he said no one forced him to leave. “I wasn’t forced out. I forced myself out. I failed. I didn’t live up to my own codes. I own this.”
Beck kept pushing Massa to tell the audience about the corruption in Congress, but Massa was revealing nothing, just tons of generalities that seemed to come from one of last years Glenn Beck shows, "Don't Vote Party, or Contact Your Congressman" . No matter how hard he was pressed, Massa could not name one example of illegality that he witnessed. When he kept giving examples of simple lobbying as bribery (maybe should be illegal but isn't) Beck didn't let him get away with it. “No, it’s not. It’s lobbying money.”
The only time that Beck lost his cool was when Massa said there was nothing he could do to fix the problem as a member of Congress. “Bullcrap, sir!” the Host responded.
The discussion about the charges against Massa left no doubt that more was on the way. Beck mentioned the Washington Post report that the ethics comittee was investingating a charge that he groped 3 staffers and Massa said
Yeah, I did! Not only did I grope him I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe and then four guys jumped on top of me. It was my 50th birthday, it was kill the old guy. You can take anything out of context.”
Beck's sarcastic retort was "was your wife at that one also?"
According to Wikopedia (not the best source I know) Massa was born on September 16, 1959 which means that birthday happened before he was elected. Yet Massa gave the indication that it happened in DC because he went on to say that his Chief of Staff got very angry at him for the incident, so he moved into his Congressional Office.
When Beck asked him if he ever touched a staffer in a sexual manner, Massa said “No. No. No. No. No, I did nothing sexual. I did things that were wrong.” He added: “My behavior was wrong. I should never have allowed myself to be as familiar with my staff as I was.”
But at the end of the show, when the Fox Host asked if there were going to be any Tiger Woods-type text messages revealed, Massa seemed to be already setting up his defense. “I’m sure there’s text messages because we bantered back and forth all the time."
Glenn Beck's interview was perfectly balanced, unlike the claims of the left and fears of the right, he did not embrace Massa's story, instead he looked upon it with doubt and suspicion. The look on his face said, I don't trust you so prove it, but Massa wasn't even close.
We were promised that we would either learn about congressional corruption or we would learn that Massa was a fraud. We found out it was the latter, and at the same time by watching former congressman Eric Massa melting away on the Glenn Beck show, we learned what happens when you tell tall tales and are forced to back them up. It was uncomfortable to watch, but it was important to see. That in itself was reason enough to make it good television.
→You Can Find More of Jeff Dunetz's Writing at his Personal Blog, The Lid←