Massa flirts with the right, but Beck isn't tickled

By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Just seven minutes into Glenn Beck's hour-long interview of Eric Massa on Tuesday evening, things had already gone very wrong.

Conservatives had hopes that the now-former Democratic congressman from Upstate New York, who resigned abruptly under an ethics cloud, would deliver the goods about corruption and strong-arm tactics in the Obama White House and Congress. But instead, Massa served up an icky new confession.

"Now they're saying I groped a male staffer," he volunteered. "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."

Beck looked aghast. "Was your wife at that one?" the Fox News Channel host asked.

"No, this was in a townhouse; we all lived together, all the bachelors and me," Massa explained. "My chief of staff had a conniption and said, 'You can't live there, that's not congressional.' "

Beck tried to move the conversation in a different direction, but his guest resisted. "Let me show you something," Massa proposed, proffering a book with photos of bawdy Navy rituals from the days when he was a sailor.

"You're going to show me tickle fights?" Beck inquired.

"I'm going to show you a lot more than tickle fights," Massa promised. Beck put on his reading glasses, then judged that the images should not be shown on television. "It looks like an orgy in 'Caligula,' " Massa asserted.

The right's romance of Eric Massa was off to a messy start.

This was, perhaps, to be expected from a man who, by his own account, grabbed one of his male staffers at a party, tousled his hair and said, "What I really ought to be doing is fracking you."

But Beck was willing to take a risk on Massa, in part because the former congressman was willing to say that President Obama's chief of staff had no clothes. Over the weekend, Massa described meeting the White House chief of staff in the locker room of the House gym: "I'm sitting there showering, naked as a jaybird, and here comes Rahm Emanuel, not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest. . . . Do you know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man?"

Pretty fracking awkward. But not as awkward as Beck's interview of Massa on Tuesday.

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