Political Sex Scandals: The Anatomy of Verifying a Tip

Fox News' Senior House of Representatives Producer Chad Pergram gets tips on lawmakers involved in sex scandals all the time -- some of them are true, many are not. Over the past week, Fox News Correspondent Steve Brown and Chad have been making calls on reports that Rep. Souder, R-Ind., was having an affair with a staffer.  The tip ended up being true -- Fox was able to break the story and Souder announced he was resigning.

Chad wrote this piece in early April just after Rep. Massa's resignation about how he loathes tracking down these types of stories.

It's good insight into the life of reporters who get juicy tips, have to verify them, ask awkward questions to lawmakers and their staff and try to nail down the truth.  You can read the whole story here.

Massa initially said he was leaving for health reasons, but then details surfaced there was also an ethics investigation  into alleged inappropriate relationships with male staffers.

Here are some highlights from Chad's story:

*I would estimate than in the past year, I’ve gotten tips for about 15 scintillating stories. Someone is having an affair. Someone is having an affair with a staffer. Someone is having a gay affair with a staffer. These tips have involved people in Congressional leadership. Rank-and-file members from both sides of the Capitol. Officials at the White House. People in the administration. Brass at the Pentagon.

*These are hot tips. The kinds of tips that if true, would command the headlines and rattle the city’s political plate tectonics.  And as a reporter, I loathe it.  That’s because these tips can upend lives, tear apart families and crash careers. Personally, they make me cringe.  But I take the tips anyway. I take the calls. Read the emails. And then I’m off, running my traps to see if there’s a grain of truth to the allegations.

*It’s a bear to confirm one of these tips. And parse out the truth from the innuendo and chatter planted by someone’s political enemies…sometimes cooked up by other lawmakers and political operatives who you would presume to be their allies.

*Political sex scandals make for great copy. See Woods, Tiger. But they’re especially delicious in politics. Bill Clinton. John Edwards. Elliot Spitzer. John Ensign. Mark Sanford. Newt Gingrich. Bob Livingston. Gary Condit. Larry Craig. Gary Hart. And I’ve just scratched the surface.