Eric Massa on Glenn Beck: Tickling and Disappointment

By Chris Good

Eric Massa's much-anticipated, hour-long interview with Glenn Beck is over, and it's clear the host didn't get what he wanted. We did hear an anecdote from Massa about a tickle fight with a male staff member, and that was about as good as it got.

Here's what we know now that we didn't know before:

1) The former congressman says he didn't hit on any male staffers--that the "groping" The Washington Post reported Tuesday afternoon was playful. Massa was very clear that he never touched anyone in a sexual way.

"Now they're saying I groped a male staffer. Yeah, I did. Not only I groped him, I tickled him until he couldn't breathe and then four of them jumped on me," Massa said, after giving a recap of the story he's already told about a staffer's wedding reception on New Year's Eve.

When Beck asked him if there are "Tiger Woods phone calls" or text messages that will come out, Massa said: "I'm sure there's text messages, because we banter back all the time." ("We," presumably, meant Massa and his male staffers.)

2) Massa says he wasn't forced out of Congress, as he indicated in his radio diatribe over the weekend. "I wasn't forced out. I forced myself out. I failed, I didn't live up to my own code--I own this," he said. His point, which was a bit muddled, was that he made the decision not to seek reelection because of his cancer scare, then decided to resign effective Monday because of the ethics investigation.

3) The scandal is his own fault, Massa said, because: "I never should have allowed myself to be as familiar with my staff as I was. I never translated from my days in the Navy" to Congress.

4) Massa appeared to say he was living in his congressional office. He had been living in a house full of bachelors, he said (without specifying, explicitly, if those bachelors were other members of Congress--such an arrangement isn't all that unusual--but it didn't sound like that was the case).

"My chief of staff had a conniption and said, 'You can't live there, that's not congressional,' so I moved into my office," Massa said.


But Beck came away disappointed. He repeatedly probed Massa for specific information on instances of congressional or White Hous corruption--demanding, to no avail, that Massa use his status as a former insider to divulge something--anything--Beck's audience didn't already know about Washington corruption. But Massa offered his own advice, instead (for instance, that Americans get involved in the political process orĀ  "demand that we change one things in Congress, and that's campaign finance reform).

The host looked downcast for much of the interview: Beck wanted specific history, but Massa offered outlook.

"You have talked about corruption, but we all complain about corruption," Beck said, asking Massa for "anything specific."

Massa protested at one point: "It is a specific--"

It was clear the two were not speaking the same language.

Coming back from a commercial break at the end of the interview, Beck apologized to his audience.

"America, I'm gonna shoot straight with you. I think I've wasted your time. I think this is the first time I've wasted your time," Beck said, as Massa still sat with him in the studio before the last bit of interview.

"We learned a lot, I think, but what we learned, I don't think, affects you at all," Beck said afterward, closing out the show.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/03/eric-massa-on-glenn-beck-tickling-and-disappointment/37257/