The Washington Post reports that a federal judge has ruled against Baghdad Jim McDermott (D-Seattle) in the on-again, off-again lawsuit filed against him in 1996 by Rep. John Boehner (R-OH). The lawsuit was filed after McDermott released a copy of an (illegally recored) audio tape of a phone conversation between then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and several top Republican congressmen, including Boehner.
A husband and wife team of Democratic Party activists in Florida recorded the conference call and passed the tape on to McDermott, who released it to the New York Times. McDermott lied for several years about his role in the release of the tape, but finally admitted it in May of 2002. He stonewalled for SIX YEARS with no pressure from the media. (He did resign from his seat on the House Ethics Committee, however.)
It's interesting to contrast this tape with the celebrated Lewinsky/Tripp tapes. Linda Tripp recorded the tapes and later allowed reporter Michael Isikoff to listen to them; the firestorm the tapes ignited outraged Democratic Party loyalists and provoked a (politically-motivated) prosecution, which was dismissed by a circuit court. In that case, one of the participants in the phone conversations (Tripp) was aware that the conversations were being taped. To this day, mention the name Linda Tripp to a hard-core Democrat and a rant will ensue. In the McDermott case, the tapes were recorded by a third party, and released to a congressman who had no direct stake in the proceedings. Mention the names John and Alice Martin, however, and you will likely get a blank look.
McDermott had acknowledged leaking the taped phone conversation to reporters. But he argued that he did not break the law by receiving the tape and that punishing him for making it public would violate his free-speech rights.
Linda Tripp didn't break the law, but that defense didn't protect her from the Maryland state Attorney General from sending her to court over the Lewinsky tapes, which were neither illegally taped nor released to the media by a third party. McDermott wants it both ways, but the court is not cooperating this time, to his regret.
(I originally posted on this issue here, back in the old Regurgablog days.