Massa Media Blitz: Embattled N.Y. Democrat Tries to Explain Behavior

Former N.Y. Rep. Massa explained his abrupt resignation.

ByABC News via logo
March 9, 2010, 9:00 PM

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2010— -- Former Democratic Rep. Eric Massa of New York, who quit abruptly last week and promised not to go quietly, took to the airwaves Tuesday night in two cable network interviews to explain his behavior and the allegations that he sexually harassed two male aides.

But the more Massa tries to explain himself, the stranger his story gets.

Massa first said his resignation was for health reasons, prompted by a recurrence of cancer. He took the blame the next day for using "salty language." And Massa shifted his story again this weekend, suggesting in a radio interview that he was being forced out of Congress as part of a "setup" involving the White House.

In an hour-long interview with Glenn Beck on Fox News Tuesday night, Massa offered yet another explanation for quitting his post.

"Now they're saying I groped a male staffer. Yeah, I did," he said. "Not that I groped him; I tickled him until he couldn't breathe, 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.

"That's why I resigned. I don't know how else to put this. I own this behavior," he said.

Later on CNN's "Larry King Live," Massa tried to clarify the incident after King raised questions about its nature.

"There's no other way to define groping but sexual," King said. "Groping is sexual."

"I never admitted groping," Massa said.

Massa had been under investigation for allegations he groped multiple male staffers in "a pattern of … physical harassment," according to a Washington Post report.

A congressional source familiar with the investigation told ABC News the allegations are "much more serious" than Massa has acknowledged.

Massa's behavior and his subsequent accusations that fellow Democrats forced him out have triggered pointed responses from party leaders.