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Why the Media Ignored the John Edwards Scandal

Byron York, who has been following the John Edwards - Rielle Hunter scandal since mid-2008, has a must-read piece at Town Hall.com: "Why The Media Ignored A Scandal."

Two weeks before the 2008 Iowa caucuses, the National Enquirer published a detailed story reporting that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards had had an affair, and that the woman involved -- campaign videographer Rielle Hunter -- was pregnant, and that Edwards had arranged for an aide to falsely claim to be the father, and that Hunter and the aide and the aide's family were being taken care of financially by a wealthy Edwards supporter.

It was, to say the least, explosive.

At the time, Edwards was a serious contender in the Democratic presidential race, so when the story was published, his aides prepared for what some believed would be an onslaught of media scrutiny.

But it didn't happen. Although Edwards could not have known it at the time, it turned out that many journalists just didn't want to report the news and didn't try very hard to uncover the facts.

The tale is told in the new book "The Politician" by former Edwards aide and confidant Andrew Young, the man who, at Edwards' insistence, claimed that he, and not the candidate, was the father of Hunter's child.

York then goes on to chronicle development after development in this sordid episode, including the National Enquirer's stunning July 2008 story that included a detailed account of an Edwards visit to Hunter's Los Angeles hotel room. The Edwards campaign repeatedly expected the major media to pounce on the story after each revelation, but the onslaught never came. York concludes:

An explosive scandal had been kept out of the press for months at a time when the man at the center was an important player in national politics. Why?

Young thought it was because the Edwards camp so tightly controlled information that journalists weren't able to find sources to corroborate the Enquirer's reporting. While that may have been part of it, the fact was, many editors and reporters just didn't want to tell the story.

Maybe they admired Edwards' cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth. Maybe they saw no good in exposing Edwards' sordid acts. Maybe they looked down on the National Enquirer. Or maybe they were just biased. "In the case of John Edwards," said Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz, "even though it was clearly out there -- everybody in America knew about this well before CNN and the New York Times and the Washington Post got into this game -- there was still a great reluctance."

Of course, in the end the story came out anyway -- but only after the sheer weight of Edwards' corruption made the facts impossible to ignore, even for sympathetic journalists.

This bears an uncanny resemblance to the news media's deliberate decision to suppress its knowledge of Bill Clinton's personal problems and scandals during the 1992 Presidential campaign. The press even gave Clinton the opportunity to publicly distance himself from womanizing allegations with the now-infamous "stand by your man" 60 Minutes interview, aired on Superbowl Sunday in January 1992. Eventually Clinton's womanizing caught up with him; proof again that no matter how hard the media tries, it cannot eradicate corruption simply by choosing not to report it.

It will be worth seeing how future generations analyze the mainstream media's reporting of the 2008 Presidential campaign, particularly the incredible contrast in standards between its insatiable appetite for dirt on Sarah Palin and her family, and its decision to willfully suppress what it already knew about the sleaziness of John Edwards.


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Comments (10)

"Why?"Because he i... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Why?"

Because he is a liberal Democrat, the MSM did not properly investigate him. That's the beginning and the end of the story.

I know my explanation is too glib and snarky to be taken seriously, but it is the truth of this matter.

It was anti-Hillary, pro-Ob... (Below threshold)

It was anti-Hillary, pro-Obama bias on the part of the lame-brain press. DON'T FORGET that it was Edwards who wounded H. Clinton in the Iowa and South Carolina primaries.

The press was so in love with the thought that they could influence the election to bring in a black man that they found it easy to overlook the Edwards story. There is a good story (from NPR of all places!) at this link.. http://bit.ly/qfJXd

We all know if a Republican... (Below threshold)
Stan:

We all know if a Republican had done the same thing, it would have been front page news above the fold lead story, with 128 pt banner headlines. Being it was a Dem, it never even made it past the smell test. God help it if it had had been George W Bush.

It's a sad day when the Nat... (Below threshold)
Hank:

It's a sad day when the National Enquirer has more integrity than the so-callled MSM.

"Maybe they looked down on ... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

"Maybe they looked down on the National Enquirer."

I think that explains most of it. How does a paper like the Times or Post swallow it's ego long enough to be on record following up a story first reported by the National Enquirer? The toughest pill to swallow I would guess.

More proof most of US conse... (Below threshold)
Jt:

More proof most of US conservative/Thinking people did not need, but the affirmation and exposure suggests we try that much harder to get out the Truth.

We all know if a Republican... (Below threshold)
Maggie Mama:

We all know if a Republican had done the same thing, it would have been front page news above the fold lead story, with 128 pt banner headlines. Being it was a Dem, it never even made it past the smell test. God help it if it had had been George W Bush.


Stan, what about the NY Times and it's front page smear of John McCain with a mistress that wasn't?

The media is biased, it's politically corrupt, and it's unapologetic for the most part. Because THEIR "ends justify the means" in their minds.

Fderfler has it right.... (Below threshold)
kevino:

Fderfler has it right.

Certainly there is a bias to allow liberal Democrats a pass on personal scandals like this. But the story is bound to come out sooner or later, and the story is so sensational, any network or newspaper that breaks the story gets to make a bigger splash, even if the story was originally leaked by the Inquirer.

The MSM did go with the story once President Obama had momentum against Secretary Clinton. At the time that the story was reported by the Inquirer and on the web, Senator Edwards was an important candidate that was taking support away from Clinton. She was running as the "inevitable" candidate, and for someone else to challenge her, it was essential to keep Edwards in the race. So that's what they did. Knowing that the scandal would destroy Edwards' candidacy and ensure that Clinton would easily win the nomination, they hid the story and kept Edwards in the race.

Becuase the liberal left-wi... (Below threshold)
Flu-Bird:

Becuase the liberal left-wing news media is not about ever print the truth about their beloved demacrooks

It was affirmative action t... (Below threshold)
914:

It was affirmative action that killed Hildebeast.




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