Ann Coulter Refers to Tabloid Report of John Edwards Affair; Will MSM Pursue Story?
Ann Coulter did her best to drop a bomb on the October 10 episode of "Tucker" on MSNBC. At the conclusion of her interview, Ann Coulter announced (video) that the National Enquirer was just reporting that John Edwards had an 18-month affair while on the campaign trail. You can read the story here.
Before going any further, this allegation must be met with a healthy degree of skepticism. First of all, the story is originating from the National Enquirer, which in and of itself, raises questions as to the story's reliability. Secondly, Coulter had a notorious run-in earlier this year with Elizabeth Edwards on an MSNBC episode of "Harball." Coulter would have every motivation to repeat a salacious tabloid sex allegation about John Edwards.
With that said, though, you would think that the mere allegation would be worthy of a media frenzy based upon its recent behavior. The media have extensively covered the "bathroom sex" case of Senator Larry Craig. Before that, the media happily reported when Sentator David Vitter's phone number showed up in the records of the "DC Madam." Even before that, the Mark Foley story lingered for a month during a crucial point in the 2006 campaign.
Sex scandals aside, the mainstream media also pay attention to Ann Coulter, devoting plenty of press coverage to Coulter's printed statements about some of the 9/11 widows. The media also condemned Coulter for her aforementioned exchange with Elizabeth Edwards.
So now we have a tabloid allegation of marital infidelity by a presidential candidate. And the allegation has been repeated by Ann Coulter on MSNBC - so it's not as if it can be completely ignored at this point.
But there are big differences between this story and the others mentioned. The sex scandals listed above all involved Republican politicians. And there is less possibility to frame Ann Coulter in a negative light here.
It is not unprecedented for the press to cover a sex scandal involving a Democratic candidate for presdient. Going way back in time, Senator Gary Hart ruined his presidential chances with an extramarital affair, which received plenty of press coverage at the time.
In this case, though, the question has to be asked: will the mainstream media pursue this allegation at all? If the media is to be consistent in its energized pursuit of sex scandals involving politicians, then it will be beating down doors to either confirm of refute this allegation. But will they? The first thought is that the media would be inclined to ignore the allegation, but the potential boost to the Clinton campaign might give the mainstream media a reason for following this storyline. Time will tell.