Alone Among Network Broadcasts, CBS Evening News Ignores John Edwards Trial

Over the past few weeks, the John Edwards corruption trial has been all over the news, and for good reason: Edwards was one of the most visible and charismatic figures in the national Democratic Party for several years. The former trial attorney served as a senator from North Carolina from 1999 to 2005, and in 2004 and 2008 ran for president of the United States. In 2004, Edwards was his party's vice presidential nominee.

In the past month, the trial has brought forth sordid details of John Edwards using campaign funds to cover up an affair and provide for the love child who resulted from it. Between April 12 and May 16, ABC World News and NBC Nightly News ran a combined total of 34 stories about the John Edwards trial. Yet the CBS Evening News found time to run only one story on case during that same time period, and that on the opening day of the trial, April 22.

During the course of the trial, the CBS Evening News chose not to cover the story at all, leaving regular viewers in the dark about the trial's developments.

Below are some of the key developments that ABC's World News and the NBC's Nightly News covered about the John Edwards trial that the CBS Evening News neglected:

•    On the April 26 edition of the ABC World News, it was reported that Andrew Young had admitted to using hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign funds for personal use, with Diane Sawyer noting of Edwards that “His defense lawyers spent hours trying to undermine the credibility of the star witnesses for the prosecution, former Edward’s aide Andrew Young, who claims he was asked to conceal Edwards's extramarital affair.”


•    On the April 27 edition of the ABC World News, Bob Woodruff reported that “Andrew Young, the star witness against John Edwards, [said] he feared for his life, when he and Edwards were alone on a deserted country road, their scheme to hide Edwards’ affair unraveling.”


•    On the May 1 edition of the NBC Nightly News, correspondent Lisa Myers told viewers that “The wife of the government’s star witness, Andrew Young, sparred with John Edwards's lawyer about whether she hates Edwards and blames him for trouble in her marriage.”


•    On the May 2 edition of the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams noted that John Edwards's daughter Cate  ran out of the court room after hearing testimony claiming Edwards's late wife Elizabeth knew of the affair. Williams proclaimed, “Emotions were running high at the criminal trial of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards today, as a friend of John Edwards’s late wife Elizabeth testified about the anguish she suffered following her husband’s affair”


•    On the May 4 edition of the ABC World News, Bob Woodruff reported on the story, saying. “All along, John Edwards has denied knowing about secret money that was paid to cover up his affair with girlfriend Rielle Hunter. Today, powerful evidence that he did.” Afterwards, Woodruff reported about testimony from various witnesses that admitted that they were asked for as much as $40 million in donations, even after the election was over.


•    On the May 8 edition of the ABC World News, anchor Diane Sawyer opened her coverage of the story, saying, “And today another loyal staff member took the stand to tell why she is now testifying against her former boss.”


•    On the May 14 edition of NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams reported that Cate Edwards planned to testify in her father's defense, saying “daughter Cate Edwards will take the witness stand as early as tomorrow to testify in her father's defense. She's been, as you may know, a steadfast supporter of her father and has accompanied him to court every day.”

Perhaps the CBS Evening News chose not to cover the Edwards trial in detail because they thought that it was not serious news. However, on April 23, the day after the CBS Evening News ran their lone story, they chose to cover the curious sport of Chess Boxing, with anchor Scott Pelley introducing the segment as “most unlikely sport we`ve ever seen.” On May 2, the CBS Evening News did a story on the famous “Scream” painting, with Scott Pelley asking, “And did you ever wonder what the artist was thinking when he painted this? Seth Doane tells us as the Scream goes up for auction.”

Makes you wonder if the CBS Evening News is trying to avoid talking about the John Edwards story.


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