CBS ‘Early Show’ Forgets Dem Label For John Edwards

Maggie Rodriguez, CBS While a segment on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show reported on an upcoming book by Elizabeth Edwards in which she discusses her reaction to husband John Edwards having an affair, at no time was Edwards’ Democratic Party affiliation mentioned. Co-host Maggie Rodriguez began the story: "But first, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate, John Edwards, is about to release a memoir called 'Resilience.' Mrs. Edwards, who has cancer, speaks out about her husband's very public betrayal of her, an affair with a former campaign worker."

In a report by correspondent Bianca Soloranzo, past infidelities of Democratic politicians were mentioned, but no party affiliations were given: "Elizabeth Edwards joins a long line of political wives who have stood by their cheating spouses." A clip of former President Bill Clinton was played: "I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate." A clip was also played of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer: "I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family." Beth Frerking of Politico was quoted downplaying such affairs: " I think when people marry people that go into politics or have ambitions to go into politics, they know that this is part of the package. And I think really it's the exception when that spouse leaves."

Following the report, Rodriguez spoke with psychologist Robi Ludwig about the frequency of politicians cheating on their spouses, but prefaced the discussion by exclaiming: "First of all, we should say we're not in their house, we're not in their shoes, we don't know why they made the decision they made...Very important, I think, to point out." Rodriguez never made that disclaimer when making personal judgments about Bristol Palin or Miss California Carrie Prejean.

Rodriguez was critical of Elizabeth Edwards for staying with her husband: "But the fact that she asked him for just one wedding gift, that he be faithful to her and he wasn't. You would think that would be a deal-breaker. It's the only thing she wanted from him." However, Ludwig, like Frerking earlier, defended the decision: "But you know what, there are a lot of different reasons why people stay in a marriage. And, you know, we also have to give her credit, maybe she did make the right decision. You know, you have to think about keeping the family intact. She has health issues. You know, it's a business, too. They're a political couple. So, she had to think about all of those factors."

Later, Rodriguez asked: "Do you think that there's more pressure on political wives to stay with their husbands? Because we see Hillary Clinton, Sylvia Spitzer, they tend to stay, do they put ambition over love?" Ludwig responded: "I think in some way they make a deal, whether it's conscious or unconscious, they understand if you enter into a political relationship, you might be dealing with a guy who might cheat. And to really keep the whole picture in mind."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:01AM TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: And Elizabeth Edwards has a book coming out. She talks to Oprah on Thursday. Details of that conversation are starting to leak out. It is a bewildering and perplexing story and we'll have some of it for you a little bit later on this morning.

7:13AM TEASE:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Elizabeth Edwards speaks out about her husband John's affair. Why do she and other wives, especially political wives, stand by their men after infidelity?

7:31AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: But first, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate, John Edwards, is about to release a memoir called 'Resilience.' Mrs. Edwards, who has cancer, speaks out about her husband's very public betrayal of her, an affair with a former campaign worker. CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano reports.

OPRAH WINFREY: Did you believe that this was the only time?

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: I did.

BIANCA SOLORZANO: Elizabeth Edwards breaks her silence on her husband John's affair on tomorrow's Oprah Winfrey show. The couple met in law school, fell madly in love, and when they got married 31 years ago, she asked her husband for just one wedding gift.

EDWARDS: I wanted him to be faithful to me. It was enormously important to me.

SOLORZANO: But last August, Edwards admitted to an affair with a campaign staffer, then 42-year-old Rielle Hunter. In her new memoir, 'Resilience,' Edwards writes of crying, screaming, and vomiting when she learned of the infidelity. There's also speculation Edwards may have fathered Rielle's daughter.

EDWARDS: I've seen a picture of the baby. I have no idea, doesn't look like my children, but I don't have any idea.

SOLORZANO: Elizabeth Edwards joins a long line of political wives who have stood by their cheating spouses.

BILL CLINTON: I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate.

ELIOT SPITZER: I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family.

BETH FRERKING [POLITICO]: I think when people marry people that go into politics or have ambitions to go into politics, they know that this is part of the package. And I think really it's the exception when that spouse leaves.

SOLORZANO: And one more way Elizabeth Edwards is standing by her man. John Edwards is reportedly under federal investigation for misuse of campaign funds. More than $100,000 was paid to mistress Rielle Hunter's production company. Edwards has denied any wrongdoing. Authorities will now take a closer look to see if those alleged payments to Hunter were in any way hush money. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Edwards is telling all and has no intention of keeping quiet. Bianca Solorzano, CBS News, New York.

RODRIGUEZ: Joining us is Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychologist and contributing editor to 'Cookie' magazine. Good morning, Doctor.

ROBI LUDWIG: Good morning.

RODRIGUEZ: First of all, we should say we're not in their house, we're not in their shoes, we don't know why they made the decision they made.

LUDWIG: That's right.

RODRIGUEZ: Very important, I think, to point out. But the fact that she asked him for just one wedding gift, that he be faithful to her and he wasn't. You would think that would be a deal-breaker. It's the only thing she wanted from him.

LUDWIG: Yeah, well it's probably not the only thing that she wanted from him.

RODRIGUEZ: The most important.

LUDWIG: Right. But you know what, there are a lot of different reasons why people stay in a marriage. And, you know, we also have to give her credit, maybe she did make the right decision. You know, you have to think about keeping the family intact. She has health issues. You know, it's a business, too. They're a political couple. So, she had to think about all of those factors.

RODRIGUEZ: And the fact she'd been with him for 31 years, that must make it even more difficult to leave somebody after so long.

LUDWIG: Yeah, you know, she probably loves him. I think when you love somebody, you understand the reasons why they digress. And maybe it's not right, but we're not living in their household and we don't know what their relationship looks like, really, behind closed doors.

RODRIGUEZ: Do you think that there's more pressure on political wives to stay with their husbands? Because we see Hillary Clinton, Sylvia Spitzer, they tend to stay, do they put ambition over love?

LUDWIG: You know, they may understand that with these kinds of people, you know, these men are in the spotlight, they're very powerful, there are women throwing themselves at these kinds of men. I think in some way they make a deal, whether it's conscious or unconscious, they understand if you enter into a political relationship, you might be dealing with a guy who might cheat. And to really keep the whole picture in mind. Do you want to maintain your life? Do you want to fight for a person that you love? Maybe at the end of the day, that's what's important.

RODRIGUEZ: Can you really have a strong marriage after infidelity?

LUDWIG: Oh, absolutely. As long as you understand the reasons -- you know, an affair is really like a conversation that you haven't had. You have to understand the symptoms, what contributed to the affair. And if you can understand that, get through that, then you can come out stronger at the end of the day.

RODRIGUEZ: Alright. We will hear more from Elizabeth Edwards in the days to come, Robi Ludwig. Thank you.

LUDWIG: Thank you.

RODRIGUEZ: Pleasure having you on.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC