ABC Ignores Own Role In Playing up 'Myth' of Perfect Edwards Couple

"Good Morning America" weekend anchor Kate Snow on Friday filed a report on Elizabeth Edwards' new book about her husband's infidelity. The ABC journalist ignored the media's role in creating a "myth" about the marriage between Elizabeth and John Edwards, the former senator. Snow noted that Mrs. Edwards knew of her husband's affair prior to his 2008 Democratic presidential campaign and discouraged him from running. She explained, "Last fall in a rare interview, Elizabeth Edwards told the Detroit Free Press the idea the Edwards were a perfect couple was a myth."

However, in 2007, as the Democratic primary race began to heat up, GMA hosts were only two happy to tout the happy marriage of the Edwards. On August 9, reporter David Muir cooed, "...We have the very first photos of a very personal backyard ceremony for John Edwards and his wife." He then proceeded to show pictures of the couple renewing their wedding vows. Muir was wowed by "an incredibly personal photograph" that somehow ended up in People magazine. On July 31, 2007, only nine days earlier, co-hosts Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer featured pictures of the two as they celebrated their wedding anniversary at Wendy's. (The above photo is from the visit to the fast food restaurant.)

None of these GMA-hyped stories or images, which obviously perpetuated the "myth" that Elizabeth Edwards referred to, made it into the May 1 story. (The picture at right is from the July 2007 segment) Wouldn't it be healthy to have some self examination from journalists as to their own role in promoting these types of campaign stunts?

A transcript of the May 1 segment, which aired at 7:32am, follows:

CHRIS CUOMO: But first this morning, throughout the 2008 political campaign, Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of then-Senator John Edwards, was keeping a secret. A secret voters would learn more than a year later and that was that her husband had an affair. Now, Elizabeth Edwards is sharing new details about that painful episode and making some surprising statements about her husband's run for the White House. Kate Snow is here, has the story for us.

ABC GRAPHIC: Elizabeth Edwards Opens Up: What She Knew About Husband's Affair

KATE SNOW: Chris, In her new memoir, it's called "Resilience," Elizabeth Edwards lashes out at the woman with whom her husband had that affair. She calls Rielle Hunter's life pathetic. But she also says her husband, the senator, should never have run for president. Aside from a hearing on health care, Elizabeth Edwards has barely been seen in public since last summer. But, she's about to be about the center of a publicity storm. In her new book, according to the New York Daily News, she spills all about the moment she learned of her husband's affair. "I cried and screamed. I went to the bathroom and threw-up." Mrs. Edwards suggests, according to he Daily News, that Rielle Hunter, whose daughter recently turned one-year-old, seduced John Edwards with the pickup line, "You're so hot."

JOHN EDWARDS: It was a huge judgment- mistake in judgment. But, yeah. I didn't think anyone would ever know about it. I didn't.

SNOW John Edwards first publicly admitted the affair last summer in an interview with ABC's Bob Woodruff. At that time, he described coming clean to his wife in 2006.

EDWARDS: And it was painful for her. Hard and painful for her But she responded exactly like the kind of woman she is. I mean, she forgave me. And we went to work on it.

SNOW: Mrs. Edwards' account is a little messier. She says in the book, when her husband admitted the adultery, he, quote, "left most of the truth out." And said it was a one-time fling. Still, even when she knew the full truth, Mrs. Edwards threw herself behind her husband's campaign. When her cancer returned in March 2007, Elizabeth was the one urging the senator to continue running.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: One of the reasons it's important from my perspective, to move forward with this, is that I'm immensely proud of John's campaign.

SNOW: But now Elizabeth Edwards writes, according to the Daily News, that she had wanted her husband to quit the race for a different reason. Because she was afraid the affair would raise destructive questions for her family. He should not have run, she says in the book. And those would-of, could- have, might have changed everything in the Democratic primary.

MARK PENN (Democratic strategist): If he had dropped out of the race particularly early, I think a lot of voters would have taken a good, fresh look at Hillary Clinton. Remember, that they supported Edwards because they thought he was honest and trustworthy.

SNOW: Last fall, in a rare interview, Elizabeth Edwards told the Detroit Free Press the idea the Edwards were a perfect couple was a myth.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: There is no perfection out there.

SNOW: But their marriage continues. "I lie in bed, circles under my eyes, my sparse hair sticking in too many directions," Elizabeth Edwards reportedly writes, "and he looks at me as if I am the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. It matters." Elizabeth Edwards, apparently, does not address the issue of who fathered Rielle Hunter's child. John Edwards has said both he and Elizabeth know that he is not the father of that child. Now, because of the leaks, the publisher is now releasing Elizabeth Edwards' memoir "Resilience" earlier than planned. It will be out, we believe it will be out next week. Elizabeth Edwards is due now to appear on Oprah, on her show, next week. And that's actually being advertised on Oprah's website this morning.

CUOMO: "Resilience" is a perfect word, given what she's been through. Kate, thank you very much.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org