In the annals of fawning coverage of scandal-plagued Democrats, Michael Biesecker's Saturday morning report on John Edwards's illness and its effect on his upcoming trail on campaign finance violations surely must be among the worst.
Biesecker missed at least a half-dozen natural opportunities to tag Edwards as a Democrat, finally doing so in cryptic fashion in his 15th of 17 paragraphs. He didn't identify Edwards as the 2004 vice-presidential candidate until that same paragraph, and in doing so named who was at the top of the GOP ticket (George W. Bush) without naming who was at the top of the Dems' (John Kerry). The AP reporter threw obsequious virtual kisses at a man who betrayed his terminally ill wife while omitting two clearly relevant recent reports, one from an outlet which has scooped the look-the-other-way establishment press time after time in this sad, four-year saga. Here are several paragraphs from Biescecker's blather (some of the many clear opportunities to tag Edwards as a Dem and examples of over-the-top fawning are bolded):
Good Morning America's Brian Ross on Friday highlighted the sordid details of John Edwards' affair during the 2008 presidential election campaign. Yet, GMA was the same program that repeatedly hyped the marriage of the former senator and Elizabeth Edwards.
Ross intoned, "When Edwards announced he was running for president, his mistress, campaign filmmaker Rielle Hunter, was there, just a few feet away from Edwards' now-deceased wife, Elizabeth."
On July 31, 2007, then-co-host Diane Sawyer cheerfully explained how the Edwards were planning on celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary at Wendy's. "Happy anniversary," she cooed.
I remember the first time I ever saw any of the Westboro Baptist Church. It was many years ago and I can't remember where it was but I saw a bunch of people at a distance holding up day glow colored signs that said, "GOD HATES FAGS" and "THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS."
When you travel as much as I do, you see some pretty strange sights and tend to catalogue such things as the antics of a bunch of local kooks out to grab some headlines.
Now they've really gone and done it as far as Ed Schultz is concerned.
Speaking with Schultz on his radio show Thursday, Schultz's producer James Holm described plans by members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., notorious for their protests outside funerals of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, to stage a similar protest during the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards.
The discussion between Schultz and Holm was preceded by Schultz gushing about Rev. Al Sharpton meeting with FCC officials in a thinly veiled attempt to censor Limbaugh for racial insensitivity. First, Schultz played a clip of Sharpton's remarks, not citing where they were stated, while Schultz brays his approval (link here for audio) --
In the February 22, article, "The Quiet Dignity of Rielle Hunter," Newsweek columnist Jonathan Darman praises Rielle Hunter, the mistress of John Edwards who gave birth to his baby, and suggests that her silence during the scandal has reflected favorably on her character.
Out of all this irresponsible suffering, Newsweek has found an unlikely hero: Rielle Hunter. Columnist Jonathan Darman argues that it is in her silence throughout the entire ordeal that the public can see her true "dignity," and that she is unlike most mistresses of the modern era in that she has not used her new-found fame for financial stability or to generate more fame for its own sake.
In Darman’s article, he summarizes how he sees the "character" of each major player in the scandal:
On Friday's Good Morning America, Claire Shipman gushed over Elizabeth Edwards as a “smart, passionate, sometimes fierce woman with many different sides to her personality.” She lauded the wife of John Edwards as a complex “heroine” who is “increasingly hard to define.” At the same time, Shipman downplayed the negative portrayal of Mrs. Edwards in a new campaign book.
Recounting the story of the spouse to a cheating politician, Shipman began, “It's a long journey from the adored, everywoman next door who captivated Washington on her arrival.” The journalist did mention the highly negative characterization of Elizabeth Edwards in the book Game Change, a recounting of the 2008 campaign.
However, she assured viewers that staffers say “this was a one-dimensional portrait.” GMA co-host George Stephanopoulos, who himself is a former Democratic campaign operative, quickly agreed: “And we're all a lot more complicated than that.”
Yeah, I'm talking to you, James Rainey, of the Los Angeles Times.
It seems that the Times columnist just can't figure out how the MSM missed out on reporting the John Edwards scandal story despite the fact that the L.A. Times was Gound Zero for media refusal to report on this matter even after the National Enquirer broke an important aspect of the story in Rainey's own backyard at the Beverly Hilton. First the entertaining money quote from Rainey in today's column:
After reading "Game Change," a sweeping new account of campaign 2008 by veteran journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, a reader might wonder: How could the schmucks on the bus miss the operatic disintegration of Edwards' once widely admired partnership with his wife, Elizabeth?
I'm cracking up every time I look at New York Magazine's terrific Nathan Fox artwork used to illustrate a chapter of the John Heilemann and Mark Halperin book, "Game Change," chronicling the 2008 presidential race. The chapter excerpted in that periodical, "Saint Elizabeth and the Ego Monster," is about the complete self-destruction of John Edwards along with his campaign and marriage. Never has a candidate fallen so far and so quickly as you can see in both the the story and the illustrations. And what illustrations! The picture of Elizabeth Edwards ripping off her blouse on the upper right is explained by the authors which presents a picture of something less than the wedded bliss which John and Elizabeth Edwards portrayed to the public:
At the terminal, the couple fought in the passenger waiting area. They fought outside in the parking lot. Elizabeth was sobbing, out of control, incoherent. As their aides tried to avert their eyes, she tore off her blouse, exposing herself. “Look at me!” she wailed at John and then staggered, nearly falling to the ground.
The media have routinely denied having a liberal bias over the years, but when it comes to Barack Obama, they're not so shy about admitting their favoritism. Time magazine's year-end double issue republishes "Letters of the Year," and reprinted in the largest boldest, type is this reaction to the 2008 Person of the Year story:
"Choosing Obama was so predictable. TIME has had a love affair with him since he announced his candidacy for president." -- Ken Taylor, HARTFORD, TENN.
That was the only republished letter with a conservative viewpoint. The "Dissent of the Year" was a rant comparing Fox talker Glenn Beck to a terrorist after their Beck cover story in September:
"Running a cover story on Glenn Beck is the equivalent of giving a terrorist publicity for setting off a bomb. Beck has made himself rich off people's fears without making the slightest constructive comment on national issues. He's a TV evangelist who makes altar calls and then drives away in his Cadillac." -- Alan Moen, ENTIAT, WASH. on "The Agitator," Sept. 28.
Also in bold type were a series of liberal letters, as usual. These sentences were also in bold (if slightly smaller in type):
With Saturday Night Live now in re-runs until September, my offering for a little Saturday night -- media bias-based -- humor.
Nearly five years ago, when compliant journalists were touting then-vice presidential candidate John Edwards and admiring his supposed idyllic marriage to Elizabeth Edwards, Katie Couric celebrated the happy couple's annual wedding anniversary “romantic ritual” of eating at Wendy's, wondering as all three laughed together:“What do you say, 'One Frosty, two straws?'” Pretty ridiculous in retrospect.
In the taped interview aired on the Thursday, July 15, 2004 Today show, Couric cued up the couple: “I know you'll be celebrating your 27th wedding anniversary. And I understand you go through a romantic ritual every year to commemorate that date. Share it with us will you?” John Edwards answered that “we go to Wendy's for our anniversary” before his wife provided her take, prompting a delighted Couric to marvel: “So every year for 26 years so far?” As John Edwards quipped “you could question our sanity,” Couric jumped in: “I was gonna say, what do you say, 'One Frosty, two straws?'”
Elizabeth Edwards probably didn’t figure one of the toughest interviews on her publicity tour for her book Resilience was going to be an appearance on ABC’s The View on Tuesday.
First, Barbara Walters grilled her on why she wasn’t staying home with her children in the "golden days" she has left and asked if she was simply out for revenge. Several others pressed her on how she could continue to press ahead with her adulterous husband. Ironically, the only softball-thrower on the panel was Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Edwards stammered through several challenges to her marital decisions. Sherri Shepherd asked how she could renew her vows after the adultery.
SHEPHERD: In talking about going through that healing and grieving,um your husband had asked if you guys could renew your wedding vows for your 30th anniversary, which was July 30, 2007 [ahem, hyped by ABC News.] Now that was seven months after you found out about the infidelity. How were you able to even do this when he asked you to do that?
The website Women on the Web (Wow-o-Wow) convened a little forum last Friday about whether Elizabeth Edwards is right to stay with her adulterous husband. Sesame Street creator Joan Ganz Cooney expressed a distaste for Elizabeth's creation of a spectacle that's clearly not coming from Oprah Winfrey or Larry King or other publicists of Elizabeth's new opus: "I think she is making a mistake writing a book about the affair and publicizing it. She must really hate him to decide to be so publicly punitive. And it’s got to be an embarrassment to their children, particularly their grown daughter. I would have preferred that they work their marriage problems out in private."
But actress Candice Bergen really lets her anger flow against the Other Woman in this narrative:
In addition to a sympathy tour on Oprah Winfrey’s show, Elizabeth Edwards was interviewed by National Public Radio on Thursday. But All Things Considered co-anchor Michele Norris deserves credit for channeling some of the resentment of voters – both Edwards voters and others – who feel defrauded not just by John, but by Elizabeth, who consented to completely fraudulent media stories celebrating her wedded bliss. Deep into the interview, Norris asked the toughie:
NORRIS: Now, I don't have to tell you this, but you know that some people feel misled by your husband but also by you. You knew about the affair, but you chose to actively campaign for your husband and to present him as a man of character and to present yourselves as the people involved in an ideal marriage. And people are angry because they feel like you've perpetrated a fraud. People are angry because they feel that his campaign had an impact on the election. Is the anger directed at you justified?
There are many elements of tragedy about the John Edwards scandal story currently being unfolded again in public, and on Oprah, due to the publication of his wife's (almost) tell-all book. However, let's face it, all this renewed attention to the foibles of John Edwards is sure to cause yet more late night comedian jokes (with party label conveniently forgotten). And perhaps the funniest bit of comedy yet is the unintentional humor delivered by Huffington Post blogger, Henry Blodget, who provides financial advice to Edwards' mistress in such excruciating detail as to be highly comical. Keep in mind when reading Blodget's blog entry, "The Business Of Revenge: How John Edwards' Rielle Hunter Should Respond," that he is dead serious and did not intend it to be satirical, although that is the way it comes off:
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and no woman is more scorned right now than John Edwards' mistress and likely baby-mommy Rielle Hunter.
In her new book, Elizabeth Edwards blasts Hunter as "pathetic." She slaps her with the famous Clinton diss, "this woman." She delusionally chalks up her husband's attraction to her to the fact that Hunter is "different" than the good old-fashioned Edwardses, and tells a preposterous tale of the stalking and seduction:
On Thursday's "Good Morning America," for the third time in less than a week, the morning show featured a sympathetic story on Elizabeth Edwards and how she is coping with the affair of husband John Edwards, this time touting a appearance on the May 7 "Oprah Winfrey Show." In total, GMA has devoted 12 minutes and 25 seconds to the subject, but still managed to skip a key development in the case. On Sunday, word leaked out that a federal probe is investigating whether or not then-presidential candidate Edwards improperly used campaign funds to pay off a staffer, Rielle Hunter, who he was having an affair with.
Yet, there was no mention of that in the May 6 story on GMA or on Thursday's program. (Another piece aired on May 1, prior to the allegations going public.) Instead, the May 7 interview with O magazine editor Gayle King mostly focused on gossipy details. Ms. King teased, "Can I tell you, the interview this afternoon, is not going to disappoint. It is not. I can't wait for people to see it and draw their own conclusions. It will not disappoint."
Elizabeth Edwards has hit the chat show circuit to hawk her new memoir “Resilience.” Her interview with Oprah airs Thursday. Elizabeth has some important lessons to teach the young women of today. The most important of these lessons is to be nothing like her, though I’m pretty sure that’s not the message she is trying to send.
Typically, when someone whines about his or her circumstances, I take a common sense approach and start by blaming the victim. The fact is that bad things tend to happen to people who make bad, or at least dumb, decisions. No money? You’re probably not working hard enough. Dead end job? You probably didn’t get an education. Creepy husband who cheats with a trampy party girl and humiliates you in front of the entire nation? You probably chose to marry and stick with a creepy husband who would cheat with a trampy party girl and humiliate you in front of the entire nation.
Elizabeth is not at fault for the death of her son in a tragic auto accident, or for her fight with cancer. But she sure as hell is at fault for partnering with the kind of guy who would exploit both those things to further his own ambitions. Democratic strategist Robert Shrum tells of how when Johnny got the vice presidential nod in 2004, he told John Kerry a story he had never told anyone else, about how he kept a vigil by his son’s body and tearfully promised to uphold the boy’s ideals. Kerry was appalled - because Edwards had told him the very same story a couple years before, including the part about never telling anyone before.
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.
John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, are back in the news because of a book written by the latter about her philandering husband. Even the New York Times which less than a year ago shunned any mention of the John Edwards scandal which was all over the Blogosphere has weighed in on his fate in the form of a Maureen Dowd column:
Elizabeth Edwards would have made a wonderful candidate herself. But she poured everything into John. And then John betrayed her. And then John betrayed his staffers, going ahead with the 2008 campaign, letting his disciples work around the clock because they believed in him and what he was running on, even though the Edwardses knew it could implode at any minute because of John’s entanglement with Rielle Hunter.
"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.)
ABC’s come a long way on middle-aged moms in politics. Four years ago, ABC’s lead anchor interviewed a Democratic vice presidential nominee’s wife, Elizabeth Edwards, and let her boldly speak about how men "with good hearts" don’t understand how they seem to disparage women's opinions. On the July 28, 2004 World News Tonight, the Wednesday night of the Democratic convention in Boston, Peter Jennings asked Mrs. Edwards questions Charles Gibson didn’t ask Sarah Palin: "So much is being made all the time about how real you are...And how refreshing it is to have a mother of young children out there in a very public way." Jennings also asked about her husband John: "Many months ago, he told me not only were you the most beautiful girl in your class, but he also said you were smarter than he was. Is that true?" Here's the meat of it:
PETER JENNINGS: So much is being made all the time about how real you are.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS: Whatever that means.
JENNINGS: And how refreshing it is to have a mother of young children out there in a very public way. But you are millionaires. How do you stay in touch with what it means to struggle?
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to People magazine correspondent Sandra Westfall, who recently interviewed friends and family of Elizabeth Edwards who: "...wanted to put out there that she wasn't this wind-up doll that went on stage and let the campaign continue out of some sort of craven ambition, but that she really was going through a lot of anguish." That despite the fact that Elizabeth Edwards went along with the cover up of her husband’s affair throughout his presidential campaign.
Rodriguez described Westfall as someone "who has a close relationship with the Edwards’" and asked: "What was the most important thing they wanted to convey on her behalf?" Westfall explained: "I think that she had hoped that her statement on Friday night would be the end of it for her and was surprised and a little taken aback by how many questions already came up." Later, Westfall elaborated: "...she thought her forgiving him should be enough for everybody else and she was unprepared for the amount of disgust and how swiftly everything else he had done in his career would be wiped away. And that she's really reeling from that and afraid for what it will do to their legacy as a couple and what their children will inherit."
In response to Rodriguez asking: "when did she [Elizabeth Edwards] really find out?," Westfall explained: "The campaign had already gone through its official launch. They were in the middle of this tour. And she felt sort of trapped...He was a candidate. And then he drops this bombshell on her. And only in pieces. He told the truth slowly. So she, you know, didn't have all the information to make the decision right away and she was in shock."
Elizabeth Edwards authorized a friend to attack John Edwards over his infamous "she was in remission" interview on Nightline. That's the stunning assertion of Sandra Westfall, the "People" magazine writer who authored the article [excerpt here] containing the friend's crticism. Westfall was a guest on tonight's Verdict with Dan Abrams.
DAN ABRAMS: Sandra, let me start with you.Is it fair to say that the story that you guys have in this week's magazine is effectively Elizabeth Edwards' side of the story?
SANDRA WESTFALL: You know, she authorized her brother and her best friend to speak to me on her behalf.
In the wake of the John Edwards affair, here's another archival nugget, the CNN-Sojourners debate, to portray the Democratic contenders as deeply religious, from June 4, 2007. The final question for Edwards, intended as a light puffball? His biggest sin, a question he refused to answer with specifics:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Senator, I'm going to have you sit while I ask you another question, if you don't mind. Thank you. And while this is not exactly a confessional, there are a whole bunch of people out there -- we certainly have enough clergy here -- so I'll ask you this. What is the biggest sin...
JOHN EDWARDS: I don't like the way this has started.
O'BRIEN: I know, sorry. (LAUGHTER) What is the biggest sin you've ever committed? Are you willing -- are you willing to say? You can take a pass, sir, as you know.
CNN correspondent Alina Cho gushed over Elizabeth Edwards, the cancer-stricken wife of the former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, during a top-of-the-hour breaking news segment about possible new details in the John Edwards affair story on Tuesday’s American Morning: "Now, [John] Edwards, as many people know, has admitted he made a ‘serious error in judgment’ when he had the affair with Hunter, that he told his wife about it long before it became public. Elizabeth Edwards, of course, one of the most beloved women in America, is battling cancer right now."
That superlative might be news to many Americans, since there are plenty of women who could earn that description, ranging from Oprah Winfrey to Laura Bush. When the news initially broke that Mrs. Edwards had cancer, and later that it had reemerged, she might have been the one woman who was receiving the most sympathy in America.
Is one who conspires to conceal a husband’s affair really "an icon of strength"? ABC’s Deborah Roberts seems to think so. In a story about women who fell victim to a cheating husband, Roberts segued into the segment with the news of John Edwards’ admission.
Failing to mention that Mrs. Edwards participated in her husband’s lie throughout his entire 2008 presidential run, Roberts portrayed the first lady contender as choosing "to weather yet another storm with her husband," comparing it to their experience of their son’s death. Roberts even glowed over Mrs. Edwards’ liberal activism as she continued "championing causes like universal healthcare, America’s war on poverty, and cancer research."
Digging back to the past Roberts played an archived 1992 sound bite of Hillary Clinton defending her husband. Deborah Roberts underscored "how hard it was for Hillary Clinton when her husband was running for president." Of course, there was no mention of Senator Clinton’s famous 1998 "vast right wing conspiracy" interview.
Want to know just how beholden Democrats are to the ultra-left members of their Party?
Well, consider that Elizabeth Edwards actually posted an apology for her husband's affair -- as well as her own complicity in hiding it from people that were working for and supporting his presidential campaign -- at the extreme-left website Daily Kos.
Here are some highlights (emphasis added, h/t Lee Stranahan, photo courtesy Washington Post):
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchors Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer touted the marital relationship between Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife. Co-host Robin Roberts recounted the often repeated story of how the Edwards couple spend their wedding anniversary, including their recent 30th, at the restaurant Wendy’s.
Roberts, perhaps in a Freudian slip, even referred to the former North Carolina Senator as "presidential nominee John Edwards." Sawyer gushed that the candidate and his wife "are going to renew their vows." "Happy anniversary," she added.
Yet, this is the same morning show that has vastly underplayed stories that aren’t quite so cute and endearing for the '08 contender. For instance, during a recent GMA town hall with John Edwards on the subject of poverty, Ms. Sawyer only managed to mention the trial lawyer’s 28,000 square-foot mansion once.
On Monday's "Good Morning America," co-host Robin Roberts again interviewed Elizabeth Edwards and lauded her as a "powerful voice" on the issue of health care. The journalist never identified Edwards, the wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, as a "liberal voice" on the subject or questioned the rightness of government run health care. Roberts also failed to ask just where the money to fund universal health care would come from.
In an intro, Roberts announced, "[Elizabeth Edwards] has, of course, emerged as a powerful voice in her own right, particularly on the issue of health care." During an April segment, the co-host applauded the "passionate voice" the then-candidate's wife brought to the debate over the issue. On Monday's segment, Roberts only challenged Edwards from the left. Referencing earlier support for Senator Hillary Clinton's universal health care plan, the journalist quizzed, "...You indicated [during the April interview] that you considered Senator Clinton's health care plan a better plan. That you had some concerns about Senator Obama's health care plan. Are you going to partner with him and do you still have those same concerns?"
During an interview with Elizabeth Edwards, "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts spun the wife of the former Democratic presidential candidate as a non-partisan advocate for change on the issue of health care. She lauded her fellow cancer survivor as a "passionate voice in the debate" over the subject.
Roberts also nonchalantly explained that a new chapter in Edwards's life includes "working at the Center for American Progress [CAP]." Of course, the GMA host didn't bother explaining that CAP is a left-wing organization founded by Clinton operative John Podesta. Instead, Roberts described Edwards's advocacy for a major government take-over of the health care industry in personal and emotional terms. The ABC journalist extolled, "The idea that's become Edwards's passion: Health care reform, inspired by her own cancer and Americans she met during the campaign." Would Roberts ever characterize a pro-lifer's advocacy in terms that divorce the issue from its political context?
Elizabeth Edwards, I'm sure, is a smart, capable woman. A well-educated lawyer, seasoned politician's wife, and mother of three, her battle against cancer is laudable no matter what your politics are. But in all honestly, is she really that much of a scholarly health care policy or health care finance expert?
Not sure if this was expected or known in advance, but the announcement today that Elizabeth Edwards is joining the Center for American Progress as a senior fellow is striking in two ways. First, it's great for CAP. Think tanks don't often get the benefit of having famous and well-liked authors or thinkers on their staffs. Hers will be a prominent voice on the health care debate going forward, and CAP will bask in her reflected fame...