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):
With the mainstream media giddily reporting on an alleged affair involving Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, how long can it be before they break the news that their 2004 vice presidential candidate conceived a "love child" with his mistress, Rielle Hunter?
The left is trying to destroy Cain with a miasma of hazy accusations leveled by three troubled women. Considered individually, the accusations are utterly unbelievable. They are even less credible taken together. This is how liberals destroy a man, out of nothing.
The Justice Department is expected to indict former Senator John Edwards as early as Wednesday for violating federal campaign finance laws.
On this weekend's "Chris Matthews Show," the host along with Time magazine's Joe Klein and the Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan said the DOJ should leave Edwards alone (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Los Angeles Times media reporter James Rainey discovered the Pulitzer Prize jurors weren't going to touch the National Enquirer with a ten-foot pole over their expose of John Edwards:
One juror told me that, among that competition, the Enquirer's stories about Edwards did not even make the top 10. The tabloid had first revealed Edwards' relationship with his campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter, in the fall of 2007 and continued to push the story forward through 2008. The Pulitzers announced this week were for work in 2009.
Rainey joked that the Enquirer should inspire a new award called the "Muffin Choker," for stories that make a morning newspaper reader choke on his breakfast.
A Monday New York Times story by Stephanie Clifford gave one cheer to the National Enquirer tabloid for its work on breaking the news of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards's affair with Rielle Hunter, and their child. It was a story the Enquirer pursued almost alone and which could earn it an unprecedented Pulitzer: "From Rumor to a Hint of Respect."
But the excuses Clifford forwarded on behalf of the rest of the media were unconvincing, especially regarding the Times's own steadfast silence on the burgeoning scandal.
By being the first and, largely, the only publication pursuing the Edwards story through his denials of the affair and of fathering a child out of wedlock, The Enquirer is under consideration for a Pulitzer Prize, and it has strong support for its bid from other journalists. The success has Mr. Levine considering opening a Washington bureau to look for more dirt among politicians.
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:
In a Page C1 column in Friday's Washington Post about the National Enquirer's plans to apply for a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter affair and love child, Howard Kurtz delivers a completely inexcusable pass to his fellow alleged journalists in the establishment media (bold is mine, internal link is in original):
When the Enquirer first reported in 2007 that Edwards had had an affair with Hunter, the former North Carolina senator dismissed the account as tabloid trash. The rest of the media, having no independent proof, steered clear of the story, even as Edwards, aided by his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth, was mounting an aggressive campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Howard's "no independent proof" statement is a howler on one of two possible levels. It's either false on its face (i.e., one or more establishment media reporters had the proof and suppressed it), or it reflects a complete and journalistically negligent lack of interest in a story about a man who, if things had broken differently, could conceivably have become his party's presidential nominee or even the country's chief executive. Either way, Kurtz is unforgivably easy on his fellow "professionals," especially because I have learned that one of his fellow "professionals" had plenty of clues that something was amiss even before the Enquirer's October 2007 story broke.
If you're totally reliant upon print media, some of the major newspapers that is, you might not have noticed the news about former Democratic Senator and 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards' admission that he was indeed the father of his campaign mistress's daughter.
That story couldn't so much as garner a single front-page story from any of the nation's top five major newspapers - USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times or The Washington Post. And only The Wall Street Journal, found the story worthy to print on its second page, not to mention the fact that it is a business journal.
Edwards admitted in a statement on Jan 21 that he was indeed the father of Frances Quinn Hunter, saying, "It was wrong for me to ever deny she was my daughter." The story of his affair with campaign staffer and videographer Rielle Hunter broke last summer when the National Enquirer busted Edwards in a Los Angeles hotel for cheating on his cancer-stricken wife.
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:
Despite running two segments in the last week on Elizabeth Edwards and how she has coped with the extramarital affair of former Senator John Edwards, ABC's "Good Morning America" has yet to feature a single story on the news that a federal probe has been launched into whether the then-presidential candidate paid off the woman he was having a relationship with. This is despite the fact that Edwards acknowledged on Sunday that such a investigation is under way (though he denied any guilt).
CBS's "Early Show" briefly noted the probe on Wednesday. "Today" featured a segment on Monday. NBC reporter John Yang explained that investigators were looking into whether or not campaign money was improperly paid to Rielle Hunter, a videographer for Edwards in 2006. And while GMA hasn't followed this latest development, the show highlighted Elizabeth Edwards' new book on Friday and, on Wednesday, her upcoming appearance on the "Oprah Winfrey Show."
Following a segment on John Edwards possibly paying hush money to mistress Rielle Hunter, a later segment on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show previewed an interview with Hunter’s sister by Entertainment Tonight’s Thea Andrews: "I sat down with Rielle Hunter's sister, Roxanne Druck Marshall. Roxanne is older by 18 months and she says the two sisters were very close, practically raised as twins. But now Roxanne is hurt and embarrassed by her sister's behavior." Andrews went on to ask Marshall: "Having an affair with someone whose wife has cancer-" Marshall interjected: "-and knowing it, and know -- I mean. And not just knowing it, the whole world knows it. There's no way. I don't know what they were thinking."
Andrews followed up by asking: "Do you think your sister thought about his wife Elizabeth?" Marshall replied: "Apparently not. She obviously didn't think or care enough to stop the relationship." Marshall later commented on the speculation of Edwards making payments to Hunter: "He's, you know, saying, 'oh, I'll take a paternity test.' And then the next day Rielle issues a statement, 'I'm never going to take a paternity test.' Well, isn't that a coincidence? That's very ironic, great coincidence. I just want John Edwards to come clean, tell the truth, and let's get it over with."
Surprisingly, the CBS Early Show continued to report on the John Edwards scandal on Tuesday, as co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to a friend of Edwards’s mistress: "Edwards claims it was a brief liaison, but that's not how a friend of [Rielle] Hunter's remembers it." At one point in the interview, Rodriguez asked that friend, Pigeon O’Brien, about media characterizations of Hunter: "She's been portrayed as this Fatal Attraction-like woman who was semi-stalking him, madly in love, delusional, talking bad about his wife. The woman that you claim to know for 20 years, does that ring true?" Of course "semi-stalking" seemed to be how co-host Harry Smith described Hunter on Monday’s show: "This woman in question has a very interesting history...knowing her as this kind of bar fly who had this kind of crazy past... From reading everything I read it seemed to me that she targeted Edwards."
In response to Rodriguez’s question, O’Brien criticized those portraying Hunter in such a manner:
Not at all. It couldn't be further from the truth. It -- and that's one reason why I'm speaking to people like you. It really bothers me, what they're saying about her. It could not be further from the truth...It does not ring true that she would ever stalk somebody. They were very mutually engaged in this affair. I can't stress that enough. It was a mutual committed relationship and he persuaded her to believe so.
David Shuster, arbiter of journalistic standards? The MSM didn't bother to pursue the Edwards story, yet Shuster, he of "pimped out" fame, had the chutzpah to look down his nose not once but twice on the National Enquirer during an interview this afternoon with Barry Levine, its Executive Editor. Levine, speaking with Shuster on MSNBC this afternoon at 4:20 PM EDT, laid out a number of open issues, including paternity and the source of funding for Rielle Hunter's living arrangements.
BARRY LEVINE: I think this story is far from over in that regard.
DAVID SHUSTER: And finally I mean, I mean, as a newsman, and I sort of, take that term, sort of liberally for some of your critics, in terms of how they would describe the National Enquirer, but nonetheless, you did get the story right. In your estimation, where is the next aspect to this story for the National Enquirer?