ABC on Tuesday devoted a fourth day of interviews to the John Edwards sex scandal and still failed to identify the ex-vice presidential nominee as a Democrat. After 67 minutes of coverage on two programs, the network has highlighted most of the salacious details of the Senator’s story, all while avoiding the D-word.
Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday talked to former Edwards aide Andrew Young and his wife, Cheri. Interviews with Mr. Young, who falsely claimed to be the father of what turned out to be Edwards’ love child, also appeared on Monday and Saturday.
On Monday, former Democratic operative turned journalist Stephanopoulos did not react well to Young's assertion that the campaign believed "all of the viable candidates had some type of skeleton in their closet." Stephanopoulos fretted, "That is a very serious charge." When Young tried to backpedal, the host complained, "You just said it."
After Young attempted to assert that he "wasn’t making a charge," Stephanopoulos continued to chastise him: "But you were acting on [Edwards’] belief at the time. You just said that." Referring to other, unnamed 2008 presidential candidates, Young repeated his "skeletons in the closet" line.
The ABC anchor, once again, worried, "Well, you've now repeated it three times. It's obviously something you believed."
A partial transcript of Monday's segment, which aired at 7:30am EST on February 1, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But first, we have the latest on the John Edwards scandal. A new legal battle has broken out between two key players in that saga. They are now fighting over a sex tape, which could be the most devastating revelation yet for the former White House hopeful. Rielle Hunter, one-time mistress of John Edwards, has filed a lawsuit contending that Andrew Young took photographs and videos without her consent. One of them, a video she made in 2006 that depicted matters of a very private and personal nature. Young has said he's got one racy tape.
ANDREW YOUNG: It's a sex tape of, of Rielle and John Edwards, made just a couple of months before the Iowa caucuses.
STEPHANOPOULOS: North Carolina deputies attempted to recover Hunter's purported property at Young's home. But they were blocked by his attorney. A long-time aide to John Edwards, Andrew Young details in his new book how he helped hide the fact that Edwards had fathered a child with mistress Rielle Hunter by publicly claiming the baby as his own.
RIELLE HUNTER: I'm, let me zoom in on that belly.
YOUNG: Did we do the right thing morally? No, absolutely not.
EDWARDS: [phone call] Andrew, it's John.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Young says evidence he has saved, including phone messages, prove that John Edwards was actively involved in a cover-up.
EDWARDS [on phone]: I love you. I really love you, Andrew.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Andrew Young joins us now for exclusive interview. He's the author, of course, of this explosive new book called "The Politician." And there's so many questions to ask, Andrew. But let's begin with what I really believe is the point of no return in this story. It's December 2007, Iowa caucuses days away. Big debate. Is that - all kinds of questions to John Edwards about a possible love child. The "National Enquirer" is closing in. John Edwards calls you and says what?
YOUNG: We were actually at a, at a PetSmart buying a turtle aquarium for our kids and was, he made the pitch. And you have to remember, this is one of the most persuasive trial lawyers of our time. And he made the pitch that we should claim paternity for his child so that he could continue his pursuit of the presidency. He-
STEPHANOPOULOS: But I think that's the one - that's the moment.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How can you not simply say, are you crazy? Are you nuts? Claim paternity of your child?
YOUNG: In, in hindsight, you're completely right. Was it wrong for us to do it? Was it a huge mistake? Yes. But you also have to understand that we, we were given 12 hours to make this decision. We deeply loved John and Elizabeth Edwards. We deeply believed in his causes. On top of that, Elizabeth, John made it very clear that she was gonna die very shortly. And he did not want to see Elizabeth die like this, with this on the front page.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He didn't want to see Elizabeth die. I guess, I understand that personal motivation. But this is a presidential campaign. How did you think this is all gonna end? He's gonna go into the White House and the love child is then revealed much later down the road?
YOUNG: To, to look at it logically, you're completely right. I mean, it's no one thing and there's, there's no one answer that I can give you on that. It's a deep belief in the causes that we had. At that point, I genuinely - I genuinely believed that he was the only Democrat that was a - that could, that could beat McCain or any of the other Republicans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even after this?
YOUNG: Well, in our defense, and it's not a strong defense. We thought that all of the viable candidates. We were convinced by the principles that all of the viable candidates had some type of skeleton in their closet.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Including Barack Obama?
YOUNG: I'm not saying that. We were convinced-
STEPHANOPOULOS: You just said it.
YOUNG: We were convinced by the people that were talking to us about this that all of the viable candidates had skeletons.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is a very serious charge.
YOUNG: I'm not, I'm not making a charge. I'm telling you what we were told, what we were convinced of by two very powerful people. I'm not, I'm not making a charge that it's true. I'm making a...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you were acting on that belief at the time, you just said that.
YOUNG: I said that there were several layers that we were convinced on. The first being how much we had dedicated to John Edwards. Second being the deep-seeded belief that we had in him. And third, about Elizabeth and that she was dying and - and we didn't want her to go out this way. Fourth, that we thought that he was the only one that could win. But that also, and if you look through a game change, there're several allegations of many, most of the viable contenders having some skeletons in their...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you've now repeated it three times. It's obviously something you believed.