"The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."
The famous quote is about a hundred years old and can be traced to the work of Finley Peter Dunne, one of the great journalists of the day, who wrote about politics and culture in the voice and persona of an Irishman named "Mr. Dooley."
Most of today's MSM reporters seem to have that quote backwards, however--at least where John Edwards and the story of his affair with Rielle Hunter, the cover-up and an approving MSM media.
It wasn't that MSM reporters were ignorant of the story and chose not to pursue it--although that was the template that every single MSM outlet followed religiously--it was their antagonism toward any who did pursue it.
They became, in the words of one DBKP staffer, "good little reporters, looking for a Scooby snack".
Some thought that that was being generous: diplomatic-speak for "lap dogs".
MSM reporters perhaps kidded themselves into silence on the Love Child story by 'not wanting to affect the election'.
John Edwards is now dropping his campaign for president, 2008 version. But one has to believe, based on past experiences, that the MSM press will find other excuses not to ask Edwards any tough questions.
Bob Schieffer's famous "two deny rule"--two people in the Edwards campaign denied the story by the National Enquirer, so it's not a valid story--would have damned any Watergate coverage in the 1970s.
But one wonders what the amount of coverage the story would have received had Edwards had an identifying "Rep" after his name.
The Dan Rather revelation on CBS Evening News of forged, fake documents concerning President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard comes to mind.
The stonewalling of CBS in the face of indisputable evidence the documents were forged also comes to mind.
All that occurred on the eve of a national presidential election.
Thank goodness Edwards had the anointed "Dem" by his name: it usually proves to be the 'mark of indulgence' by the mainstream press. In effect, it's a free pass for behavior, criminal and otherwise.
True to form, the MSM press didn't deviate on the Edwards-Hunter story, either.
The reporters following Edwards on the campaign beat were good little reporters: never rocking the boat, not wishing to write a discouraging word. Eating and traveling with the candidate they became the press equivalent of bodyguards.
Meanwhile, the millions of people who might have been interested in watching a CBS, NBC, ABC or CNN news show reliably stayed away from those "news shows", as they were as usual, devoid of news.
They were busying scouring the Internet for information on Rielle Hunter, the woman who worked with and for Edwards and then mysteriously was taken under the campaign's wing when she became pregnant.
"Reille Hunter" continued to attract millions of searches a day by people seeking to twart the MSM media blackout on the story.
From Wonkette, last month:
Last month’s National Enquirer story on John Edwards and his alleged affair with campaign staffer Rielle Hunter may or may not be total bullshit. One insider said “there’s a lot of smoke… no smoking gun,” while another said the tab has plans to publish e-mails containing damning details of the reported affair.
Enquirer editor David Perel wouldn’t comment on the recent speculation, telling Rush & Malloy “I never like to talk about what’s not published, but we are still doing the story. The original story was 100% accurate.” Meanwhile, Edwards says “the story disappeared because it’s made up.”
To which Wonkette replied, "Umm, yeah..."
The only instance of the Mainstream Media "looking into the John Edwards scandal" was an ABC 20/20 story which claimed this was shaping up as possibly the dirtiest campaign in history.
The 20/20 "report" was, in actuality, a good example of the press playing bodyguard for John Edwards and wasn't interested in determining the truth of the allegations: most easily checked, if any reporter had the desire to rock the boat.
One of the stories cited by the news network―the National Enquirer account of Democratic candidate John Edwards allegedly fathering a “love child” out of wedlock―was denied but not disproven. Despite its reputation as a supermarket tabloid, the National Enquirer is the paper that broke the story, which was confirmed, of Jesse Jackson having an illegitimate child. Hence, the paper’s exclusives cannot be dismissed out of hand.
Until this ABC report, the mainstream media had not touched the Edwards story. However, the British newspaper The Daily Mail media ran a story citing Edwards’ denial of the affair.
ABC sniffed at the reporting of the Enquirer, which has spent time, money and resources on the John Edwards affair, without devoting one minute reporting or checking to determine the truth of any of the allegations.
John Edwards never had to answer any questions concerning the affair, the cover-up or the possible use of campaign funds for Rielle Hunter's upkeep.
No questions about whether he had been in telephone contact with Ms. Hunter since she learned she was pregnant.
No inconvenient questions about the campaign videos, paid for by the Edwards campaign and produced by Hunter, which disappeared for awhile--until the National Enquirer broke the Love Child scandal.
This non-reporting has been a trademark of network "journalism" is recent years and is one of the reasons that the Network News shows continue their death spiral into oblivion.
NOT ONE reporter of a major news organization has put the question to Edwards: "Do you deny that you have been in telephone contact with Rielle Hunter since she found out she was pregnant?"
Whether you thought the story was true or false, it has to be admitted that the breadth and width of the "good little reporter" syndrome was breathtaking.
"If a story happens in the woods and the MSM doesn't report it, is it still news?"
Of course, the answer is increasingly: "Who cares?"
The destiny of ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN seems to be to join MS-NBC as sort of a carnival freak sideshow of news--trusted by few, watched by less.
The MSM nightly newscasts and shows are watched by a very small, isolated, cult-like band of loyal viewers: derided by their erstwhile viewers in the same way that the Mainstream press deride the National Enquirer.
Reports that Hunter is being tended to by an Edwards campaign operative, living in the house of an Edwards campaign donor and driving a vehicle owned by former Edwards campaign finance director excited no interest in the MSM.
MSM reporters--timid at best, scared of losing access to Edwards at worst--were the worst kind of reporters: supplying a steady stream of puff pieces in lieu of asking hard questions; supplying real news.
It is true that the worst journalism comforts the comfortable and afflicts the afflicted. That is a breach of duty.
We need journalists to get at the truth and to keep watch against abuses of power. They have a hard enough time getting that right.
In the John Edwards affair and it's subsequent cover-up, the Mainstream press has been most effective in its new role of "comforting the comfortable."
And for a few lucky reporters covering the Edwards campaign, it's sure to pay off: they most likely will get a seat on the Edwards campaign plane during his next run for the presidency in 2012.
They'll still be writing puff pieces and refusing to follow up good work done by outcasts like the National Enquirer--and increasingly, the blogs they never tire of disparaging.
Four predictions--one needn't be a Nostradamus--concerning the MSM press.
1 They will continue to be good little campaign reporters and eagerly await their 'grades' (read: access) bestowed by the campaign.
2 People will continue to ignore them and their manufactured news: puff pieces for the favored; 'scandals' and hard questions for those who disagree with them.
3 People will continue to mistrust the MSM, with good reason. That includes every arrogant pronouncement on those doing stories the MSM press sniffs at.
4 Would-be viewers will continue to gravitate toward those working at journalism, whether it's practiced by blogs or the National Enquirer.
By 2012, people will sign onto the Internet for their news and the only ones getting their information from TV news shows will be that small group of viewers the MSM press despises: those with little education and critical reasoning skills.
In other words, the Jerry Springer faithful.
John Edwards-Rielle Hunter LOVE CHILD LIBRARY
Over 28 DBKP stories and videos since the story first broke on November 19, 2007 by the National Enquirer.
image: dnc, national enquirer
* Emails may Reveal John Edwards Had Affair
* DBKP John Edwards Love Child Scandal Library
* Who's Guilty of Campaign Dirty Tricks
* Comfort the Afflicted...
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.