An Inside Look at How the National Enquirer
Scooped the Mainstream Media
In the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter Investigation
How did the supermarket checkout staple, The National Enquirer, scoop the combined forces of CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox News, Time Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, New York Times and the rest of the mainstream press in the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter Love Child affair?
"Inquiring minds want to know."
After an hour-long interview with David Perel, Editor-in-Chief of the National Enquirer, we can now say with certainty: it was easy. The steadfast "cone of silence" placed on the story by the Mainstream Media made it easy for anyone willing to do the legwork to grab the story from a decidedly-uninterested "respectable" press.
Perel, who was promoted to Editor-in-Chief of the Enquirer in 2005, has overseen the John Edwards Scandal investigation from the very start and provided DBKP with some interesting insights on Edwards, the Love Child Scandal and the Mainstream Media.
Mondoreb: Hi David, congratulations on the National Enquirer's scoop of the mainstream press--again.
David Perel: Thank you. It was nice to finally have the "smoking gun".
Mondo: This story has been on-going over the last--what--ten months?
DP: Yes, something like that. Certainly, it's taken some time.
Mondo: Do you feel vindicated by the latest turn of events in the John Edwards Love Child Story--after the Enquirer's reporters cornered Edwards in the Beverly Hilton?
DP: Absolutely. We'd gotten information and tips that Edwards was seeing Rielle Hunter and the baby. On Monday, we got some good intel that there was going to be a meeting at the Beverly Hilton hotel and we got the information in time to get everyone in place when it happened. We had a big team on it.
Mondo: I seem to remember that back in December, when the Enquirer broke the second installment of the Edwards scandal, that you had seven reporters working on the story then. How many did you have at the Beverly Hilton this time?
DP: There were seven on this story, also.
[NOTE: Presumably, they were all in optimum positions, as Edwards ran into not only two Enquirer reporters trying to make his escape from the hotel, but at least one Enquirer photographer, as well.]
Mondo: It's been over ten months since the Enquirer broke the Edwards scandal; seven-plus months since the December story that named Rielle Hunter as the "other woman" and showed her visibly pregnant. What was the Enquirer doing in the last seven months that the major press organizations could have been doing, but didn't, that allowed you scoop them?
DP: We stayed on the story. We did it the old-fashioned way, with lots of legwork. We did what the major news organizations used to do: we knocked on doors, ran down leads and talked to people.
Mondo: Why do you think the "major news organizations" didn't do this?
DP: I think it was a matter of interest. We knew--even though we couldn't reveal them--that our sources were credible. We fact-checked their stories and they checked out. It was a giant puzzle and we started fitting the pieces together. But, we were interested in fitting them together; in doing the checking, the groundwork.
I think with all of the cut-backs the other news organizations has suffered, many of them may not have had the man-power or the resources to do what we did. It was a major commitment on our part to continue and stay on the story.
"At least three-dozen daily newspapers in the United States published the Craig news the day after the Roll Call scoop [on Sen. Larry Craig's foot-tapping troubles in a Minnesota men's room stall], according to Nexis, but this morning not a single U.S. daily mentioned the Enquirer piece."
--Jack Schaeffer, Slate: Why the Press Is Ignoring the Edwards "Love Child" Story, A Double Standard at Work
Mondo: Have you ever seen a more blatant--what we've called it--"media blackout" of any story the Enquirer has broken than the Edwards affair?
DP: No. Amazing, simply amazing. It wasn't a total blackout, but very nearly.
Mondo: Why do you think this was?
DP: A couple of things: partly a lack of ability and partly a lack of desire.
Mondo: Do you think it might have anything to do with the fact that reporters on the regular campaign beat get too "comfortable"? Maybe they're afraid of offending whoever they're assigned to cover; who is really their meal-ticket?
DP: Absolutely. It's a flaw in the system and certainly a flaw in the coverage.
What would it have taken for a reporter to stick a microphone in Edwards' face and ask him to confirm or deny certain details of the story we broke in December? What would it take for a reporter to stick a microphone in his face now and ask him to deny or confirm he was in the Beverly Hilton? What was he doing visiting Rielle Hunter there?
Edwards is supposedly on the list for vice-presidential candidates. Look at Edwards actions, his involvement with the cover-up, the size of the cover-up. It shows a bit of his character. People might not want someone that close to the presidency.
Mondo: If they knew about it...
Mondo: What were some of the difficulties in the Edwards investigation?
DP: The cover-up by the campaign, the scope of the cover-up.
I can tell you it was not easy locating Rielle Hunter. A couple times it was very hard finding out where she had moved. It took a lot of time, effort and resources.
Mondo: You were in contact with the Edwards campaign in December about the story. Did you give them a chance to respond to it before it came out?
Mondo: And they didn't?
DP: There was no official response from the campaign or its lawyers.
Mondo: The National Enquirer's record on breaking political scandals is pretty solid. What do you say to your detractors; the ones who dismiss anything you uncover with a "Well, it's in the Enquirer".
DP: Our detractors don't read the magazine. The ones who read it know we get it right.
Mondo: Isn't it just a way of avoiding having to address the facts; to attack the Enquirer?
DP: It's like reviewing a book you've never read. Or like, who was it, Maxim reviewing an album they'd never listened to.
Mondo: There was some rumblings about the first and second Love Child stories being the products of the Clinton camp. One of the Clinton backers has a share of your parent company, I believe. Any comments?
DP: It has nothing to do with the editorial side, which I run. They could say that back in December when Clinton was still in the race, but now, she's supposed to be uniting the Democrats behind Obama. So, it doesn't make much sense.
We follow the story, not the man. We cover both sides. We broke Rush Limbaugh's Oxycontin troubles, we did Jesse Jackson's love child and we broke a lot of the news in the OJ story. It's nothing personal--it's the story.
Mondo: You have more updates planned on this latest installment?
DP: We'll be updating the story several times. We're not finished yet.
Mondo: Any other comments?
DP: We were looking for the "smoking gun": time, place, day and date. Edwards could always "deny, deny, deny". Now, Edwards can't deny being at the Beverly Hilton and visiting Rielle Hunter. There were at least 10 eyewitnesses to the affair of Edwards running on the stairs and ducking into the restroom. I'm proud of the story. It speaks for itself.
Mondo: Congratulations on your scoop and thanks for talking with me.
DP: Any time. Keep in touch.
[A few other subjects were covered, some off-the-record and some on.]
Source: telephone interveiw with David Perel
images: National Enquirer.com