The Dereliction of Duty
of the Mainstream Press
The John Edwards-Rielle Hunter episodes highlight what is, increasingly, a clear case of dereliction of duty in the Mainstream press.
The media mavens at all the old places people used to turn to for news (Time, Newsweek, NY Times, CNN, CBS, etc.) are not only silent, they have--and are--aggressively protecting John Edwards from any PR fallout of his affair with Rielle Hunter.
To paraphrase the age-old question, "If a scandal breaks and the Mainstream Media doesn't report it, does anyone hear about it?"
The answer these days, is "Yes"--thanks to the Internet. Bloggers are the favorite whipping boy of major media apologists in academia--most who spend their time flacking for former employers and castigating the Blogosphere as "irresponsible".
What label should be applied to news organizations who, during the Edwards affair, have strict observance of omerta would have made any Mafia chieftain proud?
Would "irresponsible" be appropriate?
Mickey Kaus is looking for signs that big media organizations, having accepted John Edwards' elaborate denials of the mistress/baby story, might now be interested in the latest developments. He speculates, correctly I'm sure, that the Obama campaign has noticed the news. But as far as the mainstream is concerned, nothing yet.
--Byron York, National Review: Edwards, Cont'd
When the Enquirer first broke the Edwards story in October 2007, the details at that time were sketchy. A generous person will forgive the lack of attention it received at that time in the mainstream press. Curious details escaped the press then: such as why a then-obscure Rielle Hunter would come forward to denounce the Enquirer's story on a small blog--when the Enquirer hadn't named the "other woman" in October. [Why Did Rielle Hunter Denounce the National Enquirer NINE WEEKS Before the Paper Would Name Her as the “Other Woman?]
When next the Enquirer returned to the Edwards-Hunter affair in December, it named Rielle Hunter--formerly known as Lisa Druck--as his companion. It also reported a number of verifiable facts that were also ignored by the MSM: Hunter was now settled in a gated community 5 miles from the Edwards campaign HQ; she was driving around in a BMW registered to Edwards' former Director of Finance; and, she was living in a multi-million dollar house owned by a Edwards' backer.
The press remained curious un-curious. [Curious Circumstances Excite No Curiosity in the Mainstream Media].
Even the fact that Elizabeth Edwards--a campaign mainstay up to that point--suddenly disappeared from the campaign trail after the second story, broke brought no interest.
NOT ONE question was put to Edwards on the campaign trail by the members of our "adversarial" press.
Part of the blogosphere picked up on the story and another half screamed because of that attention. [The Edwards Scandal, The Press, The Enquirer and the Blogosphere]
Bob Schieffer of CBS News revealed the new MSM standard of proof in play when one of their "chosen" are threatened.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you know I saw that this morning. I believe that — I believe that’s a story that we will be avoiding, because it appears to me that there’s absolutely nothing to it. I’m told that another — a man says that the child is his. I’m told that the woman who seems to be pregnant says it’s not his. So I guess — I guess we’re going to pass on that. Unless you come up with some new information on this, Don.
–When asked about the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter story On the Don Imus show
“I said I need back-up!! NOW!!
I got Bob Schieffer’s sense of curiosity here!”
Scandal? Well, Edwards denied it so there's no story. Right, Bob?
Mickey Kaus of Slate followed the events that happened--and was constantly under attack for having done so. Kaus now wonders, rightly, about what the MSM will do now that Edwards was caught visiting Hunter in LA yesterday by the Enquirer:
P.P.S.: Will this be the first presidential-contender level scandal to occur completely in the undernews, without ever being reported in the cautious, respectable MSM? That's always seemed an interesting theoretical possibility--a prominent politician just disappears from the scene, after blogs and tabloids dig up dirt on him, but nobody who relies on the Times, Post, network news or Mark Halperin has the faintest idea why.
--Mickey Kaus, Slate: Edwards Busted
Perhaps, the MSM found it difficult to tear themselves away from their PR duty on the Obama Magical Mystery Tour?
Again, Byron York, wonders:
On the John Edwards story, I do wonder how much, if any, coverage this report will receive. Edwards is, after all, in the pool for the Democratic vice presidential nomination; after first seeming to take himself out of the running, he put himself back in the race two weeks ago, telling NPR, "I'm prepared to seriously consider anything, anything [Obama] aske me to do for our country."
Of course, there's the question of whether the big media outlets will want to pick up a National Enquirer story. If I remember correctly, the Rush Limbaugh oxycontin story was broken by the Enquirer, and the press ran with that one.
Byron York: RE: Edwards
Of course, the MSM and the shrinking few who depend on them for "news" had their stock answer: "It's in the Enquirer".
Roger Simon had a ready answer:
...Oh, one last thing, for those of you who say it’s The National Enquirer, how do we know it’s true? I suggest you Google the “National Enquirer and OJ Simpson.” They broke most of the important stories on that case. In general, these days they’re vastly more reliable than The New York Times.
Roger Simon, John Edwards in a Feydeau Farce at the Beverly Hilton
The Enquirer may have been a tainted news source (John Edwards Love Child Scandal: Source Too Tainted for MSM?], but at the scandal game, they proved much more reliable than the New York Times during their sad attempt: the John McCain-Vicki Iseman story.
Doug Ross, in Enquirer: John Edwards Visits Rielle Hunter and their Love Child provides a complete recap of the Edwards-Hunter story--and the original lack of interest by the MSM in a Democrat cheating on his cancer-stricken wife.
Pareene, at Gawker, has an excellent take on the media coverage:
The National Enquirer spent months chasing John Edwards and digging into his relationship with Rielle Hunter before busting him spending the night in a hotel with the woman and the former Democratic presidential candidate's alleged love child. It was impressive and quintessential tabloid work. But there's no reason the paper should have had the scandal all to itself. Isn't this the sort of thing traditional newspaper tabs like the Post used to cover? And even starchy broadsheets should have had some interest — it was the Miami Herald that busted Gary Hart in 1988 (when his mistress left his townhouse — shades of the Edwards affair) and the Times that broke the story of Eliot Spitzer's whoring earlier this year.
Don't forget, also, that Newsweek's Michael Isikoff had the initial dirt on Monica Lewinsky a decade ago. A reputable magazine could have broken this story, as well!
In fact, the media had a full nine months to get the goods on VP hopeful Edwards following an October Enquirer story and coverage in the Huffington Post and Slate, and even longer if they were paying attention. According to the Enquirer, Edwards met secretly with Hunter "several times" after the fall coverage, so there was dirt there for an enterprising reporter to find.
Gawker then asked several questions: "When is an affair a political career killer? Bill Clinton was able to stump effectively for his wife despite the Monica Lewinsky mess; San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is said to be eyeing a run for California governor despite sleeping with an aide's wife and people have already begun talking about Spitzer's rehabilitation.
"More to the point: When is an affair while your wife is dying of cancer NOT a political career killer? Is there a "he needed to get through the pain" angle? Or is it more "he needs to not show his face around here again, ever" situation?"
Perhaps the emphasis on this story will shift much more quickly this time around. From John Edwards comically taking refuge in a mens room, it will move to the MSM's retreat into omerta.
If the role of the press--especially during election time--wasn't so important, their dereliction of duty would be fodder for a hilarious reality show.
Gawker: How Did Edwards Affair Stay Hidden?
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