Who in the John Edwards Campaign Started the Rielle Hunter Cover Up?
Who Began the Attempt to Scrub the Web Clean of Rielle Hunter References?
Another Mystery for the Late-charging Media
Who in the John Edwards' campaign started the cover up of Edwards' affair with Rielle Hunter? It was an operation that costs millions and involved a web of schemes that are still unraveling. It's a question the Mainstream Media hasn't asked yet, but it has to be on the agenda, now that they're finally covering the story.
The cover up began with erasing information about Hunter from the Internet; progressed later to moving Hunter from the NYC area to North Carolina within five miles of the Edwards campaign headquarters and setting her up in houses owned by Edwards' backers; and, at one point involved millionaire trial lawyer, Fred Baron, and the revelations that millions were spent jetting Hunter and Edwards' campaign operative--and fall guy--across the country to reside in multi-million dollar houses.
Hunter and Young, according to reports, have also been receiving hush money payments to keep their mouths shut.
Who initiated all of this? Where did that money come from?
[More background and Edwards scandal information: Over 80 stories since December on the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter Scandal and Cover up at DBKP in the John Edwards Love Child Library.]
John Edwards said he was unaware of any attempts to hide his affair with Hunter.
So did friend and big backer, Fred Baron, according to his statement: Baron was just helping out old friend friends and John Edwards didn't know about it. In light of the flood of information now coming out, Edwards' claims haven't held up very well. It's likely that Baron's statements will also have a hard time standing up under the increased scrutiny.
Hunter and Young aren't talking--yet.
Prediction: Andrew Young will be the first to crack. As a one-time Edwards campaign Director of Finance, he's on the hook for many of the improprieties--and he's likely, at some point, to be reminded of this unpleasant fact. In fact, the Equirer reported in December that Young vehemently denied that campaign money was being used for Hunter expenses. Doug Ross pointed out at the time, "What an odd denial! Who accused Young of funneling campaign funds to support Rielle in the first place? I wonder if any member of our crack mainstream media will bother to check into this interesting thread?"
Ross asked that question on December 27. It remained rhetorical in nature until eight months later.
DBKP's crack research department turned in a memo which made us drop all other items and get cracking on this story.
...went back and read Sam Stein's piece in the HuffPo about the missing campaign videos from Sep 27th of last year. Nobody in the MSM seems to be questioning the timeline on this aspect of the coverup. Stein published his piece reporting that the videos had been pulled two weeks before the Enquirer broke the affair story, and was getting the runaround from Jonathan Prince at the Edwards campaign with some bullshit about campaign finance law. Plus other people from the Edwards campaign were telling the worker bees at Midline Groove Productions to shut the hell up about the Hunter videos, according to Stein.
I guess one possible explanation is that the Enquirer was maybe already asking the campaign questions about Hunter before Stein published his story on 27 Sept, which got them antsy about the whole thing.
Which started a search through DBKP's John Edwards archives. We've been reporting since December on the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter affair and the twin real scandals: the Edwards' campaign cover up and the Mainstream Media blackout, which included a failure to investigate hard facts unearthed by the National Enquirer.
We'll deal with the media scandal another day.
References to Make Any Campaign Nervous
The scrubbing clean of all references to Rielle Hunter obviously began before Stein's piece, which came out at Huffington Post on September 26, 2007. Her "webisode" videos disappeared before the Stein story appeared. Stein relates some of the difficulties he'd encountered tracking down these videos from the people involved in making them.
Who else was involved? Credits from the webisode still on the Business Week site listed three additional production assistants. One of them, Sam Cullman, said he could not talk to me but lauded Edwards for his openness. Another assistant, Nick Chatfield, said on the first call to my editor that he wished the movies were available because he could use the publicity. On the second call (having evidently checked back with Hunter or the Edwards campaign), Chatfield said, "Don't call me again."
He also wrote about the stonewall he'd run into with the Edwards campaign.
Jonathan Prince offered to let me and my editor, Tom Edsall, watch the videos - apparently unaware that at one point his campaign claimed not to have access to them. But there was a proviso: we could only view the videos in Prince's presence.
When did the Rielle Hunter web cover up begin? The Edwards' campaign had to be as nervous as Don King in a barber shop when they saw the New York Post's now-famous blind item on August 27, 2007: [Last reported in John Edwards Scandal: Sister Asks Edwards to Stop Bad-mouthing Rielle Hunter - UPDATED"]
"WHICH political candidate enjoys visiting New York because he has a girlfriend who lives downtown? The pol tells her he'll marry her when his current wife is out of the picture."
DBKP speculated months ago--correctly, it turns out--that the Post could have only been referring to John Edwards and Rielle Hunter. The Post confirmed this on August 9, 2008 in EDWARDS BLIND NO MORE.
WE hate to say we told you so, and we normally never reveal the identities in our blind items, but in light of John Edwards' finally admitting he had an extramarital affair, we bring your attention to our "Just asking" item of Aug. 27, 2007...
Our best guess is that the Edwards campaign then got busy and was just one step ahead of Sam Stein. The webisodes disappeared, as did other Hunter info at the NY Screen Actors Guild.
But, in July, the Enquirer Editor-in-Chief, David Perel, referred to the Enquirer's "one-year" investigation [John Edwards Affair: Interview with David Perel, Editor-in-Chief of the National Enquirer, among others]. So, the Edwards camp most likely knew that questions were being asked about Hunter and her involvement with the campaign, before the Post piece appeared on August 27, 2007.
The Helpful Hand of the Disgruntled Employee
The DBKP Research Dept. weighs in again:
I'm also curious about who the YouTube user "MissingVideos" is. As you may have seen, HuffPo reported that, on Sep 27, the same day that Stein published his HuffPo piece [Note: actually a day later], a user named "MissingVideos" reposted the videos with the description "Before he was running for President, John Edwards made a series of awesome short documetaries (sic) that later vanished from the internet...until now." My gut tells me it was likely a disgruntled employee of Midline Groove.
Though the Edwards campaign was hustling to cover up, someone was helping thwart their efforts. Might that helping hand have come from Midline Groove's Nick Chatfield? Chatfield had at first wanted to talk to Stein--"he could use the publicity", remember?--and later, mysteriously at the time, clammed up.
NOTE to aspiring investigative MSM reporters: find Nick Chatfield before the campaign does and explore this possibility.
Oh, and remember where you heard it first.
Perhaps it was Nick Chatfield who also alerted Gawker in September 2007 with an email:
John Edwards is cheating on his wife.
This news must be revealed.
There was a blind item in Page Six recently… however:
My sources come from inside J.E’s little production group that was following him around to create “webisodes.”
There is a producer girl in that group (who lives in NYC) who John E. was - obvious to all - “close to.”
Mrs. Edwards was calling around in the group of production types - to try to get the number of this girl. (Perhaps to try to put a stop to the shenanigans.)
I could tell you my source but I don’t want to rat her out. She’s in that circle. She was there two times when Mrs. Edwards called.
I knew of this long before I saw the recent blind item in the post. (Page 6).
Therefore people know about it, and therefore you have a story to expose…
To those who point out that the email above refers to "her" as the source, Chatfield might have taken the elementary effort to conceal who he was. After all, he didn't know whether Gawker would print the email or not. CYA was in effect for more than just the Edwards' campaign.
Gawker apparently didn't print the email at that time--it was published a few days ago by ex-Gawker writer, Doree Shafrir, in "How Rumors Get Started".
The Edwards campaign had to be feeling the heat at that point and picked up their cover up activities. At about the same time, Hunter's "Being is Free" website disappeared.
In late July, Simon Scowl, of Deceiver, discovered a mirror site for the lost Hunter info.
(Note: As of 8/2, the site I discuss in this post has been replaced with a page that simply says “Blocked Site Error.” As for who’s blocking it, we can only guess.)
The information on the mirror site later disappeared, as recounted by Deceiver.
Who oversaw the cover up, which was initiated by a disappearance of Rielle Hunter info from the web?
Was it Rielle Hunter, trying to "help out" the Edwards' campaign?
Was it Edwards campaign strategist, Joe Trippi?
Or, was it Jonathan Prince, Edwards' Deputy Campaign Manager, who told Stein that the he didn't have access to the Hunter videos, only to unwittingly admit later that he did?
Again, we asked our research department for opinions--in light of their intrepid digging.
Was it Prince?
Prince, the deputy campaign manager, already knew something wasn't right with Edwards and Hunter, and was actively covering up her involvement with the campaign before the Enquirer published anything. And I doubt that he personally was maintaining the campaign website, so other people knew something was going on.
I read the transcript of Joe Trippi's interview with Larry King. The transcript is here, and here is the video. Trippi came on board with the Edwards campaign in April 2007. He said he was "stunned" when Edwards confessed to the affair. I think Trippi is full of shit - there's no way, as campaign manager, that he didn't know about this when there was an active cover-up going on with the Hunter videos and Prince, his deputy, was giving the runaround to the press. If he had no idea about this, he would have to be the most incompetent figurehead of a campaign manager that ever lived - and he's not, Trippi is a professional, no matter what you think of his politics - he made Howard Dean.
Along the way, this interesting item, was uncovered:
"Interesting bit of trivia - did you know Trippi also worked for the Gary Hart campaign as deputy political director? After Hart got busted with Donna Rice, he became chief of staff to Hart's wife. Now he's out defending Elizabeth Edwards."
DBKP doesn't know who in the Edwards' campaign started a cover up operation that started with info disappearing on the Net and ended with Hunter and campaign operative, Andrew Young and his family, being jetted around the country on Fred Baron's jet, one step ahead of the Enquirer.
Since December, we've just been making observations and asking the questions no one in the MSM wouldn't.
Stein made a keen observation back in September 07:
"Not lost in the matter is the irony of Edwards' stance. After all, the videos were made with the apparent goal of bringing transparency to the political process."
We've said it before:
"It's ironic that the Edwards campaign webisodes made by Rielle Hunter, initially produced to bring the campaign publicity, made their biggest splash when the campaign attempted to hide them."
DBKP will be coming out with a story later today that began in December and was just confirmed by the MSM yesterday.
Media Matters: FLASH! Rush Limbaugh has an opinion on the Edwards' affair!
Media Matters is upset that Rush Limbaugh voices an opinion on his opinion/talk show.
On the August 12 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh said of former Sen. John Edwards' recent disclosure of an extramarital affair: "I've got a theory about the motivations. Well, I don't know that I could -- I don't know that I can put this one on the air." Discussing his "theory," Limbaugh said, "We know -- we've been told that Elizabeth Edwards is smarter than John Edwards. That's part of the puff pieces on them that we've seen. Ergo, if Elizabeth Edwards is smarter than John Edwards, is it likely that she thinks she knows better than he does what his speeches ought to contain and what kind of things he ought to be doing strategy-wise in the campaign? If she is smarter than he is, could it have been her decision to keep going with the campaign? In other words, could it be that she doesn't shut up? Now, that's as far as I'm going to go." Limbaugh later added, "It just seems to me that Edwards might be attracted to a woman whose mouth did something other than talk."
MM also provided a link to Limbaugh's website--which arguably, is the biggest service they've provided their readers since the Clinton "media watchdog" began operations.
It would be an interesting--though one suspects, fruitless--trip through the Media Matters archives to see what the "watchdogs" were watching while the Mainstream Media was blacking out the Edwards scandal for nine months. But, that's a job for another day at DBKP.
Meanwhile, we'll make an observation: the Media Matters "watchdogs" weren't barking about the Edwards scandal and the media non-coverage. All their barking is reserved for Limbaugh--whom they've targeted--when he comments on what they wouldn't for nine months.
* pro corbis
* dbkp file