Friday, January 22, 2010

Pulitzer Prize: National Enquirer for the Pulitzer

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Should the National Enquirer get the Pulitzer Prize for its multi-year investigation of the John Edwards affair, scandal and cover-up? That's been the question that's been asked lately: in some cases, at the same Mainstream Media papers which participated in the news blackout of the Enquirer's Edwards' coverage.

Edwards, who had been Sen. John Kerry’s running mate in 2004, was one of the front-runners at the time the Enquirer broke the second installment of the story on December 18, 2007.

The Enquirer released a cornucopia of easily-verifiable information at that time: Rielle Hunter, a former Edwards campaign worker, was pregnant with what the Enquirer reported was Edwards' love child; she had been moved to within five miles of the Edwards campaign headquarters in Chapel Hill, NC; Hunter was living an exclusive gated community, a few houses down the street from Edwards' former Director of Finance, Andrew Young; and, she was driving around in a BMW registered to Young.

Although the Enquirer's report contained unnamed sources who named Edwards as the father, there were certainly enough hard facts to make most people curious--unless you were a MSM reporter. Still, the Enquirer kept working the story in the face of a complete and utter cone of silence imposed by Big Media.

Although a few mid-size newspaper columnists wrote about Edwards after the Enquirer's reporters cornered him leaving Hunter's Beverly Hilton room on July 22, 2008, Big Media's silence was finally broken on August 8, 2008, when Edwards 'confessed' to the nation on ABC's Nightline.

But Edwards did not come clean; in fact, hours after the "confession", he was ridiculed by DBKP[John Edwards Scandal: Edwards Continues Deception in Interview and John Edwards Scandal: Edwards Admits Affair, Lies, to ABC News].

In the latter article, we wrote, “In a coldly-calculated political move, John Edwards has now admitted that he had an affair, but did not father Rielle Hunter’s daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter.”

In the former:

“In a coldly-calculated political move, John Edwards has now admitted that he had an affair, but did not father Rielle Hunter’s daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter.”

A few short minutes after ABC announced that John Edwards admitted his affair with Rielle Hunter and was going to appear on Friday’s Nightline to talk about it, we wrote the words at the top of the page.

We also wrote then:

“The political calculus is: Edwards hopes that his admission of having an affair will allow the incident to blow over, allowing him to proceed with his political career.”

After reading Edwards’ statement, our immediate instincts were confirmed: John Edwards only came forward after he was cornered by the National Enquirer–which he repeatedly labeled “tabloid trash”–and a few in the traditional press were finally, after almost a year, beginning to take an interest. After watching Edwards’ Nightline appearance and examining the allegations he made in the interview, we’re convinced–and we’re not the only ones.

How do I deceive thee? Let me count the ways.”

Was John Edwards the “99% honest” man on Friday? At DBKP, we noticed one falsehood almost immediately, which was confirmed the next day. John Edwards said that his affair with Rielle Hunter ended in 2006. He said it three times in his statement, so it must have been an important point.

It was–and is.

It allows Edwards to claim he is not the father of Frances Quinn Hunter. We weren’t the only ones who noticed that point–and others, as well.

How many times did Edwards prevaricate in his statement and interview? We believe that it happened three times–it’s likely there’s more when the whole truth finally comes out.

In an article in Friday's Wall Street Journal, David Perel confirmed what we wrote then.

Mr. Edwards had already shown us his willingness to lie in the face of overwhelming evidence. In July 2008, Mr. Edwards knew the Enquirer had him on video and he waited. Behind the scenes we sent him a message—deny the affair and we will release the video and prove you a liar. At the same time an ABC News investigative team pounded him.

When Mr. Edwards realized there was no way out, he tried to control the damage and decided to confess to the affair. He appeared on "Nightline" on Aug. 8, 2008, and admitted only to the affair, knowing the Enquirer had his meeting with Ms. Hunter on video. At points in the interview he offered ridiculous denials about paternity and the photo of him with his child.

It had taken 10 months for the Enquirer to prove Mr. Edwards affair, and once he confessed we knew it still wasn't over. Paternity was the next issue. But again, Mr. Edwards would admit the truth only when it was absolutely necessary.

Edwards' mendacity--and the Mainstream Media's complicity--makes the number of pieces discussing the Pulitzer for the Enquirer somewhat surprising. Is this the mainstream press' way of 'doing penance' for totally ignoring the story and helping cover it up until Edwards was no longer a factor?

We posed that question to Perel, who is the former editor in chief of the National Enquirer and directed its coverage of the John Edwards affair. Perel, now the head of RadarOnline, thought for a moment, then said, "I think it might be their way of saying, 'That was a great little story.'

First, Newsweek named the Enquirer's John Edwards story on its Decade's Top Ten Lists of both Sex Scandals and Startling Scoops.

Then, Politics Daily's Emily Miller wrote in Does the National Enquirer Deserve a Pulitzer for Breaking the John Edwards Scandal?:

The National Enquirer is a supermarket tabloid, but the time has come for the media elite to admit that it has an excellent investigative reporting team, which broke the biggest political scandal of 2009, the John Edwards affair.

While its own editor concedes that the paper would never be given a Pulitzer Prize -- the jury is dominated by the newspaper establishment -- I believe the time has come for us to recognize the Enquirer's political investigative reporting.

Howard Kurtz even discussed the Pulitzer/Enquirer question in the Washington Post--a paper which refused to report a word of the scandal when Edwards was a presidential candidate or being considered for a high-level post in the Obama administration, most likely attorney general.

Not all of the Pulitzer talk is positive; New York's Adam K. Raymond dismissed the idea.

One problem with The Enquirer's dream of winning a Pulitzer, as Howard Kurtz notices, is that most of its significant reporting on the story happened in 2007 and 2008 and this year's Pulitzers will honor work done in 2009. Another problem is that it's The National Enquirer.

Continue reading: What Does the National Enquirer Have to Do to Deserve a Pulitzer Prize?

by Mondo Frazier
images: DBKP file


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