How the Media Is Still Screwing Up the Edwards Story

The mainstream media didn't drop the ball on the Rielle Story -- they popped it. Then they folded it up, stuck the ungainly mess in their pocket, and hoped that if you noticed it, you'd figure they were just happy to see you.

Rielle Hunter didn't get half the screwing that news consumers got these last few months. There's the sniff test -- does the story smell right? -- and then there's what I call The Wife Test. If I imagine running an excuse past my wife and she wouldn't buy it, then I'd better try something else. The Rielle-y Amazing Adventure never came close to passing the wife test, and yet not one MSM editor thought to give it more than a cursory sniff.

LA Times blog honcho Tony Pierce (living evidence that The Peter Principle might prove a pinch Panglossian) told his bloggers to "keep rockin" [sic], but to keep their clams shut about Edwards and Hunter. Pierce's gag order had the benefit of being loud and clear -- but why the utter silence, until just Friday, of the rest of the mainstream media?

It's understandable when Democrats want to sweep the story under the rug -- Mickey Kaus valiantly excepted -- but isn't the MSM in the business of providing news in exchange for money? Not at the New York Times, they aren't. NYT "Public editor" Clark Hoyt freely admits that his paper "never made a serious effort to investigate the story." Hoyt goes on to say that he doesn't think that "liberal bias had anything to do with it." However, in the very same column he admits that the Times freely reported totally unsubstantiated rumors about an affair involving John McCain. If you treat a Republican one way and a Democrat another and it isn't liberal bias -- then what is it? A Sulzberger family suicide pact?

Michael Kinsley has another theory:

...the MSM told a story about Edwards -- they told it often and loud -- it was probably one of the best-known and totally accepted stories of the 2008 campaign: John loyally standing by his loyal wife as she deals with cancer. If the story isn't true, they should run a correction. My god, look at the things they run corrections over -- the spelling of people's names, and so on. Yet they're leaving this huge story uncorrected, and leaving their readers misinformed. No?

Let's be glad of one thing: The Edwards story isn't running on page A18 in the tiny little "Corrections" box: "... Edwards may not be entirely nice, after all. The Washington Post regrets the error."

Of course, now that the MSM has belatedly deigned to cover the story, they're double-checking all of Edwards' statements and denials for accuracy. Well, actually, not so much.