PJ Media

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.

National Review Online’s Campaign Spot caught Edwards in two obvious lies, and Hot Air’s Allahpundit noticed one, too. All of this was a little too much effort for the full staff of ABC News to catch during their interview with Edwards — but somehow two bloggers managed to get the job done. Of course, NRO and Hot Air aren’t chained up by cowardly or biased editors, either.

What almost no one mentions is that The National Enquirer is owned by Clinton backer Roger Altman. Altman claims he has “no involvement in editorial, ever” but his paper seems to have found a way to permanently sideline one of Hillary’s rivals. Or can Edwards bounce back?

What’s this “can he” business? Edwards will bounce back, and the process has already begun.

Over at “Think” “Progress” (aren’t scare quotes fun?) they’re already busy changing the story. The complaint is that Fox News — one outlet out of many — would rather talk about John’s Rielle-y Good Time than about Russia’s invasion of Georgia. Don’t worry, TP — when Fox decides to cover The Pipeline War, they’ll still do a better job of it than any other network. At least FNC has something like a decent track record when it comes to reporting wars. Unlike, say, the folks at Think Progress.

First the admission, then the contrition, then the rehabilitation. By the time — and I hope it’s a long time from now — Elizabeth Edwards succumbs to her illness, all John’s sins will be forgiven and, likely by the MSM, forgotten.

The next scandal will be the race to prove the child’s paternity. Edwards claims he’s willing to get tested, but momma conveniently says “no.” (If only she’d said that two years ago, Edwards might be Veep or Attorney General a year from now.) Sure, Johnny Boy can bounce back, but if later on someone can show that he is indeed the baby daddy, then he might get nothing better than a dead cat bounce.

Here’s a thought: Start looking for an educational trust fund set up for Baby Hunter — and try to follow the money. Because I’d bet dollars to donuts this kid is going to have a nicer college trust than anything Rielle could afford on her own.
Somebody ought to get on this. But don’t drop any change into the machine at the <i>New York Times</i> — you won’t find much new there.

But you might try glancing at the tabloids while waiting in line at the grocery store. Because these days, that seems to be the one place left where the news is fit to print.