The New York Times, of all news outlets, published a John Edwards mini-scoop Saturday (on its front page, no less), informing us the onetime Senator and presidential aspirant is “considering” owning up to the paternity of his putative love-child with Rielle Hunter.
Telling the simple truth is evidently something politicians in this post-George Washington era have to “consider” – no cherry trees for our John, nor for his wife Elizabeth who, the Times further informs us, is reluctant for her husband to make this revelation. In her view, the old saw “the truth shall make you free” does not apply directly to the Edwards family (unless it’s through managed leaks.)
But no matter. We all know by now that the Mr. and Mrs. Edwards are pretty far from the ideal couple, more like a blow-dried version of a John Cheever nightmare with a little John O’Hara and John Updike thrown in.
But what really gives here? Why is the Times suddenly so interested in the Edwards affair, a scandal the paper once assiduously ignored, saying nary a word for months as the incriminating photographs piled up in the National Enquirer?
Of course, it is finally safe to attack Edwards, now that the campaign is long over with the Democratic Party victorious and its candidate able to distance himself from the former North Carolina attorney through multiple firewalls. The Times emphasized this with its choice of photograph showing the forlorn Edwards clutching his wife for dear life at the Teddy Kennedy memorial where, the Times tells us, the North Carolinian was shunned.
But there is more to it than that. To say that the New York Times is in trouble is an understatement. It’s a ghost of its former self, economically wounded while being hit almost daily with scandals from the relatively minor, like its computer guru David Pogue having an overly-close relationship to Apple, to the more significant like its hardly surprising ignoring of the ACORN debacle (until it was absolutely embarrassing).
You could almost feel sympathy for Times editor Jill Abramson, when she laughably excused the paper’s lack of coverage of ACORN as under-staffing on a holiday weekend, were she not so fundamentally meretricious – dishonest, I strongly suspect, even to herself. The level of reification among Times people is extraordinary. Few of them have altered their worldview even a jot for decades. The revelation of ACORN as rotten to the core and a near-perfect illustration of a fundamental flaw in the welfare state is a challenge to their weltanschauung so extreme it would engender personality disintegration.
So the flaying of John Edwards is, for them, something of a cover. It is a way to show even-handedness in a harmless situation when no even-handedness is evident on more serious matters (not just ACORN, but the CIA, water-boarding, global warming, healthcare, the economy, etc., etc.). Indeed, it is a convenient mask for unwavering ideological orthodoxy, just as, in a different manner, Anderson Cooper’s sandbagging on CNN of the hapless Tea Party organizer Mark Williams was a more successful attempt to characterize the opposition as whacko racist extremists. Of course the truth is that Williams is probably not a real racist – just exceptionally naïve and way over his head in a world of television sophisticates. But he certainly provided red meat for a supercilious James Carville and the ever-unctuous David Gergen.
These are the times in which we live. The gloves are off on both sides. For the moment the Right is winning and there is no greater reason for this than Glenn Beck. To be honest, Beck makes me feel uneasy. He embarrasses me. He often seems like a man on the verge of an ataque de nervios, as Pedro Almodovar once had it. I don’t know if he is going to fly off the handle, blow up or what.
But he also very often seems to be right (small r). Beck has been the first and, for quite a while, the only one to be assiduously connecting the dots between Obama, Ayers, the two Joneses and the rest of the post-sixties crew that seems to have never gotten over the Port Huron Statement, with the Chicago School of neo-Boss Tweed politics. These are dots that should have been connected by the mainstream media long ago, but, as we all know, they didn’t want to look at them. New Media hasn’t done a great job of connecting these dots either because, frankly, we don’t yet have the skills or manpower. But Beck is doing it. More power to him. Let’s help..