Edwards' Affair And Media Behavior, Mach 2: Just When I Think I Was Out On Vacation, They Pull Me Back In

Posted by: Jon Fine on August 08, 2008

Hmmm, wonder why this comes out on a Friday, in August, just as the Olympics start?

(You mean they timed this for when people would be paying less attention? Geddouttahere!)

So Edwards owns up, ABC gets the big get, and everyone else is left sort of standing around flatfooted. I’ve had a number of interesting exchanges re media bias because of all this, and quite a few people telling me I’m just another lefty media stooge. But the head of a pin that USA Today/New York Times/Washington Post/Wall Street Journal/big broadcast networks/everyone else were dancing on was this: We didn’t get the story ourselves. We don’t have photos or reporting on it—and while we might pick this up if we could source the story and photos to USA Today/New York Times/Washington Post/Wall Street Journal/the big broadcast networks, we ain’t gonna if it’s the National Enquirer.

Even though the Enquirer has been first, and right, on several similar stories.

I’m not saying this thinking behind this reasoning is particularly ennobling, but it is roughly what happens. Given all that, as well as these factors, none of nailed the story. Which they should, and will, hear lots about. (By the way: please carefully examine the full list of outlets listed above before banging out a letter about how this is all about a liberal media bias.)

I didn’t weigh in on this in my previous post, but to be clear: yes, Edwards' infidelity is absolutely a story worth pursuing and publishing. (And I say this as someone who did not find it credible that Edwards could be VP or otherwise serve in a Democratic president's cabinet.)

PS: Is he really going to say that he didn’t love her? And that his wife was in remission when he had the affair?

Like that matters somehow? Ugh.

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Reader Comments

Clay

August 9, 2008 06:24 AM

Sorry to burst your bubble but yes, this is yet ANOTHER example of liberal media bias. How in God's name can the National Enquirer get the scoop on this while all the other media, both print and electronic miss it? You'd think with all the resources that the MSM have that someone, anyone, could have dug this story up before the NI. The MSM didn't work this story because they didn't WANT to work this story. Meanwhile the NY Times ran a story this spring about an alleged affair by John McCain. Could the double standard be any bigger?

Brian

August 9, 2008 09:23 AM

How about I expand your list -- Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, ABC. Now it looks a little more complete, and the political leanings of the media quite a bit clearer.

Since you write on the media, here is a suggestion: write a column on the Edwards camp manipulation of the media, and their acquiescence/cooperation in the manipulation.

You mention the Friday dump -- the time-honored get the bad news out Friday afternoon so it will get lost in the shuffle. Why don't you write about ABC's cooperation with that. Obviously, they didn't get a call on Friday morning from Edwards. Exactly what negotiations went on between the Edwards camp and ABC. Why Nightline, why Friday night after 11:30 p.m. -- why not the evening news, why not 2020? Was their negotiations on what questions they could ask?

This morning, Good Morning America did a follow-up. They introduced "investigative reporter" Brian Ross, who the anchor said had been working on the story for "a couple of months". Interesting, I don't recall seeing any reports from him. Is it usual for reporters to work on a story for months and never get on the air about it? What a waste of time and high-priced talent, perhaps someone should call Disney head Bob Iger to let him know. And what scoop did Ross' months of investigating revealed -- that Hunter's sister has challenged him to take a paternity test. Which she announced publicly. Great get. Where is the investigation into the campaign contributors' paying for Hunters $3 million house? Where is the investigation into the money he's been funneling her to live on? He says he's doing it out of the goodness of his heart. Yet the campaign has paid him $1.1 million for "the use of his plane". Has anyone checked into exactly how many times they used it, what the going rate is, and whether this is standard operating procedure with other campaigns? Sounds like money laundering might be something to look into. At the very least, the man has been making gifts that would require him to declare them on his tax return. Did he do it?

The New York Times mentioned in this morning's article that campaign staffers got together at campaign headquarters (what campaign?) to prevent the story from spreading from the tabloids to the mainstream media. A media columnist worth his salt might look into that, finding out what they did, who they contacted and what the cooperation was.

You seem hell-bent on defending your position on this, in spite of the facts. With apologies to Erich Segal, credibility sometimes means saying you're sorry. Take a deep breath and repeat after me "I'm sorry, I was wrong".

Don

August 18, 2008 11:42 AM

How is this a business analysis of the media business? This piece right now is just going to generate a firestorm of first-time-poster-conspiracy-theorists who trade links back and forth on free republic.

Look at the crank above, "Is it common for a reporter to work on a story for months and never go on the air about it." I'll give you a quick answer, "Yes this is common." I was interviewed for an article in July that will not be run until September.

It's as if the conservative cranks forget that the media got together and decided not to pursue the known stories of George Bush Sr's rumored extramarital affairs and Nancy Reagan's rumored affairs. That really happened and those two people were exposed by "Sleazy" journalists. Some people pretend that there's a political bias and maybe because they're seeing themselves on the extreme end of the political spectrum and feel uncomfortable that SURELY their opinions are "average" and everyone else has "left wing media bias." Sorry folks, you really ARE that extreme to the right so that everyone else looks like THEY have a bias.

I fail to see the usefulness of this discussion in an analysis of the media business.

Brian

August 19, 2008 02:29 PM

Gee Don, how on earth did you wander over here. Was there a bad link on Daily Kos? Of course, reading that site, you would never know that John Edwards ever had an affair. Bloggers who mention it suffer the fate of the great purge -- they become nonpersons.

As for being a conservative crank, I voted for Kerry and Gore in the last two elections, and plan on voting for Obama in this one. Nonetheless, I can recognize bias in the news media when I say it.

Re: George Bush the Senior, his alleged affair with Fitzgerald was reported on by CNN, NBC, the New York Post and the Washington Post. As for Nancy Reagan -- well, all I have to say about that is who cares?

If you want proof, look at the flurry of self-flagellation going on in the media -- Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times, Kurtz in the Washington Post, Clark Hoyt in the New York Times and Jack Shafer in Slate, to name just a few. All have concluded that liberal bias played a role in the failure of their organization is, and others, to investigate the Edwards story.

So go back into your cocoon and rail away at everyone who doesn't fall into lockstep with the thought police.

Don

August 22, 2008 04:00 PM

As I suggested Brian, your views ("lockstep with the thought police?") are so extreme as to make you individually think there's a bias because it looms large in front of you.

This is a common US cultural issue- just survey people if they're "middle class," "upper class," or "lower class" and they'll say "middle class" without any knowledge of what being middle class or in this case, having "middle of the road" opinions really means.

I was not actually aware the Daily Kos blog was still around, but apparently you are. Make of that what you will regarding distortions in your Point of View. Yes, I referenced Free Republic, so I suppose it's fair, but I haven't actually seen Free Republic since the Clinton Administration.

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The media, entertainment and marketing worlds continue to shapeshift on a near-daily basis, as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. Where is it all going? No one really knows. But on this blog BusinessWeek’s media writers Tom Lowry and Ron Grover promise to provide ample helpings of scoop, provocation, and sharp analysis as they track and annotate this constantly changing terrain.

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