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Raleigh Editor: Edwards Went Big Time

POSTED: 04:27 PM ET, 08/18/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Editors, media analysts and pundits are still grappling over how the mainstream press handled the sordid tale of former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and his mistress, questioning everything from off-the-record chats with the onetime presidential candidate to wondering aloud about the credibility of the tabloid that broke the story, The National Enquirer.

Edwards's off-the-record comments to Raleigh News & Observer Executive Editor John Drescher in October, in which he denied having an extramarital affair, sparked a Sunday column examining the paper's relationship, or lack thereof, with the homegrown politician.

"Because he has acknowledged he lied, I feel free to report" about the conversation, Drescher wrote.

After News & Observer editors weighed whether or not to run a follow-up to the Enquirer story, Dresher said, Edwards called Drescher from an airport, urging him not to run the story. He denied the Enquirer's allegations that he'd had an affair with an unnamed woman -- later identified as campaign videographer Rielle Hunter.


"He said The N&O was the paper that arrived on his doorstep every day, the one read by friends of him and his wife, Elizabeth," Drescher wrote. "He said he'd never called before to complain or state his case. Given Elizabeth's health -- she has cancer -- he said it was especially important to him that the story not run in The N&O."

The News & Observer didn't end up running the story, though they did send a reporter to New York to chase the story on Hunter. Having been scooped, Drescher complained of a strained relationship between Edwards and his hometown newspaper: "When it came time to talk about his affair, Edwards was true to form. He went national and chose his friends at ABC News."

Much of the discussion surrounding the Edwards story is still focused on The National Enquirer's dogged reporting over several months that led to the biggest scoop of the summer.

"Yankee ingenuity and shoe leather (no doubt along with some well-placed gratuities to relevant sources) had cracked yet another huge story," The New York Times' David Carr wrote.

CBS News sent Kelly Cobiella to hang out with the The Enquirer's editor and senior writer, Alexander Hitchin, who worked on the Edwards story. After looking at the tabloid's history and reputation, CBS News reporter, Cobiella asked why other news outlets didn't immediately pounce on the affair story.

Kurt Anderson, a media analyst and contributing editor at New York Magazine, told her: "That is the sixty-four thousand million dollar question, isn't it?"

"The National Enquirer gives the story cooties for all the Times and Boston Globes, the Washington Posts of the world," Anderson said. "That is partly because thirty years, forty, fifty years ago, the National Enquirer was very different than today. It is this low-brow celebrity scandal-mongering thing."

By Derek Kravitz |  August 18, 2008; 4:27 PM ET
Previous: Army Makes Repairs in Wake of Soldiers' Complaints | Next: Potential Conflicts Cloud Government Procurement

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Okay, now get jiggy with it!

Cheater’s Rap

John Edwards talked about Dad’s mill,
While sleeping with a chick off the pill,
He lied and fibbed to the MS press,
And, awoke early to preen and dress.

John's wife, Elizabeth, ate the lie in ‘06,
But supported John in Iowa while sick,
They stole Hillary’s honest votes daily,
And laughed on cue while hiding Rielle.

Why did John lie like a cheatin’ rat ?
No “New Deal” for the average Democrat,
While Obama and Hill fought on the stump,
John watched Rielle grow a bump.

John begged the papers, don't print the story,
Knowing Iowans condemn the whorey,
Come on, Katie Couric, be a good sport,
And don't be tipping off the Drudge Report.

Now John’s love child is common news,
And Fred Baron has money to lose,
Rielle, now nursing, has jetted away,
Even Geraldo has joined the fray!

John’s affair has hurt his poor kids,
More than Clinton’s cigars ever did,
A sordid tale that some call a crock,
The only winner, a loser named Barack!

Like dogs in heat, Edwards did pant,
Defined forever, just like Hugh Grant,
Tabloids paid to get the sleaze,
Is it John’s baby, mister please?

Vote for John Edwards, give me chills,
Meet you for sex in Beverly Hills,
John, don’t need to prove you ain’t a gay,
Just pony up to compare your DNA.

See Barack in Hawaii like Bobby Vinton,
Unaware the DNC plans to elect Clinton,
Edwards may face time from the tax man,
But not if a pardon is part of Obama’s plan.

While Elizabeth cried over her brood,
Baby mama with John was not a prude,
Gone the innocent days of Tom Sawyer,
John gettin’ love like a real trial lawyer.

Posted by: Roast Drray | August 18, 2008 5:52 PM

After all these months of protection, now the media has "gone wild" yet I have a feeling John Edwards is still very much a protected man. When his wife passes away, the media will be there with their violins and America will take pity and forgive this man for lying - just like they did Bill Clinton. His career will be revived because he is a Democrat and the MSM will always back him.

By then he will be able to acknowledge his daughter Francis Quinn Edwards and if he's still the idiot, he will marry this woman who worshipped him, telling him he was Gandhi.

What a JOKE!

Posted by: Candace | August 18, 2008 6:00 PM

Given the solid job the N&O did in the Duke lacrosse case, I trust them 100%.

Posted by: Mike | August 18, 2008 6:08 PM

Please move on, K? Apparently even the best of men have a weakness. I do have to wonder just how these two collided.

Is it possible someone sets up our good men?

When a good man decides to represent the people, he must decide then and there that he will NOT stray, no matter what!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 6:15 PM

We were much better as a country when the accepted rules which governed not reporting about John F. Kennedy's affairs were in place.

John Edwards made mistakes in judgment, but those mistakes do not necessarily preclude him from being a great leader on important progressive issues.

I do greatly regret any misuse of funds, and that is the part I have the greatest difficulty in understanding.

Democrats have forgiven JFK, LBJ, FDR, and especially Bill Clinton for their extramarital affairs.

Hopefully there is redemption for Edwards and a future of public service. I think he is a strong voice for important public policy proposals

Also, if Ted Kennedy could withstand the political repercussions of Chappaquiddick and still have a thriving career in public service, and Bill Clinton the repercussions of Gennifer Flowers and other serious problems including impeachment, couldn't there also be a future for John Edwards?

Posted by: susanra | August 18, 2008 6:34 PM

If I had a woman (even if she was ugly) feeding my ego, telling me "I can change the world", I would fall into her trap too.

I still think MSM is protecting John Edwards. I don't see them hounding the guy at his front gate or taking pictures of them going to church like they did to Spitzer and his family. At least in Spitzer's case, it was a hooker - no strings attached, no love child, just pure good old fashion sex!

Posted by: Gino | August 18, 2008 6:43 PM

The MSM including the WaPo is all "holier than thou" because they don't pay for news. Well someone does. They print stories that come from public relations firms almost word for word and those stories are paid for by the movie stars or political candidates involved. They pay unholy amounts to the paprazzi for pictures which accounts for the disgusting scramble of photographers taking "in your face" pictures. Get off your high horse and face reality.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 7:11 PM

This is a huge story! A national politician, married, having an affair with another person while married. I can't remember the last time something like this has come up. Maybe someone can refresh my memory.

Posted by: Scott Weil | August 18, 2008 7:56 PM

You know, the unlucky politicans that commit adultry are the ones that get caught. We know, they ALL do it, just don't become a currently famous face because, THEN, you are going to get caught.
If we were to throw out all the politicans that cheat, there woulg be VERY few left. Let the truth be told!!

Posted by: Besscannon | August 18, 2008 8:26 PM

You know, the unlucky politicans that commit adultry are the ones that get caught. We know, they ALL do it, just don't become a currently famous face because, THEN, you are going to get caught.
If we were to throw out all the politicans that cheat, there woulg be VERY few left. Let the truth be told!!

Posted by: Besscannon | August 18, 2008 8:27 PM

The National Enquirer deserves total credit for the Edwards story. Shame on the W.Post and the NY Times for not digging harder.

Next time the Enquirer breaks a story, I hope you at the mainstream media are paying attention.

Posted by: Sally | August 18, 2008 8:31 PM

Today I'll read the Enquirer for they are more honest and trustworthy than the NY Times and LA Times I used to read before. This is sad we have to get news on line or on Fox and read tabloids to find honorable individuals. But this story was hidden and Clinton might have been the Democratic nominee but for Edwards lies. And, even though I am sorry for Elizabeth Edwards, it is obvious after she spewed a lot of hate in the beginning of John's campaign when she was diagnosed terminal that shortly after her rampage, she said nothing more about anything. The end of 07 or early 08 would be the time she really found out there was a Lisa Druck the drunk druggie or was that Rielle Hunter, her name today. That baby is hers and John's and he's a moron who'll never get rid of this whacko for the rest of his life. Of course it's his baby and by now Elizabeth knows it is after his jaunts to the Beverly HIlls hotel to meet her. They are trash .. all of them. Elizabeth is the only one elevated .. their kids, oh now that is really sad.

Posted by: val | August 18, 2008 8:47 PM

Many many years ago I was a senior in UNC's Journalism School, and I can remember even now what was preached about the John Edwards story, and others just like it.

My teacher in this case was Dean "Skipper" Coffin, who devoted an entire class to that kind of name-smearing story that he'd often seen in his career, but had been loathe to print. Even when he knew it would double his readership overnight.

In his class, he would lay out the rumors of a case like Edward's, and ask one of his class--would you print this? When a hand shot up, and the gullible guy said "sure", Coffin's trap was sprung, and with a grin, he's whoop "Nossiree!!"

Then he would give the class at least ten reasons why that story-built from rumors and gossip , winks and nods, should never see his front page, or any page in his paper.

No facts, he'd yell. No witnesses. No damn proof of anything. Until you have at least two pieces of hard proof, you keep it out of the paper! Always!

Those rules should still apply to every responsible newspaper in the nation. Let the National Enquirer print what it pleases; as always it works just fine for paper-training the dog.

Posted by: Stan Smith | August 18, 2008 9:14 PM

many news outlets had respect for elizabeth edwards and her bout with cancer.many didn't want to be a contributing factor to her health.now that her cancer has re-occured and determined as being incurable the gloves are off and the coverage of edwards isn't too pleasing.he's deemed as an adulterer,liar that cheated on his wife who was bravely fighting cancer.what role did edwards carousing around on his wife contributed to her cancer reoccuring,you can bet the stress she was under after he confessed to her of his cheating played a significant role in her cancer reoccuring.

Posted by: ron | August 18, 2008 9:16 PM

Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Let's drink to the salt of the earth

Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a part for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth

When I search a faceless crowd
A swirling mass of gray and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
In fact, they look so strange

Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let's drink to the uncounted heads
Let's think of the wavering millions
Who need leading but get gamblers instead

Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
Empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of the gray suited grafters
Show us the cancer or polio

And when I look in the faceless crowd
A swirling mass of grays and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
Oh don't they look so strange

Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's think of the lowly of birth
Spare a thought for the rag-taggy people
Let's drink to the salt of the earth

Posted by: Kacoo | August 18, 2008 9:29 PM

"After looking at the tabloid's history and reputation, CBS News reporter, Cobiella asked why other news outlets didn't immediately pounce on the affair story."

It's simple. The other news organizations didn't want to believe it. Not their Golden Boy!

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | August 18, 2008 11:17 PM

"Wondering aloud about the credibility of the tabloid that broke the story, The National Enquirer"?!?

The National Enquirer's credibility is the only that has proved true. It is everyone else's credibility you should be wondering about.

Posted by: Ted S. | August 18, 2008 11:36 PM

this country needs new ideas and edwards was doing that, if this nation wants a priest for president then vote one in.

Posted by: tony sacco | August 19, 2008 9:27 AM

I’ve often heard various folks comment on how wonderfully varied, complex and diverse the English language is, effortlessly welcoming foreign words and phrases ‘into the fold’. The depth of our language is sometimes described as a ‘bottomless reservoir’ of nuance.

I agreed with that sentiment, but no longer, thanks to John Edwards. I’ve been struggling the last two weeks for words to describe exactly how much of a douchebag he really is. And sadly, for the first time I find my native tongue wanting. The adjectives simply aren’t ‘there’ to accurately describe how much of a manipulative, calculating, reprehensible, scumbag, liar, phony, narcissistic, empty-suit, jackass he really is.

See that? My best effort to ‘capture’ the fundamental essence of John Edwards rings completely hollow, like calling the Grand Canyon a ‘really big ravine’. I would otherwise be embarrassed by my linguistic impotence, but I really don’t think it’s my fault. He has simply re-defined the boundaries of douche-baggery, shattering the power of words to define him. It is, in wierd sort of way, a mark of greatness. A legacy, if you will.

Posted by: Snoop-Diggity-DANG-Dawg | August 19, 2008 10:05 AM

Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Let's drink to the salt of the earth

Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a part for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth

When I search a faceless crowd
A swirling mass of gray and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
In fact, they look so strange

Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let's drink to the uncounted head
Let's think of the wavering millions
Who need leading but get gamblers instead

Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
Empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of the gray suited grafters
Show us the cancer or polio

When I look in the faceless crowd
A swirling mass of grays and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
Oh, don't they look so strange?

Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's think of the lowly of birth
Spare a thought for the rag-taggy people
Let's drink to the salt of the earth

Posted by: Kacoo | August 19, 2008 11:20 AM

Well now we're respected in society
We don't worry about the things that we used to be
We're talking heroin with the president
This is the problem, sir, but it can be bent
Uh yes!

Well now you're a pillar of society
You don't worry about the things that you used to be
You're a rag-trade girl, you're the queen of porn
You're the easiest lay on the White House lawn
Get out of my life, don't come back
Get out of my life, don't come back

Posted by: Kacoo | August 19, 2008 11:27 AM

Why does this situation detract from the message Edwards delivered? It's because our society always gravitates toward undermining anything that challenges norms. Edwards might not be the husband we would want for our daughters, but he still honed in on aspects of our society we all need to work to change. He may never achieve elected office, but I hope his message endures. Maybe his job is now to model his own upbringing; family first!

Maybe someone else can assume the mantle of advocate for our nation's poor. It's always refreshing when people are valued above corporations.

Posted by: tuckcast | August 20, 2008 7:50 PM

This is schadenfreude at its best. Perfect hair, perfect smile, perfect blue collar story, imperfect truth why we should vote for him.

How on earth did this bozo expect to make it to the White House with this story waiting to break at any moment??

I won't mention that this lady with the fake name seems to be a disgusting pig but married men go after anything they can.

Ha, ha, this story gets better every time its told. Me thinks that Smiley has but one path to follow: TV Evangelist!!!

He's got it all going for him. The hair, the smile, the Southern accent, the fall from grace, the forgiveness from God, the supportive wife.

We are talking a huge mega-church from North Carolina. Glass, sunlight, palm trees, beautiful cloaks designed in France, stainless steel cross higher than the sky, websites, commercials during the show for CD's, books, autographed photos of John and Rielle and their Love Child.

And money. Lots of money. Money like Jim and Tammy only dreamed of and prayed for.

Follow the path of righteousness and riches. It's God's plan.

It's as good as a license to steal.

Posted by: Bob | August 21, 2008 7:04 PM

this country needs new ideas and edwards was doing that, if this nation wants a priest for president then vote one in.

No priests. We want fewer fornicators in the White House, not more.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2008 7:10 PM

Those who say that it is none of the public's business, both in Edwards' and Clinton's case, are obviously partisan.

While it may be wrong for us to judge from a moral perspective, it is entirely correct, and our duty, to judge it from a political perspective. Any official who acts so recklessly in his personal life will be subject to blackmail. It would be VERY easy for the intelligence organizations of foreign governments to learn of these mens' dalliances. And I shudder to think of the favors, compromises, and deals these men would quickly agree to in order to keep this information from the public.

It IS our business, and I believe that regardless of the party of the offender.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2008 3:55 PM

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