ABC gets John Edwards to admit affair; does this let mainstream media off the hook?
Now that a reputable news organization has gotten John Edwards to admit that yes, he did have an affair with novice filmmaker Rielle Hunter, questions remain for mainstream media outlets, the National Enquirer and for Edwards himself.
ABC News is reporting that Edwards has admitted an affair with Hunter, a filmmaker who met him in New York City two years ago in a bar. She says she pitched him ideas for campaign Web videos; the National Enquirer has reported that she has a child by the former presidential candidate, catching Edwards while he was visiting Hunter at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on July 22. (see their first story here; Hilton story here)
Edwards has admitted being at the Hilton, but denies he is the baby's father based on the date of the child's birth. He also denies paying Hunter any hush money. But the Dallas Morning News has an admission from a Texas lawyer who chaired Edwards' campaign finance committee saying that they did pay to move Hunter from South Carolina to another city.
CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer also reported that Edwards called him today, suggesting that the politician has decided to tell his story to journalists who he trusts. Schieffer said Edwards cited the continual pounding by the tabloids, repeating stories he says are largely untrue, which prompted him to come forward. And Edwards still controls 17 delegates, leaving open the question of how he will deral with them and the Democratic convention.
So the questions which remain are significant:
-- If Edwards' admission is true, the Enquirer only has the story half right. Can journalists prove or disprove his story?
-- Bloggers and some press critics have groused at mainstream news organizations for not picking up the Enquirer's story (wonder if these are the same people who complained when the New York Times ran what some considered a thinly-sourced story about rumors of John McCain having an inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist?) But if Edwards has told the truth, the Enquirer may only have the story half right. Doesn't this prove mainstream news outlets were right to be careful with the story?
-- Edwards isn't a candidate for president anymore and now probably won't even appear at the Democratic National Convention. Is this story worth the exhaustive news coverage the cable channels are giving it now?
-- Since Edwards visited Hunter at the Beverly Hilton when I and about 200 other TV critics were there for the TCA summer press tour, how did we miss him?
-- Why is the only photo of Edward's visit released by the Enquirer so blurry and inconclusive?
-- Did Edwards' surrogates and Democratic officials browbeat mainstream reporters into disregarding the story? And why did Edwards choose to make his revelations to ABC News and Bob Woodruff?
If Edwards thinks releasing this at the start of the Olympics and a weekend will blunt the story, he's in for a serious surprise come Monday morning.