Accuracy in Media

ABC News “chief investigative correspondent” Brian Ross has been reporting on John Edwards’ adultery, but seven months ago Ross was telling the American people that the story of Edwards’ cheating was a campaign “dirty trick” by sinister and unknown forces.  

By including it in a January ABC story on political “dirty tricks,” Ross was saying that he believed Edwards had been unfairly targeted and accused. Ross, who is well-respected in the business and has broken some important stories, has egg all over his face on this one.

The Brian Ross story about the Edwards allegations being a political “dirty trick” may help explain why so many reporters in the mainstream media shied away from it. After all, if Brian Ross wasn’t going to take it seriously, why should they?

Edwards, who endorsed Barack Obama for president after dropping out of the race, covered up the affair for two years, even while appearing as a family man on the campaign trail. This reflected confidence on his part that the affair could be concealed with the help of the major media. The National Enquirer, which broke the story last year, cornered Edwards at a hotel in July before a secret meeting with his mistress. It then published a “spy photo” of him holding his alleged “love child.” This forced Edwards to admit at least some of the truth.

With Edwards now admitting the affair, reporters and commentators in the mainstream media are acknowledging that they were deceived and blew it. But why is it that they always seem to miss big scandals involving Democrats? In this context, why haven’t they yet reported on the relationship that Obama had with a Communist Party USA (CPUSA) member by the name of Frank Marshall Davis, a subject of an FBI investigation and several official inquiries into Soviet-sponsored activities in the U.S.? Davis was so deeply involved in the CPUSA that he recruited members for the Moscow-funded and controlled party and had personal connections to other top party members such as Harry Bridges and Paul Robeson.

The John Edwards affair is a chilling reminder that Democratic cover-ups can succeed, with the help of the media, and that even the most sophisticated “investigative” reporters are prepared to overlook potential Democratic scandals. Edwards is out of the race, but Obama is running ahead in most polls for the highest office in the land and seems confident that the media will not blow the whistle on his Marxist associate.  

Obama’s Cover-up

The implication of the Edwards scandal is that, if ABC News’s top investigative reporter could take Edwards’ side, without any serious checking of the facts, then other candidates may be concealing scandals and hoping and planning to get away with it. That is certainly the case with Obama, who is far more of a media favorite than Edwards ever was and has, with the help of the influential Associated Press (AP), carefully concealed his relationship with an identified CPUSA member.

Obama’s communist connection, which he failed to disclose in his 1995 book, Dreams From My Father, by referring to Davis only as “Frank” and ignoring his communist affiliation, is a far more serious scandal than an Edwards “love child.”

As I commented to Michael Savage on the Savage Nation radio program last week, this is the key to understanding Obama because Davis’s influence over him during his high-school years in Hawaii helps explain why he would later associate with terrorists, communists and socialists.

Controversy over the Obama-Davis relationship is growing, at least in the conservative-oriented media. Rush Limbaugh, who last Thursday commented on our exposure of the dishonest Associated Press story about Davis, put a link to the AIM column on this matter on his website.

Also heavily drawing on our material, Investor’s Business Daily published an August 5 editorial, “Young Obama’s Red Mentor.” The paper noted that the “cryptic references” in Obama’s book to this communist mentor “were―and still are―designed to protect Obama’s background from the scrutiny it deserves.”

This is a point that AIM has been making since February, when we broke open the story by confirming the identity of Davis with two different sources and following up with an AIM Report entitled, “Is Barack Obama a Marxist Mole?” It was New Zealand blogger Trevor Loudon who had originally discovered a communist source of information on the Obama-Davis relationship.

Two recently published books, The Obama Nation by Jerome Corsi and The Case Against Barack Obama by David Freddoso, also include information about the Frank Marshall Davis story. But only Corsi, an experienced investigative reporter for WorldNetDaily, gives us the proper credit for uncovering this scandal. I provided material to both authors in order to get the truth out.

If the major media do not follow-up, perhaps the Enquirer ought to do so. At least this would give the Frank Marshall Davis story some needed national attention. But any such story from the Enquirer might be dismissed, as were the Edwards allegations, as coming from a supermarket tabloid and being, therefore, inherently unreliable and unbelievable.

But, in the wake of the Edwards’ admissions, the Enquirer has proven itself, once again, to be both reliable and believable. Indeed, it looks like ABC may want to replace Brian Ross with someone from the National Enquirer, which broke the Edwards story last October and published a follow-up story on December 12, 2007. This demonstrates how long the rest of the media were twiddling their thumbs. It looks like they didn’t want to know if the story was true.

No Dirty Trick Here

At AIM, we didn’t dismiss the charges against Edwards. Roger Aronoff and I noted in a January 7 column that while Edwards had denied the Enquirer story, this didn’t mean that the allegations were untrue.

Our column criticized Brian Ross’s ABC 20/20 story insisting that this was shaping up as possibly the dirtiest presidential campaign in history, and that one of the dirty campaign tricks was the National Enquirer account of Edwards allegedly fathering a “love child” out of wedlock.

“Grocery store check-out lines,” Ross said, showing the supermarket tabloids. “There have been National Enquirer headlines claiming a love-child scandal involved Senator John Edwards or a member of his staff, forcing Edwards to issue a strong public denial.” Ross showed Edwards saying, “The story is false, it’s completely untrue, ridiculous.” It is clear that Ross believed the denials coming from Edwards, his staff and other Democrats.

Now who looks ridiculous? In addition to Edwards and his lackeys, the list includes Brian Ross and all of the other reporters in the liberal media who took Edwards at his word.

Right Again

In contrast to Ross’s eagerness to believe Edwards, our column noted, “Despite its reputation as a supermarket tabloid, the National Enquirer is the paper that broke the story, which was confirmed, of Jesse Jackson having an illegitimate child. Hence, the paper’s exclusives cannot be dismissed out of hand.”

This is the approach that Brian Ross and the rest of the media should have taken. They should have admitted that they had missed a big story that the Enquirer had broken, and that the Edwards story deserved follow-up. Fortunately, the Enquirer persisted in covering this scandal in the face of the abject failure of the rest of the media to do their jobs. 

The lesson, which is learned and relearned every election cycle, is that the major media are easily manipulated by Democratic Party politicians.

The “love child” story clearly did not belong in a report on alleged “dirty tricks” because it was not known at the time whether it was true or not and where the story had come from. It may have come from associates of Edwards’ mistress, who wanted public accountability and truth from Edwards and were astounded by the media’s eagerness to believe Edwards’ lies.

By refusing to investigate the story immediately and thoroughly, the major media were covering up for an adulterer and a liar, who happened to be a major Democratic presidential candidate and could have become the Democratic presidential nominee.

Media Failure

Consider the magnitude of the deception. Ross was quick to accept Edwards’ denial. But what had Ross done at that point to investigate the charges? It looks like nothing at all. He had simply assumed it was false. He had taken the Democrat’s word. This is what is called media bias. But it benefits all of the major Democratic candidates, including and especially Obama.

The labeling of the “love child” story as a dirty trick was provided in the context of Ross acknowledging that he had been used by the Republicans in 2004 to publicize documentary evidence that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had given back some of his Vietnam War service medals, despite Kerry’s previous denials. Why was it a “dirty trick” to provide this truthful information? All that Ross could come with was that the Republicans didn’t want their role in providing the information to be publicly acknowledged. But the story was true and exposed Kerry as a liar. Ross should have been able to dig up the information on his own. Perhaps he had no interest in doing so. 

The media, as we all should know by now, have a well-documented political bias, and it shows through in Ross’s amateurish handling of the allegations against Edwards. Simply put, he was a tool of the smooth-talking Edwards, who made a fortune by manipulating juries as a trial lawyer. However, Obama is a far better talker than Edwards. That helps explain why he is preparing to accept the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. 

Now the Truth

Yet, Brian Ross just keeps reporting the Edwards story as if his credibility has not suffered a lick. On Friday, August 8, Ross was on ABC World News Tonight reporting on Edwards’ admission of infidelity and his interview with Bob Woodruff of Nightline about his deception. It would have been appropriate at that point for Ross to have apologized for his ABC News report which claimed the Enquirer story about Edwards was a dirty trick. But no apology was forthcoming.

Edwards “repeatedly lied” about the affair, Ross and his colleagues are now reporting. Yes, but seven months ago these lies were called a “strong public denial” in the face of sensational allegations from a questionable supermarket tabloid. 

It looks like the Enquirer has a better “nose for news” than “investigative” journalist Ross, who labeled the Edwards adultery story a political dirty trick.

“Edwards contacted ABC News and requested that he be interviewed about the allegations,” Ross reported about the Woodruff interview on Nightline. It is not clear why this is the case. Perhaps ABC News had belatedly been digging into the story, after realizing that they had been deceived. There was an item to this effect in the New York Observer. Or perhaps Edwards figured that because Ross had taken his side of the dispute in the past, ABC News would give him a fair shake in the interview.

While Edwards admitted the adultery, Woodruff’s interview failed to pin him down on the issue of whether the “love child” was his, and whether the Enquirer had published an authentic picture of him holding the kid. 

“I don’t know if that picture is me,” Edwards said, referring to the somewhat fuzzy photo in the publication. “It could well be. It looks like me. I don’t know who that baby is. I have no idea what that picture is.” Edwards claimed the photo may have been manufactured or altered or it could have been of him holding some other baby.

Is there any reason to believe anything Edwards says at this point? 

More Lies?

Edwards told ABC that he knew the child was not his because of “the timing” of the pregnancy and the affair. And he claims that he didn’t know that a campaign aide was paying his mistress to live with her child in a mansion.

Edwards’ 2008 national finance chairman Fred Baron has acknowledged providing “assistance” to the mistress, Rielle Hunter, and others. But if it’s not Edwards’ kid, then why is Baron paying for these other unnamed “individuals?”

The Dallas Morning News reports that Baron, who is based in Dallas, is now raising money for Barack Obama.

Brian Ross should get to the bottom of all of this. But he should first apologize for putting his trust in Edwards. 

In addition to clearing up the Edwards mess, Ross should subject Obama to the scrutiny he deserves and bring the Frank Marshall Davis connection to national attention. Otherwise, his title of “chief investigative correspondent” will become nothing more than a joke. 


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