Accuracy in Media

The admission by John Edwards that he had an affair with a campaign worker has left the liberal media scrambling to remove the egg from its collective faces.  The New York Times public editor chimed in with his defense on Sunday.

THE John Edwards “love child” story finally hit the national news media and made the front page of yesterday’s Times. For weeks, Jay Leno joked about it, the Internet was abuzz, and readers wondered why The Times and most of the mainstream media seemed to be studiously ignoring a story of sex and betrayal involving a former Democratic presidential candidate who remains prominent on the political stage.

They could ignore it no longer when Edwards, who had been running away from reporters for weeks, sat down with ABC News and admitted he had an extra-marital affair and lied repeatedly about it. He denied he fathered Rielle Hunter’s 5-month-old daughter, as the National Enquirer reported in December before the baby was born.

Before Edwards’s admission, The Times never made a serious effort to investigate the story, even as the Enquirer wrote one sensational report after another: a 2:40 a.m. ambush by the tabloid’s reporters at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles after Edwards spent hours in a room with Hunter and her baby; an allegation of $15,000 a month in “hush money;” a grainy “spy photo” of him with a baby.

I do not think liberal bias had anything to do with it. But I think The Times — like The Washington Post, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, major networks and wire services — was far too squeamish about tackling the story. The Times did not want to regurgitate the Enquirer’s reporting without verifying it, which is responsible. But The Times did not try to verify it, beyond a few perfunctory efforts, which I think was wrong. Until the ABC report, only one mainstream news organization, McClatchy newspapers, seemed to be making headway with the story.

Note the condescending attitude of Hoyt by equating the Enquirer with the gutter.  While I am no fan of the Enquirer,  as Howard Kurtz writes today in the Washington Post;

Those who blithely dismiss a brash supermarket tabloid — what New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller called the “hold-your-nose quality about the Enquirer” — had better check the record. The Enquirer’s reporting of the O.J. Simpson extravaganza of the ’90s was good enough to be cited by the Times itself. In 2001, the tabloid reported both that Hillary Clinton’s brother had been paid $400,000 to secure a presidential pardon for a convicted businessman, and that Jesse Jackson had fathered an out-of-wedlock child. In 2003, Rush Limbaugh acknowledged an addiction to painkillers after the Enquirer reported that Florida authorities were looking into his drug use.

I don’t think the media was really holding back for Edwards sake, but to protect Obama from being tainted by a man whose endorsement he so desperately sought and won.  Rather than condemn Edwards for lying about his affair Obama has called for time to let the family heal.  Yet Edwards has said that he told his wife about the affair in 2006.  How much more time does the family need?

So was there liberal media bias?  You betcha!


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