Monday, July 28, 2008

Raleigh N&O’s Edwards-Hunter news blackout

Let’s look at the last portion of Sunday’s Times of London story – “Sleaze scuppers Democrat golden boy.”

It has information I want to use to highlight the news blackout former Sen. John Edwards’ hometown newspaper, the McClatchy Company’s Raleigh News & Observer, has imposed on the story of Edwards’ affair with filmmaker Rielle Hunter, including the latest, extensively documented developments reported July 22 by the National Enquirer.

The N&O’s news blackout and that of other news organizations is harmful to America because without full disclosure of what’s happened and an explanation from Edwards, we’re in no position to judge what sort of person he really is, and he’s in a position where he’s subject to blackmail.

Even if we allow that the N&O and Democratic news organizations will do what they can to manipulate the news to help their party, shouldn’t we demand disclosure and explanation in this case so a man considered to Sen. Obama’s possible vice-presidential running-mate or attorney general if an Obama administration is no longer in a situation where he’s subject to blackmail?

The Times’ text is in italics; my comments are in plain.

Hunter’s existence was first mentioned by Newsweek in 2006, when the magazine claimed that the little-known film-maker had been commissioned by the millionaire candidate to make behind-the-scenes web videos of his presidential campaign after they “met in a New York bar”.

Hunter, a former aspiring actress, was paid $114,000 (£57,000) for her work. Months later, a writer on The Huffington Post website wondered what had happened to the videos, which had vanished from Edwards’s campaign site. The headline read, “Edwards mystery: innocuous videos suddenly shrouded in secrecy”.

A search of the Raleigh News & Observer’s archives for the period Jan. 1, 2004 to Jul. 28, 2008 using the search term “Rielle Hunter” returned only one article.

The article’s headlined – "Web clips show hip Edwards" – and has a publication date of Dec. 27, 2006. Under the byline of Rod Christensen, the N&O’s Edwards-friendly political reporter, it includes the following:

…Last week, Edwards began posting scenes from the campaign trail on his One America Committee Web site and on YouTube.

The camera catches him on planes and in cars, in jeans, and tucking in his shirt as he heads to a teachers' conference in Iowa and a union-sponsored anti-Wal-Mart rally in Pittsburgh.

"I've come to the conclusion I just want the country to see who I really am -- not based on some plastic Ken Doll you put up in front of audiences."

The "Webisodes" are the idea of Rielle Hunter, a New York filmmaker. ...
With only one article returned for “Rielle Hunter,” I searched for the same period using first the entry “Huffington Post” and then in a separate search the entry “Webisodes.”

The “Huffington Post” entry returned 7 articles, none of which concerned Edwards, Hunter or the “Webisodes.” There were 4 articles that mentioned “Webisodes:” the one I’ve already cited and 3 that made no mention of Edwards, Hunter or the “Webisodes.”

So it’s fair to conclude that while Edwards-friendly Christensen and the N&O reported the “Webisodes” put-ups on Edwards' One America Committee Web site and on YouTube, they decided on a blackout of any mention of their subsequently "vanishing."

As the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination gathered pace in October last year, the Enquirer claimed that Hunter was the candidate’s mistress. “It’s completely untrue. Ridiculous,” Edwards said. “I’ve been in love with the same woman for 30 years.” Two months later the magazine revealed that Hunter, a 43-year-old divorcee, was six months pregnant.

Since the N&O’s mentioned Reille Hunter only once since Jan. 1, 2004 as cited above, it obviously decided to suppress the news of Edwards’ denial.

I’m a regular reader of the N&O as are a number of friends. None of us can recall the N&O ever reporting on the Edwards-Hunter affair.

If any of you know an instance where it did, please let me know and I’ll correct and update.

I also plan to ask the N&O's managing editor and public editor if they know of any Edwards-Hunter coverage by the N&O other than the "Web clips show hip Edwards" article.

The story took a bizarre turn when she claimed that Andrew Young, a long-time aide to Edwards and a married family man, was the father of her child. Young’s lawyer acknowledged his paternity.

Hunter moved from New York to the same gated community in North Carolina as Young and his wife and young children, raising speculation that he was really her minder. Young has not commented on the latest allegations.

The gated community the Times mentions is The Governors Club located a few miles from Edwards’ Chapel Hill home and the N&O’s Chapel Hill office.

The National Enquirer may publish photographs corroborating Edwards’s presence at the hotel this weekend.

It hasn’t so far. But I feel certain it has photographs; and I’m almost as certain the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s security cameras caught some of what the Enquirer reported.

A reporter for The Washington Post said yesterday: “To be quite honest, we’re waiting to see the pictures. That said, Edwards is no longer an elected official and he is not running for office now. Don’t expect wall-to-wall coverage.”
(emphasis added)

The WaPo reporter, if quoted correctly, isn’t being “quite honest.” The July 22 is extremely well-documented with many witnesses named, etc. It can easily be verified or refuted in part or in whole. (See NE's Edwards-Hunter tryst story's verifiable )

It’s an extremely important story the WaPo should be following up on and reporting just the way it would if Edwards was a prominent Republican.

Roger Altman, who has a controlling stake in the National Enquirer, is a former official in Bill Clinton’s administration. Some wags believe the magazine poured resources into the love child story to scupper John Edwards’s chances of beating Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination.

Were the latest revelations timed to finish him off as a potential running mate? Despite the rumours, it is not likely. Few people think Clinton is still on Barack Obama’s shortlist.

I’ll pass on this part of the Times' story.

David Perel, the Enquirer’s editor-in-chief, said the magazine’s parent company had “nothing to do with the editorial side, which I run”.

“We stayed on the story,” he said. “We did it the old-fashioned way with lots of legwork. We did what the [big] news organisations used to do. We knocked on doors, ran down leads and talked to people.”

Meanwhile, the Raleigh News & Observer maintains its news blackout for John Edwards.

Yet its editors get upset when readers refer to the N&O as “Edwards’ back pocket newspaper.”

I'll repeat a prediction I made last week when the NE story first broke: The N&O won't report on the story until it knows its going to break through "the wall of silence" it and almost all of MSM has thrown up to protect Democrat Edwards.


Anonymous said...

"Golden Boy" is now "Smoldering Boy" -- as in -- "Toast".

reunionpi said...

Rielle Hunter of the John Edwards story: The $9,644 judgment and the attorney ex