The Enquirer And Edwards

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

You probably know the stock in trade of the National Enquirer — alien babies born to all-American families, Bigfoot sightings, celebrities' cellulite and botched plastic surgeries — supermarket checkout line perusing par excellence. I know I usually assume the stories are fakes, and it'd be hard to blame you if you do too. This time, however, the Enquirer bested us all when John Edwards, subject of months of Enquirer coverage for his (then-alleged) extramarital affair, came clean in the mainstream media. Oops.

While I'm not sure this means I should book tickets to Wyoming, to catch a glimpse of a Yeti striding through Yellowstone, it does poke some holes in the supposed supremacy of ye olde MSM.

Some say we ignored the story, others say we covered it up. Insiders cite a litany of reasons the Enquirer story stayed an Enquirer story for so long. Today, the debate hits our air. We've got our media guy, David Folkenflik, plus representatives from the Enquirer, the North Carolina News & Observer, and ABC News. So get ready for answers to all your questions.

Comments

 

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I'd like to hear a reason why the media has failed to recap the McCain affair in the interests of bi-partisanship.

Sent by Charlene | 3:10 PM | 8-13-2008

The National Enquirer happened to get this one right, but that still does not make them a credible news source. The mainstream media has also not followed up on stories about Bigfoot having Elvis's love child.

What's sad is that so many people pay attention to AM talk radio, Fox News and The Washington Times that the National Enquirer is not that much different.

Sent by Mike in Ok | 3:13 PM | 8-13-2008

So the National Enquirer was finally correct about 1 story. Every week in the grocery check-out lane, we have seen various outrageous stories about all of the primary candidates. I do not expect the real media to report such a story unless there is some fact checking first. I do not fault the mainsteam media for confirming the story before airing it.

Sent by Paula Edersheim | 3:15 PM | 8-13-2008

Neal,
I believe that a public figure's private life should stay private until he/she makes his/her private business public. They have no moral obligation to disclose any information or answer questions about their private life if they choose not to. However the moment their private life detrimentally affects their public service it is then newsworthy. In this situation, she opened her mouth about the affair and now the cat is out of the bag. Now he has to deal with the bed he made, so to speak.

Sent by Belen in San Antonio Texas | 3:16 PM | 8-13-2008

The fact that the rumors were true and Edwards lied does not make it any the less "tabloid trash". When the press and voters start paying attention to what a man can do for the country, aka issues, and not what he/she does in his personal then, then maybe America will get the quality of leadership it claims it wants.

Sent by Robert Marcuson | 3:16 PM | 8-13-2008

Stories of this kind should be reported by "yellow press", namely National Enquirer. The mainstream media should report on serious matter, that have nothing do with people's personal lives.

Sent by Eduard Hairullin | 3:17 PM | 8-13-2008

I am tired of hearing about other people's sex life. Report on it if you must, but let the story go after a day!It only hurts the families,
it does not affect us ordinary Americans. Would you please focus more on why food prices continue to rise, while gas prices fall? This is something we Americans care about.
Thank you

Sent by Sari Nichols | 3:20 PM | 8-13-2008

I have to agree with the previous caller that many more important issues face us than a politician's personal infatuations. It is also rather hypocritical being that sizable numbers of "ordinary" people engage in extra-marital affairs.

Sent by Joan | 3:23 PM | 8-13-2008

No, they should not have convered it sooner!! You are asking the worng question! Why doe the media insist on pandering to our purient interests? There are much more serious stories to consider, such as war, poverty and corruption in politics.
I though it was to the credit of the media that it was NOT blown all over the front pages; I hate to think that is was due to a lack of competence.
Why are we so quick to judge others when we have no idea of the circumstances of the person's actual life? Of course Edwards would lie to the media about having an affair! Who would want discuss personal details in a such a forum? ANd why do we even ask? I have never believed that having a single affair is the mark of an immoral or "sinful" person. It is however, the mark of a human being who like us all is less than perfect.

Sent by Kay Drew | 3:25 PM | 8-13-2008

John Edwards is not democratic candidate, yet this is being covered much more fervently than is John McCain's confirmed affairs in the early 80s while he was still married to his first wife. Why? I know it is not "new"s, but it is certainly worth comparing with the John Edwards. Why is it so hush hush?

Sent by Roger Priest | 3:26 PM | 8-13-2008

I'm torn between not wanting to know (as in the Kennedy years) to wanting know everything about a candidate's character. I agree the story should have been validated and released sooner. But I am more puzzled by the lack of media interest in the affairs of John McCain who pursued a very wealthy younger lady while still married to his first wife. What's the deal?

Sent by Linnea Ensminger | 3:29 PM | 8-13-2008

Unbelievable that people are still obsessing over the "sanctity" of marriage, the "crime" of adultery, the "immorality" of sex. It's incredible. Here we are bombing, shooting, and killing people in other countries every single hour, and that's moral and good. Such amazing hypocrisy. But of course, hypocrisy is the main defining characteristic of Christians, and they say American is a Christian nation , so I guess it all makes sense. GROW UP, LOSERS!

Sent by Bela Dornon | 3:29 PM | 8-13-2008

The media bias is for McCain, he is being protected. Edwards and McCain are both adulterers. Like Edwards, McCain committed adultery while his wife was in the hospital fighting for her life. McCain's wife waited for him for 7 years while he was a war prisoner in Vietnam. McCain divorced her. McCain married Cindy who was rich and young enough to be his daughter. If you care about this behavior from your president shouldn't vote for Edwards or McCain. Edwards and McCain are the same in terms of their lack of personal morality while saying that they are a superior choice to Obama on family issues. Be an informed voter! Research the media claims and claims above.

Sent by Graham Poor | 3:29 PM | 8-13-2008

Why do we feel the need to dig into the personal lives of political candidates. Does an affair really have any bearing on a person's ability to govern?

Sent by Izzy | 3:32 PM | 8-13-2008

You people as usual miss the more fundamental question. The press fails us again. Why did they not do a more thorough job on the Iraq WMDs? A more important issue than a man's personal sexual behavior.

Sent by Mel | 3:34 PM | 8-13-2008

How stupid is the woman who went along with this to think she wouldn't be discovered

Sent by Bev Beam | 3:35 PM | 8-13-2008

John Edwards lied and violated the trust of his spouse, his staff, and his supporters. However, he is no longer a candidate. This is no longer news. Drop it and move on to important issues like the war, the economy, and the election. If you want to discuss the morality of a presidential candidate, let's start with John McCain's sordid past!

Sent by Deb | 3:38 PM | 8-13-2008

WHO GIVES A CRAP! Really, NPR I can't believe I'm hearing a debate on the air about a GD sweat stain under John Edwards' arm. The real issue here is the huge risk the Edwards' were taking by thinking they could keep it quiet; most Americans would have turned on them if they'd made it to the convention and it would have been smooth sailing for John McCain despite his own past infidelities. I can't believe Americans are still obsessed with this kind of garbage. Who cares. It's embarrassing. As far as I can tell, this is a personal matter between John and Elizabeth Edwards and their family.
Please, media, try investigating REAL issues that are relevant to the public.

Sent by Sandra Raymond | 3:39 PM | 8-13-2008

The fact that the rumors were true and Edwards lied does not make it any the less "tabloid trash". When the press and voters start paying attention to what a man can do for the country, aka issues, and not what he/she does in his personal life, then maybe America will get the quality of leadership it claims it wants.

Sent by Robert Marcuson | 3:39 PM | 8-13-2008

Some have criticized the amount of time the media has spent on this story. I am not one of those people. It is my belief, that when a politician breaks his/her marriage commitment it says something about his/her integrity. If a politician cannot keep the most important of promises, how can I, or anyone else trust the promises made to the public? This story is not about sex, it's about cheating, lies, and cover ups.

Sent by Sarah | 3:50 PM | 8-13-2008

Wow! A twenty minute attack on John Edwards without a single mention that John McCain had cheated on his former wife with his current wife. Now that's journalistic integrity. NOT!!

Sent by John P. | 3:52 PM | 8-13-2008

The issue of John Edwards is not sex or that he lied even. It is that he is a poor decision maker. He was willing to risk EVERYTHING for a sexual liaison. What does that say about his ability to make important decisions? I think it speaks volumes.

Sent by Thomas Schaber | 3:52 PM | 8-13-2008

What about McCain? He did the same thing before he married Cindy?
Talk about "The Media" protecting a candidate.

Only a foreign paper dares to report on McCain.
How does his divorce fit this claim of continual sacrifice and self service?

An article was published about his divorce with an interview with his x-wife, Carol.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/articl e-1024927/The-wife-John-McCain-callously -left-behind.html
Why don't you mention McCain is known to have done the same thing with a wife in the hospital the parallels are striking.
Why isn't McCain's history fair game too?

Sent by Graham Poor | 4:29 PM | 8-13-2008

I would like to voice my concern about the news media taking a story like the one about John Edwards and putting it all over the news.

I feel that we have enough news without doing it about sex. I would also like to ask the reporter or even NPR if they have every had an affair? One last thing and that's if the person in office or running for office has a baby out of wedlock or sex with someone other than the person they are married to, it's between them and not the public.
Remember, the people we put in office is only human and we all make mistakes.

Sent by John W. Smith | 4:46 PM | 8-13-2008

I'm an academic, an Ivy League Ph.D. who,* as a consumer of MSM (NYT, NPR, WaPo), always scoffed at the outlandish headlines of the "National Enquirer" and felt smug about myself while I stood impassively in the grocery store check out lines. But the NE's Edwards story underscores the point that the facts, not the relative status of the media outlet which initiated the inquiry, need to be considered and followed to their best journalistic conclusions. That being said, I'm still waiting for the MSM (attention: David Folkenflik, I'm talking to you!) to stop pushing below the rug another of NE's bombshells, now supposedly 3 years in the running: that Pres. Bush seems to have "fallen off the wagon." Look at these photos where Bush appears to be drunk at the Olympic Games and ask yourself: Why has no respectable, mainstream journalist at least posed questions about whether there might be a connection between Bush's fresh arm injury, his need for several Secret Service agents to assist him to stand (as onlookers reach out in apparent concern), his daughter's obvious embarrassment at her dad's over-the-top goofy behavior and faces, his exaggerated gestures and statements, and the over-consumption of alcohol?
http://gawker.com/5035885/bush-looking-drunk-at-the-olympics, http://wonkette.com/401833/was-bush-falling-down-drunk-at-olympics
Or, to borrow the parlance of self-help groups, is the MSM (and by extention, the public) "in denial," and would we prefer to continue to "enable" an apparent drunk? This isn't some puritanical story about the private sex life of a public figure, but rather, potentially a story about compromised national leadership.

My question is: Are MSM journalists so afraid of losing access to a political figure such as Edwards or Bush, that they don't even bother to pose questions?

Sent by Jalane Schmidt | 5:20 PM | 8-13-2008

As a woman who wanted badly for there to be a Hillary Clinton/John Edwards ticket this year, I am disgraced at this sinister news of the John Edwards I never thought I'd know. What does he think he is? He has a wife struggling to live and make a life for him and his children, and for what thanks. My heart goes out for Elizabeth and the children. They all deserve better.
As for John, I think his political aspirations are of little value now. As a senator, he may well be done, anyway I would not vote for him and I have been a registered Democrat for years. He needs to step up to the home plate and take care of his wife, and children and the newest child if it is his. We have had far to many hurtful affairs. Leaders need to be leaders in all areas of their lives in order to find followers!!
I just don't find any of this acceptable. I am 61 years old and frankly very sick of this behavior.

Sent by Mary Miller | 6:08 PM | 8-13-2008

I'd like to know why there's been no coverage on McCain's military record.
Basically pilots don't get promoted after crashing 5 planes. I know there's a code of silence in the military but I have to assume that he got as far as he did in the military only because of his father. So far I haven't seen any coverage. Basically it seems that the military said 'no' you can't have it and the media rolled over and played dead.

Sent by Allie | 7:11 PM | 8-13-2008

It is rare that I walk away from the radio. By the end of today's program on Edwards I had stewed enough.

A caller phones in to state she didn't particularly care for what Edwards had done, but she thought his infidelity was not a matter of such concern by the media. He's not running; he's not elected; he doesn't have the purse strings or the buttons of our lives....move on.

I pretty much agree. I would just use more profanity to articulate it.

Well, the guest sanctimoniously suggest that outrage is for the hypocrisy and the time is to unveil the deception....

I know about the timing and the baby... but Iraq is Dick Chaney's baby; and if you look at the timing there are other fathers too.

The baby is our future on this planet, sure there is lip service for paternity, but no one is taking responsibility and stepping up to the plate.

Those are the important issues.

Edwards doesn't meet that standard. He's sideshow.

Appearently we were blindsided by the recent Russian invasion of Georgia.

The President had looked into Putin's soul, and just shock his hand in Beijing.

The Secretary of State, fluent in Russian and an expert on the ol' Soviet Union, and didn't see this coming.

I understand that money was being transfered without, or without knowledge depending on who's telling the story.

Apparently it's billions and billions of over the last 7 years....look deeper and, I bet, it goes on long before that.

...but no, we got to put up with scintillating crap 24/7, with the MSM berated for not digging deeper sooner, faster, harder...and now this is the Talk of the Nation.

I've had enough.....

Sent by Horace Brownbag | 11:52 PM | 8-13-2008

It's come to this: NPR is inviting a National Inquirier editor to discuss a sex scandal among the politicos. I don't give a damn about their sex life unless they're breaking the law. I also don't want to hear about John McCain's affair back in the day. Come on, NPR...rise above this stuff and give us some hard news.

Sent by JKB | 9:58 AM | 8-14-2008

I've been following the sordid coverage of the sordid affair. John Edwards, the next Prince of D.C. disgraced himself and plummetted the confidence of Americans even further down in the dumper. Just found a song on MySpace called SHOW THE WORLD JOHNNY that says it all; and with a beat you can dance to! If interested, checkout www.myspace.com/tommywigginsmusic It's the first song. Fab. At least it brought a smile after all the nightly news that hasn't.
Rock on....Janet

Sent by Janet Macoska | 2:58 PM | 8-14-2008

Not this show, but I had to laugh when I heard Helen Thomas say she was looking for at least one other liberal in the news business. Hahahahahahahaha....

Sent by John George | 4:59 PM | 8-18-2008

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