'Newsweek' Correspondent Reflects On Edwards' Death Elizabeth Edwards died Tuesday after a six-year battle with cancer. Newsweek correspondent Jonathan Alter got to know Edwards in 2007, after his own disclosure that he had been treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He interviewed her then and talks with Steve Inskeep about what he learned.
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'Newsweek' Correspondent Reflects On Edwards' Death

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'Newsweek' Correspondent Reflects On Edwards' Death

'Newsweek' Correspondent Reflects On Edwards' Death

'Newsweek' Correspondent Reflects On Edwards' Death

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/131898956/131898964" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Elizabeth Edwards died Tuesday after a six-year battle with cancer. Newsweek correspondent Jonathan Alter got to know Edwards in 2007, after his own disclosure that he had been treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He interviewed her then and talks with Steve Inskeep about what he learned.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "60 MINUTES")

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: We're all going to die. And I pretty much know what I'm going to die of, now. But I do want to live as full and normal a life as I can from this point on.

INSKEEP: Welcome to the program, sir.

JONATHAN ALTER: Thanks very much, Steve.

INSKEEP: When you sat down with Elizabeth Edwards how did the two of you talk about such a personal subject?

ALTER: So we bonded, pretty quickly, even though I wasn't a particular supporter of her husband's campaign. And what struck me in that interview shortly after recurrence, was her brutal honesty, which I think the rest of the world came into contact with in later years.

INSKEEP: What do you mean?

ALTER: And what Elizabeth said on that particular occasion, was that she couldn't see how she could believe in a god who would blow her 16-year-old son off the road and kill him in an auto accident in 1996. And that any god who could do that, was a god that she was not going to be praying to to cure her cancer. Because if he wouldn't save her son, he wasn't going to save her. And that just was reflective of the degree of honesty that she achieved after she had this horrible life experience.

INSKEEP: At the same time, we get a picture of a person who was forced to some degree to set aside unpleasant truths. She supported John Edwards for a time, even after she knew of his affair, for example.

ALTER: She did. And, you know, this was - that was not her finest hour, because what she was doing was putting all the people who supported John Edwards and worked for him tirelessly, at real risk. Because, you know, if he had been nominated and then this scandal had been exposed, it probably would've brought the Democratic Party down in 2008 and it would've betrayed all of their hard work. So...

INSKEEP: Mr. Alter, let me just ask you - we've just got a few seconds left - how do you think that Elizabeth Edwards will be remembered?

ALTER: I think she'll be remembered as somebody who had a tremendous resilience and fortitude and ability to, instead of just going and kind of curling up after these terrible life experiences, that she tried to fight back and to give some confidence and inspiration to other people who've had life experiences that are painful, whether it's cancer, or the loss of a child or betrayal.

INSKEEP: Mr. Alter, thanks very much.

ALTER: Thank you.

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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