Thursday, July 24, 2008

Did Edwards' VP chances take tabloid hit?

As the handicapping of vice presidential candidates continues, Democrat John Edwards has kept alive speculation that he’s in the running.

“I'm not seeking the job,” he told reporters in Denver this week. “But anything Senator Obama would ask me to do in his campaign or presidency I would consider seriously.”

But has a tabloid newspaper sunk any chances he had?

For two days, reactions to a story posted this week by the National Enquirer have spilled into the blogosphere and at least one network TV show.

The Enquirer, which months ago alleged an affair by former N.C. senator, this week said its reporters caught him having a rendezvous with the woman, Rielle Hunter, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.

The paper said Hunter had two rooms at the hotel Monday night. It said a team of reporters watched Edwards go into the hotel at 9:45 p.m. and then ambushed him on his way out at 2:40 a.m. when, it said, he ducked into a bathroom.

The paper published no photos or no eyewitness accounts beyond those of its reporters. A hotel spokeswoman declined to talk about the alleged incident Thursday, citing a “non-disclosure policy.”

Asked about the allegations in Houston Wednesday, Edwards said, “ “That's tabloid trash. They’re full of lies. I’m here to talk about helping people.”

But the political damage may have been done.

“Many a vice presidential candidate has been doomed by rumors, ones that have both been true and untrue,” Chuck Todd, NBC’s political director, told the Observer. “The Obama camp loves to call him ‘No Drama Obama.’ He’s not picking somebody that provides drama, no matter how true or untrue the allegations.”

Or, as an Opinion blog on the L.A. Times web site said Wednesday, “Barack Obama's VP shortlist might have gotten shorter.”

Don Fowler of Columbia, a former Democratic National Chairman, agreed.

"Any kind of report like this, unless there is some absolute proof that it is not true, will be believed by some people," he said, "and the degree to which it seems to have credibility will be believed by more people. And when you select somebody to be vice presidential candidate the number one rule of everything is, you sure as hell don't want somebody who will hurt you."

The Enquirer story was mentioned Wednesday night on CNN’s Glenn Beck show. But for the most part, the mainstream media has ignored it. Bloggers have taken note.

Slate’s Jack Shafer called it a double standard, and contrasted it with press coverage of Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who was arrested arrested at an airport last year “for playing footsies in a toilet stall.”

To Enquirer editor David Perel, the blogosphere is closer to the mainstream than traditional media.

“‘Mainstream’ media is a misnomer, the amount of attention the story is getting online is huge,” he told me Thursday. “Basically, new media is leading the way on this, and that’s going to continue to happen.”

I asked Perel about photos or eyewitness accounts. He wouldn’t talk about that.

“Well, stay tuned, that’s all I can say,” he said. “Everything’s done incrementally. So I’m not going to tell you exactly what our process is. Perhaps my time frame is different than your time frame. I’m not worried about the rest of the media. I’m worried about us.”

Perel called it “an extremely difficult story to work.
“We wanted to continue with it until we found a smoking gun. I basically wanted to catch him in the act and that’s what we did. Got day and date, time and place.”

Fowler suggested the story could hurt Edwards more than other politicians.

"If you had this rumor about Bill Clinton it probably wouldn't cause a ripple," he said. "But given John Edwards and his public relationship with his wife, something close to a model of the perfect family and their perfect relationship, it would hurt that much more."

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

shocking, no way the plastic laywer/Sen from NC would cheat on his sick wife, and have a love child. Phony as his haircut. wonder if UNC Policy Center on Poverty picked up the room tab for the Beverly Hills Hotel?

Anonymous said...

I want to know when this will be picked up as a story - not just a blog entry - by the main stream media. No mention in the LA papers, NY Times, NY Post, DC rags, nothing. What a double standard this is.

Anonymous said...

Did it take a hit? Nah, hack jouranlists and MSM will just keep ignoring the story. Wasn't this same man of the people just a while back parading his cancer stricken wife around on the campaign trail in order to boost his chances for a Presidential run. Such courage. Liberals be Liberals. Clinton made it sheik.

Anonymous said...

Ol' Johnny's got himself a baby mama...what a shock. Those Dems know how to play their women don't they? Gotta give them credit for their acting abilities. I hope this fool is not still on the UNC payroll!

Anonymous said...

Very unkind commentary here.

The article is good, it raises questions. I don't know whether the story is true, though I'm inclined to believe it. It seems that good-looking politicians have affairs, and ugly ones have gay lovers and prostitutes. Comes with the territory, Democratic or Republican.

Anonymous said...

"Very unkind commentary here.

The article is good, it raises questions"

Do you think? Profound. Again, the man was pimping his cancer stricken wife our on the Pres campaign trail while it appears cheating on her. An the most you can say is this: "It seems that good-looking politicians have affairs, and ugly ones have gay lovers and prostitutes"

It's called integrity and as no doubt a liberal you fail to grasp this.

Anonymous said...

I'll bite my tongue for this. I can feel pain of his wife, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth, be strong for the sake of your family.

rickbarton said...

Dan: I am glad the poweres that be at the CO let you blog about this. Be glad you don't work at the LA times. Why won't your paper run a story about this? Gutless Cowards

Anonymous said...

i heard he does it standing up so his hair wont get messed up.

Anonymous said...

Wow I didn't know the National Enquirer was such a respected source for information? not.. Maybe other respected media outlets havent;t covered it because it can't be substantiated. Supposedly the Enquirer was tipped off camped out caught him red handed but not one picture or other independant eye witness account other than an unnamed security guard that the unbiased(not) Fox news parades out, who admits did not even know who Edwards was. Right all 1 week before Obama is to name his VP. How politically convenient... I quess Edwards was much higher on the list than we knew. Edwards has always been the one as Rove said the GOP fear the most. You do the math!

Anonymous said...

Didn't the National Enquirer almost publish the exact same story on Bill Clinton in 1992?

Where is that love child at? Up the Enquirer's behind?

Anonymous said...

The Enquirer did publish another love child story a short while back -- about 73-year-old Ted Kennedy. Last November, the woman named in the story, and her son, sued, maintaining the story was baseless. I believe the suit is still pending. It also should be noted that one of the "reporters" who allegedly confronted Edwards in the Beverly Hilton has a checkered past, which includes allegations of paying off "witnesses." I wouldn't rush to judgment on this just yet.

unknown said...

hey anonymous! how about letting someone else comment here

Anonymous said...

Does the baby look more like John or Rielle? I guess John wanted to be just like his heroes, John Kennedy and Bill Clinton.

W.C. Varones said...

The Times of London covers it, but not the American press, always in the tank for the Dems.

Anonymous said...

Double standard? A republican who is arrested and then pleads guilty of solicitation vs a National Enquirer story without pictures or witnesses. Sounds like a perfectly consistent and reasonable standard to me.

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