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Aug 10, 2008

John Edwards and Press self censorship.

As a libertarian I am not going to be judgemental about what Edwards has been doing, I don’t know the circumstances, (there can be mitigating aspects) only to say that as a personal conservative it is not the way I would choose to conduct myself. All of us have flaws somewhere, some of us try to rise above them, some succeed, some don’t.

Probably the worst aspect is as was the case with Bill Clinton, the lying about it, although it was in both cases none of anybody’s business except for those involved and their families. Reporting on these matters is however a matter of freedom of speech, and I argue that the risk of exposure is one way of promoting the mores of society.

It seems however that there seems to be a bias on the part of some of the press as to who they will report on. Looking back a bit we can all remember the smear job called ‘McCain Affair’ broken as a ‘Scoop’ by the NYT, which turned out to be wishful thinking on their part.

Now ironically they are being sanctimonious about the failure of the mainstream press to follow up on reports in the National Enquirer about the Edwards affair. In an article “Reticence of Mainstream Media Becomes a Story Itself,” they launch into a diatribe on how the matter did not get attention before this: -

For almost 10 months, the story of John Edwards’s affair remained the nearly exclusive province of the National Enquirer — through reports, denials, news of a pregnancy, questions about paternity and, finally, a slapstick chase through a hotel in Beverly Hills.

Political blogs, some cable networks and a few newspapers reported on it — or, more accurately, reported on The Enquirer reporting on it. Jay Leno and David Letterman made Mr. Edwards the butt of jokes on their late-night shows, but their own networks declined to report on the rumors surrounding him on the evening news. Why?

A number of news organizations with resources far greater than The Enquirer’s, like The New York Times, say they looked into the Edwards matter and found nothing solid enough to report, while others did not look at all.

Some of their comments point to a lack of interest in a story about the private conduct of an also-ran presidential candidate, and a distaste for following the lead of a publication they hold in low esteem. Only in Mr. Edwards’s home state, North Carolina, did newspapers aggressively chase the story in the last few weeks.

On Friday, Phil Bronstein, the former editor of The San Francisco Chronicle, in his blog on that paper’s Web site, poked fun at the reticence of the mainstream media, “picking at it with their noses held, as if looking for something valuable in a moldy dumpster.”

“On journalism sites, the finger-pointing, self-loathing, self-righteousness and tut-tutting was massive,” he wrote. “Does anyone really think that a story splashed in the tabs and debated on blogs like a powerful fire backdraft is somehow not part of the public discourse?”

This should be no surprise really, except that the NYT, with its record has the audacity to publish something of which they themselves are guilty.

On July 22, the Enquirer said that one of its reporters had caught Mr. Edwards visiting the mother and child at the Beverly Hilton, and chased him through the hotel. The general media’s resistance started to crack then, and it began crumbling after The Enquirer, on Wednesday, published what it said were pictures of that hotel rendezvous, including a grainy photo showing what looked to be Mr. Edwards holding a baby.

This is the sort of thing I find difficult to tolerate, - the chasing of people through buildings, and I find the part about the holding of the baby to be a good point, a bit of fatherly responsibility is indicated by it.

Many years ago it was rumored that a Catholic priest in our town a long time before had fathered a child, to whom he left everything in his will. The bequest was real, and no explanation was ever given, hence the speculation. When I was told of it by someone who was disapproving I reacted with, ”Well it’s a good thing he left her provided for.”

Some time ago, I don’t remember how it came up, an old relative (Protestant therefore not a justifier) told me a different story.
Apparently the priest owned a property in the area and used to stay there sometimes. A family who lived nearby were concerned about him, as he was getting old and sent their daughter over with meals and to do some housework. This was the girl who was left the estate as a gesture of gratitude.

But I digress.

The reason that the affair was not reported on is undoubtedly that Edwards is a Democrat and the hunting season was therefore closed and was not opened until irrefutable evidence was presented so that it could not be ignored anymore.

There is too much self censorship of stories against the left, especially given the blatant publication of wildly speculative smear campaigns against the right.

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