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August 11, 2008

CNN Asks: “Edwards Affair: Was Media Part of a ‘Conspiracy of Silence?’” (genghis)

Subtitled: “Welcome to the Party, Pal.”

Wow. Just simply fucking wow. It’s hard to know where to start with this, so I’ll just link the article up front here and slog through it. The navel gazing starts here, (the denials and hypocrisy come later):

”Rumors about John Edwards' love affair had been circulating for months, but it wasn't until the former Democratic presidential candidate admitted to the affair that national news organizations jumped on the story.

After the National Enquirer reported catching Edwards making a late-night visit to see his ex-mistress last month, the blogosphere exploded, asking why the mainstream media was not reporting the story.”

I just hate it when blogospheres explode…any word on casualties? Everyone doing ok out there? At least we didn’t get sucked into the man-made black hole that was created in Europe over the weekend. Unless we did, and I’m writing this from the event horizon and don’t know it yet. But that’s another story and I appear to have A.D.D. Continuing, CNN asks some probing questions:

”Was it because of a condescending attitude toward a tabloid's reporting? Bias toward a Democratic candidate? Or sympathy toward Elizabeth Edwards, who is battling an incurable form of cancer?”

Nah, none of that you bunch of silly cretins. Here we have a helpful explanation from a respected news source:
”David Carr, a columnist for The New York Times, said many news organizations "tend to pick up stories from the National Enquirer with tongs."

"They have been very right about some things ... but there's been some misses too, so it's a little scary to follow on those stories," he said Sunday on CNN's Reliable Sources.

"It's also a little scary for big outfits to step up on a story like this. Sex may sell, but it can really hurt your relationship with readers," he added. “

Well, I’m satisfied with that explanation. Even without tongs, respected “big outfits” would never touch an alleged sex scandal without exhaustive research, multiple layers of fact-checking and reliable sources of information. Even then, though, such a tawdry and unseemly story would never make its way to the front page.

And other highly-esteemed news organizations wish to weigh in as well:

”Asked by CNN's Howard Kurtz if sympathy for Elizabeth Edwards played any part in an apparent reluctance to report the story, ABC correspondent Kate Snow said no.

"We at ABC were working on this story, and if we had had any proof and any verifiable facts, we certainly would have gone with the story," she said. "It was just a matter of, we're not going to put something on the air until we know that it's true."

I love the smell of integrity in the morning. Smells like…bacon? I knew I should’ve eaten something before I started writing this. Time for that later. But there’s more from ABC:
”Brian Ross, ABC's chief investigative correspondent, said his investigative team was pushing hard following the money trail, looking at such things as who paid for Hunter's fancy California home and the use of campaign funds.”

“As Ross worked on the money angle, his colleague Bob Woodruff landed an interview with Edwards. With Edwards' on-camera admission, the story changed from a rumored affair to a former presidential candidate caught in a lie. "Until he called -- and it's on the record that he called us on Friday and said, 'I want to talk.' You know, that's what broke the story. He was willing to admit that he had been lying," Snow said.

Ah, so that’s what broke the story! Hopefully Mr. Ross doesn’t dislocate his shoulder trying to pat himself and his organization on the back.
But wait! A small glimmer of light and understanding from Mr. Kurtz? Could it be?
”Kurtz said news organizations were clinging to a very important standard: Don't run allegations that you can't prove. "But it became a ludicrous situation ... almost became a conspiracy of silence by the media. And Edwards, meanwhile, would not give interviews, was not acting like a man who didn't have something to hide. "I think at that point we should have -- earlier than we did -- told readers and viewers what we knew and we didn't know," he said.”

Almost done here:
”But with questions still looming about the identity of the child's father and the Enquirer standing by its reporting, the blogosphere will probably keep this story alive.”

Ya think? Finally, Mr. Carr of the New York Times leaves us with a parting thought:
”"I was taught when I was a young reporter that it's news when we say it is. I think that's still true -- it's news when 'we' say it is. It's just who 'we' is has changed," Carr said.

"Members of the public, people with modems, people with cell phones are now producers, editors. They can push and push and push on a story until it ends up being acknowledged by everyone."

With understanding comes wisdom.

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posted by xgenghisx at 03:20 AM

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