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August 12, 2008

Flashback: Network News Pushed "McCain Affair" Insinuations Immediately After NYT Published Them

...with no independent confirmation, incidentally. How could they "confirm" the NYT's "story"? The NYT, having no actual evidence or even quotes stating there was an affair, instead was forced to "write around" the big hole in their "scoop," and instead insinuate there might have been an affair without putting itself in libel jeopardy by actually stating that.

The National Enquirer, on the other hand, had their story locked down enough to, you now, actually be able to report on the story they were reporting on.

The media is offering the excuse to us repeatedly that they simply don't like these sort of sex-scandal stories. It's not liberal bias, they claim, but a bias against this story in general, this sort of seedy invasion-of-privacy keehole-peeping sexpose.

But that's simply not true. They love sex scandal stories. So long as they star they proper villains.

ABC, CBS, and NBC all waited for weeks to touch the emerging story of the adultery of John Edwards as the National Enquirer nailed down the story. None even breathed the name of Edwards until he decided to confess. But when the New York Times used far weaker editorial standards than the Enquirer, reporting on February 21 that there might be adultery between John McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman, citing hearsay from unnamed former McCain aides who were "convinced the relationship had become romantic," all three networks leaped on the story.

McCain's outraged denials didn't stop the story from erupting on TV the very morning it hit the Times. CBS Early Show host Harry Smith touted "This bombshell report that Republican front-runner John McCain may have had a romantic relationship with a lobbyist who was a visitor to his office and traveled with him on a client's corporate jet." ABC's George Stephanopoulos said it could be deadly. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being fatal, he warned it was a "six or a seven...a damaging story, there's no doubt about that." NBC's Tim Russert said the story would "play out today in a very big way."

Is the National Enquirer a grubby, ethics-free outfit whose stories can only be touched with "tongs," as a NYT editor said?

Really? Let us recall how the Mark Foley page-pickup sex story got pushed into the media: From a blog by an anonymous writer who was furthermore connected with a Democratic/partisan organization.

Now, in that case, all the news organizations began investigating the charges shortly after they got widespread publicity on the internet (pushed by leftwing blogs, of course, but rightwing blogs reported the claims as well).

They did not simply report what Stop Sexual Predators was claiming, of course. But they sure did work diligently to confirm and nail down the story, so that a few weeks after this anonymous blogger made his entirely unsupported charges, every news organization was able to confirm the report and run with it. And run with it. And run with it. And run with it.

And run with it all the way from August '06 through the November '06 elections.

Now, can the MSM explain to me why they believe a fucking anonymous blogger who had no track record nor web presence except to air his allegations is seen as a credible source whose charges merit a substantial commitment of resources, but well-sourced reports by the "trashy tabloid" National Enquirer, with a solid track record of bona-fide scoops, weren't worth more than a few perfunctory phone calls?

One big question that the MSM needs to answer: What precisely did the Edwards campaign tell you when you made your one or two "investigative" phone calls or emails?

I ask because David Shuster insists the Edwards people were able to convince him to not only not run the Hunter story, but to not even bother investigating it further.

So what did Edwards, or his people, tell these cynical, truth-hunting MSM types that so swayed them the story was so obviously a bust it wasn't worth pursuing at all?

Let me guess:

Rielle Hunter is a "fantasist" who "imagined" an affair with John Edwards. She's crazy. She's like... a stalker or something, obsessed w ith Edwards, and angry that she was fired by the campaign. All of the Enquirer's claims come from her friends, who only know what Rielle Hunter is telling them, but she's a very troubled young (ish) woman with very serious psychosexual issues whose lunatic delusions of a love affair she dreamed of but never actually had cause her to say these ridiculous things.

I am not being snarky. What else could Edwards and his camp have possibly said, given the fact that Rielle Hunter's friends were alleging the affair?

Did none of these very smart, very professional journalists noticed that this basic "nuts and sluts" defense was more or less the exact claim offered by Bill Clinton?

Is the MSM telling us that when someone offers this sort of rehashed nonsense, they collectively deem it credible and authoritative?


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posted by Ace at 05:14 PM

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