January 16, 2012

In Fawning Virtual Press Release, AP Avoids Calling John Edwards a Democrat Until Paragraph 15 of 17

JohnEdwardsJan2012In the annals of fawning coverage of scandal-plagued Democrats, Michael Biesecker’s Saturday morning report on John Edwards’s illness and its effect on his upcoming trail on campaign finance violations surely must be among the worst.

Biesecker missed at least a half-dozen natural opportunities to tag Edwards as a Democrat, finally doing so in cryptic fashion in his 15th of 17 paragraphs. He didn’t identify Edwards as the 2004 vice-presidential candidate until that same paragraph, and in doing so named who was at the top of the GOP ticket (George W. Bush) without naming who was at the top of the Dems’ (John Kerry). The AP reporter threw obsequious virtual kisses at a man who betrayed his terminally ill wife while omitting two clearly relevant recent reports, one from an outlet which has scooped the look-the-other-way establishment press time after time in this sad, four-year saga. Here are several paragraphs from Biescecker’s blather (some of the many clear opportunities to tag Edwards as a Dem and examples of over-the-top fawning are bolded):

Judge: John Edwards has serious heart condition

Ex-presidential candidate John Edwards has a serious heart condition that will require a medical procedure next month and his illness limits his travel including for an upcoming court case over possible campaign violations, his doctor told a judge, who delayed the trial.

Federal Judge Catherine Eagles did not disclose the exact nature of Edwards’ illness Friday or what procedure he needed. However, she said the two-time presidential candidate had “three episodes” and indicated his condition could be life-threatening if left untreated.

A cardiologist for the 58-year-old ex-North Carolina senator wrote two letters about his condition to Eagles, who talked about them during a hearing to consider whether the trial on six felony and misdemeanor counts should begin this month. Eagles said jury selection will now start March 26, at the earliest.

Edwards is taking medication and is scheduled to undergo a procedure in February from which it will take several days to recover, Eagles said. She did not describe what the episodes involved or if the procedure would require unclogging arteries or other common treatments. The doctor’s letters and other medical records have been kept under seal by the court.

… The trial has already been delayed twice, including a continuance granted so Edwards could attend his eldest daughter’s wedding.

Known for being telegenic Edwards had customarily entered the federal courthouse through the public entrance, where a group of reporters and cameramen assemble. But on Friday, he took steps to slip through unnoticed. A court security officer indicated he had come and gone through a back door.

Two years ago, Edwards confessed he fathered a baby born to his ex-mistress. He had long denied the girl, Frances Quinn Hunter, was his, even after he admitted cheating on his wife with the child’s mother, Rielle Hunter. Hunter had been hired before Edwards’ 2008 White House campaign to shoot behind-the-scenes video of him.

(Paragraph 15 of 17)

… In early 2010, Edwards publicly admitted fathering Hunter’s child and friends disclosed that he and his wife, Elizabeth, were separated. She died in December 2010 from incurable breast cancer that was first diagnosed in 2004, a day after the Democratic ticket that included John Edwards as the vice presidential candidate lost to George W. Bush.

The Edwardses were law school sweethearts who married just days after they took the bar exam together in the summer of 1977. They had four children together, including a son who died at age 16. Although the couple had separated, John Edwards was at her side around the clock as her health deteriorated. He did not speak at her funeral.

Of course, I wish Edwards a speedy recovery from his medical situation.

Here are the two stories Biesecker ignored:

  • National Enquirer, Janaury 9 (“John Edwards Secret Rendezvous With Love Child”) — “IN a last-ditch bid to avoid prison, JOHN EDWARDS plans to wed mistress RIELLE HUNTER – and reunited with her and their love child in a dramatic meeting photographed exclusively by The ENQUIRER. The disgraced politician popped the question after a terrifying heart scare led to his request to postpone his impending criminal trial, sources say, and Rielle eagerly agreed to marry him.”
  • Celebrity Baby Scoop, January 13 — “Former presidential hopeful John Edwards, 58, reunited with mistress Rielle Hunter, 47, and their soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter Quinn on Wednesday (January 11).”

To the inevitable snarking that the Enquirer and other tabloid-like entities aren’t reliable sources, the response is obvious: They nailed the Edwards story over four years ago, and dragged the establishment press kicking and screaming into covering it. Biesecker could easily have cited these reports and their sources and let readers decide how much faith to place in them. But instead, he engaged in the standard “la-la, you don’t exist” routine. Who will be surprised if the AP and the rest of the press haven’t been scooped again?

The sad thing is that the press doesn’t seem to care if they get scooped — at least if the scandal-pagued politician involved is a Democrat.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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