April 13, 2012

Awesome: Atlantic Carries 1,800-Word Story on John Edwards Trial, Never Tags Him or Author as Dems

Jury selection in the trial of two-time Democratic Party presidential candidate and John Kerry’s Democratic Party running mate in the 2004 election John Edwards began on Thursday. In the related five-paragraph Associated Press story, Michael Biesecker actually identified Edwards as a Democrat in his fourth of his five paragraphs.

That’s not a stellar performance (a Republican or conservative in the kind of trouble Edwards is in would have his or her party identified in either the headline, the first paragraph, or both), but at least the party label is present. As blogger extraordinaire Doug Ross noted earlier this evening, in an 1,800-word item at the Atlantic on Wednesday (“Why the John Edwards Trial Is a Bigger Deal Than You Think”), author and undisclosed former North Carolina Democratic candidate for statewide office Hampton Dellinger failed to name Edwards’s party at all, while figuring out a way to tag something or someone “Republican” five times. Here are the opportunities studiously avoided in his treatise only relating to variations on the word “president” (bolded by me):

(Paragraph 1) Jury selection in the federal criminal trial of John Edwards begins Thursday April 12th in a Greensboro, N.C., courtroom. As the world now knows, Edwards chose to cheat on his cancer-stricken wife during his 2008 presidential run.

(Paragraph 2) The story of Edwards and his paramour Rielle Hunter has been told by former campaign aide Andrew Young in excruciating detail in his book The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down.

(Paragraph 3) While the former United States Senator and vice presidential nominee continues to garner tabloid attention, the same mainstream media that was late to report on his extramarital affair has been similarly slow to focus on the significant legal and political questions posed by his prosecution.

(Paragraph 5) The tens of millions spent by Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess and others in explicit support of 2012 Republican presidential primary campaigns makes the $900,000 spent keeping Hunter content and quiet seem rather paltry. (where’s the phrase “during the 2008 Democratic primary”? — Ed.)

(Paragraph 5) And a central premise of the indictment of Edwards — that “in order to restrict the influence that any one person could have on the outcome” of a presidential primary election, “the most an individual can contribute to any candidate for that primary election was $2,300″ — seems downright quaint.

(Paragraph 6) (Prosecutor George) Holding spoke openly about seeking partisan political office while still serving as a U.S. Attorney, stepped down to run for Congress just after indicting Edwards, and has used the indictment as a centerpiece of his political campaign, while repeatedly criticizing the president who permitted him to holdover as U.S. Attorney for North Carolina’s Eastern District.

(Paragraph 8 — two mentions in one sentence) Why put a presidential administration trying to prove it’s above “revolving door, politics-as-usual” behavior in the awkward position of appearing to do Edwards a favor just after he hired the president’s former White House counsel?

(Paragraph 10) The judge aside, there should be no shortage of courtroom drama. Edwards is an extraordinary defendant: a state (Ohio) away from being elected vice president in 2004, he is among the most famous American politicians to be indicted and arguably the most acclaimed attorney to face a criminal trial since Clarence Darrow.

At least five of the nine “presidential” references cited were obvious opportunities for Dellinger to tag Edwards as a Democrat. Meanwhile he used “Republican” in the following circumstances other than the one above already cited, all in Paragraph 6. In that paragraph, Dellinger removes any doubt about his partisanship by referring to “the Bush-era U.S. Attorney scandal.” The Department of Justice under Bush did remove several federal prosecutors because it believed they weren’t properly carrying out their work; that’s only a “scandal” if you think a President can’t fire people who work for him. Incoming Democratic President Bill Clinton fired every single U.S. Attorney in 1993. We don’t know how Dellinger feels about that, because he never mentioned it. Of course he may not know about it, because as the Media Research Center noted during the Bush brouhaha, the network newscasts never covered Clinton’s 1993 firings.

Dellinger is consistent. Three of his most recent blog posts at the John Edwards Trial Blog (here, here and here) also fail to tag Edwards as Dem.

Oh, did I forget to note that Hampton Dellinger ran for Lieutenant Governor in North Carolina in 2008 — as a (wait for it) Democrat — and that the Atlantic’s bio of Dellinger and the ABC station web site carrying the Edwards trial blog don’t include that teeny tiny fact? Those omissions may be partially due to the fact that Dellinger doesn’t include his run for office in his law firm bio. Zheesh.

Does the Atlantic typically let undisclosed party hacks do their legal analyses?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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