April 24, 2012

Follow-Up: Atlantic Revises John Edwards Trial Article, Names His Party, More Fully Discloses Writer’s Background

The Media Research Center’s Dan Gainor tipped me to a remarkable development this afternoon. Someone at the Atlantic, probably with the help of commenters there, took notice of the noise being made by Doug Ross, yours truly (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), and probably others, and took some action on a disgracefully written 1,800-word article about the upcoming trial of John Edwards by Hampton Dellinger (“Why the John Edwards Trial Is a Bigger Deal Than You Think”) — for the better.

Doug’s more than valid complaint was that Dellinger never tagged the former 2008 Democratic presidential contender who was also the party’s vice-presidential nominee in 2004 and (shudder) would have become Vice President if Bush v. Kerry in Ohio had gone the other way, as a Democrat. Yet Dellinger was somehow still able to mention the Republican Party or specific Republicans five times. I further noted that the author’s bio was totally inadequate, as it never mentioned his unsuccessful run — as a Democrat, of course — for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina in 2008. These shortcomings have been fixed, as will be shown after the jump.

Paragraph 3 now tags Edwards as a Dem as indicated in (my) bold:

While the former United States Senator and Democratic 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.

The five Republican references are still there. Oh well.

On a separate web page, Dellinger’s bio, which I believe originally only mentioned his professorship at Duke and his involvement with the John Edward Trial Blog, now reads as follows:

Hampton Dellinger is a former state Deputy Attorney General and has taught an election law course at Duke Law School. In 2008, he sought the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor. He oversees the John Edwards Trial Blog.

Gosh, this is fun.

Finally, Dellinger’s enhanced bio is repeated prominently at the top of his Atlantic article. I don’t recall whether the incomplete and inadequate version was originally at the article’s top or bottom, or if there was only a link to the separate bio page. There may also be other content changes of which I would not be aware, because I didn’t save the article in its entirety (darn it).

At the end of my post on April 13, I asked: “Does the Atlantic typically let undisclosed party hacks do their legal analyses?” At least in this instance, it looks like they took care of the “undisclosed” part. Although getting it right from the get-go would have been better, good for them. Hopefully, they’ll look more closely into who is doing work for them up front in the future.

Dellinger’s partisan parsing and his bizarre reference to “the Bush-era U.S. Attorney scandal” — which was only a “scandal” if you think that a President can’t fire people who work under him — now have more meaningful context. He’s a partisan Democrat, and now the Atlantic is at least telling readers as much. I guess the next question should be whether letting even properly disclosed party hacks write legal analyses involving fellow party members who are in trouble is an appropriate use of the magazine’s resources.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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