Why is the story of John Edwards being caught in a Beverly Hills hotel with his mistress and love child being swept under the proverbial rug?
In case you haven't heard, and there's a good chance that you haven't, the National Enquirer went live with a story last night on it's website reporting that it had essentially busted former Presidential candidate and possible Obama running mate John Edwards in a Beverly Hills hotel with his mistress and rumored love child. As you probably know, Edwards' wife Elizabeth is slowly dying of cancer, thereby making an already sad story even sadder. Here's a particularly cringe-worthy excerpt from the piece...
At 9:45 p.m. (PST) Monday, Edwards appeared at the hotel, and was dropped off at a side entrance. NATIONAL ENQUIRER reporter Alan Butterfield witnessed the ex-senator get out of a BMW driven by a male companion and stroll into the hotel.
Said Butterfield: "Edwards was not carrying anything. He walked in alone. He was wearing a blue dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He was looking around nervously before he entered the hotel.
"Once inside, he interestingly bypassed the lobby and ducked down a side stairs to go to the bottom floor to catch the elevator up - rather than taking the elevator in the main lobby. He went out of his way not to be seen."
Meanwhile, Rielle Hunter had reserved rooms 246 and 252 under the name of the friend who had accompanied her from Santa Barbara, Bob McGovern. Rielle was in one room and McGovern was in another with her baby. This allowed her and Edwards to spend time alone, a source revealed.
Edwards went out of the hotel briefly with Rielle, they were observed by the NATIONAL ENQUIRER and then went back to her room, where he stayed until attempting to sneak out of the hotel unseen at 2:40 a.m. (PST). But when he emerged alone from an elevator into the hotel basement he was greeted by several reporters from the NATIONAL ENQUIRER.
Senior NATIONAL ENQUIRER Reporter Alexander Hitchen asked Edwards why he was visiting Rielle and whether he was ready to confirm that he was the father of her baby.
Shocked to see a reporter, and without saying anything, Edwards ran up the stairs leading from the hotel basement to the lobby. But, spotting a photographer, he doubled back into the basement. As he emerged from the stairwell, reporter Butterfield questioned him about his hookup with Rielle.
Edwards did not answer and then ran into a nearby restroom. He stayed inside for about 15 minutes, refusing to answer questions from the NATIONAL ENQUIRER about what he was doing in the hotel. A group of hotel security men eventually escorted him from the men's room, while preventing the NATIONAL ENQUIRER reporters from following him out of the hotel.
Now, I'm not trying to pass judgment on John Edwards' character here, despite how enormously fucked up this whole thing appears. I have lived enough and fucked up enough myself to know that affairs of the heart are often illogical and can lead normally smart, sane people to do outrageous things. There's also the possibility that John and Elizabeth Edwards have an open relationship, and that she is aware of everything that has been going on. I doubt it, but there's always that chance.
Rather, the thing I take issue with here is how this whole thing is being virtually ignored by the big media outlets. The New York Post and The New York Daily News, publications that thrive off of this sort of thing, did not just bury the story in their respective issues today, there isn't even a single mention of it (that I saw anyway). Nor was there any mention that I noticed in the New York Times. The Enquirer posted the story on its website late in the afternoon, sometime between 4 and 5, plenty of advance time to get a mention in even the early editions of the papers.
Why is this unseemly event being ignored? Would the same thing be happening if the politician involved were named Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee or Bobby Jindal? I'm kinda doubting it. Sure, there's the moral hypocrisy angle that would be involved to a greater degree with any of those guys than with Edwards, but come on...on the surface this is a major American political figure who has knocked up a woman behind the back of his dying wife!
Where is the outrage?
Last night on Gawker, Ryan Tate openly asked how it was that this whole thing got swept under the rug when The Enquirer first broke the story of the Edwards/Hunter affair months ago, last October to be precise. At the time Edwards denied it and his married best friend Andrew Young appeared to take the fall for him, stepping forward to claim that HE was the father of the baby. Rielle Hunter even moved into the same gated community as Edwards' friend/fall guy. She was seen dining with his family! Regardless of the shady circumstances, I suppose that the mainstream media bought the story, but this time is a bit different, this time he was caught red-handed. And when he was caught, he tried to run and hide.
Again, where is the outrage?
Is it out of respect for Elizabeth Edwards, a universally well-liked woman? I mean, Silda Spitzer was also well liked, but that didn't stop the press from savaging her husband.
Is it because the news organization reporting all of this is the frowned upon National Enquirer? Did that organization not gain any street cred for all of the scoops it's beat the mainstream media to in the past, like the OJ case, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and the Rush Limbaugh prescription drug fraud incident?
I just don't get it.
UPDATE: More on the same subject...
Slate's Jack Shafer and Ryan at Gawker did another excellent piece.