COMMENTS: Enquiring Minds Want to Know

The decision that news of John Edwards' extra-marital affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter should cross over from the tabloids to the nightly network newscasts was made by the former candidate himself. "For two weeks it has been the biggest story never told," declared CBS' Jeff Greenfield, "at least by the mainstream media." The National Enquirer had published details of their liaison, her pregnancy and his clandestine meeting with her at a hotel in Beverly Hills.

Edwards had responded with this statement--"The story is false. It is completely untrue. Ridiculous"--until he agreed to grant an interview to Bob Woodruff of ABC's Nightline. ABC had Woodruff's colleague Brian Ross cover Edwards' partial retraction of his denial. Ross reported that the now-unemployed Hunter has moved into a $3m home in Santa Barbara with her newborn daughter, whose father's name is not listed on her birth certificate. Ross added that an Edwards aide claims to be the baby's father; Edwards himself denies paying Hunter hush money; but Fred Baron, a former finance chairman for Edwards "said he had made payments to Hunter and others without the knowledge of Edwards."

NBC's Andrea Mitchell reminded us that Edwards' run for the Democratic Presidential nomination earlier this year had been "a family affair" with the full involvement of his with Elizabeth. Mitchell noted Edwards' timeline that he had ended his affair with Hunter and confessed his cheating to his wife before he declared his candidacy, before his wife's breast cancer recurred and before Hunter became pregnant.

On CBS, Greenfield replayed Edwards' answer to anchor Katie Couric's Primary Questions about whether he could "understand or appreciate" the point of view of voters who do "not feel comfortable supporting a candidate who has not remained faithful to his, or her, spouse." "It is fundamental to how you judge people and human character, whether you keep your word" was the candidate's unequivocal reply. Greenfield's colleague Bob Schieffer, Sunday morning host of CBS' Face the Nation, appeared to announce that Edwards had just called him on the telephone. Schieffer spoke to Elizabeth: "She was obviously in tears." As for John, he explained his denial of The National Enquirer's reporting: "So many of the stories had so much false information in them…What I should have done is confirm the part that was true and then just live with it."


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