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Posted by on Aug 12, 2008 in Media, Politics | 6 comments

Edwards 2006 Presidential Announcement Tour Companion: His Mistress

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Former Democratic presidential nomination wannabe John Edwards’ political coffin now not only has a dozen nails sealing it up but also steel bands melted around it to keep him from getting out of it with this new news: when Edwards went on his 2006 Presidential announcement tour, painting himself as a high-minded family man, he brought his mistress with him.

Well, you gotta give him one thing: the man has chutzpah.

Photographs distributed by wire services and posted online by technology blogger Robert Scoble show that former North Carolina senator John Edwards took his mistress Rielle Hunter with him on the plane during his late 2006 presidential campaign announcement tour.
As can be seen in this Dec. 28, 2006 photo (that’s Hunter in the jeans and jester hat, as can be seen more clearly in this side-profile photo), Hunter stood off to the side of the national press corps filming Edwards as the former Democratic vice presidential nominee announced his second bid for the presidency in New Orleans.

Here she is drinking from a cup as Edwards is interviewed by the press. More photos of her at Edwards’ presidential campaign kickoff can be found here and here, where she’s shown laughing with Edwards’ young staffers.

Writes Scoble on his Flickr site under a photo of Hunter he uploaded Dec. 30, 2006, “I was hanging out with John Edwards and crew as he announced he was running for President of the United States. This photo was taken in New Orleans as Edwards gave press interviews on the lawn of a house that was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.”

Make sure you click on the links to see the photos and to read The Trail’s post in full.

This is a further sign that Edwards’ ordeal — or exposure, as some would describe it — is far from over.

This is a story that has “legs” — figuratively and literally.

A National Enquirer editor on a cable show last night noted that (1) the tabloid had long asked Edwards to take a paternity test, and he refused BUT (2) he suddenly said he would do it AND (3) shortly after that Hunter said through a lawyer that she would not take any test.

To use the overused journalistic cliche phrase “it doesn’t pass the smell test.”

And it’s this Pepe Le Pew-like aroma coming from Edwards’ official explanation plus all the shadowy details that will keep this story alive. Will the Democrats as a party suffer? Unlikely. But Edwards is toast and the press will now be harder than ever on politicians who are rumored to have affairs and try to cover it up or lie about and deny it.

The bottom line is that many reporters and editors now will want to test and try to confirm every Edwards assertion and answer lingering questions. Plus: sex sells whether it’s in a movie or a news scandal. What’s most shocking is that Edwards has seemingly not learned the rule of American scandals: you suffer more if you hold back details and deny what has happened. Any editor of a mainstream or tabloid news organization that is following or digging for details to follow the story until it is over could be fired by its owner for negligence.

Another implication: as newspapers struggle to survive, lay off staff, are placed on sale, and downsize pages and “news hole,” the National Enquirer, which had dipped in circulation over the years, is making a comeback as a publication writing what the mainstream media has chosen to ignore or pooh-pooh as unimportant. When I worked on the San Diego Union as a reporter, a close friend and colleague of mine had once worked on the Enquirer. He told me they paid staff exceedingly well and were painstaking in their reporting and editing (“This could be the only newspaper their readers read all week..”).

Prediction: the other shoe hasn’t dropped on this story yet. There will be more — maybe a lot more. Because news organizations now feel burned by Edwards (who has apparently not come totally clean with them — or his sea of supporters who donated money and time).

The smell is there…

RELATED READING ON THE EDWARDS SCANDAL:

Rielle Hunter’s publicist friend says: John Edwards is lying
A closer look at the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter webisodes
Goodbye and Good Riddance to John Edwards, Adulterer
Commentary: Media didn’t conspire to protect Edwards
Mass. college expects visit by Edwards and wife

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