Journalists Reflect on Edwards, and Tabloids

Walter Shapiro, in Salon: "As a reporter covering my eighth presidential campaign, I am mostly interested in the journalistic lessons arising from my flawed character assessment of John Edwards. This was not a case of the Inside-the-Beltway Syndrome in which beloved Washington figures get every conceivable break from a sometimes gullible press corps. Edwards was […]

Walter Shapiro, in Salon:

"As a reporter covering my eighth presidential campaign, I am mostly interested in the journalistic lessons arising from my flawed character assessment of John Edwards. This was not a case of the Inside-the-Beltway Syndrome in which beloved Washington figures get every conceivable break from a sometimes gullible press corps. Edwards was always a bit of a political outsider (especially after he recast himself as the left-wing populist in the 2008 presidential field) and my affection for him was more idiosyncratic than reflective of press-bus groupthink…  My mistake about John Edwards was believing all his public boasts about his nearly perfect marriage. I allowed myself to judge him through the prism of his union with Elizabeth when I would have reached a far different conclusion if I had gazed through the lens of his dalliance with Rielle Hunter.

Ann-Louise Bardach, in a memorable 2004 piece about Arnold Schwarzenegger and the National Enquirer, describing how Schwarzenegger won the complicity of the tabloid in laying off the sleazy exposes while he was running for governor:

"In the last 15 years, the tabs have earned a reputation for nailing down hard-to-get stories for the simple reason that, unlike the mainstream media, they often pay sources and hire private investigators. The meshing of the tabs and the mainstream media went into high gear during the O.J. Simpson trial and was standard practice by the time of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. Schwarzenegger, of course, could have curbed his excessive behavior. But there is scant evidence of this having occurred before 2003….   Pecker still insists that Schwarzenegger does not have tabloid immunity. "Will I send 50 reporters to dig up something on my partner?" he asks. "No. I’m not going to do that. But if anything that’s newsworthy comes up, something that we know will sell, we’ll publish."

That would be David Pecker, chief exec of American Media, Inc, (AMI), the parent company of the National Enquirer and the Star.