L.A. Times Bars Bloggers From Covering Edwards Affair Story

In an extraordinary act of self-censorship, the Los Angeles Times has asked its bloggers not to discuss the Edwards story about his alleged affair and child with Rielle Hunter. The story was broken by the National Enquirer after allegedly catching Edwards at a hotel with the woman.

The memo from Tony Pierce should be a concern for all bloggers, columnists, and journalists. There is ample reason to question the source of the story. However, that can be the subject of legitimate discussion. While I hate to admit it, this seems to have some elements of a legitimate story. It is now an open source of discussion and bloggers have an interest in exploring the merits. This was the thrust of the Los Angeles story. If true, it clearly is a legitimate story since Edwards denied the affair on the campaign trial and another man, Andrew Young, claimed to be the father of the child, click here.

Young is described as a 41-year-old married man with young children who was once in charge of looking after Hunter for the campaign, click here.

It is hard to, as Pierce says, “keep rockin” when your editors are confining your stories to an approved list of topics. I have an intense dislike such personal stories or sex scandals. I do not believe that the normal mistress story should be covered absent a hypocrisy element such as a politician who runs on morals or someone who makes false statements to the public. However, on occasion, they do raise some legitimate public issues. The Edwards story involves two men involved in an alleged cover-up of an out-of-wedlock child. It also involves allegations of false statements to the public.

I can understand Pierce’s reluctance on the story, but he would have been much better to send his views on the lack of merit to the story — not to proclaim that a decision has been made from high above. Ironically, under the Chandler reign, there was tight control over language and on occasion some stories. Ironically, the L.A. Times has guaranteed that the story just got another lease on life to cover its own reaction.

The memo is below.

From: “Pierce, Tony”
Date: July 24, 2008 10:54:41 AM PDT
To: [XXX]
Subject: john edwards
Hey bloggers,
There has been a little buzz surrounding John Edwards and his alleged affair. Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations. So I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified.
If you have any questions or are ever in need of story ideas that would best fit your blog, please don’t hesitate to ask
Keep rockin,
Tony

For the full story, click here.

21 thoughts on “L.A. Times Bars Bloggers From Covering Edwards Affair Story

  1. JT:

    Naturally, I am less concerned about self-censorship in the employment context that government sponsored or encouraged censorship. If the Times wants to avoid the, as of now, unsubstantiated lurid stories delving into the lives of current non-candidates, why is that a cause for concern? I am no Edwards supporter but this rush to sensationalize the sexual foibles of people, and to subject innocents like this child or the alleged paramour to ridicule and unwanted attention seems beneath what we used to call journalistic integrity.

  2. Mespo.
    You are spot on with the employment reference. I am also fed up with the concern over stories about politician’s sex lives. The issue of them denying it when it may be true is a separate issue, but we should not be delving into anyone’s private lives in the first place. If I was the employer I would not have had a problem with the newspaper bloggers discussing it ss long as they had credible evidence of a cover up or of them lying about it. The National Enquirer running a story does not make it news or factual.

  3. Johnathan, I’m very confused.

    I’ve seen multiple sources list former Edwards’ campaign finance manager Andrew Young’s age as 41.

    Former congressman and Atlanta mayor Andrew Young (pictured above) was born in 1934.

    I think you have the wrong Andrew Young.

  4. 7 reports, not a single photo or recording of any kind?

    That you report it should create an opportunity for self reflection.

    More and more I think Edwards was/is going to be the vp choice.

    Why did the editor of the NE go to some rightwing hate site called death by 1000 paper cuts for an interview?

    Why haven’t you written about Obama being a terrorist plant, or Laura dumping George for his drinking?

  5. What blah3 said, this is a scurrilous piece of gossip with no substantiation: National Enquirer confirms own story, provides no evidence. Should we be trolling the Weekly World News for political non-stories?

  6. In an extraordinary act of self-censorship Jonathan Turley disappears without explanation, and without retraction or apology, the photo of former US ambassador to the UN and civil rights leader Andrew Young after fingering him as the Andrew Young claiming to be the father of Rielle Hunter’s child.

    Screen grab is here.

  7. In an extraordinary act of self-censorship Jonathan Turley disappears without explanation, and without retraction or apology, the photo of former US ambassador to the UN and civil rights leader Andrew Young after fingering him as the Andrew Young claiming to be the father of Rielle Hunter’s child.

    Screen grab is here

    http://www.whysanity.net/monos/fish.html

    I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact and was in no way fair comment and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future.

  8. Patty C;

    Another brilliant comment but some may miss the quotation from A Fish Called Wanda by John Cleese’s character.

    In fact, I should have noted the fact that I pulled the erroneous photo, but I was running when the mistake was noted shortly after posting. While I was not held upside down by the ankles by Otto, I also offer an complete and utter retraction. Actually, I was concerned by your use of the movie that someone would quote Wanda’s line: “To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people. I’ve known sheep that could outwit you. I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs!”

  9. Thank you, Mr Turley.

    Over on dKos many long time regular members have “troll rated” and comments hidden just for bring up there concern over this story/rumor.

    If the NE’s ‘report’ is false and fabricated, then Mr Edwards will sue the NE for more than a few coins. It’s the details that weirds me out about the story. The NE has a mixed record and the NE did break the “Jesse Jackson baby” story and few others.

    I’ll believe it when Mr Turley and Keith Olbermann are discussing the legal ramifications of this report if it really is a right-wing smear campaign to prevent an Obama/Edwards ticket.

    I am sure Mr Turley feels the same as others who dared to discuss this Edwards story: WE HOPE THE STORY IS FALSE! We’re just concerned, especially for Mrs Edwards and their family. The party has other choices.

    Obama/Clark ’08

  10. I figured as much, JT. You are one of the most decent, hardworking guys alive! I got your back!

    Who the Hell is Robert Stevens, anyway?

    So, fellow turlees, if you have never seen ‘A Fish Called Wands’, and even if you have, but not for a long time, go rent the movie, pop some corn, and prepare to laugh your asses off.

    Later, you may discuss among yourselves.

  11. Actually, Patty C, I did not do justice to the exchange between Wanda and Otto. Here is the unabridged version:

    Wanda: To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people. I’ve known sheep who could outwit you. I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs, but you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you, ape?

    Otto: Apes don’t read philosophy.

    Wanda: Yes they do, Otto, they just don’t understand it.

  12. Mr. Turley,

    I have great respect for you, but I am thoroughly disappointed that you have chosen to discuss a tabloid rumour.

    Sadly, Heather

  13. Chacounne
    1, July 26, 2008 at 5:02 pm
    Mr. Turley,

    I have great respect for you, but I am thoroughly disappointed that you have chosen to discuss a tabloid rumour

    Well then allow me to encourage you, and remove that disappointing cloud over you.

    To accomplish this you’ll merely need to scroll back up, and take another gander at the topic of this thread.

    That is where you will see, the thread topic is not about the tabloid rumor, but the censorship of bloggers by the L.A Times.
    :D

    You’ll feel much better momentarily.

  14. Good Lord! All this hand-wringing when a democrat gets outed. I don’t remember this kind of reasoned, somber reflection on the “politics of personal destruction” when Foley, Vitter or Craig got caught with their pants down. And they weren’t VP candidates with wives battling cancer.

    If those scandals justified relentlessly humiliating those republican miscreants, certainly the breck girl cheating on his heroic wife should be fodder for the media. Or is it suddenly bad taste?

    Hypocrites! Sheesh.

  15. OMG! I just searched this blog for Vitter, Foley and Craig. What a hypocrite, Turly!

    You can only justify this kind of story if there is a “hypocrisy element”? Bwaaahhhaaa…

    “While I hate to admit it, this seems to have some elements of a legitimate story.”

    How about this for a legitimate story?

    “John Edwards, the 2004 Candidate for Vice President, preaches about “two Americas” to my father, who has worked as a teacher for 35 years, and has had his tax raised from 28% to 36% under Bill Clinton. Edward then returns to his 28,000 sqft home, on 103 acres (the largest home in his county).

    “The main home has five bedrooms and six-and-a-half baths. It’s connected by a covered walkway to a bright red addition known as “The Barn,” that includes its own living facilities along with a handball court, an indoor pool and an indoor basketball court with a stage at one end. Nearby, the family has cleared space for a soccer field.”

    Oh, did I mention that my father has Multiple Sclerosis?

    How’s that for hypocrisy, Turly? Did you ever call him on that one? Hmmm…I didn’t think so.

    I can see how you would feel qualified to spot hypocrisy in others.

  16. Donald Trump has a 39 000 square foot home so there is no way that Edward’s is the biggest. Also, who cares how rich someone is, they can still want to help the poor. I think Edwards would be much more likely to help the average American that other millionaires like McCain or Romney.

    I can’t wait to see what a McCain/Romney presidency would do to the “average” American. If I were bin Laden, I’d also be donating money to McCain.

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