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
Subject: john edwards
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
For the full story, click here.