John Edwards is lucky he’s a Democrat, said James Hirsen in Newsmax.com. The former senator was confronted by reporters from The National Enquirer last week in a Beverly Hills hotel, where he was allegedly visiting his mistress and their 1-year-old love child. Hotel employees later confirmed to Fox News that an ashen-faced Edwards was seen at 3 a.m. running from reporters and hiding in a hotel bathroom. Word that the Enquirer had cornered Edwards doing something suspicious promptly swept the Internet, but the mainstream media “proceeded to ignore the story.” Funny, but they weren’t so queasy about invading politicians’ privacy last year, when they had a field day with GOP Sen. Larry Craig’s shenanigans in an airport men’s room. Edwards is very much a public figure, said Jack Shafer in Slate.com, and it’s been reported that he might get a job in a Barack Obama administration, perhaps as attorney general. So why the “double standard”?
The answer is obvious, said Hannah Rosin, also in Slate.com. Larry Craig’s restroom antics were newsworthy because he’d built a political career on his staunch opposition to gay rights. Some are now trying to argue that Edwards is no less of a hypocrite, because he always presented himself as a loyal husband and family man, but that’s not a valid comparison. Edwards never voted to criminalize adultery, or to deny health care to illegitimate children. The man isn’t even in the Senate anymore. If he’s cheated on his wife, it was entirely “in the private realm,” and that’s where this story should have stayed—especially in light of Elizabeth Edwards’ ongoing battle with cancer.
Let’s also not forget where this story comes from, said Alex Koppelman in Salon.com. The National Enquirer may have first published the photo of Donna Rice sitting on Gary Hart’s lap, and broken the story about Rush Limbaugh’s addiction to painkillers. But newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times generally do not simply repeat salacious allegations found in a supermarket tabloid, especially when there’s no other evidence. If anyone has failed their readers, said John McQuaid in The Huffington Post, it’s the editors of the Enquirer. Publishing a story with no hard evidence is one thing, but no video or photos of Edwards fleeing in panic? For shame. Next time you go to ambush a politician in the middle of the night, perhaps you might bring a camera.