Tim Rutten: In Edward's Admission of Affair, Old media dethroned

When John Edwards admitted Friday that he lied about his affair with filmmaker Rielle Hunter, a former employee of his campaign, he may have ended his public life but he certainly ratified an end to the era in which traditional media set the agenda for national political journalism.

From the start, the Edwards scandal has belonged entirely to the alternative and new media. The tabloid National Enquirer has done all the significant reporting on it — reporting that turns out to be largely correct — and bloggers and online commentators have refused to let the story sputter into oblivion.

Slate’s Mickey Kaus has been foremost among the latter, alternately analyzing and speculating on the Enquirer’s reporting and ridiculing the mainstream media for a fastidiousness that has seemed, from the start, wholly absurd. Like other commentators, he repeatedly alleged that a double standard that favored Democrats applied to the story. Like the Enquirer’s reporting, the special-treatment charge is largely true, as anyone who recalls the media frenzy over conservative commentator and former Cabinet secretary William Bennett’s high-stakes gambling would agree.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Theology, US Presidential Election 2008

9 comments on “Tim Rutten: In Edward's Admission of Affair, Old media dethroned

  1. Jim the Puritan says:

    In the vocabulary of the blogosphere, the Old Media has been totally PWND.*

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pwn

  2. Milton says:

    So, did we REALLY need to know that Edwards actually had an affair? For some twisted sake of balanced damage done to both Reps and Dems? I wish it had never become known publicly; the people who really needed to know-his family-had come to their own terms and he admitted it to them and their was likely repentance and a changed life. Why MUST we be emotional vampires? May the LORD show the blogosphere ferrets the same “mercy” they have shown the Edwards family! “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish!”

  3. Tired of Hypocrisy says:

    Yes, Milton, we needed to know that the public image of JE as a devoted family man supporting his wife who is locked in a life and death battle with cancer is a mirage. Hypocrisy matters.

  4. selah says:

    Mr. Rutton seems to undermine his own argument. He claims that the old media has gone the way of the “passenger pigeon,” but his article shows how ABC News was the one to bring legitamacy to the allegations. As long as the Edward’s affair remained among the musings of the Enquirer and those in cyberspace, this would not have been a significant story.

    Sorry, Mr. Rutton, but the “old media” is not dead yet.

  5. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    Actually, this sort of proves that the “New Media” is as easily suborned as the “Old Media”. The attention of the American people is once again successfully distracted by trivia and the weighty issues are ignored.

    Don’t get me wrong, the moral failings of Edwards are real and not to be condoned. This isn’t a partisan issue, either. Moral failings of candidates from all parties are news and are not to be condoned.

    No, what I am talking about is the fact that our currency has been devalued in the last two years to about half of what it was worth, we still have about 20,000,000 illegal migrants in our country, we are still engaged in war [without a proper declaration of war] in two countries, the Russians have invaded Georgia, there is an ongoing destruction of our manufacturing base by the NAFTA and GATT treaties, etc.

    So, once again, the American people “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”. We just keep looking at the great and powerful Oz.

  6. Jeffersonian says:

    [blockquote]Mr. Rutton seems to undermine his own argument. He claims that the old media has gone the way of the “passenger pigeon,” but his article shows how ABC News was the one to bring legitamacy to the allegations. As long as the Edward’s affair remained among the musings of the Enquirer and those in cyberspace, this would not have been a significant story. [/blockquote]

    Not really, selah. If Edwards had given the same interview to the Enquirer, it would have been just as significant. ABC didn’t do any investigative journalism to get to the bottom of the story, they just happened to be the outlet chosen.

  7. Marion R. says:

    Just a reminder, William Bennett did not give up gambling because he had been exposed as a hypocrite. He subscribes to a very defensible position that gambling is a completely legitimate pastime for those who can afford it and are not driven by compulsion.

    Rather, he gave up gambling because it caused his brothers to stumble.

    The commercial media is intrisically, systemically unable to report the Bennett gambling story correctly.

  8. libraryjim says:

    Yes, Milton, I think we did need to know this, since it would only be fair play to hit a Democrat as hard as the Media has hit Republicans in the news for real or imagined faults, even inisisting they resign for nothing more than ‘anonymous allegations’.

    Peace
    Jim Elliott <><

  9. selah says:

    [blockquote] Not really, selah. If Edwards had given the same interview to the Enquirer, it would have been just as significant. ABC didn’t do any investigative journalism to get to the bottom of the story, they just happened to be the outlet chosen. [/blockquote]

    Jeffersonian, don’t you think there was a reason [b] why [/b] ABC News was chosen as the outlet? If Edwards had given his statement to Drudge or The Enquirer, it still would have been significant, but not [b] as [/b] significant as giving it to ABC.

    The Old Media still holds the [i] gravitas [/i] in this situation, and that is no small commodity when it comes to reporting the news.