Last night I predicted that news organizations would begin explaining that they were aggressively reporting the Edwards story and were just this close to reporting it when Edwards short-circuited the process by admitting his affair. Some organizations have done that, but some are ‘fessing up that they didn’t really try. From the New York Times “The Caucus” blog today:
The Times’s Richard Pérez-Peña and Bill Carter look into why many news organizations, including this one, did not devote major resources to pursuing the story:
The New York Times looked into the Enquirer reports last fall, though none too aggressively, editors said.Bill Keller, the executive editor, said in an e-mail message that Mr. Edwards’s dark-horse status and the “added hold-your-nose quality about The Enquirer” contributed to the lack of interest by The Times and the mainstream media generally.
Like [Len Downie, executive editor of The Washington Post], he said that the questions seemed irrelevant once Mr. Edwards was out of the race, but that recently, The Times had “tried to ascertain whether the cloud generated by The Enquirer’s reporting had influenced the Obama campaign in its thinking about a future role for Edwards.”
Even in today’s coverage, one can observe a lingering reticence to address the story directly. The Los Angeles Times gives its article this headline: “Mainstream media finally pounce on Edwards’ affair,” and uses a quote from The National Enquirer’s editor about feeling vindicated. Even the lede buries the underlying news:
The mainstream media’s near-silence about a tabloid report that former presidential candidate John Edwards had an extramarital affair with a campaign worker ended abruptly Friday when he admitted the relationship to ABC News.