Even though John Edwards’ political career seems to be over (at least for now), and even though Edwards’ wife remains a widely-admired woman who has an incurable disease, and even though the story originated in the National Enquirer, the New York Times is now covering the tale of Edwards’ affair, (alleged) love child, and the cover-up of both. On the front page, no less. In “Lawyers’ Ties Hint at Extent of Hiding Edwards’ Affair,” the paper seems skeptical of Edwards’ story, saying evidence that Edwards’ close supporter Fred Baron arranged for lawyers for both Rielle Hunter and Andrew Young suggests that Edwards’ affair with Hunter “went on longer than Mr. Edwards admitted and that the effort to conceal it by Mr. Edwards’ inner circle was much more extensive than has been reported.”
I’m serious: From the Times’ perspective, why is this news? The paper did not previously think the Edwards story was newsworthy enough for serious investigation, even though it involved allegations of a coverup involving a big campaign donor. “Edwards isn’t a player at the moment,” Times campaign editor Richard Stevenson told Clark Hoyt, the paper’s public editor, shortly before Edwards confessed to the affair. “There are a lot of big issues facing the country. The two candidates are compelling figures, and we have finite resources.” Another top editor, Craig Whitney, told Hoyt the Edwards story was “classically not a Times-like story.” And the paper’s top editor, Bill Keller, said — quoting another Times report now — “that Mr. Edwards’ dark-horse status and the ‘added hold-your-nose quality about The Enquirer’ contributed to the lack of interest by the Times.”
So why are things different now?