Friday, July 25, 2008

Dissecting a Thinly Sourced Smear

I don't know--and I don't care--if former Senator John Edwards has a love child with some woman. It's none of my business and it's none of anyone else's business but his and Elizabeth Edwards. Don't look now, but the evidence on this is so thin you can see through it in the dark. John Edwards is not running around telling people what to do in their marriage so he's NOT a hypocrite, despite everything you're reading from the right wing smear merchants in this country. It's sad that I have to say all of that--it really is. In a mature country that has a healthy attitude about marriage, sex and politics, this wouldn't be an issue. If fathering a child out of wedlock disqualified someone from being President, or an influential leader, or someone who spoke truth to power, there wouldn't be anyone left worth listening to. Give me someone flawed and complicated over someone repressed and self-hating any day. Give me a break--making a baby out of wedlock is a worse crime than sending over 4,000 Americans to their death? And we have no way of knowing whether this is even true! Grow the fuck up, wingnuts.

Fox News gets on board, and does one of the thinnest and most ridiculous pieces yet to be featured on this subject.
A hotel security guard told he intervened this week between a man he identified as former Sen. John Edwards and tabloid reporters who chased down the former presidential hopeful after what they're calling a rendezvous with his mistress and love child.

I'd sure like to see pictures of this--not that that would be proof. How about a birth certificate with Edwards listed as the father? Or would that have to be checked for kerning as well? All we have are anecdotes and statements. The reporters from the National Enquirer claim they were threatened by hotel security guards and that their cameras were in danger of being seized. Every time I check the Enquirer website, I see the same stock photos and nothing from this supposed encounter. [Nah, not gonna link to it.]

The Beverly Hilton Hotel guard said he encountered a shaken and ashen-faced Edwards — whom he did not immediately recognize — in a hotel men's room early Tuesday morning in a literal tug-of-war with reporters on the other side of the door.

"What are they saying about me?" the guard said Edwards asked.

"His face just went totally white," the guard said, when Edwards was told the reporters were shouting out questions about Edwards and Rielle Hunter, a woman the National Enquirer says is the mother of his child.

The guard said he escorted Edwards, who was not a registered guest at the hotel, out of the building after 2 a.m. Edwards did not say anything while he was escorted out, said the guard, adding that at times the reporters on the scene were "rough on him," sticking a camera in his face and shouting questions.

Sounds pretty guilty to me! Except for the fact that we haven't seen those photos, nor can we believe anything this guard says. There were other guards present, by the way. What's their story? Are we supposed to believe tabloid trash writers to be credible about anything? Have any of those reporters paid a person for information? That's what I'd like to know.

Here's the best part of the whole Fox News story:
The guard did not recognize Edwards at the time of the incident, but said he concluded it was the 2008 presidential hopeful after hearing reports about the incident and finding an Enquirer reporter's notebook at the scene.

That's the SIXTH paragraph in the story--and I don't know about you, but that's why I think the story is complete and utter bullshit. An after-the-fact identification based on the tabloid media attention given to this story smacks of a payoff or an attempt to buy a corroborating witness. Tabloids pay for sources and stories all of the time--did someone offer this guard a wad of cash to say what he now says?

Even if the security guard didn't recognize Edwards, the fact that he "recognized" him after the fact and "concluded" it was him speaks volumes--does he have any training to identify people, does he have a reason why he didn't ask for Edwards ID at the time of the incident, does he have a criminal history, does he have a history of filing false reports, and so on. When you scrutinize how these people source their information, their house of cards comes tumbling down every time. It certainly would help if Fox News had any--any--trained, working journalists on staff. Apparently, they don't.

Sounds pretty suspect to me. Someone is trying to milk this for all it's worth, and while I hate to take the time to even blog about it, I do so because of the involvement of Fox News in perpetrating this smear.

And that's about all the time and effort this story deserves.

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