Last night on the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric presented another in her series of Primary Questions to the candidates for president of both parties. The question for this installment dealt with marital fidelity and whether it should be a determinative factor when deciding for whom to vote.
This question, while not as elevating to the debate as questions about Iraq, global warming, the economy, or health care might have been, could still have produced some observable squirming from a number of the candidates. But in reporting on Couric’s broadcast, the rapidly deteriorating TVNewser was more interested in propagating rumors than in objective journalism. In an item by Steve Krakauer, who joined TVNewser last month and previously worked for Fox News, two candidates were singled out as having answers that would “be of interest.”
The first was Hillary Clinton, for whom a case could be made for a potentially interesting exchange. Although it should be noted that it was not Hillary, but her husband, who was guilty of infidelity. Since the context of the question was whether someone who was not true to their spouse could be trusted to be true to the country, it really did not apply directly to any behavior on her part. And despite their troubles, a decade has past since the affair and they have managed to keep their marriage and family together.
The second candidate Krakauer cited was John Edwards. And this is where Krakauer demonstrates either a woeful inability to mask his prejudice, or a professional immaturity that borders on incompetence. This is how he presents his next point:
“Also, with reports of a Sen. John Edwards extra-marital affair and subsequent pregnancy, his answer will be looked at more carefully as well.”
By referring to “reports” of Edwards’ “affair” Krakauer implies that there are credible allegations from responsible journalists and sources. The truth is that there is only a single allegation by an anonymous source as reported to the “National Enquirer” (to which I refuse to link) which is nobody’s idea of a responsible journal. And not a single reputable news organization has yet to follow the Enquirer’s smarmy lead, although Matt Drudge headlined it (good company).
The Enquirer’s story is fraught with ambiguity and error. Both Edwards and Rielle Hunter (the alleged other woman) describe the charges as untrue and ridiculous. Hunter, who is pregnant, has identified the father as Andrew Young, with whom she worked on Edwards’ campaign. Young confirmed his paternity, but that didn’t stop the Enquirer from asserting, with no evidence whatsoever, that everybody was just trying to cover up for Edwards. The Enquirer even faulted Edwards for not nipping the scandal in the bud early on by revealing the relationship between Hunter and Young. Of course Edwards could not have done that because he didn’t know anything about the relationship, as Young told the Enquirer.
This is the level of unsubstantiated innuendo that Krakauer pretends is newsworthy. In fact he is engaging in the most vile sort of rumor-mongering. He doesn’t even bother to explicitly inform his readers that his source is the Enquirer (he hides it in a link). And if all of this isn’t bad enough, in an article about the relevance of the breaking of marriage vows, Krakauer smears two candidates for whom there is no evidence of such behavior, but fails to mention others with known multiple marriages (McCain and Thompson) and notorious philandering (Giuliani).
So Krakauer thinks rumors spread by tabloid rags are interesting, but Mayors who keep their mistresses in the Mayor’s residence and use city funds to pay for trysts in the Hamptons are not even worth mentioning. What’s truly interesting and sad is how low TVNewser has sunk and how useless it has become. It is no better now than its new partner the Enquirer or, as I lamented in an earlier article, the Drudge Report. What an embarrassment for everyone involved.
Feel free to let TVNewser know what a pack of ethically-deprived journalistic lowlifes they are: