Edwards campaign calls local reporter illegitimate



Political Reporter for The Orange County Register Martin Wisckol had an interview lined up with Elizabeth Edwards after the very successful Truman Awards Dinner, and everything was in order until an Edwards Campaign staff member called to talk about the questions that Wisckol would be asking.From Wisckol’s blog post:  

I said that among my questions, I would ask, “Would you address the rumor of your husband’s affair?”Out of respect for Elizabeth Edwards and because the rumors were unsubstantiated, I said I would not press the issue beyond asking the single question — but that I felt obliged to ask it.

The campaign worker did her best to convince me that it wasn’t a legitimate question. I asked if she was saying that I couldn’t do the interview if I was going to ask that question. I didn’t get a straight answer, so I asked if I would get the interview if I agreed not to ask the question — if she wanted that ground rule.

The campaign worker was sharp. She immediately asked that if it was a ground rule, would I then write that I got the interview because I agreed to the ground rule?

I said I would indeed mention, at least on the blog, that such a provision was required for me to get the interview. She said she’d get back to me, and later called to say the interview had been cancelled.

It would be easy to criticize Wisckol right now; I could mention that when Wisckol interviewed Giuliani his questions were only slightly more taxing than “what is your favorite color?” But far too often we (liberals, bloggers, and liberal bloggers) complain that reporters aren’t asking hardball questions, and Wisckol had the opportunity to talk with Elizabeth Edwards, and he wasn’t going to avoid a tough question to get the interview (or if he was he was going to make sure his readers knew he was forced to avoid the question).

I feel for Wisckol right now. This situation points to a problem that is facing journalists all over our country—a country where newspapers are frantically trying to hold on to an audience that is fading faster than John McCain supporters. Newspaper reporters have to peddle a product that is waning in popularity, yet we still expect them to serve the public by asking thorny questions and investigate the unpleasant stories. I’m not sure what the solution is or will be, but I do know that journalists should never adjust their coverage to continue to sell papers. Wisckol and his editors handled this situation nobly.

Read Wisckol’s entire blog post here.


  1. well if the question of John Edwards alledged affair is fair game, then the next time Rudy comes to town (and he will as he loves the ATM the oC is to him), I’d like to see Marty ask him the following questions:

    Was it your affair with your current wife Judith Nathan or your allegded affair with Chrystyne Lategano, your former press secretary, that broke up yoru second marriage to Donna Hanover?

    Lategano is currently the director of the New York City Convention and Visitors Bureau, a position she was appointed to by Rudy. What exactly were her qualifications for this position and do you think its good public policy to reward an allegeded former mistress with a city job that pays low six figures?

  2. Dan’s got a point here about Rudy’s affairs. But proposing to ask the question of Elizabeth Edwards about her opinion of allegations in the National Enquirer is a bit over the top. While I am disappointed that Martin did not get to talk with Elizabeth or John, I can understand the campaign’s position on not moving forward with the interview.

  3. I’m sorry, I don’t agree. The original source was the National Enquirer and because John Edwards commented at a campaign stop (rather than dodging the question) the LA Times felt it was fair game. The times deleted that blog entry and much of the mainstream media did not pick it up

    Did anyone know that the same week John and Elizabeth Edwards won a poll as having the happiest marriage. http://www.lhj.com/lhj/story.jhtml?storyid=/templatedata/lhj/story/data/1192134901494.xml

    It is not an important question when there are so many others that need to be addressed and I really don’t blame them for not wanting to deal with it.

    Rudy refuses to talk about his family and I agree with Dan, it just was not fair game.

  4. I don’t think that Dan said it wasn’t fair game. I think that Dan agreed with me…reporters should be asking tough and thorough questions of all candidates.

    If the alleged affair story is so inconsequential, just take the question and say just that. “I’m not going to spend time addressing a silly story that appeared in a paper that is known to sensationalize the news,” would have been a decent answer.

    Ellinorianne, It has been mentioned many times on this blog that mainstream reporters try too hard to please the big boys. This is an (albeit rare) example of a reporter refusing to back down from asking a tough question. Is it not hypocritical of us to say that the question is “not fair game?”

  5. The question would be fair game if asked of Edwards. I do not see the need to ask Elizabeth her feelings about unsubstantiated allegations of an affair in a toilet trash publication.

    As far as the issue of asking tough questions is concerned; the tough questions should be directed to the candidates, not their wives. We should be asking candidates about their positions on issues; and asking follow-up questions to their canned 5 second sound byte answers.

    When John Edwards takes the initiative to talk about poverty, so-called journalists ask about the price of his hair cuts or the size of his home rather than ask questions about how the problem of poverty can be addressed.

    So pardon me if I find the need to ask Elizabeth Edwards about an allegation of an affair absurd. In my opinion, it is simply not an appropriate question to be asked of her. And in this case, asking tough questions of the candidates doesn’t even have relevance.

  6. But this is about an affair that is unsubstantiated and was reported in a TABLOID!
    I could see if this was questioning Edwards work with LUC Media which is tired to Union Facts, that is a very legitimate question, but an affair without any evidence. The woman who was linked to Edwards also released a statement saying it was absolutely untrue! So you see, it doesn’t make sense.

    I’m participating at the Daily Kos and blogging elsewhere, Main Stream Media is not doing it’s job, but the focus on salacious and superficial issues that ultimately will not effect the policies of the candidate abound. His hair cut? His House? An affair with absolutely no proof? That he’s already commented on already?

    I’m sorry, I have to respectfully disagree.

  7. “we … complain that reporters aren’t asking hardball questions”

    Excuse me, but on what planet is a query about an alleged affair a “hardball question?” Sheesh.

  8. Since I’ve given up fishing, I’ve had no reason to deal w the Reg. There are things printed on it? I hope the ink had no effect on all the fish I ate after wrappin em w the REG. And I thought a wisckol was a Canadian rodent.

  9. If indeed this story came from the National Enquirer, Wisckol had no business asking about it. Period. Besides, even if Edwards had ONE affair, he has a ways to go before he catches up with OC Sheriff Mike Carona…

  10. Oh, get the smelling salts out for poor Marty, who starts down a sleazy path, and is left only with his blog post about not getting an interview. That’s exactly what he deserves. Why you think he and his editors deserve to be cut any slack is beyond me.

    The Register is a third-rate paper that’s getting worse all the time as it cuts its reporting staff and attempts to publish an even trashier version of its already thin product.

    Why would substantive people bother wasting time with reporters from a publication that has no national coverage and an eccentric editorial policy that slants news and opinion relentlessly, and does its most significant work by omitting the news and opinion that would challenge their world view?

    Good for the Edwards campaign. They gave the Register exactly what they deserved.

  11. Hard hitting investigative journalists have to work hard to dig up the facts. Research, interviews and a bit of old fashioned detective work is the backbone of great writers.

    Or you can just pick up a copy of the National Enquirer and pass these lies as off as fact! Can’t wait till the Register breaks open the story on Geroge Bush’s space alien baby. The Enquirer recently had an edition where the headline was Angelina and Brad are splitting, another story that they were having a baby and couldn’t be happier, and another that claimed she was bulimic.

    So this qualifies as a credible source to Wiskol and the Register? Even for a 2nd rate fishwrap this is pretty low.

  12. The National Enquirer is not a credible news source. Period. End of discussion.

    But do we know if the Space Alien from the Weekly World News has endorsed Fred Thompson for the GOP nod once Fred agreed to make BatBoy his running mate?

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