Let the rationalizing begin! After the John Edwards story officially broke last Friday — running almost non-stop on every cable channel — many news organizations are now in the process of trying to explain why it took them so long to take up a story initially reported by the National Enquirer last December. The general consensus seems to be that the reluctance may have been less about an overriding sympathy for Elizabeth Edwards than the fact that no one wanted to dirty their hand on a Enquirer story. Well he who laughs last laughs loudest as they say, and, as the WSJ points out the NI actually has a history of breaking stories (remember Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones?) so arguably people should have been less wary about getting their hands dirty.
On CNN’s Reliable Sources Salon‘s Joan Walsh said it was more a matter of there not being enough sources, even anonymous ones. CNN’s Jessica Yellin concurred but also pointed out (and we think she probably makes a very good point here) that if the media had been in “hot pursuit of the story and pushing it and putting it on the airwaves at that time, we would have gotten lambasted for ignoring a war, ignoring a tanking economy, and all these issues that matters to voters.” For his part Howie Kurtz says the situation became “ludicrous” and basically turned into “a conspiracy of silence by the media.” That said, up until today the majority of the NYT print coverage was relegated to the Caucus blog, the op-ed pages and a Week in Review story about disgraced politicians and television written by Alessandra Stanley (according to public editor Clark Hoyt the Times never even made “serious effort to investigate the story”). Of course, you may have also heard that Russia is in the midst of launching a war.