Former presidential candidate John Edwards admits to affair but denies fathering child
Published: Friday August 8, 2008

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Update: Why some news orgs. refrained from reporting allegations

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday admitted to an extramarital affair while his wife was battling cancer. He denied fathering the woman's daughter.

Edwards told ABC News that he lied repeatedly about the affair with a 42-year-old woman but said that he didn't love her. He said he has not taken a paternity test but knows he isn't the father because of the timing of the affair and the birth.

ABC said a former Edwards campaign staffer claims he is the father, not Edwards.

In 2006, Edwards' political action committee paid $100,000 in a four-month span to a newly formed firm run by Rielle Hunter, who directed the production of just four Web videos, one a mere 2 1/2 minutes long.

Hunter's daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, was born on Feb. 27, 2008, and no father's name is given on the birth certificate filed in California.

Edwards was a top contender for the Democratic nomination for president. He placed second in the Iowa caucuses last January but dropped out of the race a few weeks later.

Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004.

News organizations were wary to report alleged affair

Many news organizations - including RAW STORY - did not report on the alleged affair because of its source. The tabloid National Enquirer has been sued often in the past for making up stories.

Last year, Alan Butterfield, one of the writers behind the Edwards story, wrote about Ted Kennedy's alleged "love child" and was subsequently sued by the baby's mother. Butterfield was also sued for an article which alleged that actor Ben Affleck cheated with strippers while famously dating Jennifer Lopez. Five years ago he was also involved in a scandal which developed at the Salt Lake Tribune.

The Tribune "fired two reporters who were paid $20,000 for collaborating with the National Enquirer on an Elizabeth Smart story because they misled their employer about the level of their involvement with the tabloid," the Associated Press reported in 2003. In addition, "the story ha[d] been retracted as part of a settlement between the Smart family and the tabloid."

A blurry photograph purportedly showing Edwards carrying his alleged "love child" was released by the tabloid nearly two weeks after the story first hit. Radar noted various reasons why the photo seemed "sketchy."

David Perel, editor of the Enquirer, talked to Radar but was "mum about the location of the Enquirer's photographer, the type of camera used (it's an extremely blurry photo, after all), and how Edwards manages to have the exact same sweat pattern in both photos, even though the conditions and shirts might both be different."

LA Times editor Tony Pierce "stirred up some internal discontent" at his paper after he "banned its bloggers, including political bloggers, from mentioning the Edwards/Rielle Hunter story," Slate reported.

Pierce explained why to his staffers in an email: "Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations."

Excerpts from ABC story:


Edwards said the affair began during the campaign after she was hired. Hunter traveled with Edwards around the country and to Africa.

Edwards said his wife, Elizabeth, and others in his family became aware of the affair in 2006.

Edwards made a point of telling Woodruff that his wife's cancer was in remission when he began the affair with Hunter. Elizabeth Edwards has since been diagnosed with an incurable form of the disease.



(with wire reports)