Did media silence on Edwards cost Hillary the nomination?

posted at 8:20 am on August 11, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Howard Wolfson makes that argument to ABC News, and points to Iowa as evidence.  Barack Obama put himself firmly on the path to the nomination by scoring a mildly surprising win in the first contest of the primary, while Hillary stumbled to a third-place showing.  If Edwards hadn’t been a factor, the Clinton campaign adviser believes Hillary would have won, and Obama would never have grabbed the momentum:

Sen. Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic presidential nominee if John Edwards had been caught in his lie about an extramarital affair and forced out of the race last year, insists a top Clinton campaign aide, making a charge that could exacerbate previously existing tensions between the camps of Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.

“I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee,” former Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson told ABC News.com.

Clinton finished third in the Iowa caucuses barely behind Edwards in second place and Obama in first. The momentum of the insurgent Obama camaign beating two better-known candidates — not to mention an African-american winning in sucn an overwhelmingly white state — changed the dynamics of the race forever.

The National Enquirer made the story public in December, after weeks of handwringing by the Los Angeles Times, which sat on the story.  Had the media taken the bait then (December 19th), Edwards could well have lost a substantial amount of support in Iowa two weeks later.  However, what the Enquirer lacked in December was smoking-gun evidence, which it got a few weeks ago when their photographers caught Edwards skulking out of Rielle Hunter’s hotel room in the middle of the night.  Without that evidence, the media had no reason to even question Edwards based on an anonymously-sourced rumor in a less-than-reliable celebrity gossip rag.

Let’s not forget, too, that the Enquirer has its own indirect ties to the political campaign, or did at the time.  Ron Burkle of Yucaipa Companies had worked for months to buy the Enquirer’s parent, AMI.  Bill Clinton also worked with Ron Burkle at Yucaipa as his senior adviser, and made a lot of money with Yucaipa’s investment funds.  The week before the Enquirer story appeared, Bill Clinton suddenly announced that he would “curtail his business relationship” with Burkle.  With those kind of indirect ties, the media would certainly have reason to consider their editorial choices very, very carefully in regards to unsubstantiated gossip.

Wolfson can blame Edwards if he wants, but this nomination was Hillary’s to lose — and that’s exactly what she did.  In November of last year, she made an unbelievable flip-flop on illegal-alien drivers licenses on national TV within 120 seconds, which set Hillary off balance for weeks.  She began criticizing Barack Obama over his kindergarten essays, which made her look ridiculous and petty, and Obama exploited the opening to undermine her credibility to be presidential.

This sounds like a whole lot of blame-throwing — which, come to think of it, really is vintage Clinton.

Here’s the magic moment that started the downhill slide:


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I think Wolfson is correct. The question in my mind is whether or not the MSM intentionally didn’t go after this story (or did and didn’t report on it) because they knew, at the time, that Edwards was helping Obama by being in the race. I think it’s entirely plausible that this occured!

davenp35 on August 11, 2008 at 8:27 AM

Hillary Clinton lost Hillary Clintons campaign ! The blatant lies, constant exaggerations, and faux tears cost her the Democratic nomination.

Nothing else can be blamed except maybe stupidity.

DoctorDentons on August 11, 2008 at 8:27 AM

Shillary and her minions just can’t accept the fact that the rest of the nation is just plain weary of the Clintons and their antics. The nicest thing this family could do for virtually everyone else is just go away into quiet obscurity.

Maybe Congress should issue a 10 year moratorium banning the Clintons from even so much as showing their faces in public, just to give the rest of the country a break.

pilamaye on August 11, 2008 at 8:30 AM

yes, without Edwards, Obama would not have won the nomination. I think that is pretty clear.

ThackerAgency on August 11, 2008 at 8:33 AM

If it did, she has nobody to blame but herself. The Clintons encouraged the corruption of the media. I didn’t hear her minions complaining that Newsweek sat on Monica. Therefore, she’s a victim of her own blowback. You live by the sword, you die by the sword.

TheBigOldDog on August 11, 2008 at 8:36 AM

If Edwards hadn’t been a factor, the Clinton campaign adviser believes Hillary would have won

Doesn’t this assume that a majority of Edwards’ support would have gone to the centrist Clinton over the more liberal Obama?

And isn’t that a stupid assumption?

e-pirate on August 11, 2008 at 8:40 AM

Thats politics, folks. Clinton would never have left the state of Arkansas if it wasn’t for Perot. They were a guiding force for corrupting the MSM and those who live by the sword, die by the sword. Their existence is the epitome of lies and cooruption, its just Obama’s turn to do the same now.

volsense on August 11, 2008 at 8:41 AM

I forgot what she sounds like when she talks policy. I know we had a love affair (gross) with her when she was hanging on with Obama, but this woman is scary when it comes to policy.

Also, second look at Chris Dodd?

warrenmr on August 11, 2008 at 8:41 AM

However, what the Enquirer lacked in December was smoking-gun evidence, which it got a few weeks ago when their photographers caught Edwards skulking out of Rielle Hunter’s hotel room in the middle of the night. Without that evidence, the media had no reason to even question Edwards based on an anonymously-sourced rumor in a less-than-reliable celebrity gossip rag.

The Media sat on this because it is corrupt. It never would have sat on this if the person was a Republican.

TheBigOldDog on August 11, 2008 at 8:42 AM

Howard Wolfson makes that argument to ABC News

That itself is news, because Fox won’t let him (paid Contributor) speak against “the one” – he speaks to ABC.

Anita on August 11, 2008 at 8:46 AM

The Media sat on this because it is corrupt. It never would have sat on this if the person was a Republican.

TheBigOldDog on August 11, 2008 at 8:42 AM

Bingo!

davenp35 on August 11, 2008 at 8:47 AM

Makes for a great narrative to explain away her defeat, focus the anger of her supporters, put their collective sights on 2012 and further divide the party. Great news!

Thanks John!

moxie_neanderthal on August 11, 2008 at 8:48 AM

e-pirate on August 11, 2008 at 8:40 AM

The Edwards campaign specifically told his supporters to back Obama in Iowa. Without Edwards’ influence in Iowa, Hillary would have won there. If Obama doesn’t win Iowa, Obama doesn’t win the nomination.

Edwards himself was trying to beat Hillary by letting Obama take votes from Hillary. I don’t think there is any question about the impact of Edwards on this election.

Like volsense said, Perot got the Clintons into the White House, but Edwards kept Clinton out of the nomination. . . that’s politics.

ThackerAgency on August 11, 2008 at 8:48 AM

Yeah, really if they’re going to say this why not say it’s the media’s fault for not finding out about Spitzer sooner? Had he not still be Governor of NY she never would have stumbled over the Driver’s Licence issue.

12thman on August 11, 2008 at 8:53 AM

If you go back and look at who Edwards’ strongest supporters were, they were the people who were wary of Barack Obama for not being liberal enough, based on his failure to take a strong position on any controversial issue. If the Edwards vote had split in any direction, it would have gone towards Obama and not towards Hillary, whom the netroots were (and still are) irate towards over her Iraq war votes.

jon1979 on August 11, 2008 at 8:55 AM

Without that evidence, the media had no reason to even question Edwards based on an anonymously-sourced rumor in a less-than-reliable celebrity gossip rag.

Bull. Hunter was 6 months pregnant. When pushed the story given out was that Young was the father. However, the fact that he was married with children and that she had been moved to the same gated community where Young lived with his family that was also near where Edwards lived, stunk to high heaven.

Blake on August 11, 2008 at 8:56 AM

It isn’t just the Clinton campaign that is saying this…there are a number of conservative bloggers that think the media sat on it intentionally. Whether their aim was to help Obama or not is up in the air. Again, I’m not big on conspiracies, but I think it’s entirely plausible that covering for Edwards to help Obama was on the mind of Bill Keller et al.

davenp35 on August 11, 2008 at 8:57 AM

Of the candidates, the two who were consistently furthest to the left were Obama and Edwards. CLinton was consistently the most centrist.

For this story to be true, you have to assume that most of Edwards voters would have selected Hilary as their second choice. I don’t see that happening.

I believe that had Edwards been knocked out of the race early, the biggest beneficiary would have been Obama.

MarkTheGreat on August 11, 2008 at 8:58 AM

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Hillary was robbed! Hard to believe that main stream media did not know that Honest John was fooling around, especially in light of all the emails and big mouthing that middle aged skank was doing.

bloggless on August 11, 2008 at 8:58 AM

In the early days, the race was between Hillary, and “Anybody but Hilary”. Edwards presence helped to divide the ABH vote. His absence would have allowed that vote to coalesce around Obama that much sooner.

MarkTheGreat on August 11, 2008 at 9:00 AM

Good to see that the media’s lickspittle attitude towards the absolutely worthless Democrat Party, hurts Democrats for once.

Now instead of an inexperienced, unqualified token female nominee, they have an inexperienced, unqualified token black nominee.

Hopefully, the token female’s supporters do just enough to take down the token black nominee.

Who would win in that instance? The American people.

NoDonkey on August 11, 2008 at 9:00 AM

Bull. Hunter was 6 months pregnant. When pushed the story given out was that Young was the father. However, the fact that he was married with children and that she had been moved to the same gated community where Young lived with his family that was also near where Edwards lived, stunk to high heaven.

Blake on August 11, 2008 at 8:56 AM

Exactly! The only way there could have been any MORE evidence out there would have been for an earlier confession. There was plenty for the media to go on, they just chose not to. And then they try to sound noble by stating they don’t publish stories with such flimsy evidence…LOL ummm, what about the so-called affair McCain had with the female lobbyist? The MSM is a complete joke!

davenp35 on August 11, 2008 at 9:01 AM

This may add a lot of fireworks to the convention. I think Team Hillary is trying to rouse troops. The convention may be quite entertaining. I do have a question, though, whatever happened to “Safe Sex”????

bloggless on August 11, 2008 at 9:02 AM

They wanted Obama from the get go! Hence we witnessed the patronizing way Brian Williams questioned Obama about internet rumors, in that same segment, we witnessed Brian Williams answer the questions for Obama! The fix was in from the get go! For my sister, who would vote Democrat, no matter who it was, to notice that the media was telling her who the nominee would be before the primaries we barely underway, you know that the press was too obvious! She will not vote Democrat, nor does she watch Williams anymore. Do you know how hard that is for a person with as severe a case of OCD as my sister suffers from!

Pam on August 11, 2008 at 9:05 AM

Edwards himself was trying to beat Hillary by letting Obama take votes from Hillary. I don’t think there is any question about the impact of Edwards on this election.
Like volsense said, Perot got the Clintons into the White House, but Edwards kept Clinton out of the nomination. . . that’s politics.
ThackerAgency on August 11, 2008 at 8:48 AM

And half a year from now, if Obama wins and is setting up his cabinet, all of this will have blown over and Obama might just pick Edwards for Attorney General. What? Republicans oppose Edwards? Why, they are just being partisan hacks and shilling for the extreme right wing hate machine. Those evil republican smear merchants. Don’t they know that Edward’s wife stands by her husband, and has CANCER! Heartless bstards, those republicans. Edwards gets the vote.

That’s politics.

wise_man on August 11, 2008 at 9:22 AM

Let them keep thinking that until Denver.

reaganaut on August 11, 2008 at 9:22 AM

The National Enquirer took 7 months to get proof of the Edwards story because they don’t have the same access to D.C. insiders (i.e. leakers) the MSM does. My understanding is that a -lot- of people in Democratic circles were obliquely aware of this affair. Had the MSM invested any time in this story at all, my guess is they would have cracked it wide open a long time ago. The “media spiked the story to help Obama win” angle should be fully investigated.

Outlander on August 11, 2008 at 9:24 AM

Yes it probably did. It is called Karma. Least we forget Monica.

Wade on August 11, 2008 at 9:25 AM

Edwards could now become the poster child for “SAFE SEX”. It’s a natural.

bloggless on August 11, 2008 at 9:28 AM

The final results for Iowa were roughly 40 Obama 30 Clinton 30 Edwards with Edwards slightly ahead. So she’s saying Edwards’s vote would split by at least 20-10 for her? There’s no evidence to back this up and runs against what actually happened in the caucuses after he dropped out. If anything, Obama would’ve won in Iowa by more.

Typhonsentra on August 11, 2008 at 9:32 AM

Well ladies, we need to stand behind Hillary getting a floor vote at the Demo convention is what it sounds like. Trumpet the line that the MSM sat on the Edwards thing, trumpet the half-azzed statement on Georgia that Barry O conjured up, and see if the Demo party doesn’t change horses midstream. We need to get the Hill to cough up a tough campaign style statement about the Georgian conflict on par with what she said about Iran.. Of course, with only a few months of campigning, a massive debt and a divided party – the Hill doesn’t stand a chance in hell of winning. But if she does, well… I’d rather have the Hill in office than Obama. Something about known unknowns and all that.

flashoverride on August 11, 2008 at 9:41 AM

I think it is time to end sexism in the Democrat Party. Vote for Hillary.

bloggless on August 11, 2008 at 9:43 AM

Democrats will lose an election they should have won.

Just like the Wellstone funeral in 2002. Leftists can’t help themselves! It’s like they know they’re unfit to lead. If I didn’t know better, I’d think an insider on the left was sabatoging their elections, time after time!

jeff_from_mpls on August 11, 2008 at 9:51 AM

Did media silence on Edwards cost Hillary the nomination?

Duh.

OBVIOUSLY, by noting their selections, Democrats vote according to their gut, not according to any research. Hillary’s verbal gaffs or shortcomings are nothing compared to Obama’s, you must admit if you’ve researched and followed carefully the DNC campaigns. Had Edwards been out of the picture, ALL OF THOSE VOTES would have gone elsewhere, and likely are the former devotees of Bill Clinton, Esquire who harbor antipathy for Obamarx.

Geez, Chris Dodd should have been the DNC Nominee! Blue Dogs are no longer welcome in the DNC–Obama shoots them on sight or knifes them in the back when too close for comfort. Imagine, Obama actually drafting Senator Dodd as his VP. Suddenly there’d be the leveling effect on McCain’s “age and wisdom” image. But evidently the Democrat voters gave Dodd the POTUS boot long ago, as they have no interest whatsoever in utilizing EXPERIENCE in the Oval Office. And Obama would have egg on his face every moment of every day with VP Dodd showing America some common sense AND dignity, contrary to Obama The Idiot.

maverick muse on August 11, 2008 at 9:52 AM

The Media sat on this because it is corrupt. It never would have sat on this if the person was a Republican.

TheBigOldDog on August 11, 2008 at 8:42 AM

Give the man a ceegar.

Kinda funny, and a little bit sad though. If someone had told me 5 years ago The Enquirer (The Tabloid of Record) would be scooping the MSM on major stories, I’d have laughed hysterically and told them they were cut off for the night.

Now that it’s actually happened

SuperCool on August 11, 2008 at 10:01 AM

We was robbed!

Darn right wing media! Hillary needs to take her fight to the convention!

(I smell a messy divorce coming and I don’t mean the Edwards)

moxie_neanderthal on August 11, 2008 at 10:12 AM

Obama must win ’cause he’s SOOOO weak as a candidate. I would NOT want to see McCain vs Hitlary. That would be a tough fight. We’ve all figured out that BHO is a douche and America will soon, but AFTER he’s nominated please.

Mojave Mark on August 11, 2008 at 10:28 AM

The slash and burn Clintons are upset over the MSM’s treatment of Edwards?

Why didn’t they just send out their cast of accomplished bloodsuckers to do the job the MSM wouldn’t do?

fogw on August 11, 2008 at 10:37 AM

The MSM is in the tank for all Democrat Socialists. This is a newsflash???

adamsmith on August 11, 2008 at 10:48 AM

When Edwards was literally caught with his pants down he ran. Now that he is trapped, he carries on the playground mentality that dims seem to all have. He mentions McCain’s from over 30 years ago to add “credence” to his predictament. Edwards says, “I did it, but McCain did it too.” Blaming someone else in order to detract from adultry is like a child blaming another child for misbehaving. How do people with minds so shallow they have a grammar school playground mindset reach this level of power in a national party? This is a nightmare we can’t wake up from.

volsense on August 11, 2008 at 10:54 AM

This cuts it! Hillary supporters should start a riot at the DNC convention and DEMAND that a vote be taken! This gender based inequality by the media is simply not acceptable! Chaos!

sabbott on August 11, 2008 at 11:04 AM

Democrats will lose an election they should have won.

Just like the Wellstone funeral in 2002. Leftists can’t help themselves! It’s like they know they’re unfit to lead. If I didn’t know better, I’d think an insider on the left was sabatoging their elections, time after time!

jeff_from_mpls on August 11, 2008 at 9:51 AM

We will win this election for Paul Welstone, We will win this election for Paul Welstone,We will win this election for Paul Welstone,We will win this election for Paul Welstone,We will win this election for Paul Welstone,We will win this election for Paul Welstone,We will win this election for Paul Welstone,We will win this election for Paul Welstone,We will win this election for Paul Welstone,We will win this election for Paul Welstone,We will win this election for Paul Welstone,We will win this election for Paul Welstone,

sabbott on August 11, 2008 at 11:07 AM

Yes, the media never noticed Edwards publicly flirting with a well-known party girl with no skills whatsoever who just managed to get a cushy job with the Senator, they just dropped the ball, nothing to see here, everyone makes mistakes, etc etc etc.

benrand on August 11, 2008 at 11:16 AM

Just possible there’s some truth to this. Several people I know have told me that they had switched to Edwards from Hillary during the primary season but would not have considered Obama. Small potatoes I know, but if these did it there might have been a lot more?

jeanie on August 11, 2008 at 12:04 PM

Did media silence on Edwards cost Hillary the nomination?

Yes, the media had the tingle for Obama right from the very start. They still think they can install whoever they want as president.

Dusty on August 11, 2008 at 12:07 PM

You gotta be kidding.. HILL won how many in a row, 12 maybe 13… EDWARDS didn’t lose the race for HILL. She lost it all by HERSELF… could not CLOSE THE DEAL…

pueblo1032 on August 11, 2008 at 12:17 PM

This is just too good. It’s the demo whiners wringing their hands about ‘what could have been’. Well, there couldn’t be a better scapegoat…Come to think of it, the Clinton goons shoulda put a goat head in Silky’s bed back in November. Lost opportunities don’t come ’round twice.
pueblo brings out the facts, the truth, but if we submitted all that to Wolfson, he would have talked over all that logic until the end of the segment.

Christine on August 11, 2008 at 3:37 PM