John Edwards’ unforgivable betrayal is he grew so arrogant even the leftists newsies who for months slavishly kept his secret could no longer shield him.
What damage the Democratic former presidential aspirant did to his family, to his paramour and, finally, to himself is so obvious it needs no delineation. What the media elites did to American voters is a deception far greater.
They sat cynically on the John Edwards scandal for the better part of a year, even while he fundraised and ran for nomination. They checked out initial rumblings, promised confidentiality and whispered about it within their “in” clique, gambling no one else would divulge it. Excuses for not going public months ago ranged from disingenuous to unprofessional to repulsive to absurd: The ex-senator’s sex life was his personal business, no one else’s. Since this wasn’t a political story, and they were part of the Washington Beltway insiders whose exclusive prerogative it is to set the political agenda for the nation it would be beneath them to touch it. They couldn’t bear to bring painful news to Edwards’ wife, dying of cancer, never mind she had early on been informed by her husband. They didn’t want to besmirch a young woman’s good name or her baby’s.
The real reason for their dereliction of journalistic duty, which you can bet they never uttered openly, was that Edwards is a left-wing Democratic politician. They felt a higher calling — to refrain from reporting dishonor that might even remotely detract from any fellow leftist’s ascension to the White House.
If proof were needed, consult the Saturday, Aug. 9, Associated Press story that went to about every news outlet, summing up Edwards’ “serious mistake.” Not until the 17th paragraph was he identified as a Democrat. How early and often would a party label be pinned on a conservative pol caught in a similar scandal?
It took a supermarket tabloid to break the Edwards story, herding reluctant leftist news-purveyors into doing the job they had been shirking all this time.
Was this the Freedom of the Press that the Founding Fathers enshrined in the Bill of Rights? Where in the history of genuine journalism was such craven masscomm misconduct ever enshrined as a guiding principle?
Is this what the sage William Allen White, editor of The Emporia (Kansas) Gazette, would have done? Or the tenacious Ben Bradlee, executive editor of The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal? Or the straight-arrow Abe Rosenthal, executive editor of a once-great New York Times? Of course not.
Masscomm elitists aren’t serving in the profession of authentic journalism. They’re bowling the game of shadowy politics, in the left-hand gutter. They look down upon voters not as endowed by God with inalienable rights to self-government but, rather, as their own pliable pawns to fashion and direct.
Without wincing, they are convinced this entitles them to decide what public policies are appropriate for their inferiors. They have chosen themselves as the caretakers — yes, the bloomin’ nannies — of the poor slobs.
A humor columnist at a journalism banquet in Atlanta a few decades ago introduced a nearby member of Congress as “not as dumb as he looks.” Sure enough, he wasn’t. And it was he, not the columnist, who had been elected.
The press had then, and has even more today, a perception of voters as being even dumber than they look. Ergo, it has a duty to protect the lesser Darwinian species from what they don’t know that might not be good for their superiors.
Otherwise, voters might take it into their heads to do as they damn-well please come Election Day. That’s the menace masscomm leftists feel they must protect against — protect the populace from unfettered information so as to protect the ideologues’ agenda from a less-than-bright electorate not under their guidance.
History shows that sooner or later the American people demonstrate they really aren’t as dumb as their nannies see them. Pray it is sooner this time around.
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for Newsmax.com.
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