The Media Mob has learned that Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, currently has his team of reporters looking into a story that few of his colleagues at major news organizations have been willing to investigate—namely, the so-called “love child” scandal, involving former U.S. Senator John Edwards.
For weeks, members of the media meta-sphere have been debating about whether the MSM should follow up on the numerous stories in The National Enquirer, alleging that Mr. Edwards has fathered an out-of-wedlock child with filmmaker Rielle Hunter.
“I think the mainstream media is right to be cautious with this story,” Brent Cunningham, managing editor of The Columbia Journalism Review, recently told The Hartford Courant. “I think they’re good at what [The National Enquirer] do. … They make sure their stories are legally airtight, but I don’t know if that qualifies them to be a source to follow.”
Recently, a number of influential writers including Mickey Kaus of Slate and Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City Star have argued in favor of news organizations (and Mr. Edwards himself) addressing the story. That ABC News’ top investigative team has now deemed the story worthy of reporting on may signal that the rest of the mega fauna in the American media may be at last turning their attention to the unsavory subject of the alleged child and the alleged affair.
“Sure, it’s distasteful,” wrote Tom Bemis is MarketWatch on Thursday, Aug. 7, in a piece arguing for the story’s legitimacy as a news topic. “That’s one of the reasons it’s news. But The National Enquirer owns the Edwards love child story the way The Washington Post owned Watergate.”
Apparently, Mr. Ross and his colleagues at ABC News—who in recent years have broken big stories on everything from covert C.I.A. prisons, to campaign-finance reform, to Congressman Mark Foley’s lecherous instant messaging—now want a piece of the story.
No word yet on when Mr. Ross’ investigation might land on his ABC Web site, The Blotter, or on other ABC News programs. And of course, given the ethically complicated and empirically hazy subject matter, it’s possible the reporting will never make it past ABC’s lawyers and standard czars or get scooped by another reporter.