Patterico's Pontifications

7/26/2008

L.A. Times Thinks It’s OK to Blog Uncorroborated Tabloid Stories About Affairs by Famous Men . . . As Long As the Famous Man Is Not John Edwards . . .

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:32 pm



L.A. Times blogger Elizabeth Snead blogs an uncorroborated tabloid report about an affair involving a famous man.

John Edwards? No, silly — that’s not allowed. No, this uncorroborated tabloid report about an affair involving a famous man is about Matthew Broderick, and is therefore A-OK to report:

According to various reports, including this week’s Star magazine, always a reliable (satire alert) source, Matthew Broderick ‘s been getting himself a little extra “Sex in the City.”

Just not with his wife of 11 years, Sarah Jessica Parker.

The Star reports Broderick was sneaking around with a young redhead earlier this year. While SJP was busy being Carrie.

Ouch.

(H/t to the Media Blog.)

I think Snead’s blog post is just the way to handle it: you note the source, and if the major source is a tabloid (unlike the Edwards story, which has been corroborated by Fox News), you note that as well.

But if this post is OK, then why not a post about Edwards’s alleged affair?

The message is: it’s OK to run a story about a married man’s alleged affair based on a tabloid report . . . as long as that man is not John Edwards.

Does that make any sense?

I’ll e-mail Tony Pierce and Elizabeth Snead about this.

52 Responses to “L.A. Times Thinks It’s OK to Blog Uncorroborated Tabloid Stories About Affairs by Famous Men . . . As Long As the Famous Man Is Not John Edwards . . .”

  1. Sure it makes sense. The Times is a self-appointed protector of Edwards’s reputation.

    Icy Truth (10a986)

  2. These rumors are uncorroborated salacious gossip and Matthew Broderick isn’t a candidate for anything. Weren’t those the reasons given by LA Times’ personnel for not covering the Edwards’ story? Either this is a double standard designed to protect John Edwards or the Times’ editors/reporters like Elizabeth Edward a lot more than they like Sarah Jessica Parker.

    BTW: I think “Our reporters are looking into the story” is a weak defense. If every newspaper decided that the only news fit to print is information that it originally reported, there would be a lot less news in the world.

    DRJ (070f3d)

  3. If Matthew Broderick were a past DEMOCRAT vice president nominee then they would also not cover the story. Hope that helps….

    Capitalist Infidel (c4ec46)

  4. Of course this doesn’t make sense if one expects a newspaper to be willing to report all the news…

    I linked to Meredith Artley, Exec. Editor of the LAT in a previous post re the decision to muzzle reporters/bloggers on the Edwards situation but perhaps she forgot what she wrote or perhaps a different set of rules apply to a different set of celebrity,

    “Various colleagues on the 3rd floor have been working on reporting the story. I made the decision that while we are working on verifying if this has any truth to it, we should stay away from joining the fray. We still don’t know that, and national and metro are still pursuing.

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  5. You: ” . . . the Edwards story, which has been corroborated by Fox News . . . .”

    The article: “FOXNews.com could not independently confirm the Enquirer’s allegations.”

    Yeah, that’s some impressive corroboratin’ there.

    Aplomb (b6fba6)

  6. I think the rule makes sense.

    John Edwards (d8011b)

  7. Maybe they like Sarah Jessica? I’ve heard a few rumors that Matthew Broderick is gay. It could be a pre-emptive favor to some confessional that’s coming out. Who knows.

    Otherwise they’re nuts trying to censor the John Edwards story, which voters should read about. Today’s politicians were born too late. Privacy-wise, this isn’t Brentwood circa 1962.

    Vermont Neighbor (31ccb6)

  8. Here is what the L.A. times didn’t report, I cut and paste it from fox.com

    A Beverly Hills hotel security guard told FOXNews.com he intervened this week between a man he identified as former Sen. John Edwards and tabloid reporters who chased down the former presidential hopeful after what they’re calling a rendezvous with his mistress and love child.

    Wow, and he’s not even running for president any longer. Shame on you L.A. times!

    Oiram (447eed)

  9. Aplomb,

    Do you understand the difference between corroboration and confirmation?

    Fox News confirmed aspects of the story: Edwards was there, hiding in a bathroom and nervous about what the reporters wanted; Enquirer reporters were there shouting questions about Rielle Hunter. This is confirmation of some aspects of the story, and corroboration of the story generally — but it isn’t confirmation of all aspects of the story.

    See the difference?

    Patterico (7b3fc8)

  10. I am afraid Mr. Aplomb has never absorbed the concepts taught in a course in Evidence, Patterico.

    vnjagvet (d3d48a)

  11. Evidence??

    Wow

    Is the Right wing now trying to take down all Democrats by using hearsay accounts??

    If Edwards did do this, it’s not a crime. He was never convicted and all here would agree that he shouldn’t be.

    I know the whole post here is about why Broderick and not Edwards. I don’t know. I’m not in charge of the times.

    I don’t even really see the need for the Broderick news. I don’t see the need for Britney news on Fox, yet they still throw it at us.

    Oiram (447eed)

  12. If Edwards did do this, it’s not a crime. He was never convicted and all here would agree that he shouldn’t be.

    — So,why are you bringing it up? We’re talking about whether or not he did something morally wrong, not criminal behavior.

    Icy Truth (10a986)

  13. yo, sarah jessica, if you ever go back on the market, i’m single!

    assistant devil's advocate (a0a0bd)

  14. Is it possible that Edwards has sent a lawyerly letter to the LAT warning them to back off?

    steve miller (0da5b6)

  15. “Is the Right wing now trying to take down all Democrats by using hearsay accounts??”
    Sacre bleu! Next thing you know they’ll start forging documents about their military service!

    Jack Klompus (b796b4)

  16. The Oiram crowd’s test:

    “If it ain’t criminal, no problem”.

    Whaddabout stupid?

    vnjagvet (d3d48a)

  17. Patterico #9, give me a break. Your whole post is about wondering why the LA times isn’t printing an article about an alleged Edwards affair. And you wrongly imply that Fox corroborated the Enquirer’s report about the affair (in contrast to the uncorroborated Broderick item), which Fox expressly did not.

    If your post asked why the LA Times didn’t print an article about an Edwards altercation in a hotel, then your reference to Fox would make sense as Fox did corroborate that. But the affair itself? Nope, although you misleadingly suggest otherwise.

    Aplomb (b6fba6)

  18. Adultery is a crime in DC.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  19. Aplomb,
    I thought Patterico’s whole post was about the LAT disallowing blog posts regarding the Edwards story, while allowing posts regarding the Broderick story, and didn’t have anything directly to do with what stories are chosen to run in either the print or online editions.

    Icy Truth (10a986)

  20. Icy – Aplomb likes to make things up as he goes along. Expect semantics and definitions that are rather fluid.

    JD (5f0e11)

  21. — From the American Law Encyclopedia:

    Although the District of Columbia and approximately half of the states continue to have laws on the books criminalizing adultery, these laws are rarely invoked. Traditionally, states advanced three goals in support of their adultery laws: (1) the prevention of disease and illegitimate children; (2) the preservation of the institution of marriage; and (3) the safeguarding of general community morals.

    In California (where the adultery allegedly took place) it could be argued that, to one degree or another, all three of the “goals” above are obviated by the California Supreme Court decision on gay marriage.

    In South Carolina, John Edwards’s state of residence, the law on the books is as follows:

    SECTION 16-15-60. Adultery or fornication.

    Any man or woman who shall be guilty of the crime of adultery or fornication shall be liable to indictment and, on conviction, shall be severally punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than one year or by both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court.

    SECTION 16-15-70. “Adultery” defined.

    “Adultery” is the living together and carnal intercourse with each other or habitual carnal intercourse with each other without living together of a man and woman when either is lawfully married to some other person.

    SECTION 16-15-80. “Fornication” defined.

    “Fornication” is the living together and carnal intercourse with each other or habitual carnal intercourse with each other without living together of a man and woman, both being unmarried.

    — Back to the Law Encyclopedia:

    Courts in the jurisdictions still prohibiting adultery have openly questioned whether adultery laws in fact serve these goals. The Florida Supreme Court, for example, found that adultery statutes bear no rational, much less compelling, relationship to disease prevention. The court said that the risk of contracting disease is already a greater deterrent to extra-marital sex than criminal punishment. The court also noted that the fear of prosecution prevents infected people from voluntarily seeking treatment. Purvis v. State, 377 So. 2d 674, 677 (Fla. 1979).

    At the same time, many prosecutors began to realize that once the act of adultery is committed, the harm to the marriage is for the most part complete, especially if the infidelity is disclosed or discovered. In other words, after a spouse has been unfaithful, there is little the judicial system can offer to undo the act and reverse the damage. Thus, prosecutors have increasingly questioned whether prosecuting the adulterer will do much if anything to preserve the marriage.

    Finally, judges, prosecutors, and other state officials have increasingly realized that prosecutions for adultery have had little practical effect in “safeguarding the community morals.” Opinion polls consistently show that significant numbers of spouses admit to cheating on their partners during marriage. In light of the growing evidence that adultery laws no longer serve their three underlying purposes, most state prosecutors have made a conscious decision against wasting their scarce resources on prosecuting alleged adulterers.

    In states that still have adultery laws on the books, but have failed to prosecute anyone under them recently, courts have ruled that the mere lack of prosecution under the adultery statute does not result in that statute becoming invalid or judicially unenforceable. Courts have also rejected the argument that prosecutions for adultery are inconsistent with the right to privacy guaranteed by state and federal constitutions. Commonwealth v. Stowell, 389 Mass 171, 449 NE2d 357 (Mass 1983).

    Icy Truth (10a986)

  22. You guys are overlooking the obvious: Broderick must be on the sort list to be a Vice Presidential candidate for Obama (don’t know about his politics, but his wife is a very mouthy Democrat so I am assuming he is too).

    JVW (6a7c34)

  23. “Adultery” is the living together and carnal intercourse with each other or habitual carnal intercourse with each other without living together of a man and woman when either is lawfully married to some other person.

    So a “one night stand” isn’t considered ‘adultery’?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  24. Besides which, I’m pretty sure the news reports on lots of things that aren’t crimes.

    Jim Treacher (592cb4)

  25. “The New York Times has not deigned to touch the story, although it recently ran thousands of words on a relationship between McCain and a female lobbyist, which appeared to be based more on innuendo than fact.”

    Heh. I would say something about chickens coming home to roost, but JD would just call me a racist.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  26. It’s official. The National Enquirer now has more credibility than the New York Times.

    Evil Pundit (646727)

  27. You take that back!

    Jayson Blair (592cb4)

  28. ada @ #13…
    Why are we not surprised…

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  29. Drum @ #27…
    As well he should…

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  30. Callin’ y’all racists is redundant. Not only do I denounce you, but consider yourselves condemned too.

    JD (5f0e11)

  31. I mean, it is like calling water wet. Duh.

    JD (5f0e11)

  32. Patterico: I’m suprised you used this as an example of the double standard at the LAT and not the absolute disaster that was the shoddy reporting on Kozinsky.

    Sean P (4a646d)

  33. This is how things are. From today’s LAT:

    Many of our readers disagree with us. Some accuse us of lock-step submission to orders sent by Democratic Party headquarters. We make no apologies for our center-left lean — it is where our study of leading issues has drawn us — but some of those criticisms are ridiculous, more revealing of our accusers than of our work. We like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a liberal Democrat, and supported his election, but we irritate him regularly with our skepticism about his fidelity to his promises. We also like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican, and supported his election too. Still, we do wish he’d give us a decent state budget. We don’t think much of President Bush, but two-thirds of the nation, and even more of Los Angeles, is with us there.

    I realize the article specifically referring to the Editorial pages but still it makes one think in regard to all issues covered by the paper…

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  34. “center left?” Bwahahahaha!!!! There is nothing “center” about the L.A. Times! It should have read “we make no apologies for our far left wing fanatical kook lean.”

    Capitalist Infidel (c4ec46)

  35. “center left” – yeah, but at least they threw in the left…I wouldn’t have been surprised if they saw themselves as center. Period.

    “it is where our study of leading issues has drawn us”

    This intentionally makes it appear as though they were blank, unbiased slates with no pre-suppositions already in place thus with complete neutrality. Obviously an impossibility, and yet the wording seeks to convince otherwise.

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  36. On a good day, “center left” means “center of the left, in a state that itself leans heavily to the left.”. On a bad day it means “about as far to the left as as any elected officials in this country, but still well to the right of Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky or those other assorted irrelevancies the hard left worships, the mainstream left engages and the rest of us ignore.

    Xrlq (97b263)

  37. I think Nader is a little too far right for the Times. Heck, Chairman Mao is to the right of the Times.

    Capitalist Infidel (c4ec46)

  38. We like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a liberal Democrat, and supported his election, but we irritate him regularly with our skepticism about his fidelity to his promises.

    — Fidelity to his promises?! Are they referring to his public or private life?

    Icy Truth (b2b2e3)

  39. Aplomb,
    “Stupidity can be a capital crime.” Louis Wu.
    A concept John Edwards (and you for that matter) should strive to understand.

    corwin (a9fda3)

  40. The only universe the LAT would be considered “center-left” in would be the ComIntern during the twenties.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  41. “We also like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican, and supported his election too.”

    That’s a blatant lie. The LA Times ran a hit-piece on Schwarzenegger a few days before he was first elected, with the deliberate intent of sabotaging his campaign.

    Evil Pundit (646727)

  42. That’s a blatant lie. The LA Times ran a hit-piece on Schwarzenegger a few days before he was first elected, with the deliberate intent of sabotaging his campaign.

    The L.A. Times’ editorial page — the same one that is claiming “We also like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger” — endorsed for California governor last time around a certain cat named … uh, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In fact, I was there, and I daresay the opinion was unanimous (I was the closest there was to a dissenter, at least vocally).

    So, your position is that the L.A. Times is just blatantly lying to itself?

    Matt Welch (038d51)

  43. Yes, that’s my position.

    The editorial page is simply a fig-leaf for a newspaper’s real opinions, which are carried in the “News” section.

    During Schwarzenegger’s first election campaign, the LA Times ran a smear-story alleging sexual harrassment just before polling day. This was a deliberate move aimed at destroying his chances without giving him enough time to react.

    Perhaps the Times’ journalists have changed their minds about Schwarzenegger in the meantime. But some of us haven’t forgotten their record.

    Evil Pundit (646727)

  44. Matt #44 – As you yourself described going to work for “the evil LA Times” (and correct me if I’m wrong, but you have since vacated your position there), how would you respond to Dana’s #35? How far left is the rudder at the Times turned, and is anyone even attempting to change course?

    Apogee (366e8b)

  45. Apogee — I left on friendly terms in November of last year, after having worked nearly two years. I’m now editor of Reason magazine.

    I can’t speak for the newsroom at the Times, because that would be mean, and also because I never worked directly for them (the ed pages, at least until last week or so, reported directly to the publisher for the last couple of years, though the publisher rarely exerted any meaningful influence on content).

    As for the editorial board, yes, I believe it got lefter after I left. (Or more accurately, after Andres Martinez, Michael Newman and myself all left in 2007.) Knowing each and every board member there now, I certainly wouldn’t describe it as monolithically left or Democrat, but it sure the hell ain’t Republican. There are some occasional bursts of libertarian contrariness, but these are the exception. I expect it to pretty much stay that way no matter who owns the paper, or who runs the section, just because L.A. is a liberal town and journalists tend to be vaguely liberal.

    As for the newsroom, my hunch is that — like newspaper newsrooms everywhere — it’s less about agenda and more about not feeling the water in which you swim. I had many conflicts with the newsroom during my tenure there, though these tended to be comportmental/journalistic/internal-political more than anything else. I remember hearing expressions of disgust that we endorsed Schwarzenegger, to cite one harmless example.

    More than anything else right now, however, the institution is just *traumatized*. People are hunkered down, being fired, and there’s flux. Ascribing a single institutional intelligence to the place — let alone a proactive agenda — at this point is beyond folly, in my opinion.

    Matt Welch (038d51)

  46. Matt #47 – Thanks, and I agree that one of our problems politically and culturally in this country today is “ascribing a single institutional intelligence” to many large organizations, be it political parties, multinational conglomerates, or “the media”.

    I’m a reader of Reason, and have been for a while. I like your work, find it thoughtful, and am glad you’re back there. I’m registered Libertarian, but must admit the desire for the legalization of ferrets didn’t exactly send me into the streets with a torch during the Gubernatorial dust-up. The somewhat kooky veneer of the L party is a perfect example of not mistaking generalizations with specifics.

    Which is why I had high hopes for your entrance into the den of insularity. I do feel that most people are fairly libertarian, at least as far as they would like to conduct themselves, but I’ll admit I’m at a loss as to how to break the social chains that tie them to party/political affiliation.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  47. “I had many conflicts with the newsroom during my tenure there … I remember hearing expressions of disgust that we endorsed Schwarzenegger …”

    I think that tends to confirm the point I made earlier.

    Evil Pundit (646727)

  48. You want to know why they’re protecting Edwards? It’s a matter of mathematics.

    John Edwards has 21 delegates.

    The difference between Clinton and Obama is a grand total of 238 delegates, some of whom have already shifted their loyalties (some twice) between candidates regardless of their pledges after state elections. He has power. He’s also on the long list for VP candidates.

    They’ll look at this story after the DNC, but before that they’re doing their best to bury it. Dumb, dumb idea.

    Christopher Taylor (a34ee8)

  49. Christopher — The chances of Tony Pierce having any idea of Democratic Party delegate math are approaching zero.

    Matt Welch (7d2ab7)

  50. Definitely. Although if Edwards does have those delegates, the “Who cares?” argument might be a bit silly.

    Jim Treacher (592cb4)


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