John Edwards Love Child Scandal

BREAKING NEWS (7/22/08): John Edwards Love Child Scandal Re-Erupts

A story entitled “NATIONAL ENQUIRER WORLD EXCLUSIVE: JOHN EDWARDS LOVE CHILD SCANDAL!” is the top story on memeorandum this morning.

The link now goes to an otherwise blank page with some advertising but, as you may have guessed from the subtle clues in the headline, it originally featured a story about a scandal involving John Edwards and a love child and was published by America’s newspaper of record, The National Enquirer. Here’s an excerpt from the story that was once there but no longer is:

Rielle Hunter Photo 1 The woman linked to Presidential candidate John Edwards in a cheating scandal is more than six months pregnant and telling a close confidante that Edwards is the father of her unborn child, The NATIONAL ENQUIRER has learned exclusively.

The NATIONAL ENQUIRER’s political bombshell comes just weeks after Edwards emphatically denied having an affair with Rielle Hunter, who formerly worked on his campaign.

But The ENQUIRER has now confirmed not only that Rielle is pregnant, but she is also living in Chapel Hill, N.C. in a gated community, just a few streets away from Andrew Young, who has been a key official in Edwards’ campaign.

John Edwards Love Child Scandal Photo 1 The interest of the blogosphere was apparently engaged originally by Matt Drudge, who featured it as a developing story. Considering that Drudge did not use absolutely the biggest font available, much less a flashing siren, one wouldn’t think it would have gotten much attention. Slow news day, I guess.

Reille Hunter Photo 2 Brian Maloney speculates, using apparently no evidence whatsoever, that this story is the work of the Hillary Clinton War Room. He has also gotten early reactions from Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, who don’t have much useful to add. Interestingly, Hunter has a passing resemblance to Ingraham.

Mickey Kaus claims that, “I’m familiar with how the initial Rielle Hunter/Edwards rumors, true or not, got to at least one news outlet–and no campaigns, Dem or GOP, were involved. It was a story going around–I’d been hearing it for months. Not all rumors are plants. And some are true. Even in the Enquirer.” ObWi’s Publius thinks Kaus should be fired if the story turns out to be wrong. Because, you know, reporters are usually fired when they print rumors that don’t pan out.

Ace initially dismisses and then embraces the Hillary connection. Apparently, she’s friends with someone named Altman, who owns or is in a senior position at the Enquirer. (It turns out to be Robert Altman, who does indeed own the paper. See “The Clintonite who owns National Enquirer” for background.)

Anyway, Kaus observes that, if the story turns out to have legs, it will hurt Edwards because he “not very subtly put his wife’s illness. and his loyalty to her, near the center of his campaign.” For good measure, he supplies quotes along those lines.

Glenn Reynolds muses, “it makes no sense for Hillary to be spreading this story. Obama, on the other hand, would benefit from having Edwards out of the picture, giving him the undiluted anti-Hillary vote.”

Michael van der Galien figures the “Clinton campaign wouldn’t spread a rumor as vicious like this.” Or, upon reflection, “They wouldn’t spread the rumor if they weren’t 100% sure it’s true.”

As for myself, I’m leaving open the possibility that the story is untrue. It’s probable that Hunter is pregnant but the evidence that Edwards is the father is, as best I can determine, negligible. Sure, the National Enquirer is more believable than the New York Times. But they do get stories wrong every now and again.

Further, as Ace notes, “How dumb do you have to be to get a woman pregnant while running for president? I don’t think Edwards is that level of stupid.” Then again, Bill Clinton did things of similar stupidity throughout his career and it got him twelve years as governor and two terms as president.

Doug Ross and Death by 1000 Papercuts have the most exhaustive accounts of the story I’ve come across thus far.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 2008 Election, Blogosphere, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. R. Alex says:

    This would be an awfully risky move for the Hillary campaign even (or perhaps especially) if it successfully knocks Edwards out of the race. Right now her route to the nomination requires split opposition. If either Edwards or Obama drop out, the anti-Hillary faction will have a name by default. It’s possible that she could win over enough of Edwards’s supporters for it to work out, but I doubt it. Especially if people think that she might have had something to do with it.

  2. Anderson says:

    If Edwards cheated with THAT, then he clearly lacks the judgment to be president.

  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    If I was on the Edwards campaign, I would seriously consider offering a DNA swab,the cost for the paternity testing in 3 months and a public letter authorizing the release of the paternity test results. That would be about the strongest denial (aka when it is knowable, it will be known). Of course in private, I would insist on three different reputable labs to do the testing in parallel, etc.

  4. John Burgess says:

    No need to wait three months for a DNA test. It’s easy enough to get samples of amniotic fluid now, even non-invasively.

  5. Bithead says:

    If Edwards cheated with THAT, then he clearly lacks the judgment to be president.

    I made that comment based on the current Mrs Edwards some months ago.

    But look, guys, let’s remember who owns the paper breaking the story… Roger Altman… Clintonista.
    Starting to make more sense now?

    And yes, I suspect she will have insulated herself from being charged with being complicit in the rumor… a supposed ‘plausable deniability’. But how many of these things go down before we have a pattern? She had ‘plausable deniability’ as regards Norman Hsu, for example. At what point is the willing suspension of disbelief required to keep thinking Hillary has no connections with any of these wrongdoings?

  6. Eneils Bailey says:

    If this is true, it’s time for John Edwards to man-up and address this situation.
    He will soon be sending out his wife to defend him. Bet she is ready to punch someone in the face.

  7. Pug says:

    Do you guys always believe what you read in the Enquirer, or just this time?

    Samples of amniotic fluid? Are you friggin’ nuts?

    If you were on the Edwards campaign staff and seriously thought about offering a DNA swab, I would seriously fire you on the spot if I were Edwards.

    You don’t have to prove every negative (prove you’re not the father) the National Enquirer comes up with.

    By the way, do you guys also think Obama should prove that he really didn’t break up Oprah and Steadman like the Enquirer article said last week?

  8. bob in fla says:

    Lots of non-story here, James. Both Ms. Hunter & Mr. Young have named Young as the father. I believe this was part of the original story, which is no longer available (at least from the Enquirer website).

    And I am sorry, but Clinton is not that stupid. Granted, all the real & supposed slurs against Obama lately from Clinton supporters with this added on top makes it look bad for her. But as others have commented, she needs Edwards in the race right now to help keep Obama down. Besides, it seems like this story has popped up in the Enquirer a couple other times in the past few months. I’m going with an overenthusiastic supporter acting on his own, or else someone else at the paper trying to kill 2 birds with one stone kind of thing.

    And you snarking about it just keep the meme rolling. She isn’t my first choice either, but I can support Edwards w/o trying to bring her or Obama down.

  9. HT Springer says:

    I know we can’t just assume that Edwards is guilty, but the story doesn’t suprise me at all. Edwards is probably the phoniest, most plastic, transparent candidate ever to run for president.