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Life stranger than fiction

Posted: August 21, 2008 8:27 p.m.
Updated: October 23, 2008 5:01 a.m.
 
In one of the greatest cinematic accomplishments of the 20th century, "Men in Black" (1997), J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are chasing dangerous aliens around New York City. At one point, they lose the trail of their nemesis and are forced to consult the "hot sheets" - supermarket tabloids.

Amidst the stories of children raised by wolves, alien abductions and 500-pound carrots, they find the "true" story that sets them on the path to eventual victory - a husband whose skin has been stolen and worn by an alien.

"Men in Black" makes a joke of the fanciful writing often seen in the tabloids. Everyone knows that the stories in the Star and Enquirer are just illusory flights of fancy intended only to attract the curious and sell copies.

But K challenges our preconceived notion by declaring to an incredulous J: "Best investigative reporting on the planet. But go ahead, read the New York Times if you want. They get lucky sometimes."

Outrageous, you say? In the last couple of weeks we have been inundated by stories of John Edwards and the tortured web of deceit surrounding his affair with a videographer who was assigned to his earlier campaign.

Edwards was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination who eventually was forgotten in the Clinton/Obama heavyweight match. However, he had become a possible vice presidential running mate due to his connections and experience in the Senate.

The tremendous irony is the identity of the news organization that broke the story - the National Enquirer. The Enquirer had actually been on the story since October 2007, having published a story about Edwards and an "unnamed campaign worker" that was immediately rebuffed by Edwards as "made up."

The Enquirer was relentless in its pursuit of Edwards, eventually catching him in a late-night tryst with the other woman at a Los Angeles hotel. Edwards attempted to evade detection by going down in the elevator, then up to the rendezvous room. The Enquirer had people posted around the building and was not fooled.

K's words are prophetic - "best investigative reporting on the planet." Where were the L.A. Times, Washington Post, New York Times or Boston Globe? Asleep, apparently.

Or, worse yet, were they simply copying down the candidate's words or lifting material from the various campaigns' press releases for inclusion in their own reports? They did not ask questions, probe, much less investigate Edward's clear ethical and moral failings.

Several months ago, it was leaked that the L.A. Times had explosive information on a leading presidential candidate involved in an extramarital affair. But the story never came to light.

No doubt this was Edwards, but the L.A. Times sat on the story. A major Democrat was in significant trouble, but the mainstream press looked the other way.

Had this been a Republican or conservative public figure, there is little doubt that the story would have been on page 1 above the fold, complete with psychological analysis and political sound-bites from leading Democrats.

Enter the Enquirer, the Babe Ruth of the strange and sleazy. A paper written for pure entertainment, with stories often penned tongue in cheek, challenging the reader's credulity. A paper that has now shown that it is not intimidated by politics, position or power. A paper that is willing to investigate and tell the truth.

Painfully, Edwards has chosen the path of lies, arrogantly believing that he has the ability to get out of any situation using a smooth tongue and honeyed words. He has denied that the baby is his, said he broke off the relationship long ago, and that he has not continued to betray his wife, who is dying of cancer.

Put these in the same category as Ubu the Wolf Boy and the lady who just had Elvis' love child. The Enquirer did the nation a great service by unmasking a repugnant and evil little man.

Edwards has proven that he is not presidential timber, vice presidential timber, nor even much of a human being. We can only hope that other news organizations will put aside politics in the quest for truth so that we can make better decisions tomorrow.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.

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