May 10th, 2009
11:23 PM ET
5 years ago

Will the public turn on Elizabeth Edwards?

WASHINGTON (CNN) – She’s lost her first born child, continues to battle cancer, suffered through coping with her husband’s extramarital affair, and been an integral part of two unsuccessful presidential campaigns.

But notwithstanding all of the sympathy from voters built up in favor of Elizabeth Edwards, two reporters suggested Sunday that the famous political spouse’s current media blitz could bankrupt her goodwill with the American public.

“She was painted as this martyr figure,” CNN American Morning Entertainment Reporter Lola Ogunnaike said on CNN’s Reliable Sources.“

“They had what seemed to be this ideal marriage. And it turns out that she was complicit in basically this cover- up. She knew all along that he'd had an affair, that he cheated on her, and decided that they would go along with this massive cover-up, and she ultimately decided that his political career was worth more than being honest.” Ogunnaike added.

Washington Post reporter Lois Romano said Mrs. Edwards recent efforts to rehash her husband’s extramarital affair in multiple interviews and her forthcoming book is filling some sort of need but is risky.

“There's clearly something in her personality that is pushing her to get the last word,” said Romano. “I think she is at risk of diminishing her own stature. I mean, people held her up as the soul of this relationship, and now she's turned it into a spectacle again,” Romano also said.

Romano also suggested that Mrs. Edwards’ book tour might backfire. “Well, I think what we're going to see here is we're going to see the curve of the public follow us [the media]. Right now . . . the public is still generally in support of her,” Romano said. “Let's see what happens after two weeks of this.”

Elizabeth Edwards’ upcoming book, “Resilence,” touches on learning that her husband, former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, had carried on an affair with videographer Rielle Hunter.

"After I cried and screamed, I went to the bathroom and threw up," Edwards writes of her reaction when her husband told her about the affair in late 2006, soon after he announced his second presidential bid.

In a recently aired interview on “Oprah,” John Edwards said he wasn't sure whether his wife would leave him after he admitted to the affair.

"I didn't know, I think the honest truth is that I didn't know what she would do," he said. “I don't think anybody knows when they go through something like this."

Edwards also said he and his wife are "are getting to a good place." But he added, "It's not over."

One issue the Edwardses have apparently yet apparently to completely confront is whether a child resulted from the affair. Asked about Hunter’s daughter, a toddler, Elizabeth Edwards told Oprah Winfrey she did not know whether her husband was the baby’s father.

“I've seen a picture of the baby,” Elizabeth Edwards told the media mogul. “I have no idea. It doesn't look like my children. But, I don't have any idea.”

The Edwardses also recently acknowledged a pending federal investigation into payments by the former candidate's political action committee to a production company owned by Hunter.

In a statement recently given to several news organizations, including to CNN, John Edwards for the first time acknowledged the ongoing federal probe, but would provide no further details.

"I am confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly," Edwards said in the statement. "However, I know that it is the role of government to ensure that this is true. We have made available to the United States both the people and the information necessary to help get the issue resolved efficiently and in a timely manner."

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in North Carolina refused to confirm or deny any ongoing investigation.

It is a federal crime to knowingly use money from a political action committee for personal use.

soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. Tom

    So a couple of "entertainment reporters" want to judge Elizabeth Edwards after all she has been through (including fighting the good fight for working people all across this country). They've got some nerve sitting in judgment of her.

    May 10, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  2. E.C.Coleman

    For no reason whatsoever..........should Elizabeth Edwards have
    written a book and made plans to perform in interviews on a book tour in rehashing this entire lurid affair of her life.
    Yes, the public was deeply sorrowful for her illness and her loss of a child. Her husband's affair was shameless and the frosting on the cake. However, her admitted participation in the 'coverup' was not a good idea. What possessed her to do this?
    Shame on John Edwards! He will live with his adultery forever.
    Fast forward to this book business:
    The public doesn't understand her motive for desiring to rehash her personal life with him. Something tells me that this is not the first
    time that there has been another woman for John Edwards.
    However, perhaps this affair is the very first time that his extramarital adventures have been made so public and resulted in a child, if the DNA tests so prove this.
    What she is doing to herself and her children doesn't seem normal and will prove more stressful and unproductive for her remaining
    marital years with her idiot of a husband.
    My question: Why doesn't Elizabeth leave this scoundrel???

    May 10, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  3. debbie

    I couldn't disagree more. I am not pro- or anti- Edwards, either one of them. But having see the interviews on Oprah I now have a profound respect for Elizabeth and think that these reporters are doing her an injustice. The book is about far more than an extra-marital affair. It's too bad that the media these days only cares about "dirty laundry" and puts the focus there.

    May 10, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  4. Greg & Matt in Houston

    Why on Earth would we turn on Elizabeth Edwards? She has done nothing wrong. If people turn on someone because they are honest, willing to do what it takes to hold their family together and stand by the person they love then the people who turn on her are very small people. It speaks volumes about them, not her.

    May 10, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  5. sandra pittman

    Why do reporters think they know whats the real reason someone does something?Maybe they have never been betrayed,maybe they have never been hurt by the one person that has thier total trust,maybe they don`t live every day knowing your days are numbered,maybe they don`t know the truth when they hear it .Give the lady a break,she`s entitled to live her life the best way she knows how.Anyone that thinks less of her because ,of her pain,maybe you should walk a mile in her shoes.Theres nothing the anchors and reporters like better than to rip a person to shreds,just to keep the story alive.The majority of us understand her pain and have compassion,maybe if john edwards had a little compassion this would never have happened.

    May 10, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  6. Vicki

    I want my money back. I believed in John Edwards and what I thought he stood for, and I contributed to him at regular intervals for over a year before he dropped out. I feel totally betrayed, more so now than I did last August. They both misrepresented their cause and took my money under false pretenses. I am really disgusted by this whole sham of a campaign.

    May 10, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  7. lasvegasrose

    She had me up until the comment about not knowing whether her husband was the baby's father. Give me a break. That's the FIRST thing a wife would want to be sure of; DNA test please. (if nothing more than for child support payments or for blackmail down the road.)I'm not buying the innocent act.
    She knew, but didn't expect the pregnancy. I'm sorry about her cancer, but, this innocent act about the affair-should have left it alone!!

    May 10, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  8. A. Beck

    I think everyone should leave her alone. She does not control anything of importance. She does not influence the government. She is terminally ill. Her hand is not on any switch for a bomb. Just back off her & report on others who are handling some serious stuff.

    May 10, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  9. Wanda

    Maybe they need the money that the book will bring.

    May 10, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  10. Georgia Gal

    Yes she knew about the affair, but she has two young children she has to consider. What would they suggest she do?? I may be wrong and I may be naive, but I honestly believe her going along with it wasn't about saving his political career, but protecting her children and I would have done the same thing.

    May 10, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  11. jim

    she should not of let her husband run knowing what she did.she did America no favors here I'm afraid

    May 10, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  12. wd

    I don't think the public will turn on Elizabeth Edwards. I for one wondered how she has been coping and what was her reaction when she found out about the affair.. I think it was good she shared her experiences with the public, though painful. I feel for her and wish her well in her fight against cancer. Unfortunately, John Edwards will never again regain our trust after this debacle

    May 10, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  13. Larry B

    The book tour has soured me on Mrs Edwards. She really damaged her image

    May 10, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  14. Mel of Alexandria

    Even if we would rather not see this matter played out in the public arena, there is no reason why any one should turn on Elizabeth Edwards.She and the children are victims. May be she needs this exposure in order to move on.

    May 10, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  15. Kathy

    I do not believe Elizabeth Edwards when she says that she knew all along. Go back and look at those videos. She looks at him with adoration....she did not know. Why she is lying now, I haven't a clue.

    She should also have divorced him to give her kids her share because, mark my words, he will be back with Rielle as soon as she passes. He's going to have very bad Karma.

    May 10, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  16. tk in IL

    She's lost a child in an accident. Anyone that has the audicity to say she's not entitled to the last word on some things, clearly hasn't walked a single step in her shoes. I've lost a child, I know what that feels like.

    She's battled a cronic illness which is now terminal. Anyone that says she's not allowed her will or her words, clearly knows nothing about the strength and courage this woman must embrace daily. I've battled chronic illness, I know what that feels like.

    Her husband cheated and HE was the one who wasn't honest. I KNOW there are lots of us out here that know what THAT feels like and until you have worn that hat you DON'T KNOW what you would or wouldn't say to the public and media (who clearly love to demolish anyone they don't agree with).

    Romano is a pig and so is Ogunnaike. How dare you try to feed the fire CNN.

    May 10, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  17. Ann Kuminns

    Any goodwill is totally gone!! How dare she try to cover up the affair and supported his candidacy, knowing the fallout? How could she now come out and accuse Ms. Hunter of this dastardly act, when her husband John is the one who broke the vows and destroyed his own family? If he had kept his pants zipped, that would have been the end of it. it takes TWO, and he, who should have the morals, knowing he had a sick wife and several kids, could have kept his end of the bargain. Do not lay the blame on Ms. Hunter solely. What has caused the breakdown between Elizabeth and John is also between the two of them, and all THREE must ALL bear the responsibility, yes, including Elizabeth, for if all was well, this could not have happened. Meanwhile, John should own up to be the father and support this child.

    May 10, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  18. kristi- WA

    It wont back fire on her. I think she is just telling her story. Who knows how long she will be here. She deserves the last word- not her husband.

    May 10, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  19. CCT

    I am so glad these two reporters have walked in her shoes so they know exactly what she thinks and feels. And once again the media is so brilliant they can think for the public. I didn't like John Edwards long before he ever ran for office and I haven't changed my mind over the years. I won't buy her book but it is her right to write it. If it makes her feel better to have her say when she has chosen to stay with him due to her health and her children then more power to her. Back off, Lola and whatever the other one's name was. One thing you can always count on....the media will run their mouth.

    May 10, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  20. Mr.MetroSouthAtll

    Mrs. Edwards is going through a lot right now and has dealt with this extra pain inflicted by a cheating husband. It would be a terrible thing for the media to pull any mean spirited drama on Elizabeth Edwards.
    She has terminal cancer and has been faithful to her husband and raised some great kids. If the media doesn't like her book, then leave the book and her alone. Show some class!

    May 10, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  21. Mary

    The state of her marital affairs is none of the public's business. She has no reason to tell the Amberican public everything about her life. It's bad enough that everybody knows that she has breast cancer. Who cares if she has cancer or that her husband cheated on her. We are just not interested. A politician's job is to run the country well. I couldn't care less about her physical or marital health.

    May 10, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  22. Keith in Austin

    I pity Elizabeth Edwards but won't buy her book to pad John's pockets.

    May 10, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  23. Susan Creem

    When one already has more money than one can expect to spend in a lifetime, why would one want to subject one's children to the scrutiny of the media. The sordid details are already on record.

    May 10, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  24. bud in NC

    Perhaps she should not have gone along with a cover up. But i am ready to cut her some slack. She tragically lost a son. She took fertility pills to have more children which may be implicated in her getting cancer. She now is batteling cancer. Her husband was untrue. Which one of us would have perfect judgement if we faced all of that personal pain? She is still a good human being. So let's have some compassion.

    May 10, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  25. Wayne Messer

    What is inane is the so called "NEWS" media feeding this story. What benefit does any of this have with anything.

    The Edwards saga is over and rehashing a non-issue is redundant.

    Look for real news gessh.

    May 10, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
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