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. MatthewDetroit

    ZERO Sympathy.
    She accepted it.
    She allowed it.
    She covered it up.
    The clown was running for President of the United States.
    She is an idiot.
    He will be in other womenst bed before and long after the Mrs. is dead.
    She accepted his behavior and has not been honest about it.
    He is a dirt bag and would be Vice President now if he did not get caught. He is a cheat and a liar which fits him in with politicians but makes him unacceptable and a security risk to the United States.

    May 10, 2009 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  2. turn on her?

    it happened... move on

    he is a dog... move on

    I feel bad for her, but does that do her any good... move on

    turn on her? I was marginally interested in him as a canidate, I have virtually no idea who she is, other than the jilted one

    what a dumb article

    May 10, 2009 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  3. Jason

    If John Edwards is the father of the child and Elizabeth won't let the family be a part of the childs life, how will her children feel when they grow up and find out she kept them away from their half sibling?

    I'm sorry but it's not the child's fault.

    Elizabeth is only thinking of herself by making this public and she's being very selfish.

    May 10, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  4. Denna

    I won't turn against her. This woman has suffered many things and does not deserve to have the media twist the knife that her husband stuck in her back. I know the media can't bring themselves to do this, but for once, give someone a break. What will be gained for dragging this woman down. Oh yes, I forget, ratings. :-(

    May 10, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  5. yuri

    EE deserves a better deal than JE's (mis)behavior. She needs listenin' to if not outright sympathy.

    May 10, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  6. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    I have great sorrow for her . she is a product of the south and all its proper crap. she will stand behind her man
    hell he was probably told by his own father as a young man that it is ok to have other women to play with
    he isn't the first and he won't be the last . but john Edwards is done .and the real sad thing is what will the media do as for their children will see it all and live it all . that is the real sad part of HUMANITY. so the media should just let it slide away into the dark pool of the abis .

    May 10, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  7. JMarie

    I applaud her for telling her side of the story. As a political spouse, she had to be quiet for too long. She is a class act...I don't know if I'll read her book, BUT I respect her for talking about her life. I'm guessing the affair is minor compared to other tragedies she has handled.

    May 10, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  8. Mrs Jean Hambleton

    Elizabeth Edwards should be silent. She has all the public sympathy and it would stay that way. Prehaps she has to let out all those pent up feelings. Don't bring this kind of laundry out to dry. Silience.

    May 10, 2009 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  9. raul San Antonio

    She is the classic Narcissist. She would rather go down this ugly road of publicity then to quitely deal with her marital problems. She wants all of us to feel sorry for her. I don't, other women suffer through this unfortunately event and most of the time they throw the problem out to the gutter where they belong. This woman will not and so the suffering continues. Maybe the problem is just too rich and she can not afford to give him the proverbial boot. Cancer or not kick the bum out like the democrat party did.

    May 10, 2009 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  10. Jane

    Ms Edwards is a saint compared to her husband. It is painful enough to go through an affair but when your husband cheats on you when you are going though the most difficult time in your life is another stone. John Edwards is nothing more than spoiled, with a "what about me" it's all about me attitude..it is truly sickening. How would he feel if he lost his privates to cancer and his wife had an affair?? As for Elizabeth; this is a woman who knows she is dying, trying to do the right thing for her kids, but is confused, scared, and trying to save face.

    May 10, 2009 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  11. Floridian

    Perhaps once you face a life altering or potentially life ending ordeal, one gains a PERSPECTIVE on all of life that makes little sense to those among us who have not faced such trauma. When facing the end of life and the prospect of leaving two young children behind, how big, really, is a husband's infidelity by comparison?

    Leave this woman alone. Unless you have faced death yourself, you cannot relate.

    May 10, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  12. syl

    lets not throw elizabeth under the bus here. i would have seriously hurt my husband for this affair, especially when I was in full support for him, then let alone very ill from cancer, how could he do this to her? Men are such babies, when the wife turns around for one second to take care of herself or her babies, HE steps out and cries, "oh, no one was paying attention to me...." waawaawaa....and during her Oprah interview, she did say that she asked him to get out of the race once she found out.

    May 10, 2009 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  13. Vic

    There simply can be no reason whatsoever for Mrs. Edwards to come out with the book and make the talk-show circuit publicizing it - other than to help her husband put his disgraceful act behind him. But that's not going to work because now her complicity and secrecy in trying to get him elected after learning of his infidelity, is backfiring on her. It's easy to remember how we all placed our empathy with this family, especially her in the loss of a child and then incurring breast cancer. Now, as she makes the rounds on television to sell her book, it will be interesting to see if she is still held in the same esteem. One thing's for certain and that's his reputation won't be helped, and it's time for the Edwards to get off the stage.

    May 10, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  14. Ann

    Mrs. Edwards has gone through a lot. I believe we should have some empathy for her.

    May 10, 2009 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  15. Lynne

    Sounds like these reporters want her to be damaged as it would enhance their ability to sell themselves, but they are short-sighted in their ambitions. They are saying she should have lied about the incident to maintain her "stature" instead of telling the truth. Yes, it is hard for a person to admit that he/she made the wrong decision – even if it was under duress. But to claim it diminishes a person to tell the truth is a slippery slope for a journalist dedicated to truth. Journalists need honest answers from people. Discouraging them from being honest to avoid any media damage their "media-created" reputation (which has nothing to do with a real reputation or character) encourages dishonesty. We already have too much of this without members of the press making things worse.

    May 10, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  16. kcl

    I think it was just easier to deny and ignore, but why the blitz now? It was a choice to keep quiet, she should visit why she made that choice and convince herself this media blitz is not positive for her.

    May 10, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  17. FL

    Seems like there may be a similar ring here to the Clintons. Hillary knew that Bill had had previous affairs and denied them along with him during the campaign. Their political careers depended on them denying the truth. Then of course there was the Lewinsky affair while Clinton was president, which should have been no real surprise to Hillary, and yet it supposedly was.

    I think the fact that people are willing to lie about something like this because of their political aspirations shows bad character. I can understand why some Dems were mad that Edwards ran in the primary once they found out. If he had by chance won the primary, this issue very well could have cost the Dems the election. The Edwards were putting themselves before the party.

    Perhaps this book is her way of trying to make up for the fact that she lied previously, to clear her conscience or something and tell her story before she can't. But more than likely, the real motive is to make a bunch of money to leave to her children.

    Is John just waiting until she is gone to get the paternity test? They ought to just deal with it now. If he is the father he should be taking full responsibility even if Elizabeth doesn't like it. His friend that was taking care of Hunter and the baby died. If John Edwards were a real man he would do the right thing, get the test and do what is necessary from there.

    May 10, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  18. Maggie

    She may be suffering from cancer or what ever is wrong with her but she is not stupid. Why she is opting for publicity of this nature is beyound me. It is amazing how many people these days try to get publicity however they can. She needs ot stay quiet, use the time she has been allowed in a piositive way and try to make this world a better place to live whuile she can. Her husband is a dolt to have treated her the way he did but he is one in many. She should ahve realized that if he stooped so low to do what he did I would be ashamed to be linked with him. I remember the stories I read in the paper about how he came from poor beginnings but after rising abocve all that he would not bend to apeak to others who knew him and would not acknoledge them. Teh other thing is the amount of money he wasted on his hair cuts, It is a shame to be as wasteful as he is.

    May 10, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  19. cc

    Are you kidding me? Leave the woman alone. Hasn't she been through enough already. You sound so smug, while she has been struggling to live. You have no idea what is in her mind and heart right now.
    Talk about someone else if you must down talk someone.

    May 10, 2009 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  20. P from CA

    I think the Washington Post reporter Lois Romano is wrong and I don't think the public will turn on Mrs. Edwards. They may think she is too forgiving of her husband but I don't think they will turn on her. I think it is sad the reporter would even suggest it. This is not journalism but trying to stir the pot.

    May 10, 2009 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  21. NBrown

    The media will slaughter anyone's character in order to further their bloodthirsty need for a story. "She's exposing her children!!!" Give me a break ........................... she has endured enough and needs to process this in HER way and not according to the demands and whims of the political machine and media.

    May 10, 2009 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  22. Emily in Michigan

    Listen, this woman is dying of cancer. Let her have her defense mechanism. If she were hale and hearty I would understand holding her feet to the fire a little, but she is not, so leave her alone.

    May 10, 2009 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  23. Elizabeth

    I believe that the media has taken it upon themselves to reduce Elizabeth Edward's latest book to a single issue. Big mistake! The affair is the hot topic and everyone seems to want to talk about it. Please do not blame Elizabeth Edwards if it is the only thing on your collective minds. This brave woman has terminal cancer. Just how long do you think she should wait to 'have the last word?'

    I think that the only way a a reporter or a member of the media qulaifies to comment on a story is if they have read the material first.

    May 10, 2009 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  24. Stan

    Guess what? Hillary knew all along before she and Bill ever ran for President the first time that he had multiple extramarital encounters but there has never been a more complicit wife than Hillary. She knew it but was willing to help sell a totally immoral politician for her own personal gain and to this date it has worked quite well, politically that is.

    May 10, 2009 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  25. Mary

    There is something wrong about airing "dirty laundry" in such a public venue when a mother has 2 very young children like Elizabeth Edwards does. What would possess a woman with limited time left to leave her legacy, not as a lady of many accomplishments in her own right and who suffered with noble grace, but to get in the rancid "last shot" of a sordid private family matter that should remain quiet for the children's sake? Let's hope she has some time left to restore some calm and dignity that she herself has taken away from her own epitaph by writing such a scathing tabliod-esque book about a parent who will be the children's primary caretaker soon enough.

    May 10, 2009 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
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