CBS News is reporting that the McCain camp is fighting rumors from the National Enquirer that Sarah Palin had an affair with one of her husband’s business partners.
Mickey Kaus’s Rules
If the Enquirer is reporting it, every other outlet must devote significant resources to verifying it.
You can’t blame Atrios for trying to score points. After the National Enquirer revealed John Edwards affair, Kaus and others piled on to the story asking why the mainstream media wouldn’t cover it. Even though I can’t blame Atrios, he’s wrong.
Here’s why. In the Edwards case, the Enquirer made allegations of an affair in December, 2007. That story didn’t get much traction because it was a rumor, which Edwards denied. And there it lingered, because an allegation without evidence is just grist for the gossip mill.
The story took off (and I many others started blogging it) in July. That’s when Enquirer reporters caught Edwards in a late night rendezvous with the alleged mistress and baby momma at the Beverly Hilton. When confronted by reporters, Edwards hid in a men’s room for 15 minutes. The next day a hotel security guard confirmed it was Edwards he had escorted from the building because he wasn’t a registered guest.
At that point the story deserved to hit the big time. You had an obviously suspicious encounter and equally suspicious behavior by Edwards when confronted. The reporters were witnesses. The security guard was a witness.
And that’s just the signal. Then you had the signal analysis – asking how the reporters got to be there in the first place. What really sold the story was the quality of the Enquirer’s sources. Those reporters didn’t stake out every hotel in California every night of the week until they got lucky. The Enquirer had an inside source who told them exactly where Edwards would be on what night. When the paper said they had reliable sources on the Edwards affair you could believe it.
Palin supporters like me should start worrying if the Enquirer starts showing the same quality of information on its Palin affair story. Until then, it’s just another rumor of many being thrown at Palin.