Shame on Politico, Shame on Many In the Media

Above all, Elizabeth Edwards is a woman of incredible courage, inspiration and grace and we hope and pray she stages a complete and total recovery. Personally I hope that John Edwards, with his prayers for the woman he loves, campaigns brilliantly across the country with the love of his life in his heart every day, and our country in his spirit.

Edwards is not my first choice, but he's a good man and America is well served by his running a campaign of true leadership. Thank God Elizabeth Edwards has a prognosis more favorable than it could have been. It's great John Edwards is staying in the hunt.

The Politico has a good product, but this must be said: The story today reporting that Edwards was going to suspend his campaign, which was stated as a declarative fact, was both shameful and symptomatic of much that is wrong with the media.

Watching the pundits on television prior to the Edwards press conference, more than once I suspected that "insiders" giving "the inside scoop" were just making up sources, making up news, and pretending they knew something the rest of us did not know.

This campaign has begun far too early and the media coverage is far too shallow. The hot gossip, the negative tidbit, the alleged inside story, the "run it now and run to the cable show" mentality poorly serves the nation, the profession, and even the most news-starved political junkie.

Anyone who reported the partisan lie about Barack Obama's schooling should have been fired on the spot by any serious journalistic organization.

There were two problems with the Politico story and those "pundits" who made similar comment on the talkies. The first is that it was untrue and unnecessary to rush into print or rush on the air. The world could have waited a few more minutes so false facts would not have been reported as real news.

Second, there are human beings involved: the families, friends and neighbors of Elizabeth and John Edwards. They should not have to hear or read falsehoods about those they care about and love.

Going back to the hours when Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) entered the hospital, the shameful and abusive speculation about who would control the Senate was disgraceful and sick.

Seconds after proclamations of how deeply everyone cared about the senator, before anyone knew his condition, the gibberish began about the partisan implications.

We need standards and integrity in this business. We need standards and integrity in our politics.

I write a periodic column for The Hill and am now a regular on the Pundits Blog. If there is one thing I aspire to, it's to avoid the superficial punditry and repetition of false conventional wisdom, and to try to be the anti-conventional wisdom. Willing to speak truth to power and not curry favor with friends or opponents.

There is too much insiderism in Washington today. There are too many cases where some in the press are appendages, mouthpieces and oppo-research voices for the sources they cover. There is too much haste that gets falsehood into print in the never-ending rush for book deals, cable appearances and favor from insiders.

If I ever screw up, I hope someone calls me on it. If The Hill ever writes a story like the one The Politico ran today, I will have the integrity to write the truth and believe The Hill will have the integrity to publish it. Ditto for any media I appear on, on any matter. We should set a high standard and be willing to be taken to the woodshed
when we fail to meet it.

My point today is, Politico and some others got it totally wrong, gave their customers very bad product in this matter, and frightened good people who love John and Elizabeth Edwards.

Politico and others should publicly apologize.

All of us should aspire to excellence, honesty and professionalism. Journalism should be about truth to power, truth to those without power, and not insiders in the press and the insiders in the system feathering each other's nest and pretending to be in the know.

Prayers, hope and applause for Elizabeth Edwards, who has again shown courage, class and grace under pressure.

She is a model for all of us.