Good Morning America's Brian Ross on Friday highlighted the sordid details of John Edwards' affair during the 2008 presidential election campaign. Yet, GMA was the same program that repeatedly hyped the marriage of the former senator and Elizabeth Edwards.
Ross intoned, "When Edwards announced he was running for president, his mistress, campaign filmmaker Rielle Hunter, was there, just a few feet away from Edwards' now-deceased wife, Elizabeth."
On July 31, 2007, then-co-host Diane Sawyer cheerfully explained how the Edwards were planning on celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary at Wendy's. "Happy anniversary," she cooed.
On August 9, 2007, just nine days later, Sawyer touted the renewal of the couple's wedding vows, hyping "the very first pictures of a very personal backyard ceremony." This, of course, was all during the time of John Edwards' affair.
GMA aggressively pushed the presidential campaign of the ex-Senator. On the July 16, 2007 program, ABC devoted 38 minutes of air time to a town hall featuring Edwards.
On Friday, Ross explained how former aide Andrew Young "went public with allegations of the cover-up and a sex tape, involving Edwards and his mistress."
A transcript of the March 4 segment, which aired at 7:07am EST, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: John Edwards may have left politics, but the scandal that forced him out will not go away. The former North Carolina senator and past presidential candidate could learn soon whether he will face criminal charges. A federal grand jury has been investigating whether he violated campaign finance laws in covering up his affair with Rielle Hunter. And our Brian Ross has much more on this.
BRIAN ROSS: And the moment seems to be fast approaching for John Edwards. The key question is whether Edwards knew that his campaign supporters were paying hush money to his mistress to keep her quiet, while he ran for office and she had his baby. Federal prosecutors at this courthouse in North Carolina, have reportedly wrapped up their grand jury investigation and await a decision by the end of the month, on whether Edwards should face criminal charges.
JOHN EDWARDS: We actually want to live in a moral, righteous and just America.
ROSS: When Edwards announced he was running for president, his mistress, campaign filmmaker Rielle Hunter, was there, just a few feet away from Edwards' now-deceased wife, Elizabeth. After the National Enquirer broke the story of the affair and the baby, Edwards lied about his involvement.
EDWARDS: The story's false.
ROSS: Two of his big contributors provided tens of thousands of dollars that ended up supporting the mistress.
J. GERALD HEBERT (Campaign Legal Center): The two things that they'd have to prove is, first, that the money that was paid to this woman was done for the purpose of influence in the election. And, secondly, that it was done with Edwards' knowledge or in coordination with him.
ROSS: Edwards' mistress testified in North Carolina, bringing Edwards daughter, Frances Quinn, along for the session. But the most damming evidence may have come from Edwards former aide, Andrew Young, who says, at Edwards' request, he claimed he was the father. Young told Bob Woodruff of ABC News that he was part of an elaborate cover-up that Edwards helped orchestrate, even if Edwards didn't know all the details.
ANDREW YOUNG: But, he knew about the money. He knew about the methodology. He knew about the sources.
ROSS: And Young gave prosecutors left on his phone by Edwards. Seemingly expressing gratitude for his help in the cover-up.
JOHN EDWARDS: I just wanted you to hear that. And once again, to tell you that I love you. I really love you, Andrew.
ROSS: Of course, that love disappeared when Young went public with allegations of the cover-up and a sex tape, involving Edwards and his mistress. Lawyers in the case say a decision on the next step will come by the end of the month. And as an indication of just how big a problem Edwards may have, it was revealed Thursday that Edwards had hired one of Washington's top lawyers, Greg Craig, former White House counsel for President Obama, who helped defend President Clinton over allegations of his affairs.
ROBERTS: So, Brian, what do you think inspired the move to hire Craig?
ROSS: Well, at this point, Craig is the kind of person to go in and urge the Justice Department not to prosecute or to cut a deal with Edwards to avoid jail time.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.