ABC Devotes Over 60 Minutes to John Edwards, Avoids Labeling Him a Democrat

February 1st, 2010 12:38 PM

Since Friday, ABC has devoted 60 minutes and 23 seconds to interviews covering the most salacious details of John Edwards' sex scandal. Yet, the network's anchors have refrained from referring to him as a Democrat. 20/20 on Friday spent the entire hour talking to Andrew Young, a former top Edwards aide who allegedly holds a sex tape involving the politician. The D-word was never used by reporter Bob Woodruff.

Good Morning America again featured the story on Saturday. On Monday’s GMA, former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos interviewed Young about his role in covering for Edwards. Over two segments that lasted 14 minutes and 50 segments, Stephanopoulos never highlighted Edwards’ party affiliation.

The only time it came up is when Young, who has written a tell-all book about Edwards, tried to justify covering for the candidate: "At that point, I genuinely- genuinely believed that he was the only Democrat that could beat McCain or any other opponent."

On Friday, 20/20’s Woodruff carefully avoided a party ID for the full hour (40 minutes without commercials). He referred to Edwards’ "2008 presidential run." At another point, Woodruff recounted the early years: "Few politicians have risen further, faster than John Edwards...The son of a mill worker turned hot-shot trial lawyer...Edwards was elected to the Senate in 1998."

From what party was Edwards elected to the Senate? Woodruff didn’t say. Briefly mentioning Edwards' nomination as the vice presidential nominee to John Kerry, the ABC correspondent vaguely told viewers the then-Senator had risen "to a spot on the national ticket." Which ticket? Again, no explanation from Woodruff.

Good Morning America did manage to identify party affiliation back on January 21. In yet another story on the scandal, reporter Dan Harris said of the revelation that Edwards had fathered a baby with his mistress: "A scandal that if Edwards had become the Democratic nominee, could have thrown American politics in turmoil."

Viewers probably shouldn’t be surprised about ABC’s hesitancy to use the D-word. On November 21, 2008 20/20 scored a big interview with Ashley Dupre, a call girl who had sex with then-Democratic governor Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer’s party affiliation went unmentioned.