Meet the Journalists Who Missed the Edwards Story

Ha ha ha so it turns out that everyone in the world knew that Rielle Hunter had a (shall we say!) inappropriate relationship with John Edwards back in 2006 (when they were fucking). As we've learned, Rielle is a starry-eyed new age nutcase with a bizarre and tawdry history. So some reporters thought it was maybe odd that this weird hippie chick was apparently hanging out with the Edwards campaign and openly flirting with the candidate. After the jump, journalists on what they knewl about Hunter back in the day.

Sarah Miller met Rielle Hunter in 2001, when Miller moved to Los Angeles. Hunter moved into Miller's old room, and Miller still hung around the house. "Rielle padded in and out in Ugg boots and flared yoga pants, and in a voice that contained strange elements of surfer-ese and lockjaw, gave unasked-for information about her life's journey and personal health." Then, about five years ago, Hunter warned Miller that she was going to "meet a rich, powerful man." Miller's "energy," still apparently lingering in that rented bedroom, would give Hunter the necessary spiritual power to "manifest" this meeting. And then it happened!

Jonathan Darman reports in Newsweek that basically this story fell into his lap in 2006 and he didn't do a damn thing with it. In July of that year, he witnessed Hunter openly hitting on Edwards on a commuter flight to Des Moines. The Edwards campaign had some sketchy explanations for why she was hanging around filming the candidate. Hunter explained that she met Edwards at a bar, and gushed about his "energy." Months later, she took him out to lunch and babbled more about how much she loved John and hated Elizabeth. More hints kept dropping!

Her latest project was John Edwards. Edwards, she said, was an old soul who had barely tapped into any of his potential. The real John Edwards, she believed, was a brilliant, generous, giving man who was driven by competing impulses-to feed his ego and serve the world. If he could only tap into his heart more, and use his head less, he had the power to be a "transformational leader" on par with Gandhi and Martin Luther King. "He has the power to change the world," she said.

AND

When I next saw Rielle weeks later, she told me that she'd been fired by the Edwards campaign. She seemed perfectly cheerful about it, but she proceeded to tell me a tale of woe-how the campaign hadn't understood her, how they'd ruined the Webisodes, how they'd impeded her vision and how Edwards himself had failed to defend her. The chief villain in this saga was Elizabeth Edwards. "Someday," Rielle said, "the truth about her is going to come out."

As we said, Darman did nothing with the story. But in his defense, Hunter is obviously a wacko. "Given to exaggeration," as a "friend" of hers tells ABC. So it was probably responsible of everyone to take what she said with a grain of salt. Still, it was probably her babbling that led Page Six to write the blind item that almost set this off last year (especially the bit about how "the pol tells her he'll marry her when his current wife is out of the picture," which could be either scumbag talk from Edwards that Hunter actually believed or just something Hunter imagined he meant to say). But shortly after that item the first kinda unreliable-sounding emails began going out to bloggers.

Doree Shafrir reprints the one that went to Gawker back in September of 2007.

John Edwards is cheating on his wife.

This news must be revealed.

There was a blind item in Page Six recently… however:

My sources come from inside J.E's little production group that was following him around to create "webisodes."

There is a producer girl in that group (who lives in NYC) who John E. was - obvious to all - "close to."

Mrs. Edwards was calling around in the group of production types - to try to get the number of this girl. (Perhaps to try to put a stop to the shenanigans.)

I could tell you my source but I don't want to rat her out. She's in that circle. She was there two times when Mrs. Edwards called.

I knew of this long before I saw the recent blind item in the post. (Page 6).

Therefore people know about it, and therefore you have a story to expose…

And wouldn't you know it, around this time the Huffington Post began their odd and aborted investigation into those "webisodes." (1, 2, 3) For some reason the HuffPo wanted to know why those webisodes had been erased from the Edwards site. Oddly, HuffPo stopped writing in-depth about them and Rielle Hunter as soon as the Enquirer went public with the affair allegation. (We've still never heard any explanations for HuffPo's role in this whole saga-both setting up the foundation for the allegation and then backing the fuck off when it came out.)

It was Hunter presenting herself as an oddball burn-out that led some of us to assume that she invented or imagined the whole affair, and to thus downplay the story as bullshit from an acid casualty, and now there's egg on our faces as well. But at least we weren't the only ones to sleep on it.

Clarification The implication here, we mean to be clear, is that everyone "missed" the Rielle Hunter story. And, furthermore, almost everyone acted responsibly and reasonably. Especially Doree! Who wasn't even at Gawker anymore!