The National Enquirer didn't win a Pulitzer today for its reporting on John Edwards' baby mama drama. How's the tabloid coping with defeat? Just after the results were announced, we called Barry Levine, the Enquirer's executive editor, to find out.
The Enquirer had been nominated for awards in the investigative and national reporting categories. But in the end, the supermarket tabloid didn't even make the list of finalists. Levine seemed to be disappointed by the (totally unsurprising) defeat. ("Good, not great," he replied when we asked him how he was doing.) But just having the Enquirer in the running counted for something: "Certainly I think it was an honor for us to be a part of the process. But as far as I'm concerned, we've already won."
Levine was still miffed that the Enquirer's Edwards scoop, which he described as "the biggest political story of 2008," wasn't recognized, and he pointed to the New York Times' win last year for its reporting on the Eliot Spitzer scandal as an illustration of the double standard at work:
"The heavy lifting that we did on the John Edwards story was more than anything the Times did on Spitzer and they won the prize. In the back of my mind, it's clear to me that if this reporting had been done by the New York Times, or the Washington Post or a big paper like the LA Times, it's almost certain they would have won the prize. The fact that they couldn't give the prize to the National Enquirer? That's their problem not ours."
The media largely ignored the Enquirer's early reporting on Edwards. After Edwards confessed that he was, in fact, the father of Rielle Hunter's daughter—and after Huffpo blogger Emily Miller launched an online campaign—the Enquirer submitted a bid for a Pulitzer nod. "We certainly didn't set out on this investigation to win a prize," Levine said. Now, he says, the tabloid has been "completely vindicated" after the mainstream media "turned their backs on our story for months and months."
Levine says there is a possibility the saga may make it to the big screen. ("There are Hollywood movie producers that want to make a movie about us. Like All The President's Men.") And there may be other political scandals that will unfold in the pages of the supermarket glossy.
"Prize or no prize, we're going to continue to be out there, we're going to continue to break big political scandals," he said. The success of the Edwards' story led the Enquirer to make plans to open a Washington bureau. But the nation's capital will have to wait a bit longer. Levine says he's still waiting for approval from his bosses at the tabloid's parent company, American Media.
"I was hoping to have the Pulitzer to convince them," Levine sighed.