Saturday, August 4, 2007

John Edwards' Object Lesson--Don't Bite Murdoch's Hand

Big money shapes electoral politics. Big media shapes opinion, frames debate, and secures the perimeter of public consciousness. Big money owns big media.

For example, News Corporation and its subsidiaries own Harper Collins, Zondervan, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, 20th Century Fox, the Weekly Standard, Fox News Channel, and TV Guide, to name just a few of its prized gems.

If you want to take down a serious candidate and you own lots of media, you are golden.

John Edwards recently called on fellow democratic presidential candidates to refuse donations from News Corporation owner, Rupert Murdoch. He also criticized Murdoch's purchase of the Wall Street Journal. But then Edwards was attacked as hypocritical by and the New York Post for accepting a book advance from Harper Collins (three entities owned by Murdoch's News Corporation). The New York Post today published Edwards Refuses to Return His Rupees, a piece that quotes blogger, Roger L. Simon:

"Bloggers, meanwhile, threw the book at him yesterday, searing him as a hypocritical fraud.

"We need a new, more extreme version of the word hypocrite for Edwards," wrote blogger Roger Simon, noting Edwards' penchant for $400 haircuts and the 28,000-square-foot mansion the former senator built for himself while running a class-warfare campaign.

"People like Edwards are more than just fakes - they are actually dangerous," Simon added. "Everything is about Edwards and his glory. It's not about anything else."

Edwards secured a book deal with Harper Collins and accepted a $500,000 advance and $300,000 for expenses. Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz said the candidate "did not receive one penny from this book. All of his proceeds went to charities, like Habitat for Humanity and the College for Everyone program." (source)

Nonetheless, the money came from a source connected to Rupert Murdoch and the presumption is that Edwards should have known better than to criticize fellow candidates for taking money from Murdoch while accepting a book deal from a firm connected in any way with Murdoch.

A rookie mistake or a set up? Maybe both. Now Edwards is catching even more heat for hypocrisy than after the overpriced haircut incident. And he will have to spend precious time explaining himself rather than promoting his policy positions. Very unfortunate for him, but even more so for the quality of political discourse this week.