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John Edwards, repeat offender

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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 22, 2010; 11:17 AM

The first time I met John Edwards, he lied to me.

Apparently this became a habit. He not only lied about his affair with Rielle Hunter, he lied about being the father of her baby -- until Thursday, when Edwards acknowledged what the world had already figured out, that the 2-year-old girl is his.

My little encounter isn't in the same category. In 2001, the media were touting Edwards as a hot presidential prospect. "The Democrats' New Golden Boy," Time said. "May well be the Democratic Party's best hope for 2004," said the Chicago Sun-Times.

So I met him off the Senate floor and asked if he was weighing a presidential run. He denied it. "I say what is the truth, which is that I'm staying focused on being a good senator from North Carolina, and if I do that, these other things will take care of themselves."

It was the kind of white lie that politicians tell all the time. I knew he was gearing up to run, and he knew that I knew. There was just something awfully slick about the way he delivered the answer.

Another quote from that interview that reads a little differently today: I wrote that Edwards said "with an aw-shucks look" that "you don't want to treat people differently because you're a little better known. . . . The most important thing is to never start to think this is about me." Uh, right.

Here's my report on Edwards and the newspaper that now aspires to journalism's highest award:

The executive editor of the National Enquirer says he plans to enter his paper's work on the John Edwards scandal for a Pulitzer Prize.

Don't laugh.

"It's clear we should be a contender for this," Barry Levine said by phone Thursday, hours after the former presidential candidate admitted what the paper had been reporting all along: that he is the father of Rielle Hunter's baby. "The National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid, was able to publish this reporting."

While the staff never doubted its reports that Edwards had fathered a daughter with his former campaign videographer, Levine said, "there is vindication, finally. Mr. Edwards kept the story alive much longer than it needed to be kept alive with his denials. He has only himself to blame."

While the Enquirer stories may or may not be prize-winning material -- the paper's most significant disclosures came in 2007 and 2008, and this year's Pulitzers will honor material published in 2009 -- there is no question that the tabloid scooped the rest of the media world.


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