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April 11, 2024

  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
  • Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg
    Indie bookstore, Gathering Volumes, just hosted poet and (transgender) activist, Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility, Minney read from her poetry book – A Woman in Progress (2024). Her reading depicted emotional and physical transformations especially in the scene of womanhood and queer experiences. Her language is empowering and personally […]
Spring Housing Guide

John Edwards not suspending campaign because of wife’s recurrence of cancer

By David Bauder The Associated Press

NEW YORK – A reporter for the new Politico Web site apologized for reporting that John Edwards was suspending his campaign for president more than an hour before Edwards said yesterday he was staying in the race.

The incorrect report rocketed through the media before Edwards held his news conference announcing the recurrence of his wife’s cancer. Some outlets used Politico’s information; others steered clear.

Ben Smith, a former New York Daily News reporter, posted the report on his Politico Web log at 11:06 a.m. EDT. Quoting but not identifying “an Edwards friend” as his source, Smith reported that Edwards was suspending his campaign and may drop out completely because of Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer.

“There was never any discussion of suspending the campaign,” Edwards adviser Jennifer Palmieri said. She said the Edwardses invited about half a dozen aides to their home to discuss how best to tell the public about her diagnosis and their decision to stay in the race.

Smith, in a later post titled “Getting it Wrong,” explained how he had trusted a reliable source he had known for years. But he “unwisely” wrote it without getting a second source, he said.

“When the campaign pushed back harder than I’d expected, I added that information to the original item, but that doesn’t undo the damage,” Smith wrote. “My apologies to our readers for passing on bad information.”

The Politico, a Web site with a companion free tabloid distributed in Washington, began in January with many respected political journalists. It was founded by John Harris and Jim VandeHei, longtime Washington Post journalists.

With news organizations waiting for a news conference that it had known about for more than 12 hours without a substantive leak ahead of time, Smith’s report proved too hard for many to resist.

CNN cited the Politico report several times before Edwards’ news conference, but pulled back when correspondent Candy Crowley said Edwards staffers were casting doubt on it.

While MSNBC did not cite the report on television, the Web site MSNBC.com ran the information as a banner headline. MSNBC.com later apologized, saying it had relied on Politico “and a source who spoke to NBC.”

CBS News, which has a partnership agreement with Politico, posted the report on the CBS Web site without doing its own reporting, and later corrected it, a spokeswoman said.

NBC News anchor Brian Williams delivered his own correction after the network briefly interrupted regular programming for the Edwards news conference.

“When we came on for this special report, we delivered two headlines to you. Number one, that Mrs. Edwards’ cancer had returned,” he said. “Sadly, that headline turned out to be correct. The second headline was that John Edwards was ending or suspending his campaign for president, and as we just heard from the former senator, he said this campaign goes on. So that part of this story, at least for now, is incorrect.”

ABC News did not cite Politico, either on the air or Web, because its own sources were leading the network in the other direction, said Jon Banner, executive producer of “World News.”

“The pressure is on to get these things right, especially when it concerns someone’s health,” he said. “There’s some sensitivity to that.”

Fox News Channel and The Associated Press also did not repeat the Politico report, relying on their own reporters.

Harris, Smith’s editor at Politico, was not immediately available for comment. But he told Smith in an e-mail that his reporting was worth sharing with readers, but only with the caution that the information was fragmentary.

“We should not have made a flat, predictive assertion about what Edwards was going to do,” Harris wrote. “The lesson, which we both know but re-learned, was the importance of precision.”

The incident illustrates the danger faced by Politico, a Web site that tries to combine the gossipy aspects of a Web log with the authoritativeness of journalists, said Tom Rosenstiel, a former political reporter and director of the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism.

“It doesn’t have a lot of track record and it’s still making first impressions,” Rosenstiel said. “This not a good first impression.”

___

Associated Press reporters Jake Coyle in New York and Nedra Pickler in Washington contributed to this report.

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