Journalism student reports on Edwards campaign HQ, campaign issues access threat in response

He feels prettyIt seems like hardly a week goes by when we aren’t hearing about another blunder occurring within the Edwards for president campaign. The latest happened after a graduate student from UNC-Chapel Hill did a report for a UNC-CH’s student-run television program that questioned whether or not it was a smart move for Edwards’, who fancies himself as a champion of sorts for the poor, to have his campaign HQ in a wealthy section of town in Chapel Hill. The Raleigh News and Observer reports (emphasis added):

A UNC-Chapel Hill journalism professor said John Edwards’ presidential campaign tried to kill a student’s video story about his campaign headquarters.

Associate Professor C.A. Tuggle said two top staffers for the former North Carolina senator demanded that the school drop the segment from the student-run television program “Carolina Week.” They also asked to have the video removed from the YouTube Web site.

Tuggle said they threatened to cut off access to Edwards for UNC student reporters and other student groups if the piece aired.

“My gosh, what are they thinking?” Tuggle said. “They’re spending this much time and effort on a student newscast that has about 2,000 viewers? They’re turning a molehill into a mountain.”

A spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign said it had no problem with student reporters.

“This is silly,” campaign spokeswoman Colleen Murray said in a statement. “We love all reporters, the problem is the feeling isn’t always mutual.”

The campaign would not answer questions about the incident.

The segment, by graduate student Carla Babb, began as a look at Nation Hahn, a UNC senior interning with the campaign. During the interview, Babb asked about a recent column in The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper, criticizing Edwards’ choice of the posh Southern Village shopping center as the location for his headquarters.

Babb rewrote the piece to focus on that angle and interviewed the columnist, prompting the complaint from Edwards’ campaign.

In the video, James Edward Dillard, a columnist for The Daily Tar Heel, says that the location conflicts with Edwards’ campaign goal of reducing poverty in America.

“To pick that place as your campaign center, when you’re going to be the man who advocates on behalf of the poor, I just think, why not turn the media’s attention to somewhere where there are huge, huge problems,” Dillard said.

On the other side, Hahn is quoted saying that the choice of Chapel Hill over Washington, D.C., shows that Edwards is a candidate for the average person.

“Frankly, Chapel Hill is a relatively affluent area, period, so I don’t know where they would rather him place his headquarters,” he said.

Via Tom Maguire, I read that the NYTimes is reporting on this story as well:

Mr. Edwards’s campaign officials said they did not level any such threat during what were clearly heated discussions with the professor and the student over her approach and over the central question in her report: Why has a campaign focused on poverty based its headquarters in an affluent part of Chapel Hill?


Ms. Babb’s professor, C. A. Tuggle, said in an interview that after the report first appeared on YouTube on Tuesday night he received calls of complaint from a deputy in Mr. Edwards’s national press office, and, then, his communications director.

Mr. Tuggle said the aides told him they felt “blind-sided by the way the reporter presented the piece in the pitch” adding unapologetically, “The focus of stories change all of the time.”

“We told them we were not interested in taking it down or holding it from broadcast on our show on Monday” Mr. Tuggle said, adding that the campaign responded by telling him that, “campus media would have real trouble getting any sort of access to the Edwards campaign, and so might other parts of the university.”

Here’s what Carla Babb told ABC News when interviewed (h/t: Don Surber):

In an interview Friday, Babb said: “I was completely shocked to get a phone call from the Edwards campaign saying that the story was straight from the Republican Party and that we needed to take it down.”

Here’s the video:

It doesn’t take a journalism major to be able to see that the report Babb did is a prime example of a reporter covering all the bases. It’s a good piece of journalism, and frankly better than much of what we see from the big networks on a daily basis. She gets both sides of the story via interviews, and (gasp!) leaves it up to the viewer in the end to come to their own conclusions, rather than following the interviews with leading commentary that indicates what the viewer should conclude from watching the report. It is, in my opinion, the classic definition of what fair and balanced is.

Which, come to think of it, is probably why the Edwards campaign didn’t like it in the first place. Because, contrary to his previous protestations over Fox News, which he and his campaign have essentially claimed is not fair and balanced and instead is supposedly a mouthpiece for the Republican party, Edwards (and other Democrat politicians) definition of “fair and balanced news” = pieces which portray him and his campaign in a positive light. Which is why he wouldn’t participate that Fox News debate – and why his campaign has resorted to threatening access to Edwards over a report which is, ironically, fair and balanced.

And for the record, I could care less where the Edwards campaign HQ is located. Being wealthy and having a nice home and campaign HQ doesn’t in general automatically mean a person is a hypocrite for trying to help the poor. In fact, in the right instances, a wealthy person showing compassion towards the poor can set a good example for others as well as be a model of inspiration for the poor. What I have objected to from the get go, though, is how Edwards has tried his hardest to present himself as a sincere “man of the people” but in actuality is someone whose every move is politically calculated, from starting a poverty center that benefited him more than it did the poor, to using his wife’s cancer in a shameless attempt raise campaign funds, in spite of the fact that he claimed in an interview on 60 Minutes that people “shouldn’t vote” for him out of sympathy.

Just add another layer of hypocrisy to Edwards’ lengthy resume of phoniness.


Related: John Edwards takes on prescription drug companies (h/t: JammieWearingFool) and the Concord Monitor reports on more big-government ideas Edwards would try to implement in the unlikely event that he is elected.


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