Or maybe—the simplest answer—Edwards really is the hypocritical, power-hungry creep many in the media are suggesting he is. That could be; it wouldn’t be the first time such a character has run for president. And there might be something to the Fortress story. But the press has been scrawling its “Dear John” letter long before that story broke, and it’s still unclear exactly why: None of Edwards’s missteps, which are inevitable in campaigns that marry political pageantry and media scrutiny, seems so far to have warranted the vitriol he’s received. If the fling with Edwards is over, we in the media need to make it clear—not implicitly, but explicitly—why we’re calling for the breakup. And if there’s no real evidence of Edwards’s presidential unfitness, then we need to stop suggesting it. Otherwise, the whole “it’s not you, it’s me” line might have some truth to it: the problem isn’t Edwards. It’s us.

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.