Newspapers and the AP are patting themselves on the back for passing on interviews with Elizabeth Edwards (who is, in case you didn’t know, out promoting her book) rather than submitting to Edwards’s request that The Other Woman not be mentioned by name during interviews.

The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi:

No newspaper has agreed to the restriction so far, according to David Drake, Edwards’s publicist. The Washington Post, among other newspapers, declined to interview Edwards after learning of the stipulation. Although The Post permits sources to speak anonymously under certain conditions, it doesn’t permit subjects of stories to dictate the manner in which a story will be written.

Now that you mention it: When you’re finished patting yourselves on the back for not agreeing to not print the name of a woman whose name everyone already knows, why not revisit what you do “permit?” And reconsider giving cover to so many of those totally disinterested persons who request anonymity because they don’t want readers to know why they’re saying what they’re saying/prefer their badmouthing to go unattributed? How about, now that you mention it, focusing on tightening those anonymous sourcing rules?

The AP’s senior managing editor Michael Oreskes:

We don’t let other people edit our wire.

What of people editing their own names out of stories?

Moving on to those outlets that took the Edwards interview. How ever did they justify it? I actually like the way — transparency!— non-journalist Oprah Winfrey approached it: she agreed not to identify The Other Woman by name but asked Mrs. Edwards on the air why it was requested. And then there was Matt Lauer on the Today show earlier this week, per the AP:

On the Today show, Lauer said Edwards had asked “out of consideration” that NBC not use Hunter’s name. “We’re a news show,” he said while interviewing Edwards, “but, and out of consideration, I won’t use the name.”

(Maybe drop the We’re a news show, really, I swear, but…. stuff next time.)

Today’s producer said Edwards’s was a later request, not a demand made before the interview was booked, “a courtesy not a condition.” (The honey-vinegar thing: We’re not demanding, we’re just requesting. Would you be so courteous?)


Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.