Presidential candidate and professional ambulance chaser John Edwards, apparently looking for
someone to blame for the fact that Hillary Clinton currently has over three times the support he does in the Democratic primary, decided to lash out at the media last week. This wasn’t just any media, though – it was the student news at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. A graduate student at UNC filmed a segment for the college news program “Carolina Week” that looked into whether the location of Edwards’ campaign headquarters in (according to the report) “the most affluent part of Chapel Hill, a city already known for its wealth,” conflicted with the campaign’s theme of the evil Two Americas, its (again according to the report) “slogan of uniting rich and poor America,” and its goal of reducing poverty (by fleecing the so-called “rich,” the group to which Edwards seems to consistently ignore that he actually belongs). Originally conceived as a puff piece on a UNC student interning in the Edwards campaign, the finished product of the report gave equal screen time to the intern and to a columnist for the school paper who had written an op-ed calling out the candidate for the possibly hypocritical placement of his headquarters. Apparently in response to equal (or any) time being given to an anti-Edwards viewpoint, UNC Associate Professor of Journalism C.A. Tuggle, who “has overseen the "Carolina Week" news program for eight years and previously worked as a television reporter in Florida,” said that “two top staffers for the former North Carolina senator demanded that the school drop the segment from the student-run television program,” adding that “they threatened to cut off access to Edwards for UNC student reporters and other student groups if the piece aired.” The campaign staffers insisted that the video be pulled from YouTube.com, as well – an ironic demand, considering the extent to which Edwards and other candidates use the popular video-sharing website to flood the worldwide web with videos favorable to their causes and candidacies. “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.” For the six and one-half year duration of the Bush presidency, Democrats have consistently toed the “dissent is patriotism” line, and have preached the virtue of the media’s constant criticism of the administration, lauding such actions as being examples of bravely speaking “truth to power.” However, when it comes to coverage of themselves, Democrats like John Edwards tend to find media scrutiny to be far less commendable. According to the Carolina News Observer, “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 latter remark sends a scary message regarding how a President Edwards would regard the media and the First Amendment – ostensibly Democrats favorite (apart, perhaps, from the 16th) due to its protection of free speech – should any media outlet dare to disagree with, or to question, his statements or policies. Edwards has already set a personal precedent for ignoring or condemning media outlets who do not report or present the news in a manner that is pleasing to him; he was the first Democrat candidate to refuse to attend a debate hosted by a state Democratic party earlier this year because it was set to be aired on Fox News Channel. Said Edwards’s deputy campaign manager, “It's time to send a clear message to Fox News and their allies that their right-wing talking points and temper tantrums won't go unchallenged anymore.” Now it appears that no media outlet is too small to escape the wrath of the man who would be President. Fortunately, the students at UNC-Chapel Hill, and their supervising professor, ignored this attempt by a candidate who claims to support the “Fairness Doctrine” in media to strong-arm them into spiking any coverage that was not one hundred percent favorable. The news piece aired on the “Carolina Week” program this Monday, and the YouTube video remains available online. However, this incident brings up a very unpleasant question: what will John Edwards do in such situations should he ever become President, and actually have access to power? Should that day come, it seems clear that accusations that the current administration is a shredder of the Constitution and a suppressor of First Amendment rights will have come at least one President too soon.
Jeff Emanuel, a special operations military veteran, is a columnist, a combat journalist, and a director of conservative weblog RedState.com.