RUSH: Three sound bites here, two from John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards, and then one from Howard Fineman. Now, I made mention mere moments ago that the new website Politico has broken two scoops this week, both proving to be untrue. The first was that Alberto Gonzales is going to quit and that the White House had asked Republicans out there to find potential replacements. The second one was just this morning that Edwards was going to suspend the campaign. Just the opposite happened. Now, I’m going to play these two bites, John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards to set up Howard Fineman, who commented on this later, because it provides, perhaps, a little insight into what happened.
Ben Smith is the blogger at The Politico who broke the story this morning that Edwards is going to suspend the campaign. He’s got egg all over his face, and he’s just put a post on his blog, (paraphrased) ‘Hey, look, I talked to a source really close to them, and the source said they were going to suspend the campaign. We were astonished and we were shocked by this. We apologize for this but I trust this source, I’m not going to reveal the source’s identity, but this source has never got anything like this wrong before,’ da-da-da-da-da-da-da. So you’ll hear Howard Fineman’s bite and it might give you some insight here as to what went on. Here first is Senator Edwards himself responding to a question, ‘What does this mean for your campaign? Are you going to suspend any activities, fund-raising, travel?’
REPORTER: Not at all?
EDWARDS: The campaign goes on, the campaign goes on strongly. Elizabeth and I talked at length about this already, talked with our children about it. Basically, as I mentioned earlier, we’ve been confronted with — with these kind of traumas and struggles already in our lives, and we know from our previous experience that when this happens, you have a choice. You can go cower in the corner and hide, or you can be tough and go out there and stand up for what you believe in. And both of us are committed to the cause, we’re committed to changing this country that we love so much, and we have no intention of cowering in the corner.
RUSH: Now, this line that he uttered, ‘both of us are committed to the cause, we’re committed to changing this country that we love so much,’ I mentioned this earlier, I’ll repeat it again for those of you that just joined us. Last night when this news broke that the press conference is going to happen today, but nobody knew details of this, just speculating, I sent instant messages to three different people and told Snerdley this morning an hour and a half before the program that he’s not going to suspend the campaign. He’s going to say that he and his wife, this campaign is going to go on, for country that we both love. And that’s exactly what he said. I was not surprised. Well, there was a little part of me that was. Here now is Mrs. Edwards and her announcement.
MRS. EDWARDS: One of the reasons to do a press conference as opposed to a press release is so you can see, I don’t look sickly, I don’t feel sickly, and I’m as ready as any person can be for that. You know how grueling it is in general. There is a likelihood that some of the medications that I — that I will be taking will at some times make me tired. I have, as you all well know and a lot of you know — actually know that my younger children, six and eight-year-old, if I get tired I actually expect they’re going to be the reason as opposed to the medications that Dr. Carey is going to be giving me, but there’s a chance that both of them will make me tired sometimes, so sometimes I’ll step back to sort of regain my — my energy.
RUSH: Now, I played those two bites to set this up. This is Howard Fineman on PMSNBC after the announcement that Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer has returned but that Senator Edwards will continue his presidential campaign. This is Howard Fineman to Chris Matthews.
FINEMAN: I think this is somewhat of a surprise. I think there were some websites here in Washington that were predicting that he would suspend or even drop out. That turned out not to be the case. This is an ongoing story, and this is a metaphor for how they want to fight for the country. They’re willing to take the public relations risk of analogizing their own family situation and the bravery that they’ve shown and the guts that they’ve shown to the kind of leadership that they want to offer the country. That’s pretty bold, but that’s the world that we live in now, Chris, where people’s personal lives are analogized to their political beings, and that’s what we’re seeing with the Edwardses. I thought that was, looked at politically, diagnosed, if you will, politically, that was a ten strike of a press conference. They showed guts, it was nothing short of remarkable and somewhat unexpected, and it’s always great when something unexpected happens around here.
RUSH: Yes, it is great when something unexpected — it’s fabulous when there’s a surprise. Isn’t it sort of boring when we – (interruption) What, Mr. Snerdley? Of course I know how that sounds! Of course I know. It sounds slavish. It sounds absolutely slavish. But look, he’s right, in the old days this announcement would not have been made public and it certainly wouldn’t have been tied to a campaign. It’s a different era now. I’m telling you this is to jump-start the campaign, this is to see if it will jump-start the campaign and we’ll find out the next three or four days, or whatever, week, if that happens. But this business about this being a surprise makes me think that the leak that was planted today was purposely wrong, to create surprise, make sure everybody thought, ‘Oh, we know what’s coming,’ and then have it blown away. ‘Oh the campaign is going to go on? We thought it was going to be suspended.’ We all get all these press releases in advance of the State of the Union address, we all know what’s going to be said before it airs. There’s no surprises. This was a surprise, may have been done on purpose.
RUSH: The whole crew on the other side of the glass apoplectic at a comment I just made before the break. The comment about which they’re apoplectic is when I responded to Howard Fineman. Howard Fineman talking about how everybody was expecting Edwards to announce his campaign is going to be suspended because of a report on The Politico website this morning that that was the case, and he went on to say this was a total surprise, was a hundred percent total surprise. I reacted to that said, ‘Yeah, it was a total surprise, and I wouldn’t be surprised if whoever the source is purposely leaked something not true to The Politico in order to set up the surprise.’
Fineman is right. What good’s watching a press conference when you know what’s going to happen? Every time there’s a press conference for something, be it a presidential press conference, State of the Union address, there’s always the text of the speech or whatever before it goes out, other than a news conference, which is ad-lib. You don’t know what the questions are going to be. But we all know what’s going to happen before it happens. It’s the way public relations works. Then all of a sudden they set this up, this is a giant surprise, and everybody in Washington — Fineman was talking about it — CBS broke into programming at 11 o’clock when The Politico thing hit to announce that the Edwards campaign was going to be suspended.
Now everybody in Washington and the Drive-By Media circles are wondering how the hell this happened, because it’s so unusual when something leaks from a source close to the campaign about what’s going to be in a press conference, that’s generally what happens. Now, I have here the latest blog from Ben Smith at The Politico. I’m going to read it to you. It’s called ‘Getting it Wrong.’
‘A single, confident source close to John Edwards told me this morning that Edwards was ‘suspending his campaign,’ and I posted it to the blog at 11:06 this morning. My source, and I, were wrong. The source, whose anonymity I agreed to respect, spoke of the kind of grim prognosis Elizabeth Edwards herself just described hearing before a second round of tests came back. I trusted the source, somebody I’ve known for several years, and who has always been reliable. And with less than an hour before Edwards was to announce, I unwisely wrote the item without getting a second source. 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. My apologies to our readers for passing on bad information.’
Is it not reasonable to think that perhaps the source purposely passed on something to set up this surprise? Howard Fineman, Drive-By Media extraordinaire, thinks it’s just jolly, thinks it’s great, that we love surprises in these things. This is not a criticism. This is PR. This is how you play the media. And people on the other side of the glass, I can’t believe it, the left-wing blogs are going to be all over this, ‘Limbaugh said that the Edwards campaign lied to The Politico.’ In public relations and politics, just what is a lie and what isn’t? It’s all a game. I want to go back and I want you to listen to this Howard Fineman bit one more time. I want to ask you as you listen to this if there’s something about it, I referred to it as slavish, but is there something else about this that strikes you? Let me put this in context.
This is Howard Fineman reacting to the news he’s just learned in a press conference with John and Elizabeth Edwards that she has incurable cancer, it has spread to the bones. It is stage four. Life expectancy here, survival rate of five years, 20% is survivable rate of five years. The cancer is treatable, but we’ve all just heard this press conference, essentially saying that she’s dying, and Edwards is going to keep the campaign going. She’s going to be part of it. See if there’s anything that jumps out about this. There’s not a secret sentence here that will give it away. I’m not asking you to listen for something specific, just the whole bite and the concept and the tone of it, is there something here that sort of makes you curious, raises red flags or whatever? Here it is.
FINEMAN: I think this is somewhat of a surprise. I think there were some websites here in Washington that were predicting that he would suspend or even drop out. That turned out not to be the case. This is an ongoing story, and this is a metaphor for how they want to fight for the country. They’re willing to take the public relations risk of analogizing their own family situation and the bravery that they’ve shown and the guts that they’ve shown to the kind of leadership that they want to offer the country. That’s pretty bold, but that’s the world that we live in now, Chris, where people’s personal lives are analogized to their political beings. And that’s what we’re seeing with the Edwardses. I thought that was — looked at politically, diagnosed, if you will, politically, that was a ten strike of a press conference. They showed guts, was nothing short of remarkable, and somewhat unexpected, and it’s always great when something unexpected happens around here.
RUSH: See? He’s thrilled to beans, folks, that there was a surprise in a press conference. He’s not upset The Politico got it wrong, kind of glad because it was a surprise. But that’s not the point. He makes the comment here that, ‘That’s just the way it is, Chris, in politics today. People’s personal lives diagnosed politically, and they’re analogized politically.’ Howard, who does that? Who analogizes personal lives politically? Who is it that takes virtually every news story and tries to turn it into a political event and analyze it politically in terms of somebody’s fortunes? The answer to the question, of course, is none other than — dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut — the Drive-By Media. So how many of you would agree with me — and it would be wise if you were to do so — when I say that we’ve just heard John and Elizabeth Edwards announce that his campaign is continuing despite his wife’s recurring cancer, incurable cancer, and that entire bite is an analysis of the political aptitude, strength, and brilliance of the press conference.
That bite, Howard Fineman, analyzed it totally politically. It’s a ten strike. Now, what if I were to do that? Let’s take a hypothetical. Hypothetical. Let’s pretend that I were to, after hearing the press conference, come on with some comment about, ‘You know what, folks? This is purely political. This is just being done to set up this campaign. They’re just trying to jump-start a sagging campaign. They’re hoping to evoke a bunch of sympathy.’ Do you know what hell would fly over this? Nothing compared to the feud between me and the governator. But that’s what Fineman just did, except he has a different political take than the hypothetical political take I just suggested. His political take, ‘Whoa, what a brilliant political move here.’
Now, frankly, I can’t relate to this. If I were married — (whew) — if I were married and in a similar circumstance here as the Edwards, and my wife was diagnosed with incurable cancer, and I called a press conference and said, ‘You know what? I have learned over the course of my life that life has a purpose, and my wife and I have decided that I’m going to proceed with broadcast excellence,’ do you think I would be praised for making a brilliant political or business decision? Of course not. But here, our buddy Howard Fineman has just rated the press conference on a political scale. That’s something that struck me about this. Now, I just wanted to make that observation. Now to the phones because people have been patiently waiting.