11/01/07 — Edwards’ oops: Campaign made mistake by attacking student’s story

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Edwards’ oops: Campaign made mistake by attacking student’s story

Sometimes it is really hard to figure out if those directing the campaigns of some of the men and women running for office are really in tune at all with the people they are trying to convince to vote for them.

Or do they just keep shooting themselves in the foot so that we will have something to shake our heads and laugh at until the next election.

Such is the case with presidential candidate John Edwards and his campaign staff in Chapel Hill.

It seems a University of North Carolina journalism student contacted the campaign and asked to do a story on the poverty center that Edwards has set up there.

The student asked why, if the center’s mission is to address poverty, the center is located in one of the ritziest areas of the state.

Hmmm. Pretty good question, huh?

Well, fast forward to the airing of the story.

The Edwards campaign had a hissy fit — there is no other word that accurately describes their reaction — and demanded that the student’s report be pulled.

They even went so far as to threaten to reject access by student journalists to the campaign.

Now, for a moment, think about this.

A campaign that is claiming that it is progressive and ready to listen to the people — and which is focused heavily on young people — has just rejected a whole college because they did not like someone questioning a decision.

Doesn’t sound very smart, does it?

So, what started out as a report that got a couple hundred hits on a university Web site, has become a national media event and generated several hundred thousand hits now, as well as a professor out giving interviews about the inappropriateness of a candidate stifling questions.


Almost seems like someone spoke way before he or she thought the consequences through, doesn’t it?

There are many other examples of political stump speeches about openness and change that end up being just more of the same, so the Edwards fiasco probably won’t surprise anyone who follows politics.

But it does kind of make you wonder what else the campaign is hiding — or why they did not think to answer the question about fighting poverty in the middle of opulence.

If this is anything like what the next year is going to be in politics, perhaps there might be a use for a column — Colossal Blunder of the Day. There probably won’t be any shortage of material.

Published in Editorials on November 1, 2007 7:34 AM