For most of the 10 months since allegations of former Sen. John Edwards's extramarital affair appeared in the National Enquirer, the story was marginalized, partly because much of the media has a dismissive attitude toward the publication that broke it.
They ignored the story at their peril, forgetting that amid the unflattering celebrity photos and overblown headlines, the Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid owned by publisher American Media Inc. has a track record of scoops, including some about politics. And this time it found an unlikely ally: a group of Internet voices driven less by political ideology than by a view of the mainstream press as out of touch.
The Enquirer, which has been reporting the story for nearly a year and which first published it last October, was vindicated Friday when Mr. Edwards admitted to the affair to Walt Disney Co.'s ABC News. (Mr. Edwards has denied other elements of the Enquirer's reports, including that he is the father of the woman's child.) News of the former Democratic senator's admission subsequently was splashed across most major newspapers. It was the first time many of those publications, including The Wall Street Journal, had weighed in on the topic.
Not so in the blogosphere, where a stable of voices on sites such as Washington Post Co.'s Slate, Huffington Post and Drudge Report had recognized the possibility that the story might be true and questioned the old guard's inaction. Unlike previous scandals fueled by partisan politics, this one blurred political lines. It was the left-leaning Huffington Post that began investigating the relationship between Mr. Edwards and the woman, Rielle Hunter, around the time the first Enquirer story was published last year.
"New media really helped keep this story alive," the Enquirer's Editor in Chief David Perel said. He added that the online voices that propagated the story aren't as willing to dismiss the Enquirer's story as "tabloid trash," as Mr. Edwards is.