Did President Barack Obama have an affair with Vera Baker, a campaign aide on his run for Senate in 2004? Definitely (maybe), says the National Enquirer! Probably, says the Drudge Report, amid vivid Vietnam-style flashbacks while muttering “Lewinsky” repeatedly. Everyone else is hedging their bets so far, including some of the Right Wing web, possibly because we’ve already heard this exact story before. But let’s rewind…
There’s a fable about a shepherd boy who gets off on hollering to the neighbors that wolves are attacking his sheep. They never really are, and eventually the townspeople pick up on this and stop responding to the false alarms. When the wolves do actually come and the boy yells for help, no one listens because they assume he’s full of shit. And then the wolves tear him up. Like, imagine if John Edwards won the Democratic nomination.
After years of peddling trash about important people and their affairs or sex changes — the supermarket checkout line version of crying wolf — the National Enquirer really had something worth screaming about. Edwards was a hell of a wolf and he was having his way with a crazy little sheep called Rielle Hunter. But the Enquirer‘s goodwill tank was on empty, so it took months of reporting and blurry photographs before any Respectable Media Organization came to help. Then, everyone was REALLY SORRY and wanted to apologize for doubting them in the form of awards. (Also, Tiger Woods, but let’s talk about politics.)
But now, it’s not about wolves and sheep at all: It’s like atomic bombs and puppies when you bring in Barack and Michelle Obama, or the Most Important Man in the World, husband in the Only Enviable Marriage Ever. Is it all a lie?
According to the Enquirer:
A confidential investigation has learned that Obama first became close to gorgeous 35 year-old VERA BAKER in 2004 when she worked tirelessly to get him elected to the US Senate, raising millions in campaign contributions.
While Baker has insisted in the past that “nothing happened” between them, the ENQUIRER has learned that top anti-Obama operatives are offering more than $1 million to witnesses to reveal what they know about the alleged hush-hush affair.
There’s reportedly a limo driver in the know. And: “The ENQUIRER has also learned that on-site hotel surveillance video camera footage could provide indisputable evidence.”
But we heard whispers of this same tale in October of 2008, when the Daily Mail reported that the Enquirer, along with the L.A. Times and ABC, was doing some digging:
The whispers focus on a young woman who in 2004 was hired to work on his team for his bid to become a senator.
The woman was purportedly sidelined from her duties after Senator Obama’s wife, Michelle, became convinced that he had developed a personal friendship with her.
Then unnamed, the woman was listed as 33 years old. The new Enquirer story lists Vera Baker as 35. The math checks out. And apparently, the Enquirer never gave up.
Drudge threw the new story front and center, because, well, why not:
Mediaite gave the ol’ “we’re just putting it out there!” with a fair enough assessment, stating: “a story of this category is no longer the joke it once was in the post-Rielle Hunter world, and with Drudge’s blessing, this story could ruin the weekend for the White House even if not true.”
On this Saturday morning, much of the political and media blogosphere is suspiciously quiet, including Politico, the Michelle Malkin-founded Hot Air and Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government. (The New York Times is probably still working on their blog post — winky face.)
It’s almost too much to imagine the fallout should this mysterious tape and further corroboration surface. Can we really, as a nation, handle two years of Chris Matthews and Bill O’Reilly blather, Maureen Dowd columns, Slate pieces and so on? The talking head community is likely salivating at the distant possibility.
But as it stands at the moment, the National Enquirer occupies such a perfect space in the media sphere that it’s inevitable for the political and media communities to be on edge and very careful for at least a few days, if not weeks. The tabloid is under no obligation to always (or even ever) tell the truth, and yet they’ve earned just enough trust to make Democrats and Real Reporters alike nervous as hell.
You can’t write them off, but you can’t write home yet either. So they keep winning, while everyone else (including the Times, the Post and doubtlessly the Obama camp) attempts to appear calm on the surface — by expressing doubt or nothing at all — while behind the scenes they’re scrambling. Thanks a fucking lot, John Edwards.