Colorado talk radio hosts continue suggesting Edwards announced wife's cancer relapse to boost campaign

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Colorado talk radio hosts this week echoed last week's comments of other media personalities by suggesting John and Elizabeth Edwards' announcement that her cancer had returned was an attempt to galvanize his presidential campaign and that her illness would perhaps boost his political aspirations. They did not, however, discuss any of the possible political aspects of the White House announcements and news conferences regarding Bush administration spokesman Tony Snow's recurring cancer.

Following comments by Newsradio 850 KOA host Mike Rosen and nationally syndicated talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Colorado talk radio hosts on consecutive days continued to suggest that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' announcement that his wife's breast cancer had returned was politically motivated and that her illness was a potential benefit to his campaign.

On the March 26 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show, guest host George Brauchler claimed that the recurrence of Elizabeth Edwards' cancer was "the best thing in the world that could have happened to their campaign." Similarly, during the March 27 broadcast of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Mornings with Keith and Gail!, co-hosts Keith Weinman and Gail Fallen claimed that Edwards made the announcement during a March 22 press conference to obtain "sympathy vote[s]." In contrast to their response to the announcement that Elizabeth Edwards is again battling cancer, Weinman and Fallen expressed "our best wishes and all of our support for Tony Snow," the White House press secretary who announced at a recent news conference that his cancer had returned.

As Colorado Media Matters noted, Rosen suggested on the March 22 broadcast of his show that Edwards -- a former U.S. senator from North Carolina and vice presidential candidate -- was exploiting his wife's recurrence of cancer and that a press conference to discuss her health was an effort to "draw national attention to his campaign." Rosen's remarks were similar to the comments of nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh, who, as Media Matters for America noted, later suggested that Edwards' camp "leak[ed]" false information about his possibly suspending his presidential bid in order "to jump-start the campaign."

Brauchler, guest hosting on March 26 with Darren McKee, echoed Rosen and Limbaugh by stating that because of Elizabeth Edwards' cancer, people "might actually ease up on the old John Edwards bash train because now he's not just John Edwards, you know, personal injury attorney. He's John Edwards, grieving husband." Brauchler later said, "I just think this is the best thing in the world that could have happened to their campaign and the worst thing in the world that could happen to a couple. You know, and it's, it's a weird dynamic to have go on that way. But I agree with you that there is something freakish about someone who feels like his skill set is so uniquely suited to bring the country through this whatever period of time that if he were not to do it, he'd be letting down the American people."

On their March 27 show, Weinman and Fallen were even more critical of Edwards, with Fallen asking if Edwards was "using his wife's terminal illness as a political platform ... knowing full well that there will be those who will cast their ballot" as "a sympathy vote." Later, Weinman read from a USA Today editorial about the scramble among presidential hopefuls to raise money before the end of this week, "when the first reporting period of the 2008 election ends." Fallen and Weinman then suggested that the timing of the Edwards' announcement was tied to the fundraising deadline:

FALLEN: ... But if you follow that money and if you follow the reality of this piece saying this is a big week, this is going to be --

WEINMAN: That's why they made the announcement.

FALLEN: -- a determining -- of course it is. Is it cold and callous to suggest that timing is everything with this announcement about Elizabeth Edwards?

WEINMAN: No. Not at all. Because timing is everything. And I'll go beyond that and say you should -- this whole story is precisely the reason that somebody should not support him. Nothing personal here, it's just business. Nobody -- I mean, you can set the politics totally aside, it's because of that that I don't want you in the most powerful chair on the planet.

After questioning the Edwards' announcement about Elizabeth Edwards' breast cancer, Weinman and Fallen discussed Snow's current bout with the illness, first reported on March 23 and officially announced during a March 27 White House press conference. Fallen said, "[O]ur thoughts and prayers, of course, with Tony Snow. But I really think that he has what it takes" to beat cancer, to which Weinman responded, "Agreed. If anybody does, he does. So our best wishes and all of our support for Tony Snow." Neither Fallen nor Weinman questioned whether the Bush administration -- which is currently embroiled in a controversy over the firings of eight U.S. attorneys -- may have had any political motivations for making an official announcement and holding a White House news conference about Snow's illness.

From the March 26 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show, with guest hosts George Brauchler and Darren McKee:

BRAUCHLER: Well, I think it may actually give him some cover. This might actually ease up on the old John Edwards bash train because now he's not just John Edwards, you know, personal injury attorney. He's John Edwards, grieving husband.

[...]

BRAUCHLER: And I just think this is the best thing in the world that could have happened to their campaign and the worst thing in the world that could happen to a couple. You know, and it's, it's a weird dynamic to have go on that way. But I agree with you that there is something freakish about someone who feels like his skill set is so uniquely suited to bring the country through this whatever period of time that if he were not to do it, he'd be letting down the American people.

MCKEE: God, the more that I think about it, George, the more strange it actually is, to think that you're, you're that special. God, it's, it's bizarre. I -- the more that I think -- think, think about it: You're driving right now, you have more money than you know what to do with, and your wife has cancer, you've got two young kids. What path do you continue on?

BRAUCHLER: Yeah, I don't know. I don't know.

MCKEE: It seems that any path, except for spending time with your fam -- and I'm not saying they shouldn't do things. But there's so many other things you can do besides run for president.

From the March 27 broadcast of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Mornings with Keith and Gail!:

FALLEN: Are we a little bit cynical? Is he using this? And I, I -- you know, I almost feel funny saying this, but it can't help but cross your mind. Is he using his wife's terminal illness as a political platform by saying, don't do something -- knowing full well that there will be those who will cast their ballot --

WEINMAN: A sympathy vote.

FALLEN: -- as a sympathy vote.

[...]

WEINMAN: OK, that said, let me shift, shift to a different story. And this comes from, while we were gone on vacation, this comes from an editorial in USA Today, of all places. [Reading] Major contenders in both parties are at a mad dash right now for cash before this Saturday when the first reporting period of the 2008 election ends. The first contest of the election, wealthy individuals and special interests, are picking winners with their checkbooks. Their choices will establish an early pecking order among survivors. The results will be announced next month. Money has become an even larger factor because candidates have decided to forego public financing. The matching funds come with spending limits. They're saying we can raise more money than we can if we take the matching funds so we'll pass it up. We want the rich people to open up their checkbooks. That all starts this Saturday. A huge money primary showed, showing Hillary Rodham Clinton could cement her status as the Democrat front-runner. Edwards, who polls a distant third, could pull back into the top ranks with Clinton and Barack Obama if some miracle happened this week. [end reading] And that's what they're hoping for. So throw that into those two statements by Edwards --

FALLEN: So, given --

WEINMAN: -- saying nobody should vote for the president -- nobody should vote for me because Elizabeth has cancer, and she will be able to make campaign appearances.

FALLEN: So, given the stark reality of the situation -- follow the money, which is something that you need to do in politics because I think it's become increasingly clear that candidates -- we don't vote for candidates based on the best qualified. We vote for candidates based on who has the biggest war chest. Based on who has --

WEINMAN: Some, some people do.

FALLEN: -- the most money.

WEINMAN: Some people do.

FALLEN: Well, take a look at who's run. And take a look at who we have to vote for. It's the people who have the most money. But if you follow that money and if you follow the reality of this piece saying this is a big week, this is going to be --

WEINMAN: That's why they made the announcement.

FALLEN: -- a determining -- of course it is. Is it cold and callous to suggest that timing is everything with this announcement about Elizabeth Edwards?

WEINMAN: No. Not at all. Because timing is everything. And I'll go beyond that and say you should -- this whole story is precisely the reason that somebody should not support him. Nothing personal here, it's just business. Nobody -- I mean, you can set the politics totally aside, it's because of that that I don't want you in the most powerful chair on the planet.

[...]

WEINMAN: The other story that is worthy of mention this morning is one you've heard Kevin do in the news a few times this morning. Because of our connection to Tony Snow, we had spoken to Tony Snow several times --

FALLEN: Yeah.

WEINMAN: -- when he did a show here on 600 KCOL before he went to the White House to serve as press secretary for the Bush administration. The story this morning that White House press secretary Tony Snow has informed the White House that a growth discovered in his liver, in his lower abdomen, is apparently cancer. He fought colon cancer, didn't he? Which is one of the nastiest, absolutely nastiest types of cancer. And apparently it has spread to his liver. He is consulting with doctors on chemotherapy, adding that he spoke with the president. He is feeling pretty good. You're seeing this woman, Perino -- have I got her name right? -- I think Dana Perino, and you hadn't seen Tony Snow over the past few days. He did make an appearance this morning. And I was -- I wondered why, and we got back from vacation, thinking where is Tony Snow? Well, this is the answer to that question. He said he's going to beat it again. And, and I wouldn't be surprised if he does. If anybody can, he can. Because when we first got to know Tony Snow on, on 600 KCOL, he was in the process of wrapping up the battle against the original colon cancer.

FALLEN: Well, and you talk about -- Keith has just come off reading the book The Secret, and I'm sure that'll come up in conversation at some point in time. In fact, if you've read it, be interested in your thoughts on that as well. But in talking about the power of the human mind, and particularly when you're battling cancer. I've talked, talked to any number of experts, oncologists among them, who have said that if you yourself are a cancer survivor, you know how important that positive mental outlook is. The power of positive thinking. And as much as that has been bandied about, as trite as that phraseology has become, particularly when you are battling cancer, your outlook and your approach to fighting the disease, your mental strength, is really critical to the battle. And I really think -- our thoughts and prayers, of course, with Tony Snow. But I really think that he has what it takes.

WEINMAN: Agreed. If anybody does, he does. So our best wishes and all of our support for Tony Snow.

FALLEN: Interesting, though, when he was named press secretary. When was that -- April 2006, was it? It seems like he's been there so much longer, but I believe it was back in 2006. Many people, many experts in the field were concerned that the stress of that position -- now, you think being a talk show host on, on Fox would be stressful enough, but this kind of kicks it up a notch. And a lot of people were very concerned that the stress would actually lead to a relapse. Did it? I don't know that we'll ever know.

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