John Edwards Either Is Or Isn't Going To Admit He's The FatherS

Is John Edwards about to announce that he's the father of Rielle Hunter's baby? Did he really promise her a rooftop wedding, complete with the Dave Matthews Band? As with so many things, it depends on who you believe.

On Saturday, Neil A. Lewis of the Times wrote that Edwards was considering announcing paternity, that Elizabeth Edwards had yet to come around to the idea, and that — as the National Enquirer reported last month — Hunter was planning to move to North Carolina so that her baby could be near the father. Showbiz411's Roger Friedman, though, says the story is vaporware. He says Hunter is in New Jersey with no plans to move, and that a source told him, "All that story is is regurgitation of old misinformation combined with false light and repackaged with bits of Andrew Young's book, probably leaked by his agent to heighten interest."

That book, by the former Edwards aide who once said he was the father of Hunter's baby, is the subject of a lengthy post by Glynnis MacNicol of Mediaite. MacNicol writes that the book proposal — which has yet to be picked up by publisher — seems like the main source for Lewis's Times story. But as we know from James Frey, just because something's in a book proposal doesn't make it true. Young's words haven't been fact checked by publishers yet, and he may be especially untrustworthy given that he once lied about being the father of the child. MacNicol characterizes the Times story as a quick-and-dirty attempt to get out in front of usually quicker-and-dirtier media outlets: "The New York Times is not going to be scooped by the National Enquirer anymore!"

But is there really even a scoop here? The Dave Matthews stuff is salacious, as is the assertion that Hunter gave her child the middle name Quinn to allude to the fact that she was the fifth of Edwards's children (and not, apparently, because she really liked the sister on Daria). But since Edwards is already totally discredited, the story doesn't really have anywhere to go from here. Lewis wrote in the Times,

Any acknowledgment of paternity would have ramifications for Mr. Edwards, who could suffer a further blow to his credibility but could also be praised for belatedly accepting responsibility. It could also shift Ms. Hunter's image from that of a predatory celebrity stalker (Mrs. Edwards told Oprah Winfrey that Ms. Hunter met her husband after waiting for him to come out of a New York hotel and telling him, "You're so hot.") to that of a mother concerned about her child's rights.

But any praise for Edwards's "belated" acknowledgment of his daughter is going to ring pretty false and hollow, given the lengths he went to in order to avoid acknowledging her. And Rielle Hunter will probably be forgotten in a few years' time, returning only to plague the nightmares of Caitlin Flanagan. At some point, John Edwards may make a public statement about Rielle Hunter and her baby (although she might be a teenager by then), and at least there will be some information to discuss. Until that happens, any face-off between the Times and the Enquirer just seems like a test of who can beat a dead horse the hardest.

For Edwards, Drama Builds Toward A Denouement [NYT]
The New York Times Edwards Story: Scandalous! Newsworthy! Vetted? [Mediaite]
John Edwards' Confession: Not So Fast [Showbiz411]