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The First Shall Be Last - Broadcasting & Cable

The First Shall Be Last

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There is much to say about the reporting of Elizabeth Edwards renewed battle with cancer.

First is the cautionary tale provided by Allbritton's new Web site, which has gotten some buzz in its couple of months on the scene.

It rushed to post a single-sourced story that Edwards was going to suspend the campaign. It was what many of us assumed, what some others reported as well on similarly thin evidence, or speculated about in that "Web echo" way, reporting that others were reporting, that sort of thing.

Elizabeth Edwards even suggested that the decision only hours before might indeed have been to suspend the campaign. She said in her press conference that after the first diagnoses, the announcement would probably have been different, but that subsequent tests buoyed their spirits.

Anyway, Politico pulled the trigger too early in the rush to beat the press conference by a few minutes. It is the nature of the Web beast and one that has to be tamed as Web journalism matures.

Another angle to the story was the subtle and not so subtle suggestion that the decision to press on somehow meant that, de facto, John Edwards must have put ambition before family.

Chris Wallace of Fox News said on Friday that even in Washington, sometimes politics takes a back seat and that everyone was just wishing this good woman a better tomorrow. Everyone does wish her the best, surely, but that didn't stop some commentators and pundits from taking shots at John Edwards as though the couple had not discussed the options and chosen the best one for now.

From where I stand, the decision makes perfect sense. The campaign can be suspended at any time, but for now, life as close to normal is probably the best medicine she could have. Elizabeth Edwards has chosen to face her cancer bravely and optimistically, and to not let it redefine her. It's the sort of spirit that would make for a fine First Lady.

By John Eggerton

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