December 19, 2007

How Many Degrees Of Separation?

Blogosphere buzz today centers on a Drudge story regarding alleged marital infidelity for a major contender in the Democratic presidential primaries. The story comes from the National Enquirer, so the reliability of the information seems rather debatable. The source may be more of the story than the story itself, as the NE has a passing relationship with the candidate's main competitor.

AMI owns National Enquirer, as well as other tabloid gossip rags. AMI has been on the block for a while, and investor Ron Burkle of Yucaipa Cos. has been involved in making a play for AMI. Guess who just recently -- a week ago, in fact -- distanced himself from Burkle?

Former president Bill Clinton says he is preparing to reduce or curtail his business relationship with Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle's investment firm if his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, wins the Democratic presidential nomination.

The move appears to be part of an effort to reduce the potential for conflict-of-interest controversies that could hamper Mrs. Clinton's presidential bid. Mr. Clinton for the past five years has been a senior adviser to Mr. Burkle's investment operation, Yucaipa Cos., and has held stakes in several Yucaipa investment funds. Some of those investments -- including one involving Yucaipa's acquisition of a car-hauling firm and another involving a troubled business deal with an Italian businessman -- have been controversial.

The story could be true; the Los Angeles Times supposedly had a scoop on a major candidate involving infidelity that they buried in October. If the sources for that story got frustrated, to whom would they turn? The National Enquirer would make a good option for this kind of tawdry allegation, and the standards of journalism would be sufficiently low to ensure it got published. If the sources were affiliated by powerful friends of the next potential boss, that would definitely make it headline material.

Did Bill find out that the story was coming out, and distanced himself from Burkle? Or did the divestment of Yucaipa come to allow him deniability when the mudslinging hit? This has dirty political trick written all over it, and the fingerprints would not belong to Barack Obama. This could have an innocent explanation, but the coincidences appear rather convenient.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus doesn't believe this story got planted, because Edwards helps Hillary in Iowa, in the way that Huckabee helps Giuliani there. Oh, wait ... Also, the Enquirer pulled the story. Hmmm......

UPDATE II: Please spare me the faux outrage. I didn't identify the target of the rumor in the original post, because that's not the real story. The real story is how the Burkle-Clinton connection seems very convenient for getting out these kinds of stories.


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