What if John Edwards were Sarah Palin? Edwards was a Democratic candidate for vice president of the United States in 2004, and ran for president in 2008. He was brought down by a sex scandal. Can you imagine how the media would have covered the scandal had it not been Edwards, but Sarah Palin?
ABC News has helpfully provided a timeline for the Edwards scandal, and I thought it would be interesting to adapt it to Sarah Palin. I changed the names and the years to fit Palin’s life; that is to say, Edwards was the VP nominee in 2004, and Palin in 2008, so I simply moved the time frame forward four years as I replaced the names.
I’ve also added some speculation about how the media would react.
Nov. 3, 2008: Sarah Palin’s husband Todd is diagnosed with cancer. His cancer later goes into remission.
2010: Sarah Palin meets Rob Hunter, a self-described filmmaker, at a bar in New York City.
Aug. 2, 2010: “Plain Truth,” the first of a series of Web documentaries, or “webisodes,” chronicling Palin’s course on the campaign trail — produced by the newly hired Hunter and commissioned by Palin’s political action committee — is taped.
Aug. 4, 2010: The second webisode, “Golden Rule,” is taped.
Late September to early October 2010: “Drill Baby Drill” episode taped in Anchorage, Alaska.
Nov. 14, 2010: The fourth webisode, “Sarah 2008,” is taped in New York City and airs on Fox.
Dec. 28, 2010: Palin announces that she will run for president in 2012.
Early 2011: The webisodes are removed from Palin’s Web site. The Daily Kos, ABC’s “The Note,” Politico and The New York Times begin to investigate why the videos were removed. Rachel Maddow dedicates a segment of her show to the “mystery,” with guests Ana Marie Cox and Jonathan Capehart.
March 22, 2011: Todd Palin announces during a news conference in Wasilla, Alaska that his cancer has returned and, while it is treatable, it is incurable.
June 12, 2011: Palin announces that she is pregnant. It dominates the news cycle for four days.
Oct. 10, 2011: The National Enquirer reports that Palin had an affair with a former campaign staffer. The publication doesn’t mention Rob Hunter by name or its source for the information. Immediately, the Inquirer reporter who broke the story is booked on every major news show. The Washington Post and New York Times each send a platoon of researchers and private investigators to find Palin’s lover. MSNBC launches “The Palin Affair,” with every show dedicated to the breaking scandal. CNN debuts a new show, “The Sarah Chronicles,” which is dedicated to covering the Palins. It is hosted by Keith Olbermann. Bill Maher calls Palin “a skanky hypocrite” on “Real Time.”
Oct. 11, 2011: Palin denies having an affair to reporters in Anchorage. “The story is false,” Palin says, according to The Associated Press. “It’s completely untrue, ridiculous. … I’ve been in love with the same man for 30-plus years, and as anybody who’s been around us knows, he’s an extraordinary human being; warm, loving, beautiful, sexy and as good a person as I have ever known.”
Dec. 19, 2011: The National Enquirer publishes a photograph of Rob Hunter that shows him buying diapers.
Jan. 30, 2012: Palin announces that she is suspending her campaign. The news dominates the new cycle for a week. Frank Rich begins work on a book about the Palins.