Two things are fairly indisputable: The New York Post is not a fan of John Edwards. And Rielle Hunter's new book, What Really Happened, which is out June 26, is getting plenty of attention from the tabloid because of that. Hence, today's cover, a masterwork of Photoshop artistry that puts Rielle and her "Johnny"'s heads atop what appear to be stock art models en déshabillé.
The Post has used such Photoshop before, of course, generally to comic or clearly satirical effect. In this case, though, the lines are blurred, making the cover less funny than false. You wonder if it's accurate at all, or simply misleading—particularly with the headline, "Rielle: My night of XXXtasy with Johnny Boy." Yeah, if you see a cover featuring triple Xs and a nude-torsoed John Edwards in bed with his lover, you may well be tempted to pick it up, just to casually learn what's inside. This is, after all, news. But does the piece follow through with even the remotest promise?
In the piece itself, which carries the subhed "Steamy pages of new tell-all book blow off bed covers," the memoir-bashing starts immediately. The Post's Chuck Bennett writes that "Rielle Hunter should have titled her book, 'Fifty Shades of Gross.'" (Good one!). But how so? Hunter spoke of her first rendezvous with Edwards as follows:
"And then a moment came while we were talking when something in my heart clicked and I surrendered. I took off my teacher hat, let go of all my resistance to him and let him lead.
“He led me toward the most extraordinary night of my life. There was a lot of talk, a lot of laughter and zero sleep.”
She goes on to talk about how much they talked, how fascinated she was by him, how love changes a person and encourages them to "behave differently." Yawn. This is the humdrum stuff that wouldn't even make it to TV! They had verrrrry long phone calls. (Not even a hint, here, about phone sex, though!) Edwards did, apparently, admit to having other mistresses, which Hunter took in stride. Because this was a religious experience, a spiritual connection, a meeting of the minds... Just like what you see on that Post cover.
Bennett concludes, "The cringe-worthy details in her memoir — which had been rejected by major book publishers — comes just two weeks after Edwards was acquitted of charges that he subverted campaign- finance laws to hide the affair."
But, wait, where are the cringe-worthy details? We're still waiting for our cringe. The cringey-est thing we get here, in fact, appears to be that cover of The Post.