The Epistemology of Kausfiles

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Mickey Kaus' long post here about John Edwards' alleged affair with Rielle Hunter is almost self-refuting. Basically, we have an anonymous source saying Hunter said she had an affair with Edwards, versus Hunter, on the record, saying that's not the case. Then there's Edwards, also saying it's not the case. But Kaus initially deems Edwards' denial too vague and non-specific. But then:

Update: The AP has Edwards adding "It's completely untrue, ridiculous" and saying the story was "made up." By the Enquirer? Or by one of the people the Enquirer cites? Either way, it's a direct attack on the integrity of someone (not necessarily a smart move for a politician in Edwards' position). ...

[Banging my head against the wall] Basically what we have here is that if we assume the anonymous hearsay is true and the on-the-record first-hand denial is false, then Edwards is either mishandling the story by denying it too vaguely ("the story is false") or else is mishandling it by denying it too directly ("made up") but what if the story's not true? No doubt by now we've had all the legitimate news organizations in the country looking into it and it seems that . . . nobody can come up with any evidence. As we saw with Scott Beauchamp, and the fake John Kerry intern affair story, if you just operate from within an assumption of guilt it's very hard for someone to prove his innocence but that's why we . . . don't operate with an assumption of guilt!

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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