The emails kept coming in…
Most typical: “What’s your take on the Ed Henry situation?”
Been off for a few days. Four days feels like four weeks, especially with everything that has transpired over the past few days. Donald Trump is now the presumptive nominee. Ted Cruz is out. John Kasich (who more than a few folks also wrote me about as well), the candidate would have easily, easily walked away with victory in November if the race came down to his record both as budget chairman during the 90s (he balanced it in working with President Bill Clinton for four straight years) and Ohio Governor (cut taxes, cut unemployment by more than half, turned large deficits into large surpluses… which all contributes to his 60+ approval rating in the state) was the choice. There’s a reason he soundly beats Hillary Clinton in 17 straight polls in a head-to-head matchup. Put her record — whatever that is outside of job titles and frequent flier miles — and her experience against his and see what flushes out from there. But my horse is out now, so we move on to other matters, like Ed Henry’s extramarital affair.
First, the obvious elephant question in the room needs to be addressed: Would this be the big story it is in the bubble if Henry was still at CNN? Nope. Not sure it would make much of a ripple. Adding: Steve Kroft is an example that comes to mind when a similar situation happened with the 60 Minutes and CBS News veteran. There’s always a built-in extra helping of schadenfreude when it comes to Fox News talent and personal issues moving from private to public. The network is the Howard Cosell of broadcasting, after all.
Might be dating myself here (granted, I wasn’t even double digits at the time), but here’s what the Cosell reference — and he really was the best (read “I Never Played the Game” for an appreciation) — means: At one point in the late seventies, Howard was voted by a TV Guide poll as the most loved and hated broadcaster in America simultaneously.
That’s Fox News. Its success and against-the-media-grain mantra makes it beloved by its audience and loathed by basically everyone else. The latter constantly looks for leaks in the ship to point to as the beginning of its demise. Or maybe they see the Henry situation of cheating on his wife as hypocritical for any employee of a conservative network. Please. These are human beings we’re talking about. And Henry is a reporter who worked for years at CNN without a hint of being accused of being a water-carrier for the Republican Party. We believe what we want to believe if it fits the narrative.
Question #2: Does Henry having an affair with a Las Vegas cocktail waitress (or whatever her official occupation is) mean he’s no longer credible as a reporter? After all — the cynics say — if he’s lying to his wife, is he lying on the job as well? By all accounts, Henry is a solid reporter. You don’t work for two major national cable news networks if you’re not.
And if that sounds like cheerleading — and I’ve never met the man — ask yourself this: How many reports has Henry done that have been refuted as wrong, dishonest or partisan? Feel free to Google it, because you’re not going to find much to work with. It’s the same rule that Democrats applied to then-President Clinton: Yes… he had an affair with an intern half his age in the Oval Office. But did that really affect the way he performed his job? What does his personal life have to do with his professional duties?
Of course, Henry isn’t president. The standards are different but the overall theme the same. Here’s the deal: Marriages among many media members aren’t what one would call exemplary. A majority of the faces you see on your TV screens have at least divorced once. Quite frankly, it’s not too different from Hollywood… weird hours, lots of travel, attractive people and therefore temptation… and more than a few of whom have egos that dictate entitlement to instant gratification. To use a loathed term: It is what it is. And before this sounds like justification for such behavior, don’t bother putting me in this category. As you’ll see from my Twitter feed, I married well over my skis, have two perfect young children at home and therefore would never jeopardize that for all the bourbon in Kentucky.
Bottom line is this: Ed Henry screwed up. He’s not a good husband. Take a number. He still performed his duties at a high level and did so professionally on the air. But if the past is any indication when dealing with those who did things outside of work that isn’t what could be considered exemplary behavior, know this: Fox News will stand by him while he works things out.
When he’s ready to come back, he’ll be on the campaign trail again.
And hopefully appreciative of how good he has it in the toughest, yet just about most exhilarating business to work in…
Follow Joe Concha on Twitter @JoeConchaTV
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.