Throughout the Edwards affair, John has been willing to resort to any level of lying, and Elizabeth to any level of self-deception, to preserve their images of themselves as a faithful Christian family.  Groucho Marx's "Who are you going to believe - me, or your lying eyes," pales next to the Edwards' performance.


The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, September 21, 2009. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at

What Was the Previous World Record (before the Edwards) for Lying and Self-Deception?

John Edwards is reportedly preparing to acknowledge he is the father of Rielle Hunter's baby daughter after Hunter testified under oath about their relationship. Neither John nor his wife, Elizabeth, has admitted any fundamental fact about the Hunter affair without its already having become public.

Groucho Marx's "Who are you going to believe - me, or your lying eyes," pales next to the Edwards' performance.

Thus, we enter the circles of the Edwards' marriage hell.

Circle 1. John Edwards meets and beds videographer Rielle Hunter in 2006 while his wife is suffering from incurable cancer.  When Edwards eventually admited the affair, he claimed it began when he hired Hunter for his campaign in the fall of 2006, but the affair actually began early in 2006.

Circle 2. The Edwards renew their wedding vows in July of 2007.  John meanwhile was telling Rielle he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony after Elizabeth died.

Circle 3. Edwards repeatedly and vehemently denies the affair when it is reported by the National Enquirer in October, 2007 and thereafter.

Circle 4. When the Enquirer reveals Hunter is pregnant in December (the baby is born in February, 2008) and reports Edwards is the baby's father, Edwards campaign aide Andrew Young claims to be the father.

Circle 5. Elizabeth Edwards, publicizing her 2009 book Resilience in May, claims she didn't believe the Enquirer's story, although in her book Elizabeth says her husband admitted the affair to her in 2006.

Circle 6. When the Enquirer catches Edwards in an assignation with Hunter in an LA hotel in July of 2008, Edwards repeats his denials and says the Enquirer is "full of lies."

Circle 7. After the Enquirer publishes photos of Edwards and Hunter in August, Edwards admits to the affair on Nightline, but - confidently (and crazily) asserting that this is the last he will comment on the matter - dismisses it as short-lived and definitively rejects that the baby is his or that he made any financial arrangements for Hunter or the child.

Circle 8. Long-time Edwards supporter Fred Baron admits that he funded Hunter and Young's simultaneous move to California.  At the same time, Edwards was asking Baron if he could find a doctor who would falsify a DNA report.

Circle 9. In her 2009 memoir, Elizabeth Edwards refuses to acknowledge Hunter or the child, and claims never to have asked John whether he is the father. Oprah, in her interview with the Edwards, likewise declined to ask this essential question.

Circle 10. As Young is reportedly preparing a tell-all book, in August, 2009 Hunter is called to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Edwards' possible misuse of campaign funds to support Hunter and the baby.

Circle 11. Edwards prepares to acknowledge paternity of the Hunter child.

The Twelfth Circle (?).  Edwards is charged and convicted of misappropriation of campaign funds.