Pigeon O’Brien was a friend of Rielle Hunter’s who was aware of Hunter’s affair with John Edwards; when Edwards gave his dishonest Nightline interview in August 2008, O’Brien went on the CBS Early Show and called Edwards out for lying. She knew first-hand that he was lying about when the affair started, and was pretty sure that he was lying about the paternity of Hunter’s child, which of course he was.
O’Brien follows me on Twitter, so I tagged her (along with a couple other followers who I know are interested in Edwards stuff) when I tweeted a link over the weekend to this excerpt from Mark Halperin and John Heilmann’s new book Game Change. Her Twitter feed is set to private, but she’s indicated that her reactions are on the record. (Apologies for the profanity that follows, but given all the interest in Game Change I think it’s definitely newsworthy.) Here’s what she tweeted back initially:
@johntabin the first page was full of enough horseshit I didn’t continue reading. great entry in ‘historical fiction.’ thx for sharing.
I sent a direct message asking her to elaborate. She responded:
oh, that whole first page is recycled (poorly) and embellished (poorly) from inaccurate accounts of their meeting and is patently fake.
It’d be like me writing my special detailed insider story of what really happened when Elin clobbered Tiger. Makes me doubt real smarts.
Halperin and Heilmann have been criticized for relying heavily on anonymous sources, but the anecdote that O’Brien is objecting to seems to be written from the point of view of Edwards aide Josh Brumberger. It does say that Brumberger wondered later whether the encounter that’s described was really Edwards and Hunter’s first meeting, but if it wasn’t it seems unlikely that it would have proceeded exactly as described. It’s quite possible that at least part of this story was constructed while Brumberger was still spinning for Edwards, and following the faintly misogynistic narrative that had Hunter pursuing him. This was the narrative that O’Brien objected to in her Early Show interview (“It does not ring true that she would ever stalk somebody”), as well as in a follow-up tweet:
.@johntabin I will be happy when the candidate’s self-serving “she stalked me” line of victimization is laid to rest. Save women, Mr. Young!
There O’Brien is referring to Andrew Young, who implausibly claimed to be the father of Hunter’s child. According to Halperin and Heilemann’s account, some Edwards aides knew that Young’s paternity claim was not only implausible but medically impossible — he’d talked openly about a vasectomy a few years either. Young has a memoir on the way and will be giving interviews in a few weeks.
The next day, O’Brien tweeted this follow-up:
@johntabin ok, read the rest. Beginning has errors, rest is just very personally upsetting to me. What a fucking mess he made. Much hurt.
It’s not a surprise that O’Brien, as someone who cares about Rielle Hunter, would find the Game Change excerpt a painful read. It’s jaw-dropping even if you aren’t so emotionally invested. Caveats about the motives and credibility of the sources do apply, though. Mickey Kaus elaborates on that point.
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