Saturday, January 07, 2012
Eyes Without a Face
Sure, they look relaxed, but at the first sight of their quarry these mild-mannered camera handlers will pounce, forming a tight knot of glass around whatever felon, suspect or superstar is deemed newsworthy that day. On this day, it was none other than that feathery worm John Edwards. Long before his lawyers arrived at Greensboro's Federal Courthouse, a leathery collection of skeptics formed on the sidewalk outside. There were grievances aired and crude jokes told as the lenslingers leveled their weapons and eyed the horizon. Not far away, a gentleman with a real weapon on his hip sat hidden in a hut, watching the watchers and fondling the knob of his walkie-talkie. Cameras and foolishness aren't allowed in Federal Court and a sworn army of serious men make sure that remains enforced every single day. Wanna get water-boarded? Play Chinese Fire Drill outside a Federal Courthouse. You won't make it to the driver's side door before three beefy men in black tackle and shackle your goofy ass. Okay, so that's a bit extreme but the fact of the matter is the older cats who prowl these halls of justice take their jobs very seriously and I wouldn't so much as pass gas inside there without asking permission.
Outside, there was still no sign of the Man with the Golden Haircut. John Edwards is no stranger to these streets. For months now the former Presidential candidate and his lawyers have fended off the beginning of his trial. He's facing six felony and misdemeanor counts for allegedly using campaign donations to hide his pregnant mistress, a (GULP!), videographer. (I know, it's sick.) Throughout the hearings, Edwards has shown his face, popping out of a low-slung roadster and sashaying down the runway, er sidewalk. Never one to shy away from his own reflection, he usually beams and occasionally preens as the cameras close in, smiling all the while as if he's walking into the Fellowship Building to go teach Sunday School. I myself have backpedaled before the man a half dozen times and I can assure you, his hair was perfect. This time, however, I wouldn't get a chance to ogle his tresses, for the man who once fancied himself a potential POTUS simply didn't show.
But his lawyer did. I was long gone by then, but footage has been filed of Edwards attorney Jim Cooney exiting the building looking wary and embarrassed. Why wouldn't he be? TV cameras were coming right at him, held by swarthy pirate types - guys with nicknames like Skeeter, Rad and Chim-Chim. Pirouetting off his every step, the clot of photogs dodged, bobbed and weaved around streetlights, stealing every glance they could of the nebbish attorney without braining themselves in the process. As walk-downs go, it was pretty long and I imagine it was fascinating from afar, like watching a noisy storm front move across the horizon. Back in the scrum, the man in the middle uttered nothing but chuckles as the cameras and questions kept coming. I myself laughed when Piedmont news vet Margaret Johnson chided his silence. "One or two words will do." At that, Cooney finally responded, if only to say that he couldn't respond. It wasn't much of a soundbite, but with everyone under deadline, they'd take what they can get. Besides, the Edwards affair is far from over and even if the millionaire philanderer buys his way out of a trial, he'll have to come through us to close the deal.