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ABC News and the public shaming of John Edwards

Call it the public shaming of John Edwards.

ABC News attracted a large audience Friday night of 8.1 million viewers for its hourlong interview/report with Andrew Young, the former Edwards aide whose new book, "The Politician," chronicles the one-time presidential candidate's adultery while his wife was battling cancer. You can read my account of how ABC News and Young depicted Edwards as a portrait in depravity here.

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The network has been out front on this story, and it has more on the way with interviews and reports about Edwards, his affair and his love child with a former campaign videographer scheduled for every day of the coming week on "Good Morning America." And by the intense reaction of readers at this blog and elsewhere on the Internet, I am starting to believe that ABC News is playing a major role in something important: a public shaming of Edwards. And that is news, because it has seemed, at least since Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, that our culture has lost touch with the concept of public shame.

Maybe it is the nature of the transgression: Edwards having this trashy affair while his wife was finding out that her cancer had migrated into her bones. Or maybe it was the fact that he was presenting himself to the nation as an honest man -- asking for money and votes in the 2008 presidential race -- as he was furiously spinning a crazed web of deception, lies, coverups and payoffs. Or maybe it is the shock that some folks are feeling with the realization that they voted for such a despicable person.

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Whatever the reasons, it is fascinating to see the culture expressing near-universal revulsion at Edwards in reaction to such media accounts as the one that aired Friday on "20/20" of what he did.

Maybe there is some capacity for shame left in this land.

What do you think?

Here's an ABC News video with background on Young, the affair between Edwards and Rielle Hunter and on many of the lies and conflicting stories Edwards has told.

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