One of the unanswered questions of the National Enquirer-John Edwards sex scandal is that the tabloid never published photos of the now infamous encounter at the Beverly Hilton in the early morning hours of July 22, when a pair of Enquirer reporters and a photographer busted Edwards attempting to sneak out of the hotel. The tabloid ran with the story and on August 6, published a blurry photo of a guy who looks like Edwards holding what the Enquirer alleges is his love child (Edwards denies this). But why not publish photos of Edwards trying to blockade himself in the hotel's basement bathroom? Surely that would sell newspapers. What gives?
"This became a psychological game," Enquirer editor-in-chief David Perel told me by phone on Wednesday, when I asked him about the mysterious Beverly Hilton photos (Read my full piece here). Perel says his photographer snapped numerous photos, but the tabloid didn't release the shots right away because they wanted to get inside Edwards' head, and play mind games with the former Senator. "I knew if I released the photos right away, Edwards would continue to lie and say, ‘oh that’s not me.’" Perel said. "I thought I could freeze him by not releasing the photos, so he knew that I knew that he was at that hotel, and what he was doing every step of the way. If he didn't know what else I have photos of, he can only assume worst case scenario."
But now that Edwards has come clean and admitted to the affair with his former videographer Rielle Hunter, why not run the photos? "It doesn’t matter now," Perel said. "The whole point was that it was a bit of a psychological standoff. I felt I could read him psychologically. I wasn’t going to give him a chance to deny the photos."