The XX Factor

Can We Blame GQ for Sexy Rielle Images? No.

Rielle Hunter says she trusted the GQ photographer who took the pictures that accompany her artless prattling not to use them (or at least, maybe to use just one sexy one, because that would have been much better). Is there any way to blame Mark Seliger for permanently linking the image of Barney with that of John Edwards performing oral sex in Hanna’s mind ? Sadly, no.

After condemning Rielle Hunter for her poor judgement in posing, I listened to Barbara Walters describe an interview with Hunter in which Hunter says she “screamed for two hours” when she saw herself sexily arrayed next to her daughter’s impressive pack of branded, stuffed creations. I wanted to feel at least a little sympathy-she wouldn’t be the first woman to find herself manipulated by a photographer and a glamorous photo shoot. But still, Walters never said so directly, but she certainly implied that she would have been happy to have the first interview with Rielle Hunter. I’d imagine dozens of news programs and publications would have been. But Hunter chose GQ . Why?

My first guess was money, but I was flat-out wrong-Hunter “didn’t make a penny for this interview.” So the question that I really wanted Walters to have asked (and maybe she did, but didn’t get an answer) was, then why GQ ? It seems to me that when Hunter agreed to play with GQ , she agreed to play by their rules-and their prime directive when dealing with women subjects is titillate first, ask questions later. That can’t be a surprise to anyone who’s ever walked by a newstand. It’s hard to believe Rielle Hunter could have been naive enough to think she could manipulate GQ into changing their game, but then, it’s hard to believe anyone would describe John Edwards as having fallen “to grace” or “living a life of truth.”

GQ has had its moments of serious journalism, but if Hunter was really hoping that her interview would be one of them, she shouldn’t have taken off her pants. It may be that a woman who puts “being is free” on her business cards just isn’t a woman who ought to attempt to play with the big dogs. But that ship has sailed, and now Hanna is stuck with her unfortunate new Kermit the Frog associations. The rest of get a fresh reminder of an important rule that’s been true since the days of the daguerrotype: the man with the camera suggesting you undo just one more button almost never has your best interests at heart.