Backstories

Behind The News
August 8, 2008 1:40:08 PM PDT
The older one gets the more you realize that everyone, EVERYONE, has a backstory.The older one gets the more you realize that everyone, EVERYONE, has a backstory. Many people have more than that -- in the form of some type of secret life. But backstory can define all of us. Some are complicated, others are simple. Some are sad, some are inspiring. Usually, it's a combination -- just like life, and filled with nuances and areas of gray that haven't seen black or white in a long time.

How we handle it, how we move ahead, that's what defines us.

I'm thinking about back stories tonight, after ABC News' exclusive interview with former Sen. John Edwards, in which the one-time Presidential candidate confirms what until now have been headlines only in The National Enquirer: That he had an affair with a young, inexperienced filmmaker whom his campaign hired for $114,000 to make a documentary. He did not, he insists, father the child she bore earlier this year. That honor goes to one of his campaign workers.

So that's quite a secret life -- a progressive candidate whose wife has breast cancer has a secret relationship.

And then there's the backstory about the warring McGreeveys, which tonight we hope has mercifully come to a conclusion, at least the public battle part.

A judge ruling today that the former Governor of New Jersey owes his wife nothing in alimony, and will pay $1,075 a month in child support for his 6-year-old daughter.

McGreevey's ex-wife, Dina, had asked for $2,500 a month alimony and $1,745 monthly child support. Neither is well-off financially, although McGreevey's lives with a man who is wealthy and in a home that is luxurious.

But that doesn't matter in a case that started with a bizarre news conference four years ago this month, during which McGreevey stunned the state and coined a phrase in one breath, when he declared he was "a gay American."

I know of no gay person who uses or has ever used that phrase. But I suppose that's besides the point.

But they had quite a backstory, the McGreeveys. Did Dina know? Could she have known? How could she not have known when they engaged in two men, one woman threesomes?

Not everyone has the kind of secret life or backstory like McGreevey or Edwards. But they have them nonetheless. I look around our newsroom and see them -- the guy whose wife has breast cancer, one worker's child who is in the hospital, the family trying to have a child but can't, one man's nasty divorce, another worker's secret desire to be a novelist, someone's family dog diagnosed with cancer.

Most of us compartmentalize these backstories; otherwise we couldn't really get through the day.

But know, as we report on the most personal aspects of Edwards and McGreevey's lives tonight at 11, that everyone has a backstory. Most are not sordid, most are just life. You have them, I have them. We all have them.

Also at 11, this is the first of three weekends where cars will not be invited guests on a wide swath of New York City - stretching from Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge. Summer Streets, that's the name of what the Dept. Of Transportation plans for the next three Saturdays, as they open the stretch to pedestrians and bikers and everything non-motor related. We'll take a look at what it means and, if you're a driver, where you can't go.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus the weekend AccuWeather forecast, and the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

And a note: I'll be on vacation next week, and so will this column. It, and I, will return Aug. 18.


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