Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When news broke a week and a half ago that General David Petraeus had resigned as director of the CIA, citing an extramarital affair, it came as a surprise to most of us, even though we're used to seeing the careers of men in powerful positions come crashing down because of their philandering ways. Petraeus's resignation was announced on the afternoon of Friday, November 9, leaving journalists, politicians, and everyone else with a lot of questions. I actually said to a couple of people that day that "I bet we'll never find out who he had an affair with." Silly me. Shouldn't I know these things always come out?

A few hours later, that Friday evening, I was kicked back, watching TV, while also surfing Twitter on my phone. I wasn't looking for anything in particular when I saw "Paula Broadwell" was a trending topic. I was like no way! Before even clicking on any of the tweets to see what the buzz was about, I knew it had to mean that she had been identified as the mistress of General Petraeus, because I remembered her quite vividly from when I blogged about her in January, about how she was a Charlotte resident who'd just written a biography on Petraeus titled, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, and that she had this impressive career and life.

"Paula Broadwell Is Awesome" is what I titled that blog post back in January, where I recounted her military and education credentials, and quickly ran down some of the many media appearances she was making at the time during a publicity tour for her book.

Petraeus and Broadwell during happier, less-suspecting times. Credit: paulabroadwell.com

On the evening and night of November 9, as people feverishly Googled to find out more about who Paula Broadwell is, my nine-and-a-half month-old blog post spiked in traffic, garnering nearly 25,000 page views in the span of about six hours. The high traffic continued through that weekend.

As the Petraeus-Broadwell affair and scandal took one unexpected twist after the next last week, I had several ideas about different things I would potentially blog about. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time since I was busy with other assignments for print publications. Then two days ago, on Sunday evening, I received a call from a managing editor at a New York-based media outlet asking me if I would be a stringer to assist with their coverage of the Broadwell story. Paula and her husband Scott had just returned to their Charlotte home for the first time after being away for more than a week, while all of the embarrassing details of her affair were unfolding. The editor asked if I would, basically, post up outside her home for a few hours Sunday night and for a few hours Monday morning. This was different from the kind of journalism and reporting I'm used to doing, but I figured what the heck, these kinds of opportunities/national-interest stories don't come around too often in Charlotte.

More than a dozen reporters, photographers, and news cameramen gathered outside of Paula Broadwell's home in Dilworth on Monday morning (Nov. 19). Credit: Jarvis Holliday

When I arrived outside the Broadwell home Sunday night about 8:30, all five local news trucks (with crews) were positioned along the streets near her house in Dilworth: WBTV, WCNC, WSOC, FOX Charlotte, and News 14 Carolina, along with a reporter from The Charlotte Observer. When I returned early Monday morning, there was even more media, including several photographers and a few more print media reporters. They all had the same goal: hope that the Broadwells would make their first public statement, which hasn't happened yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it came this week.


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