Saturday, March 20, 2004

The Kelley Firestorm

Wow. It's just amazing how the fraudulent reporting of USA Today reporter Kelley has set off a firestorm in the media and blogging worlds. Not. As this letter writer to Romenesko says:

From PETER CARLIN: I agree with Tom Jackman that the Kelley miasma isn't rating near enough conversation. Not just for the professional and ethical questions it raises, though those are clearly legion. But the more you read about Kelley, the more fascinating his lunacy becomes. Note how he continues to swear by his stories, no matter how much evidence -- much of it
rock-solid, such as the drowned woman who turned up alive and well -- to the contrary. He's the energizer bunny of liars, just beating that drum all the way across the room, out the door and down the hallway.

I was tickled to see, via a link on Drudge's site, (speaking of
lunatics, but that's another story) a lovely story about Kelley on some religious website in which he described the transcendent joy of journalism: "I feel God's pleasure when I write and report," Kelley enthused. Which is strange and wondrous indeed, when you consider the sort of reporting Kelley was doing.

And then there's this priceless bit of what has to be whole cloth that
Kelley spun for his faithful friends, regarding his experience in Moscow when he ran afoul of Russian mobsters and, as his pursuers gained, could only pray for help. Let's let Jack tell us what happened next:

"I got this vision of an apartment building with the number 925
on it and an elderly man next to the door up one flight of stairs. Next thing I knew, I came upon building number 925. Walking in, I found an elderly man on the right who told me to come in until my pursuers passed," Jack recalls.

Yea and verily!

The thing about the Jasyon Blair story was that it didn't matter. Sure it was egg on face of the New York Times, but his fabrications were almost entirely harmless and trivial. Kelley's fabrications were frequently inflammatory pieces on inflammatory issues. And, while Blair's agenda was just preserving his career, Kelley possibly had a much larger one though I haven't read much analysis of his fabrications in that context.

When the Blair scandal came out there were endless ruminations about the poisonous impact of affirmative action on the newsroom, and many many people who declared solemnly that "of course" his race was a factor. People like the brothers Hack, Crazy Andy, etc...

What's their explanation for this guy, who got away with the journalistic equivalent of murder for years? We'll never know, because as a quick glance at their site shows - they don't care a bit.

*edited to insert the word "journalistic" in the above graf, which is what I wrote in my head but apparently didn't make it to my fingers. I didn't mean to say he what he did was equivalent to murder, just that it was the worst thing a journalist could do in his craft.