What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 22, 2007

Sunday. Jack Kelly. Again.

My favorite right-wing nut case, Jack Kelly, missteps again. This time he's writing about the Virginia Tech massacre.

More precisely, he's writing about the media mishandling of the massacre. He makes some good points as he chastises the media for getting some of the facts wrong in the reporting. But then, for some unknown reason, he writes:
The trouble is there is very little hard information to report in the early hours of a crisis, certainly not enough to fill all that air time. So it is filled with rumor, much of it false, and speculation, much of it nonsense. Virtually everything reported initially during Hurricane Katrina, for instance -- especially about the alleged murders in the Superdome -- turned out to be false.
You'd think that a guy who'd gotten so much wrong on Katrina himself would steer clear of such an analogy. The mistakes in his first Katrina column were so big, he had to issue his own correction a week later:

I wrote "The levee broke Tuesday morning," referring to the 17th Street Levee, which was what was being reported at the time I wrote the column. In fact, the break occurred mid-morning Monday. And the Industrial Canal was breached on Monday morning as well.

I took the figure 2,000 for the buses available to Mayor Ray Nagin from a column written by another journalist without checking it myself. The actual figure is closer to 600.

Finally, I knew Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992, but inexplicably wrote 2002. I regret the errors.

But note, even his corrections could have used some corrections. It was reported that the 17th Street Levee broke on August 29. In fact news of the levee breach reached the regional FEMA office at 8:30 am on August 29. Hardly "mid-morning." Unless he was writing his 9/11/05 column more than a week prior to its publication (which is doubtful), he can't be guilty of anything other than shoddy research himself.

Hey, I just noticed something. In our coverage of this (back in March, 2006) I quoted J-Kel as writing:

People who read the post below may wonder why I did not report on the good things the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard has done in Iraq. The reason is I've been fired as the national security writer. I've been forbidden to write news stories about national defense.

But he's still listed as "national security writer" on his P-G column. Anyone have any idea why? Drop me an e-mail. Confidentiality is assured.

But Jack, my man, if you gotta be more careful. If you're going to rant about how the media gets things wrong (even when they do) you have to make sure you don't shoot yourself in the foot by pointing the Google-armed among your readers (myself included) to some of your own bad fact-checking.

Next thing you'll be saying that the WMD were flown out of Iraq o Syria and so really Saddam DID have them after all!

No wait, you already said that.

UPDATE: Got an explanation from the P-G today. John Allison (he's an editor over there) wrote to me to say this is just a matter of institutional inertia. They've been IDing Kelly as simply a columnist sometime last year however the "national security" tag that's used on-line has, according to Allison, to be fixed "in the bowels of the system." He said he was looking to fix it today. Given how tight things are over there - sources tell me stories of staff shortages with the people left working there doing multiple jobs - it's not that difficult to believe.


Racer X said...

Glad you are on this. Jack Kelly is the worst. I have often pointed out his hypocrisy on my blog. I have always wondered why he is the "National Security Write," when he rarely writes about security, except protecting the security of the Republican party. Kelly's article last week attacking the Rutgers girls was despicable, but predictable from a loser like Kelly.

Matt H said...

I used to write frequent letters to the editor of the PG when Kelly was being listed as the national security writer asking why he was in that position when he rarely wrote any national security columns.

I have sent another E-mail asking why he still has that title on his online version.