ABC’s WONDER BLUNDER
From the “if it weren’t so sad, it would almost be funny” department…
Apparently the overpaid geniuses at ABC News (and I use the word “news” very, very loosely) can’t keep their Kennedys straight.
In a piece posted May 1 on the “Political Radar” blog (”Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Says Family Members Are Wrong In Supporting Obama”), ABC News’ Eloise Harper clearly did not know the difference between JFK and RFK.
Our presumably college-educated reporter seems to believe, quite incredibly, that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the son of John F. Kennedy.
Quoting Madame Harper’s original story:
Introducing Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., in Jeffersonville, IN, Robert Kennedy Jr. had some pretty harsh words for his family members who are backing Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for president.
“There are some members of my family who’ve decided to do the wrong thing, support Senator Obama,” he said of the Democratic presidential fight.
…Kennedy went on to speak about the attacks that Sen. Clinton received while in office saying, “she came in after enduring one of the most savage beatings of a public figure during my lifetime with people like Ken Star going spending 40 million dollars going after her relentlessly with billionaires like Richard Mellon Scaife and his whole right wing machine that sent out hundreds of millions of letters to American citizens going after her relentlessly.”
Trying to connect the attacks Clinton pushed off to similar criticism President John F. Kennedy endured more than 40 years ago. “She had to endure the same kind of attacks that my father had to endure which was being called a carpetbagger when she came into New York.” Kennedy pointed to Clinton’s work in the upstate parts of New York to make his point saying that she”transformed those counties, which not even my father could do…..”
OH, WHAT’S HIS NAME?
Incredibly, none of the ABC copy or web editors noticed the error.
Even more incredibly, none of the readers did, either.
Finally…five days and 187 comments after the story’s original publication, one astute reader named Art Glick posted the following observation:
“Doesn’t it bother ANYBODY that JFK was NOT RFK Jr’s father?!?! And that the quote above likely refers to RFK???
Don’t they teach history in the schools anymore? Can anybody write copy for a news outlet???
Does no one proof the copy???
Am I really THAT old, that I’m the only one who remembers???
Posted by: Art Glick | May 5, 2008 12:04:20 PM
MEMO TO ABC COPY EDITORS
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is not the son of President John F. Kennedy.
- The reason his name is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is…(wait for it!)…because his father was Robert F. Kennedy Sr.
- The only son of John F. Kennedy is deceased. (please reference your own obituary files for 1999.)
- President John F. Kennedy was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, not New York State.
- The President’s brother, Robert served as Senator from New York, 1964-68.
- Senator Robert F. Kennedy was never President of the United States.
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the son of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. (Can’t believe I’m actually having to explain this, but just wanted to cover this territory one more time to make sure we’re on the same page…)
- Oh…and one more thing: The correct spelling of Ken Starr’s name is with two R’s. (Please reference your own archival database from 1998.)
PARDON MY RANT
It would be one thing if this were Joe Blow’s Blog. Even a local newspaper with a limited staff of editors I could easily understand, but ABC News?
At one of this nation’s big three flagship news networks, an error of that magnitude is absolutely unacceptable. When neither the reporters, editors, or the majority of readers know the difference between JFK and RFK, I’m deeply troubled. We all should be.
Why? Because, as the network’s corporate slogan says, “more Americans get their news from ABC News than from any other source.”
When five days elapse without a correction to the story being posted, it speaks that basic newsgathering, fact-checking and editing skills are no longer required to get a job in the “news” industry.
Perhaps reporters should be subjected to a litmus test of sorts. Say, for example — if you can’t name every president of the past 100 years in the correct order, you’re not qualified for this job.
Way to go ABC News. With top-drawer journalism like this, no wonder Americans are (as RFK Jr. likes to say) “the most entertained and least informed people on the planet.”