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The Gray Lady And Fake News

The Gray Lady And Fake News

I tried not to write about this. I really did. But it’s the sort of thing that causes this former newspaperwoman to start throwing things.

Let me back up. On Thursday I was writing my weekly email to kerrydougherty.com subscribers when a news alert popped up: “Granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy Dies After Overdose at Family’s Compound”.

I clicked on The New York Times story. Details were sketchy, but it seemed that Saoirse Kennedy Hill, 22, daughter of Courtney Kennedy and Paul Hill had died at the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port. 

So sad. The only child of this little nuclear family was gone. She was a Boston College student who’d spoken openly about her bouts of depression.

I thought about her poor grandmother, Ethel Kennedy who had buried her husband so many years ago and two of her sons. Now this. That’s a lot of heartbreak for one woman, I thought.

As I read the story, it concluded with a review of the history of the extended Kennedy family, even mentioning what’s been called the Kennedy family “curse.”

The death adds to a litany of tragedies that have befallen the Kennedys and taken on the grim aura of a family curse. President Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy were both slain by assassins. Their brother Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was killed in World War II, and their sister Kathleen Cavendish died in a plane crash in 1948. The president’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr., was killed in 1999 when the airplane he was flying crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Martha’s Vineyard; his wife and sister-in-law were on board and were also killed...

But then the NYT dropped this:

Last month marked the 50th anniversary of Chappaquiddick, another Kennedy family tragedy that took place when Edward Kennedy drove off a bridge on a small island next to Martha’s Vineyard. The accident killed Mary Jo Kopechne, the 28-year-old passenger in Mr. Kennedy’s car.

Seriously, New York Times?

Chappaquiddick was a KENNEDY FAMILY TRAGEDY? 

No, it was not. It was a Kopechne family tragedy. 

Their daughter was left to drown by a probably drunken, certainly feckless senator who failed to report the accident out of concern for his political aspirations. 

Kennedy - who lied after the accident as he pranced around in a ridiculous neck brace - was unmasked as a calculating politician with miserable judgment who was willing to let a girl die to protect his career.

Because of the Kopechne family tragedy America was spared a Ted Kennedy presidency. But for reasons I will never understand, the voters of Massachusetts returned this man to the senate for term after term and he was revered by some Democrats as a great leader.

I’m so sorry this young Kennedy grandchild died on Thursday. The hearts of her grandmother, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins must be breaking.

But The New York Times erred in its reporting. To lump the disgusting behavior by one member of the Kennedy family - that resulted in the death of an innocent woman - in a litany that included assassinations, plane crashes and wartime deaths was sloppy.

In the process, that newspaper added one more item to the growing volume of what many call fake news.

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