Unlikely source breaks Edwards story

Published July 7, 2004 2:55PM (EDT)

Who broke the Edwards pick? Most Americans might not even care to know, but in the world of up-to-the-minute campaign coverage, everyone seems to want the credit. NBC and its army of anchors continue to insist that Andrea Mitchell had it first yesterday morning when she announced it on the Today show. Today's Washington Post confirms that the NBC veteran broke the story, with Fox News and ABC just minutes behind. But politicalwire.com claims that the story first broke the previous night on an aviation message board -- someone had caught an early glimpse of the new decals on the Kerry-Edwards jet and posted the sighting for his pilot buddies. Even better, the post is still online, dated 9:44 p.m. on July 5, 2004.

The New York Daily News, meanwhile, rips into its cross-town rival, the New York Post, for trying, but failing, to break the story in yesterday's issue. In a spectacular demonstration of journalistic carelessness, the Post ran an unsourced "exclusive" off of its banner-headlined cover claiming that Gephardt would get the nod. The Daily News is not merciful: "Not since the Chicago Daily Tribune proclaimed 'DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN,' in the 1948 presidential election, has there been such a colossal flub.

"Leave it to the New York Post to further tarnish its shoddy reputation with yesterday's front-page 'exclusive' declaring John Kerry had picked Dick Gephardt as his running mate."

(Update: This post originally referred to the aviation message board that first reported Edwards was Kerry's running mate as a "blog." It has since been changed.)

By Stephen W. Stromberg

Stephen W. Stromberg is a former editorial fellow at Salon.

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