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 V.13 No.29 | July 15 - 21, 2004 

Thin Line

Who me? Couldn't be. Last week, a New York Post employee told hated rival The New York Times that the source of the Post's shockingly inept cover story on Tuesday, July 6, that proclaimed Democratic presidential contender John Kerry had chosen Dick Gephardt to be his running mate came from the Post's owner, Rupert Murdoch. The story, missing a byline, even ran a giant, National Enquirer-style front-page photo with Kerry and Gephardt peering deeply into each other's eyes, as if tongue action were going to ensue. Needless to say, Murdoch's Manhattan-based daily quickly became the laughingstock of the media world.

"The Post employee demanded anonymity, saying senior editors had warned that those who discussed the Gephardt gaffe with other news organizations would lose their jobs," according to the Times. "Mr. Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of the News Corporation, called his tip in to the Post's news desk just after 10 on Monday night, between the first and second editions, the employee said."

The article failed to cite its source, saying only, "The Post has learned." Days later, the paper's editor denied it was Murdoch.

Meanwhile, according to the Web blog cyberjournalist.net, as the entire national press corps speculated and tried to pry leaks from every possible source, the first honest news of Kerry's selection appeared almost 24 hours before the official announcement (hours before the Post went to press) on the website: www.usaviation.com, known as "America's Aviation Headquarters."

Bryan Smith, an airplane mechanic from Pittsburgh, Pa., wrote on the site's forum page that he witnessed the staff of John Kerry's Boeing 757 putting "John Edwards vp decals" on the engine cowlings and upper fuselage. As a result, Smith earned his 15-minutes of fame last week, appearing on NPR and in the Los Angeles Times, getting credit for the scoop.

Freedom of information, Pentagon style. In response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed over six months ago by The New York Times, Associated Press and other news agencies, the Pentagon's Freedom of Information Office disclosed last week that President Bush's military payroll records covering three months between 1972 and 1973—the days his service in the Texas Air National Guard are in question—had succumbed to "inadvertent destruction."

"The disclosure appeared to catch some experts, both pro-Bush and con, by surprise," reported The New York Times, on Friday, July 9. "Even the retired lieutenant colonel who studied Mr. Bush's records for the White House, Albert C. Lloyd of Austin, said it came as news to him."

C'mon, get off your conspiracy high-horse. Accidents happen all the time.

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