Kelley says he quit USA Today over his own actions
Friday's Weblog focused on the resignation of USA Today reporter Jack Kelley, who is not only the star reporter at that newspaper, but also a star reporter among evangelicals in the mainstream media. Weblog wondered, based on a few offhand comments in Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz's article, whether Kelley's faith might have been a factor in tensions with newspaper management.
In a front-page article in yesterday's Post (the original report on Kelley's resignation only made the front of the Post's "C" section), Kurtz unearths more details. It seems far less likely that religion was a significant factor in USA Today's launch of an investigation into the veracity of Kelley's war reporting, but it does appear to be a factor in Kelley's resignation, as he confessed to "poor judgment" during the paper's investigation.
While trying to assist newspaper management in confirming one of his articles, a 1999 front-page story on evidence of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, he tried to contact two Yugoslav translators who could verify his report. One said she remembered translating the crucial interview between Kelley and human rights activist Natasa Kandic, but couldn't remember any details. A second translator left a voice mail saying she didn't want to get involved in the investigation.
Kelley says that when he tried to contact a third Yugoslav translator to help him contact and convince the unwilling second translator, she volunteered to impersonate her in a phone call to reporter Mark Memmott, who was investigating Kelley's stories.
"I knew it was wrong," Kelley told Kurtz. Two weeks later, Kurtz reports, Kelley confessed and apologized to Memmott, USA Today's ...1
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