National Public Radio ombudsman Alicia Shepard has blown the whistle on her employer’s news staff for its coverage of the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy:
But on that first day, in the 23 on-air stories, only one mentioned the name Mary Jo Kopechne and 5 mentioned Chappaquiddick.
Shepard was responding to complaints from listeners who suggested the network was whitewashing Kennedy’s biography:
Kennedy may have been a great legislator. He may have been a wonderful uncle, a terrific father, a faithful friend and rejoiced in his second marriage, but there were warts too. He got kicked out of Harvard for cheating. He was known in his younger years for womanizing and drinking too much. In 1991, he was carousing with his son, Patrick and nephew, William Kennedy Smith in Palm Beach. Later that night, a woman accused Smith of raping her. Smith was tried and later acquitted.
Not everyone loved Teddy Kennedy. He was a complex man with a family history that defies belief when all the tragedies are strung together. To accurately portray any man or woman, it is just as important to fully include what is unpleasant or unflattering — especially since those events for Kennedy went a long way toward shaping who Teddy Kennedy was when he died.