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What goes around comes around

By Michael Fumento

John Seigenthaler, once administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy, complained in an op-ed published in USA Today that Wikipedia's biography of him said he had been suspected in the assassinations of both RFK and his brother, President John F. Kennedy. In other words, the real assassination was of the character of Seigenthaler. Clearly the rules on Wikipedia need tightening and I'd love to be more sympathetic to Mr. Seigenthaler but he's done his share of character assassination as well.

Back in 2000, the Nashville Tennessean, for which Seigenthaler had been editor, publisher, and chairman before retiring as "Chairman Emeritus" in 1991 (he was also founding editorial page editor for USA Today in its far-left days), ran a series of articles it just knew would garner it a Pulitzer. It accused the Department of Energy of recklessly endangering millions of lives by causing all sorts of mystery illnesses. I wrote a response in the Wall Street Journal that shredded the Tennessean's work into confetti. The newspaper didn't even bother to enter it into the Pulitzer contest. Seigenthaler was livid! He wrote a lengthy, rambling piece for the Tennessean that was wall-to-wall ad hominem.

He attacked me using partial quotes on my AIDS book, when the other parts of the quotes were so complimentary they actually appeared in the paperback edition. Anyway this was a full five years after the epidemic had peaked just as I had predicted. He attacked my criticism of a Nashville author who produced a massive bestseller saying you could literally eat limitless calories so long as you held your fat intake extremely low. (Obviously this was before the Atkins craze.) He attacked me for writing that there was no epidemic of black southern church burnings. Actually that piece single-handedly ended the myth; somebody forgot to tell Seigenthaler.

He even accused me of having too many titles. "At diverse times," he wrote, "in addition to his identification as a 'science journalist,'' he has also been called (or called himself) a 'self syndicated columnist,' a 'former Reagan administration lawyer,' a 'medical writer,' a 'science journalist,' [sic] an 'environmental correspondent . . .' You get the picture; this is a any-port-in-a-storm guy, the kind bloggers would have been eaten for breakfast had there been bloggers in his day.

As far as I'm concerned, poor Mr. Seigenthaler, whoever posted those false entries on you on Wikipedia was exercising the same "First Amendment" rights on you that you exercised on me. Don't get your crocodile tears all over my science journalist clothes.

December 5, 2005 07:00 PM  ·  Media