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December 8, 2004
Call It An Intervention

Kitty Kelly opened her latest copy of Washingtonian magazine and was shocked to find herself removed from the masthead, where her name has, er, graced the magazine for thirty-two years. When she protested to her friend and editor Jack Limpert, he delivered the truth that the rest of us already knew about the sleazy, undersourced "biographer":

After a relationship of more than 30 years, Washingtonian magazine and writer Kitty Kelley are divorcing, and the terms are not amicable. Kelley is in a snit because the mag unceremoniously booted her from the masthead of its current issue, citing her controversial book "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty." In an e-mail last week, Editor Jack Limpert lashed Kelley for what he called the book's partisan timing and its irresponsible reporting about President Bush:

"We are always willing to attack the policies, and the behavior, of the President," Limpert wrote to Kelley. "But it seems to us that the office deserves respect. We don't think we should attack a President personally -- his relations with his wife and family, his use of alcohol or other drugs, things like that -- without a very solid basis for doing so. . . . We felt strongly enough that we didn't want readers to feel that your appearance on the masthead meant we endorsed the book."

Kelly has a legitimate beef with the way this was handled; Limpert dumped her without even informing Kelly of the change. When asked why he had neglected to contact Kelly to inform her of the end of a thirty-two year relationship, Limpert told the Post that he didn't want to have to tell Kelly that she wrote a "sleazy, irresponsible book." Well, Mr. Limpert, that's your job. If you end a 32-year relationship, you owe the other person the courtesy of notice and an explanation. If you don't have the courage to do that, then your magazine should reconsider its relationship with you.

In the end, Limpert's lack of testicular fortitude does everyone a disservice, especially Kitty Kelley. Her friends should have staged an intervention long ago, warning her that her unsupported allegations were destroying her credibility and forcing her colleagues to act to protect their own. She has made her career by writing one trashy, anonymously-sourced biography after another, from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra to Nancy Reagan, each one an attempt to outdo the last.

She hit her nadir this fall when she released The Family, a supposed expos of the Bush family that purported to reveal W's use of cocaine at Camp David during the Reagan years. Her source for this allegation was Sharon Bush, W's ex-sister-in-law. No lover of the Bush family, Kelley reported in her book that Sharon confirmed unnamed sources who claim that W snorted coke. The revelation sent the Left into paroxysms of delight ... until Sharon vehemently denied having said any such thing:

Sharon Bush, who is divorced from the president's brother Neil, said in a statement: "I categorically deny that I ever told Kitty Kelley that George W. Bush used cocaine at Camp David or that I ever saw him use cocaine at Camp David. When Kitty Kelley raised drug use at Camp David, I responded by saying something along the lines of, 'Who would say such a thing?'

"Although there have been tensions between me and various members of the Bush family, I cannot allow this falsehood to go unchallenged."

Moreoever, as Limpert notes, Kelley timed the book's release for the peak of the general election campaign, less than eight weeks before Election Day. No one looking at the calendar can doubt that the author intended to influence the election by publishing unfounder rumors as fact in a time frame that used to be too narrow to mount any rebuttal. Now, with the Internet and thousands of people working on pseudoreporting such as Kelley's, that type of bombshell more frequently detonates in the throwers' hands rather than at the victim. In any case, it's hardly a track record that makes legitimate news organizations eager to work with an author.

That explanation is what Jack Limpert owed Kitty Kelley, and it would have been beneficial for her to hear it directly and forcefully. His criticism would at least have provided an opportunity for Kelley to mend her ways, although I doubt she would have changed her lucrative formula either way. If more of her friends and colleagues would hold her accountable in this way, perhaps she would understand what an embarrassment she is for all concerned.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 8, 2004 11:49 AM

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Ran across this over at the Captains Quarters this morning: After a relationship of more than 30 years, Washingtonian magazine and writer Kitty Kelley are divorcing, and the terms are not amicable. Kelley is in a snit because the mag unceremonious... [Read More]

Tracked on December 8, 2004 2:59 PM

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