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The Origins of RFK Jr's Election Story:

Today's NYT profiles Robert F. Kennedy Jr., covering his environmental activism and his recent foray into electoral politics. Among other things, it contains this account of what inspired his Rolling Stone article alleging Republicans "stole" the 2004 Presidential election.

Mr. Kennedy spent Christmas skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho, at the home of Ms. David and her husband, Larry David, the "Seinfeld" creator and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" protagonist. Mr. David urged him to read a book on the 2004 election by the news media critic Mark Crispin Miller.

Mr. Kennedy did, and a few days later he was skiing with the Rolling Stone publisher, Jann S. Wenner, an old friend and Sun Valley homeowner. Mr. Kennedy suggested that Mr. Wenner commission a story on the "stolen election." Mr. Wenner said he would, provided Mr. Kennedy wrote it. He had written a much-discussed and much-challenged story for Rolling Stone last year linking childhood vaccines and a rise in autism.

After some hesitation, Mr. Kennedy said, he agreed to write the election article. Since it was posted on Rolling Stone's Web site on June 1, the Web has been ablog with a split between those who believe this is the biggest unreported story ever and those who think it's old news, discredited long ago. Mr. Kennedy said it's hard to prove that any election had been "stolen."

"If you're looking for proof and certitude, you're not going to find it," he said. Either way, Mr. Kennedy said he is committed to stoking the outrage of 2004, wherever it leads. "This is going to remain one of my central concerns for a while," he said, adding, "America should be indignant." But is it, beyond certain liberal airwaves and blogs? Congress has not exactly been rocked with speeches on the matter or with calls for investigations.

In a phone interview, Mr. Wenner said that John Kerry, the big loser in 2004, "does not question the validity of the piece," hardly a signal of outrage.

Senator Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat and a longtime advocate of electoral reform, called the article "tremendously compelling." But not compelling enough to talk about it: Mr. Dodd's comments were relayed in a statement from his office.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire comments on the NYT story here.

elChato (mail):
Yes, I saw their puff piece. I note they didn't mention his equally kooky claims regarding the "innocence" of his cousin Michael Skakel and his attacks on Skakel's lawyer. Apparently one outlandish claim given the old "he says it, and some other people disagree" treatment was enough. If RFK Jr. does decide to run for something, as this article seems to beg him to, no need to pay for a campaign bio, he can copy this article and slap it on a website.

p.s. In fairness he seems like he'd be a fun person to have as a law professor.
6.25.2006 1:45pm
arthur (mail):
There's a scoop. A freelancer had an idea for an article based on a book he read. He discussed it with a publisher, the publisher agreed, and the freelancer did the research, wrote the the article, and the publisher published it. Even more shocking: Robert Kennedy Jr., and Jann Wenner, both democrats, ski.
6.25.2006 2:36pm
PleaseGetReal (mail):
The NYT should profile Aesop next.
6.25.2006 2:53pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Perhaps Sens. Kerry and Dodd should ski with Kennedy as well.
6.25.2006 3:03pm
Tom952 (mail):
First that mess in South Texas in 1960, and now this. It never ends.
6.25.2006 3:32pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
First that mess in South Texas in 1960, and now this. It never ends.
Kennedy was out flacking his piece on the Colbert Report, and Colbert )threw out a question about Daley stealing the 1960 election for JFK. Kennedy was clearly taken aback -- he obviously wasn't expecting the question and had no idea how to respond, and then he mumbled something about any election-stealing being wrong.
6.25.2006 4:42pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
John Kerry, the big loser in 2004

Losing the race for the presidency must surely be a crushing blow, but what's the point of this phrasing?
6.25.2006 5:20pm
Jason Fliegel (mail):
Rehashing 1960 is so much more fun that rehashing 2004 or (God forbid) 2000.

Slate article
WaPo article

Looking at it objectively, it's clear that both the Nixon and Kennedy camps were doing everything in their power to steal the election for their respective candidates. I only hope they were equally competent and canceled each other out.
6.25.2006 5:28pm
The Divagator (mail) (www):

Losing the race for the presidency must surely be a crushing blow, but what's the point of this phrasing?


I guess there were local, down-ticket candidates that Kennedy feels got shafted as well, so Kerry was the 'big' loser because the prez election was higher-profile? Other than that, I don't know.
6.25.2006 5:57pm
Roy Lay (mail):
No one seems to be interested here in discussing the evidence here, merely dismissing RFK as "outlandish". Living just across the river from Cincinnati, I'm familiar with Mr. Blackwell, and he is a true tool of the Republican Party. In white areas, there were plenty of voting machines and no one waited in line more than a few minutes. In black areas, people waited hours in the rain to vote. Many got discouraged and left. Is this fair? There are the voting machines that changed Kerry votes to Bush votes that no one has explained. And exit polls that didn't resemble the tallied vote, although exit polls have always been accurate in the past. If there is any chance this was fixed, why isn't the mainstream media covering it more? Has there been a coupe, and we have been lulled into not noticing?
6.25.2006 6:28pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Yeah, you cant expect those Darkies to wait around to vote, I think the real story is that the Bush campaign tempted them with watermelon and fried chicken to avoid the polling places all together. Think thats racist, its just as racist as your belief that blacks don't have the patience of caucasians..
6.25.2006 6:39pm
Ross Levatter (mail):
To be fair, Frank, I think Mr. Lay's point was that due to asymmetrically distributed voting machines, the patience of the caucasians wasn't tried. They had plenty of machines and voting was quick. Perhaps if they, too, had had to wait "hours in the rain" they, too, would have left rather than vote.

Gee, perhaps if voting districts were not gerrymandered in such a way that we had "white" and "black" districts, it would have been harder to gin up this particular result...

As to the Colbert Report interview with RFK, Jr., I think Colbert's exact words were, "Assuming you are right, which is worse: Bush's stealing the election in 2004 or your uncle stealing the election in 1960?" Now THAT is television worth watching! The idiot actually tried to answer it as a serious question, rather than saying something like, "Bush was worse, of course. My uncle is a sainted and revered figure in American history."
6.25.2006 7:06pm
frankcross (mail):
Roy, a lot of those references you make to the Kennedy article are wrong, it was highly distorted.

The mystery pollster and others have shredded arguments such as those based on the exit polls.

There were some problems, and Blackwell is blameworthy, but the election wasn't stolen.
6.25.2006 7:33pm
Justin (mail):
I think one can contrast the problems with the distribution and type of voting machines in impoverished districts in 2000 and 2004, which seem like legitimate issues, with the unsupported claims of vote-alteration and the like.

Too often, people opposed to equality in politics (not out of racism but due to the fact that richer, whiter people support their political preferences), tend to wrap the two together in order to avoid trying to remedy the former. It's unfortunate.
6.25.2006 8:11pm
Andrew Hyman (mail) (www):
If RFK Junior wants to make a stink about the Ohio election so long after the fact, then perhaps some people might be interested to know that there was a concerted DEMOCRATIC effort to steal Ohio's electoral votes, by keeping Ralph Nader off the ballot. They were afraid that Nader would draw votes from Kerry, and, although they succeeded in keeping Nader off the ballot, Kerry lost Ohio anyway.

For details about the DEMOCRATIC effort to narrow the choice of Ohio voters, see here.
6.25.2006 8:11pm
Craig Oren (mail):
Frank or others,

have there been especially good pieces anywhere about Kennedy's allegations?
6.25.2006 8:17pm
Craig Oren (mail):
to answer my own question:

go to mysterypollster.com and click on "exit polls." You'll not only see their pieces,but also links to other pieces.
6.25.2006 8:30pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
I'm puzzled about the point of this post. I haven't read Kennedy's article. And even though I voted for Kerry, I have no opinion about whether the election was a dishonest one. (Just a personal FYI, I don't have opinions unless I know a fair deal about the subject matter.)

But there is no obvious punch-line to this post so I honestly don't know what to make of it. Is it an attack on the quality of skiing in Sun Valley? Is it an attack on the idea that the wealthy and successful hang-out together? Is it a tee-hee about Kennedy's claims? Or is it merely a suggestion of an interesting article to pass the time on a hot summer day.
6.25.2006 8:43pm
dick thompson (mail):
The funny part of it is that the election machines they are talking about were all in the democratic counties and areas of the state. Check out the distribution of where they have the complaints - they were all in the Cleveland, Akron and Toledo areas which are almostly totally democratic. Also, they talk about the distribution of the machines and all the articles I have read mention that the same number of machines in minority areas and majority areas and the voters in the majority areas voted without any problems while the minority areas were held up. They have no answer to that one.

If you really want to check into stealing the election, check Pennsylvania where there were known problems in the Philadelphia area and the election was a lot closer than in Ohio or the Wisconsin election where there were major electoral questions such as more votes than voters in Milwaukee and the election was won by Kerry by a margin of 11K. That is also a lot closer than Ohio which had a margin of over 10 times that and a lot fewer problems as well.
6.25.2006 8:49pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Exit Polls have always been accurate in the past? What about with President Dewey? Thats why they actually play the games on Sunday and don't just go by the point spreads.
6.25.2006 8:59pm
RaiderNation (mail):
"Has there been a coupe, and we have been lulled into not noticing?"

You mean it wasn't sedan after all? The cloud-ride suspension must have "lulled" me.

Kennedy Jr. is a lightweight legacy parasite, nothing more. He's been a parody his entire "career." Kind of a real life Tommy Boy, wihtout the happy ending. He should ask Ron Reagan about that color seat opening up for the next Eukanuba show. That's about the only place his "ideas" should be taken seriously.

Dick Thompson -- great points. Don't forget about the Dem tire-slashing operation in WI led by the son of a Dem congresswoman that the MSM has covered up so fastidiously.
6.25.2006 9:07pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
I think this blog is terrific. Even when I don't agree with the conclusion of a post, I have learned to respect the attempt to craft a reasoned argument.

This post doesn't do that. It's the sort of "cut and run" post -- just an implication of disdain with no meat -- which I expect to see at other blogs but not here.

If Kennedy is lying, inaccurate, posturing, ignorant, ill-informed, or whatever -- spit it out and tell us. That the article originated in casual conversations among rich people in Sun Valley says nothing except that rich people hang around together and have good taste in pleasure.

I want to say it again in case it is not clear: this post falls below the standard of reasoned discourse which I have learned to expect from this blog. It should be supplemented with reasoned argument or withdrawn.
6.25.2006 10:16pm
Redman:
Good grief. Don't the Kennedys ever do their own writing?


Sincerely,

Ted Sorensen
6.25.2006 10:43pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
David Sucher:
This post doesn't do that. It's the sort of "cut and run" post -- just an implication of disdain with no meat -- which I expect to see at other blogs but not here.

If Kennedy is lying, inaccurate, posturing, ignorant, ill-informed, or whatever -- spit it out and tell us.
All of the above. This actually was discussed/linked to extensively on this blog when the RFK piece came out. I view this particular post as basically a coda to that story.
6.25.2006 11:25pm
Alex R:
I don't know how many of you are regular readers of the dead-tree version of the New York Times, but if you are, you will realize that **anything** that appears in the "Sunday Styles" section is pretty much guaranteed to be pure fluff, usually about rich people. The fact that this story couldn't make it into an actual news section of the newpaper suggests that reading it deeply is probably not worth anyone's time...
6.26.2006 12:33am
Bob Bobstein (mail):
RaiderNation-- here's another story of party-sanctioned election-day dirty-tricks you probably haven't seen in the MSM.
6.26.2006 6:58pm
Hugh59 (mail) (www):
Uh folks, those of you arguing that Ken Blackwell was responsible for the distribution (or misdistribution) of voting machines in Ohio are off the mark. Decisions regarding distribution of voting machines is made at the county level by bi-partisan election commissions. In any event, the local politicians would have much more clout than would the Secretary of State....and, as someone noted, most of the problems were in Democrat majority counties.
6.26.2006 8:20pm