Unsubstantiated Drudge rumor echoed through the media


An unsubstantiated rumor about Senator John Kerry's hair, originating with an April 27 Drudge Report Exclusive that cited only anonymous "campaign sources," made its way onto the April 29 episode of Special Report with Brit Hume on FOX News Channel. In his "Political Grapevine" segment, Hume reported the story without citing any sources:

HUME: In an incident reminiscent of one of the great embarrassments of the Clinton presidency, John Kerry managed to have his hair styled while out of town last week, and he got it done by the same hair salon the Clintons used. The former president, you may recall kept Air Force 1 waiting on the tarmac in Los Angeles, 11 years ago this month, while Christophe of Beverly Hills came aboard and cut his hair. Christophe later opened a salon in Washington and one of his stylists, French -- educated, Isabel Goetz does Kerry's hair as well as Hillary Clinton's. In Pittsburgh, a week and a half ago, there she was getting the Massachusetts senator ready for a Sunday television appearance. The campaign however, refuses to say if it had her flown in for the occasion or on what plane.

Hume followed his FOX News Channel colleague Linda Vester, who had reported the story hours earlier on her show DaySide with Linda Vester, without citing Drudge or any other source but instead claiming that the story had been confirmed by FOX News:

VESTER: "Our own FOX News team has confirmed. John Kerry had his personal stylist flown in on, I guess, Teresa's own private plane, and the cost of his haircut, we are told, but we can't confirm yet, was about a thousand bucks."

The day before Hume and Vester picked it up, on April 28, the story made it into mainstream news sources when Reuters and the Associated Press reported a joke made by host Jay Leno on the April 27 episode of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which referenced the story about Kerry's hair. Neither Leno, nor Reuters, nor the Associated Press cited the rumor's origin, nor did any note that it was just that -- a rumor, for which no media source had provided on-the-record support.

LENO: John Kerry reportedly flew in his private hairdresser before his "Meet the Press" interview for a total cost of $1,000. $1,000 for a haircut. Which sounds like a lot but have you seen the size of John Kerry's head?

The first to pick up the Drudge story was talk radio host Rush Limbaugh on his April 27 show. Next came The Washington Times, its sister publication Insight on the News, and by The American Spectator. Limbaugh, along with each publication, cited Drudge.

Propaganda/Noise Machine, 2004 Elections
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