Boortz revived false rumor of Kerry affair

››› ››› AVI ZOLLMAN

On the July 1 broadcast of his daily radio show, right-wing radio host Neal Boortz raised the false rumor of Senator John Kerry's alleged affair with journalist Alexandra Polier, which was first publicized by Internet gossip Matt Drudge on his website, The Drudge Report.

From the July 1 broadcast of The Neal Boortz Show:

BOORTZ: The Hillary vice presidential talk is heating up. Drudge is sticking by his guns on this and he's usually right. You know one thing that Drudge was onto that we never did get a follow up -- I wonder if this story is going to surface again before the election -- and that's Kerry's girlfriend. John Kerry's own intern problems. And then remember, very quickly, as soon as that story surfaced this girl hauled off and moved to Africa where she -- I mean, where is she in Africa? What is she doing in Africa? She basically was moved as far away from this country as she possibly could be. What, is she working on some missionary work out in the jungles of Africa where she can't be reached? So, no, that story, where did it go? It went absolutely nowhere...

Boortz claimed that "we never did get a follow-up" and wondered "if this story is going to surface again before the election"; in fact, the "story" was false.

On February 12, The Drudge Report featured a "World Exclusive" under the headline "Campaign Drama Rocks Democrats: Kerry Fights Off Media Probe of Recent Alleged Infidelity, Rivals Predict Ruin." On February 13, Kerry flatly denied the story to Don Imus, saying: "Well, there is nothing to report. So there is nothing to talk about. I'm not worried about it. No." According to a February 17 Associated Press article, Polier told the AP: "I have never had a relationship with Sen. Kerry, and the rumors in the press are completely false."

Drudge was criticized for reporting the allegations without citing a single source. Appearing on CNN's media criticism program Reliable Sources (hosted by Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz) on February 22, Wall Street Journal national political editor John Harwood said of Drudge's report, "I think this is one of the most outrageous stories that I can remember in recent campaign reporting. Not only are there no facts to the story, there are no allegations, either." Nationally syndicated Tribune Media Services columnist (and Townhall.com columnist) Kathleen Parker referred to the "nano-episode" as "the short unhappy life of a little rumor that couldn't quite make fact."

Polier wrote a 6,000-word response to the scandal which appeared as a cover story in New York magazine on June 7. In the piece she addressed the specific questions Boortz would raise three weeks later. Polier clarified that she moved to Africa well before Drudge reported the story. As Polier wrote, "Five months earlier, I had quit my job at the AP [Associated Press] in New York and moved to Kenya with my fiancé, Yaron Schwartzman, who'd grown up there." And far from being hidden away out of view of reporters, Polier recounted how she was on the phone with an AP deputy managing editor -- her former boss -- within hours of Drudge posting his "World Exclusive." According to Polier's retelling of the episode, Drudge acknowledged that his "World Exclusive" should have included "a sentence saying, 'There is no evidence to tie Alex to John Kerry.'"

On the same day that Boortz asserted that Matt Drudge, is "usually right," Kurtz wrote, "Matt Drudge is hyping a 'top Washington insider' as predicting that Hillary will get the nod. (In the conservatives' dreams, maybe.) Hey, I'm a top Washington insider, and I don't think so. Of course, my inside knowledge is the same as this guy's: zero." Also on July 1, ABC News Political Unit's morning news summary, The Note, wrote to readers: "Please don't call and e-mail us for confirmation every time Drudge runs something; his 37.8% accuracy rate and quirky sensibilities (that's a euphemism) can have a disproportionate impact on the election, if y'all let that happen."

Neal Boortz is an Atlanta-based conservative radio talk show host and author of The Terrible Truth About Liberals, published in 1998 by Longstreet Press/National Book Network. According to statistics compiled by TALKERS magazine, Boortz has a national audience of over 2.5 million listeners through Cox Radio Syndication.

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