Dennis Prager Praises Journalist Jack Kelly

I got my initial post wrong, thinking Prager was praising this man.

According to the March 3, 2004 USA Today:

Seven weeks into an examination of former USA TODAY reporter Jack Kelley’s work, a team of journalists has found strong evidence that Kelley fabricated substantial portions of at least eight major stories, lifted nearly two dozen quotes or other material from competing publications, lied in speeches he gave for the newspaper and conspired to mislead those investigating his work.

A Google search on “”Jack Kelly” plagiarism” resulted in numerous stories such as the above.

I now realize that the Jack Kelly praised by Prager Jan. 23 was the former Marine and Green Beret who served as a “deputy assistant secretary” of the U.S. Air Force under Ronald Reagen.

On the air, Prager also confused the Jack Kellys, saying that the guy he had just interviewed used to write for the USA Today.

Dennis said to Jack Kelly (with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) on his radio show Jan. 23, 2007 at 10:40 a.m. PST: “I have followed your career for many years and you are one of the best writers in journalism in America.”

Dennis had Kelly on to talk about the “positive news from Iraq.”

Dennis: “Why is your important and optimistic read not being echoed in other news reports?”

Jack: “Most journalists who write about this war have a theme…and they emphasize information that supports that theme and they are not terribly interested in evidence…”

Dennis: “That is a pretty severe indictment of your profession.”

Jack: “Severe indictments are in order. The performance of journalists covering this war over the past five years has been pretty bad.”

Dennis: “The only other person willing to blow the whistle on the lack of character of our media is [John Burns of the NYT].”

“It is you and John Burns.”

“Did you hear that, folks? What an indictment of our mainstream media. It’s painful.”

“If you like dissent, it’s a cheerful, an inspiring when someone in the mainstream media dissents from the mainstream media’s awful reporting on Iraq. I just asked him, why do we not read what you just wrote? Three positive developments since we announced we’d increase troops by 20,000.”

“We’re going to have him on for an extended period of time. He was with the USA Today.”

So I assume Prager also confused this Jack Kelly with Jack Kelley of fabrication fame.

There are plenty of legitimate criticisms to make of the journalism of Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The paper had to run this whopper of a correction in early July 2006:

(This column is a corrected version. The following correction will appear in the July 5 print edition: “Jack Kelly’s July 2 column conflated references to two different Wall Street Journal op-ed articles by MIT professor Richard Lindzen. The first quote from Dr. Lindzen was from a June 11, 2001, piece, but it was incorrectly identified as being published last week. The second Lindzen quote was correctly attributed to his commentary last week (June 26). In addition, the Kelly column referred to a National Academy of Sciences report on climate change and a quote from CNN reporter Michelle Mitchell; they were both from June 2001, not this year. The column should have addressed the NAS report on climate change released June 22, 2006.”)

Prager is also a huge fan of Michael Fumento, who successfully sought out funding for his books from people he wrote about, yet never disclosed this.


Dennis Prager: ‘Michael Fumento is a truth-seeker’

Dennis on his radio show Feb 9, 2006: “His first impact on me was [in the late ’80s] with his ‘Myth of Heterosexual AIDS’ [first published as an essay on Commentary magazine, then later as a book].

“I am not happy with the way Scripps-Howard let Michael go.”

Scripps-Howard is about the lowest rung syndication network.

Fumento says he’s done 150 columns for the service.

Michael: “It doesn’t bode well for Hillary Clinton’s vast-right-wing conspiracy. It’s a left-wing conspiracy. Doug Bandow had a column for Scripps-Howard. He lost his column because he was involved in the Jack Abramoff scandal. [Bandow] was paid per column by Abramoff.

“The Left got an idea. Bandow was rid off because he took money for something he wrote. Let’s put together an enemies list. Let’s just say they were paid for pieces and let’s give them to sympathetic reports. The only two reporters I’ve found who have taken this is Sharon Waxman at The New York Times [who has not published on the story yet] and Eamon Javers at Business Week.

Cathy Seipp writes in The LAT:

MICHAEL Fumento, the self-described “extremely pro-biotech” journalist who lost his syndicated column after Business Week revealed he’d solicited money from Monsanto, is mad at me. That’s because I wrote in my Jan. 19 National Review Online column that he deserved to lose it, and that I’d like to see more criticism of Op-Ed payola from the right as well as the left.

In making his defense, Fumento had written a column (for that struck me as more of an unwitting self-prosecution. Exhibit A: gratuitous description of Monsanto’s “exciting biotech products.” Exhibit B: complaint that it should have “meant something” to Scripps Howard News Service that he wrote all his 100-plus columns for free. My God, yes, it certainly should have. Namely, that if the news service wasn’t paying for them, someone else must have been.

Fumento says his job is coming to an end at the Hudson Institute in the next month. “A little bit of it has to do with my not having a column anymore. My being involved in this scandal. They know I didn’t do anything wrong but there’s this taint. There’s been scandal involved in his name. That’s why Scripps dropped me. They didn’t even consult me.”

Fumento says it is the practice for fellows at think tanks to solicit corporate money (as Fumento did). “Hudson finally said enough is enough.”

Fumento says he lost his job writing for the Rocky Mountain News (owned by Scripps-Howard) after his first book (The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS) was published.

Prager: “There is something frightening going on here where a particularly important columnist, a voice this society can not afford to lose. Apparently you have annoyed enough people that you need to be quieted. I am frightened, not for me, [but for society].”

I called in to Prager’s show. I was the first caller on this topic.

Luke: “A journalist can not go soliciting money from people he plans to write about. Michael Fumento asked for money from Monsanto and various agribusiness companies to finance his [2003] book [BioEvolution]. He did not disclose it in his book. It’s an elementary matter of journalistic ethics. He should be fired.”

Prager: “Who should’ve fired him?”

Luke: “Anyone who employs him as a journalist. He did something beyond the pale. If I’m going to write about somebody, I can’t go to them and ask them for money to write about them. He didn’t disclose it in his book and he didn’t disclose it in his columns.”

Michael: “These rules are new to me. In fact, they are new to everybody. Are you a writer?”

[My answer did not make it on the air.] Luke: “Yes.”

Michael: “These rules are new to me. They are new to everybody. That’s exactly what Business Week did. They invented new rules and applied them retroactively. I don’t care much for retroactive rules. I’m willing to follow rules that are made up before I do something.”

I think that these rules are not retroactive. It is elementary journalistic ethics that you do not solicity funds from people you plan to write about.

Michael: “The book took four years to write. I got far less than minimum wage to write it.”

Dennis: “In retrospect, you should’ve mentioned the [Monsanto] grant.”

Michael: “Yes.

“The other way the other side [the Left] works is that they do not [concern themselves with truth].”

Fumento keeps painting the issue as a Left-Right debate when it is a matter of journalistic ethics. “Whenever you analyze research, you examine the funding,” notes a caller. “For your guest to say that all of a sudden there are new rules…to not disclose your source of funding. Corporations do not give away something for no value. To say that this is a new rule is an egregious misstatement for scholars and scientists.”

Michael: “Give me an example of someone who has lost a column for taking a grant seven years ago.”

Dennis: “Michael made a mistake. I don’t think he should be a lost voice for America.”

The way Fumento reacted to Cathy Seipp’s critique struck me as screamingly gay. From the first time I heard Fumento on Prager’s show (circa 1989), I thought, this man is gay. What kind of straight man (who is a scholar) would publish on his website a picture of himself in a thong? And then take offence at comments people make about his nipples?

Fumento writes: “Seipp posted a photo of me on her website, inviting her readers to laugh. Don’t know if I’m in Brad Pitt territory, but does this woman not look like a mouse that drowned in a bottle of Old Milwaukee?”

This is the type of catty remark that gay men make.

Eamon Javers from Business Week writes:


In his career at Hudson, Fumento has carved out a specialty debunking critics of the agribusiness and biotechnology industries. In 1999, he says, he solicited $60,000 from Monsanto to write a book on the business. The book, entitled BioEvolution was published in 2003. A spokesman for Monsanto confirmed the payments to the Hudson Institute.

Asked about the payments, Fumento says, “I’m just extremely pro-biotech.” He says he solicited several agribusiness companies to finance his book, which was published by Encounter Books. “I went after everybody, I’ve got to be honest,” Fumento says of his fund-raising effort. “I told them that if I tell the truth in this book, the biotech industry is going to look really good, and you should contribute.”

The Monsanto grant, he says, flowed from the company to the Hudson Institute to support his work. A portion went to overhead and “most of it” went into his salary. He says the money was simply folded into his salary for that year, and therefore represented no windfall to him personally.

“STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.” The book’s acknowledgements cite support from The Donner Foundation and “others who wish to remain anonymous.” Fumento didn’t disclose the payment from Monsanto either in the book or in at least eight columns he has written mentioning Monsanto since 1999.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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