Take out your Waterman pen, brush the dust off your calendars, flip forward to July, scan down to the 21st, and write the following: “John Kerry to announce John Edwards as running mate.”

Can Campaign Desk see into the future?

Well, no. But we can read, and today we read an article that ran yesterday on CNN’s Web site, regurgitating a LexisNexis press release obviously orchestrated by the database to grab media attention (it worked).

LexisNexis, CNN informs us, embarked on a “comprehensive” search of its more than 32,000 sources, and discovered that only the last four Democratic candidates announced their VP selections before the party’s nominating convention commenced. (Why the folks at LexisNexis would assume they have a monopoly on this information is beyond us.)

As CNN reports, LexisNexis then put that data into a complicated mathematical formula to predict John Kerry will announce his running mate on July 21 — five days before the convention.

Math isn’t our strong suit, so we’ll provide CNN’s explanation:

To calculate the date, LexisNexis added the total days that each of the four candidates announced ahead, then divided that number by four.

The result: 5.25, according to LexisNexis’s Manager of Public Relations Randy Dunham.

With the convention slated for July 26, they subtracted 5 and came up with July 21.

As to who will be Kerry’s choice, CNN reports that LexisNexis crowned Sen. John Edwards the “front-runner” because his name produced 1,420 hits between March 1, 2004 and May 20, 2004. Next closest were Gen. Wes Clark and Sen. Hillary Clinton with 338 and 291 hits, respectively.

We’d make an effort to point out how silly this is, but the LexisNexis press release does the job for us, noting that in 2000 Joe Lieberman trailed Dick Gephardt in LexisNexis hits. Lieberman eventually received the nod.

Taking our cue from CNN, Campaign Desk did our own LexisNexis search — and found that CNN was the only media outlet starved enough to reprint this bit of PR-driven non-news.

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.