In Hot Pursuit of … Folly

Yesterday we reported on a four alarm veepstakes flare-up. Today, The Boston Globe’s Patrick Healy does his best to keep the flame alive — even as his own sources keep throwing cold water on his torch.

John Kerry’s running-mate selection process “has been so secretive,” Healy writes, “that even some campaign advisers say it would be folly to try to precisely predict the timing.”

Undeterred, Healy apparently sees no “folly” in trying to predict the outcome — and so he does some of his own (inconclusive) interpreting of “the body language” and “cadences” of the three senators who spent time with Kerry in Florida yesterday (Edwards, Graham, and Nelson).

Brow furrowed, Healy turns to Mark Gearan, who “assisted with veepstakes processes past.” Bad news: Gearan is no help at all. He explains to Healy that it’s difficult “to read the tea leaves when Kerry interacts with these other politicians,” for the simple reason that, as the reporter paraphrases Gearan, “private thoughts and impressions of the running mate field are largely unknown.”

So what’s a newspaper to do? We have two-part suggestion. For reporters — if there’s no story, don’t write one. For editors — if there’s no story, don’t print one.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.