Bob Kerrey: The Beat Goes On
Nicholson, Joe, Editor & Publisher
The Web takes the point as the 'Times' battles the 'Journal' to preserve scoop
The New York Times last week wielded its Web site as a weapon in an old-fashioned newspaper street brawl over a scoop of a scoop.
When The Wall Street Journal broke a story Wednesday that the Times expected would be an exclusive in yesterday's Sunday magazine, the Times turned to the Web to keep the Journal from stealing all of its thunder.
Both papers reported that former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey, a possible presidential Democratic candidate in 2004 and a decorated Vietnam War veteran who was a Navy SEAL, had admitted a tragic mistake that led to a massacre of at least 13 unarmed Vietnamese women and children.
When the Journal story appeared, Times editors "pretty quickly" decided to post the magazine's story online, Times Managing Editor Bill Keller told E&P. The full text was available on The New York Times on the Web (http://www.nytimes.com) by Wednesday afternoon.
After Kerrey talked publicly about the story, Keller said, "It seemed silly not to let people know what he was talking about."
In addition to his interview with the Journal, Kerrey described the tragedy in an interview with the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, which also published a story last Wednesday. Asked if Kerrey's comments in interviews with the Times were the same as his subsequent comments to the other two papers, Keller said, "You ought to read them side by side and compare."
By speaking publicly before the Times' Sunday magazine was circulated, Kerrey focused attention on his version of the events in Vietnam. According to the Times, Gerhard Klann, who served under Kerrey's command, said the squad "knowingly killed the civilians on Mr. …