Jewish World Review April 22, 2004 / 1 Iyar, 5764

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

No, I'm not THAT Jack Kelley! | "What's in name?" Shakespeare asked (in Romeo and Juliet). "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Yeah, and that which we call a "horse apple" by any other name would smell...

"USA TODAY editor Karen Jurgensen resigned Tuesday, one month after former USA TODAY reporter Jack Kelley was found to have fabricated numerous stories and lifted material from other publications over many years."

Sigh. This new story means that my editor will be deluged with yet more letters and phone calls demanding that I be fired, and that I'll be inundated with emails questioning my ancestry.

I'm Jack Kelly. But I'm not THAT Jack Kelley. He's younger and better looking, was more highly paid, lives in Virginia, and is dishonest. And my editor at my home paper, David Shribman, doesn't look a thing like Karen Jurgensen.

Some of the more perceptive among you have noticed his name is spelled differently than mine, and have figured out that if I were jetting around the world for USA TODAY, it would be hard for me to be in Pittsburgh at the same time. But the calls and letters we've been getting indicate a lot of you haven't.

Jack Kelly is a fairly common name. There are four "Jack Kellys" and seven "Jack Kelleys" listed here in the Greater Pittsburgh telephone directory; 28 "John Kellys," and 15 "John Kelleys", plus enough "J. Kelly's" to fill a small auditorium. None of them are me.

The irony is "Jack Kelly" isn't the name by which my family and friends know me. I was named John Michael Kelly, after my father and grandfather. Dad was known as "Jack," so I have been called "Mike" by family and friends since my birth (except for an annoying friend of my mother's, who persisted in calling me "Johnny Mike").

I took "Jack Kelly" as a nom de plume in order — I thought — to avoid confusion. When I joined the Toledo Blade in 1995, there already was another Mike Kelly there, so I couldn't have the byline. It became "John Michael Kelly," my full legal name.

That worked fine until I got my column in 1998. There wasn't enough space in the signature block for "John Michael Kelly." I had to use something shorter. I could have gone to "John Kelly," but I've never been known as "John," and I don't particularly like the name. I still couldn't be Mike, and there was a "Michael Kelly," with views similar to mine, writing a column for the Washington Post. "J. Michael Kelly" sounded like a socially climbing Yuppie, not an old fashioned newspaper man, and wasn't far enough away from "Michael Kelly" to avoid confusion. So I asked Mom if it would be all right with her if I used Dad's name (he'd died a few years before). She said it was.

Donate to JWR

But there still was a confusion with the Washington Post's Michael Kelly that caused my daughter 24 hours of angst. He and I were both in the Persian Gulf for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Courtney had told her coworkers that her Dad, "Mike Kelly," was covering the war. So when the Washington Post's Michael Kelly, imbedded with the 3rd Infantry Division, was killed, Courtney's boss called her into her office to tell her that I was dead. It was a day before I could let her know I wasn't.

I'd just as soon not be confused with anyone else. But I'd much rather be confused with the late great Michael Kelly of the Washington Post than with Jack Kelley of USA TODAY, serial fabulist and plagiarist. And since Michael Kelly is dead, the confusion would fade over time.

So since this controversy began, I've thought of going to "Mike Kelly" as a byline. That would let my readers know me by the same name as my friends do. But the switch could add yet more confusion.

Since it seems my lot in life to be confused with others with the same or a similar name, I've also thought of changing my name to "Bill Clinton." That byline, over my views, would drive my liberal critics crazy.

Every weekday publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

Jack Kelly Archives

© 2003, Jack Kelly