Ethics Corner: How King Con Kelley Got Away With It…

By: Allan Wolper

Jack Kelley’s legend begins in August, 1982, a month before the launch of USA Today. John J. Curley, the editor, is stretched out on his office floor, barely breathing. Kelley is tearing up Curley’s clothes, applying CPR. Suddenly Curley opens his eyes, and surveys his wrecked shirt. “I’m sorry, Mr. Curley,” Kelley says. “Here are your buttons.”

That scene, described by Freedom Forum President Peter S. Prichard, in his 1987 book, The Making of McPaper: The Inside Story of USA Today, was typical Kelley. The helpful hero.

Kelley was the clean-cut reincarnation of Richard Harding Davis,

the swashbuckling foreign correspondent of a century ago. And the most famous face of USA Today. It was why so many people had such a hard time believing the newspaper when it announced that some of Kelley’s work from 1993 to 2003 was either fiction or stolen fact.

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