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Moon Over Chappaquiddick? How Press Let Landing Overshadow Kennedy

For Fast Company’s run-up to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the magazine's Charles Fishman dove into the contemporaneous coverage from July 1969, focusing on how the print media reporting on “liberal lion” Sen. Ted Kennedy driving off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island that killed his passenger was overshadowed by the moon landing the next day. But is that a proper excuse for the lack of intensity? “Lost to history: The convergence of the first Moon landing and Chappaquiddick -- Why don’t we remember it that way?”

Media watchdogs have their own explanation of why people don’t necessarily link Chappaquiddick with memories of the moon landing (liberal bias), but Fishman has some interesting research into how that extraordinary event may have affected initial coverage of Kennedy’s car crash and the resulting death by drowning of his companion, Mary Joe Kopechne.

[For more on Chappaquiddick, see 50 Years of Shame: How Journalists Protected Ted Kennedy After Chappaquiddick.]

Fishman didn’t address the possibility of ideological slant factoring into the relatively modest coverage of the Kennedy event, putting it down to a coincidence of timing, with the bigger news of the moon landing shoving aside the incident on Chappaquiddick:

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