By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Ted Kennedy’s illness

Sen. Ted Kennedy has fallen ill, and Media Nation extends its best wishes. Meanwhile, there are signs of early media confusion over what’s wrong.

The Boston Herald reports that Kennedy experienced “stroke-like symptoms.” The Cape Cod Times, whose account of Kennedy’s illness is otherwise thorough, makes no mention of the nature of the senator’s illness. (Those two links via Universal Hub.)

By contrast, the Boston Globe, relying on an anonymous “official briefed on the situation,” tells us that Kennedy suffered a seizure, then a second as he was being transported by helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital.

Not that the Herald and the Globe couldn’t both be right.

Instant update: The Herald’s Casey Ross has more details, and describes Kennedy’s “stroke-like symptoms” as “mild.” And the AP, among others, is also using the phrase “stroke-like symptoms.”

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Threatening “the voice of Black Boston”


Walking through the fallout


  1. o-fish-l

    Gotta love the liberal pundit [the name escapes me] on FNC who, when asked how Ted Kennedy’s illness might affect the Obama campaign, said something along the lines, “It will help because it draws attention to McCain’s age.” Sheesh.Also, gotta love (or at least gotta notice) that many of the news presenters are already referring to Ted in the past tense. “Kennedy WAS [insert superlative here}…”

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: If you can’t tell us who the “liberal pundit” was, then there’s nothing for us to judge. A worthless comment.

  3. Anonymous

    Stay in touch, Dan. CNN and Fox are both way ahead of you on this.He’s had two seizures, which often have “stroke-like symptoms,” and which take a while to distinguish from stroke and a longer time to figure out the cause of. Sometimes they never find a cause at all. Other causes are brain tumor, change in medications, or a hemorrhagic (ie, bleeding) stroke can also lead to a seizure.Family says docs say 48 hours before they’ll have any idea what caused it.There, I learned all that watching CNN for about 5 minutes. Try it sometime.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    I was just looking at a few minutes ago.

  5. Anonymous

    At each other’s throats on MediaNation today I see. Geez.I wish Senator Kennedy well in his recovery. I pray it’s nothing terrible.

  6. o-fish-l

    Worthless, Dan? I guess that’s why one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.The worth of the comment is that from Kennedy’s sudden illness, someone is already ascribing a “benefit” to Obama and a setback to McCain.I found that sentiment, if not the speaker, to be remarkable, especially coming in the earliest stages of the crisis.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: Who … was … it? You want us to tut-tut over a crass comment from someone you claim is a liberal of some sort, and you can’t even tell us who it was. That is what makes your comment worthless. I’d damn well like to know who said it.

  8. Rick in Duxbury

    Dan,I saw the comment. It was a woman who AGREED to be described as a “Democratic consultant” on the chyron. Confess that I had never heard of her before and I watch a fair amount of Fox, so she’s no household name. Who takes notes while watching TV on Sat. afternoon anyway? (Aren’t these “Democratic/Republican consultants” pretty fungible anyhow, once you get below the Anne Lewis/Carl Rove level?)It struck me as off-putting to conflate this into a McCain-related event, whoever she was. I couldn’t find it on the Fox website, perhaps someone else can.

  9. o-fish-l

    Settle down Dan, the pundit is apparently one Bud Jackson. Obviously I neglected to note his name when he made the comment live [I was in shock], but thankfully others noticed. A Google search of the words “kennedy illness benefit obama” led me to Here’s what that site says.”Strategist Says Kennedy Crisis Helps Obama”May 17th, 2008 · “Democratic strategist Bud Jackson appeared as a guest on Fox News Channel early this afternoon and said today’s health crisis involving 76-year-old Sen. Ted Kennedy could benefit Democrat Barack Obama’s presidential campaign by focusing attention on the issue of age.”

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: That’s important information. Now we know — he’s no one any of us have ever heard of before. Thank you.

  11. Ida

    Ted is the most consistent of all politicians. I have admired him from the age of 5. I heard that it was not a stroke, but a seizure, which is an entirely different matter (I should know, since I have a brain tumor). I wish the media would get the facts straight before making everyone feel worried. He could have had anything from a myoclonic seizure to a grand mal(tonic clonic), so it could be a very minor issue. Certain blogs were already planning the guy’s funeral. How sad?

  12. Steve

    Fish – what gets me about that story is that someone actually asked “how does this affect Obama?” Who asked that? It strikes me as particularly inane and irrelevant.How is someone *supposed* to respond to that?

  13. Dan Kennedy

    Steve: How about “What a tasteless and stupid question.” Although I’ll admit that I probably wouldn’t be that fast on my feet.

  14. o-fish-l

    Steve and Dan: I hear you, and I won’t attempt to defend the FNC host who asked the question, but to put it into some type of context [and I’m relying on memory], I believe the question was innocuous enough, something like, “Ted Kennedy just broke from a long relationship with the Clintons to make a powerful endorsement of Barack Obama, how will his illness affect the Obama campaign?”Put it this way, I found Mr. Jackson’s response far more egregious than the question, even if the question itself was inappropriate.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: Jackson is obscure to the vanishing point, brought in to play the part of the liberal jerk on Fox for the entertainment of its conservative viewers. Please consider yourself entertained.

  16. o-fish-l

    Dan, tell me you’re not really suggesting that Fox News employed an actor to play the role of liberal jerk this afternoon, are you? Yikes.If you really think that Bud Jackson was “brought in by Fox for the entertainment of its conservative viewers” that’s one thing. But if you believe that AND continue to teach prospective journalists, you really need to take a time out.I consider myself horrified, not entertained.

  17. io saturnalia!

    “Liberals” on Fox News are, at best, the junior varsity of liberal thought. They’re about as relevant and informed as the “body language experts” O’Reilly puts on his show.Just think of it this way: Fox considers Alan Colmes the liberal standard bearer. ‘Nuff said.

  18. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: No. What Io said.

  19. Amusedbutinformedobserver

    RE: Alan Colmes as the Fox house liberal.I can’t take him seriously because I still think of him as “Big Al Your Morning Pal,” the morning DJ at Boston’s WEZE 1260 when it was an oldies station in the early 70s, doing the program from the window of the Statler Hilton office building (although he generally kept the draperies drawn.)

  20. Peter Porcupine

    DK – I was swwitching between FNC and CNN, and I heard the age issue raised on BOTH – on CNN, by Wolf Blitzer, using the fig leaf of – Others are reporting…I have a great deal of sympathy for the Sen., as I am an almost lifelong grand mal epileptic, and have an idea what he went through. It was terrifying when I was a teen, and I cannot imaginge what it was like for somebody in their 70’s to have those sensations as a new experience.As far as second rate liberal punditry goes – FNC is boycotted by liberals, who then kvetch about a lack of fairness in coverage. I wonder when it will occur to them that not getting their side of the story out on one of the best-rated news broadcasts in the country is doing more harm to their cause than their childish display of dudgeon. (Makes them look like chickens, too).

  21. Anonymous

    Amused,Given what I have seen of him, those drapes were a good choice.

  22. Roger Green

    malignant brain tumor – ouch

  23. Anonymous

    Our prayers are with the Kennedy family – GODSPEED

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