The Death of Michael Kelly
The world of political punditry and journalism was rocked today with the news that Michael Kelly, editor-at-large of the Atlantic Monthly and a Washington Post columnist, was killed last night in an accident around Saddam Hussein International Airport. Regrettably, Kelly left behind a wife and two young sons, and my condolences go out to his family.
Much the same way I felt when news of Barbara Olson’s death on 9/11 was reported, I find myself being sad for these individuals’ families for their loss while fully acknowledging in both cases these people at the time of their deaths were political hacks masquerading as journalists. At least in Kelly’s case, he was a solid journalist in a previous life with battlefield experience, who did a fine job bringing The Atlantic Monthly back to relevance. But Kelly also had increasingly morphed into a political columnist of the Beltway punditocracy, who lacked an evenhandedness in his analysis, who didn’t let facts get in the way of scoring political points, and who possessed an inability to hold George W. Bush accountable for the same sins he trashed Bill Clinton for. That certainly doesn’t make him unique in today’s Washington.
Unfortunately, he saw a need to leave behind his wife and children to cover the war up close and personal, unnecessarily, and he knew from his past experience the risks. But as in the case of Olson, although I was not a fan of their work, their loss and that of their families is regrettable.