Friday, August 26, 2005

Letters In Newspaper From Child To Father In Iraq Were Frauds

To see what will become at its worst a scandalous case of outright media fraud or at its best a terrible case of agenda causing the media to blindly report what they wanted to be true, read this story:

Letters To Daddy Fake

Per the Post Dispatch, The Daily Egyptian, which is the Southern Illinois University student run newspaper, will admit tomorrow that a regular column reported to be letters from a little girl to her father deployed in Iraq, was all a fraud and she had no father stationed in Iraq.

The paper ran several offerings from the little girl named Kodee Kennings, over the past two years of her letters to her father reportedly stationed in Iraq. The letters became a regular feature of the paper and apparently a very popular one. The child was a sort of hero in the papers news room.

Here are a few examples of the letters per the Post with a definite anti-war anti-Bush tone:

"Don't die, OK dad? ... You should find Saddam and run him over with your tank ... I love you and don't die. Love, Kodee."

"Are you still coming home dad? I'm still here without you ... Hey dad I dug a fox hole. It is regulashin ... Can you kill all the bad guys now so Air Force One can bring you home?"

"I'm rily mad at you and you make my hart hurt,"' she purportedly wrote in one published letter to the president. "I don't think your doing a very good job. You keep sending soldiers to Iraq and it's not fair. Do you have a soldier of your own in Irak?"

The whole story is not out yet related to why this girl’s aunt Colleen Hastings would do such a thing. Hastings however confessed to a current reporter at the paper that she and the reporter who first wrote about Kodee, Michael Brenner had made the whole thing up.

Michael Brenner per the Post Dispatch had this reaction to Hastings claim that the two collaborated in creating the fraud:

Brenner, who was clearly distraught during a telephone interview from a relative's home in Indiana on Thursday, strongly denied the allegation, noting he'd have no motive for such a ploy. "In 2003, I was definitely guilty of some bad reporting. I'm an idiot, not a con-artist."

We will see if Brenner help created the kind of news he thought his subscribers needed to hear, or if he was himself fooled and it was as he said himself "some bad reporting". Even if he did not participate in creating this whole thing, one has to believe that the absolute hunger for it to be true, led the reporters and paper to be duped into believing it and printing it.

Kodee fit so perfectly into the anti-war anti-Bush agenda and was a powerful messenger. They appear to have fallen all over themselves promoting Kodee’s letters and the papers political message. Instead they should have been confirming the whole thing was real. News organizations with an activist agenda tend to fall into traps like this do they not? Remember Rathergate………………………………..


Here is one of Brenner's articles on Kodee that appeared in the Daily Egyptian.


Aside from the obvious question of fraud and what the paper knew or should have known, there are lots of questions to be answered about these people who the child lives with. I say the way that they used this child is abusive and want to know more about who they are and what their exact relationship is to this child.


Update II

Here is the editorial from the Daily Egyptian admitting the fraud today:


Per the paper:

Reporting by this newspaper and others since then has found that Hastings is actually Jaimie Reynolds of Marion, a 2004 graduate of SIU. And Kodee is actually the daughter of a pastor in Montpelier, Ind. The man portraying Dan Kennings is Patrick Trovillion of Vienna, who says Reynolds paid him for his role.

So there is no Colleen Hastings, she is really Jaimie Reynolds and a SIU grad. I wonder if she is a graduate of their school of journalism? The father of the child is a Church of Navarene pastor who thought Hastings was doing some type of documentary and his daughter was playing a part.

Hastings says reporter Michael Brenner was in on the fraud:

………insists she did not act alone. She said that the Daily Egyptian reporter who first wrote about Kodee, Michael Brenner, met her in a bar in early January 2003 and later asked her to help him with the deception.

Reynolds said because Brenner paid attention to her she was willing to help, saying he "said all the things I wanted to hear. It wasn't a crush. But he looked at me, and looked twice. He became a friend and didn't care I was fat."

In a five-hour interview at her home, Reynolds accused Brenner of creating the characters and writing the "Kenningsology" columns. She said he threatened her to go along with the lie.

Walter Jaehnig director of the school of journalism had this to say:

"the staff is shocked by these revelations because we stress fair, accurate and complete journalism in our courses and in the Daily Egyptian. In this instance, the student reporters and editors failed to verify the essential facts of the story."

Mr. Jaehnig, I think we might have a little more going on here than failure to verify the facts. It appears that we might have a full blown case of media fraud……………………………

Update III

The Chicago Tribune sniffed out the fraud of this story when one of their reporters went down to cover the supposed death of Kodee’s father in Iraq. They were advised of the development by a professor in the journalism school at SIU.

Once the Tribune reporter started trying to confirm information related to the story, everything started falling apart:


It will be interesting to see how many other newspapers have run the Kodde story over the past two years without applying the same standards that this reporter from the Tribune applied……………………….

Update IV

The left is rallying to circle the wagons of their beloved liberal press on the Kodeegate fraud, claiming there is nothing present in the proof to show a liberal political bias was behind the fraud. Well lets look at the facts as they are now known:

* Per Colleen Hastings the reporter Michael Brenner created this entire fraud and asked her to assist (time will tell if this is true or not but things are looking pretty likely that Brenner was the mastermind. I'd put it at 2-1 odds already).

* The Daily Egyptian ran letters over a two year period of time that focused on a child who lost her mother and was devastated by her father being deployed and taken away from her. The paper ran the stories that tugged at everyone's heart regardless of position on the Iraq war. How could someone not feel bad about Kodee's unfortunate predicament? Do you think that angle was done by chance? Deployment is very hard on families and to cheapen that hardship is probably the evilest of things that this fraud did.

* The President Bush letter that basically said: "Mr. Bush your doing a bad job and hurt my heart. Why are you sending the daddies to Iraq. Do you have a family member in Iraq". That by itself is evidence of a political agenda driving this whole insane fraud.

Here is more evidence of political agenda driving this matter:

Kodee Returns

From the New Egyptian archived articles here is what they say about continuing their fraud early this year (2005):

Kodee has been doing well since the Knoxville incident (see website) and continues to adjust to life away from her father, Dan Kennings, who is stationed in Mosul, Iraq, with the 101st Airborne Division. According to some of his friends, morale is not particularly high, but he takes solace in letters and phone calls home. Calling home is rare for Kennings. It costs him $2 a minute.

(Go see the Knoxville incident where it was reported that Kodee was peeled away from her father screaming and crying as he shipped out to Iraq and tell me that is not anti-Iraq activism; Morale is not particularly high is definite propaganda from the left)

He called the DAILY EGYPTIAN a few days ago and said he is doing fine. He sounded upbeat, though he desperately wants to leave Iraq. It is a situation he will never get used to.

(He is doing fine but he "desperately wants to leave Iraq", is also clearly political agenda being weaved into the fraud, as is "it's a situation he will never get used to".)

"I wouldn't say I'm used to it," he said of the volatile situation surrounding him. "I'd say I'm kind of immune to it, but not used to it."

( these two sentences are clearly politically driven in the fraud - "Iraq is terrible and I hate it and I will never get use to it". We know morale is high overall with our troops in Iraq, but the liberal media continues to try to falsely report those facts)

Political agenda from an anti-war and anti-Bush angle is clearly in place in what we see from the continuation announcement....................Stay tuned, this story I think will tell us lots before its told in full........

Link Welcome:

Welcome Radio Blogger & Iraq Now visitors. It's good to have you here.......................

Update V

For a counter view on the political agenda on the SUI story here is one group to consider (It's a pro-military fraud per the "dem underground" but remember they also believe that the earth is flat, and that socialism will cure your ills once we all go red you capitalistic bastard:

Moonbat Centeral

Yes it's very sad and disillusioned, but the left political establishment is that way. We present the facts, offer different opinions, and let you make up your mind here and that is the way news distribution should be done...........

Update VI

Per the Chicago Tribune, the interest in the Kodee story is high from other news organizations:


Per the Tribune:

On Friday, the day the story came to light, the Daily Egyptian newsroom was deluged with phone calls from national TV networks and reporters across the country. Eric Fidler, the newspaper's faculty adviser, said the widespread attention was a shock to the students.

"It's an awful lot of pressure for people who are in their early 20s and going to school to cope with," he said. "There's still a great deal of confusion over the facts of the case. We still don't know exactly what happened."

In their first attempt to report the story, the AP appears to be spinning a little help line to the students at the Daily Egyptian per the Mudsville Gazette's post:

Mudville Gazette

A simple story revealing the lack of standards at college newspapers? Perhaps. But the AP provides an interesting epilogue in their recounting of the tale. They avoid detailing the substance of "Kendee's" letters - but imply the hoax was perpetrated as some sort of pro-war propaganda:

Kim Treger, owner of a women's shoe and accessories store, said she followed the story from the start but was not surprised to learn it was fake.

"As long as people dig those sentimental stories and have that yellow-ribbon mentality, there are going to be these hoaxes," she said.

I think "yellow ribbon mentality" conveys a message that doesn't apply - and I believe that's obvious to anyone who's read this far. Of course, if most stories from the AP include a quote from an "owner of a women's shoe and accessories store" I'll admit that my suspicions as to their motives for including that comment are unfounded. But it reads to me like a nasty little trick they might have learned in journalism school.

I say its an attempt to redirect what the facts thus far point towards, that being more of an anti-war slant. In reading every article and letter published, the theme is unquestionably anti-war. But hey I'm not a shoe store owner, so per the AP standard I'm probably not qualified to comment on that point. It appears that the AP journalist might be a member of the democratic underground based on their angle. If not a member then perhaps they did the majority of their research via the undergrounds website..................

I think that given the AP's coverage of Iraq has mostly focused on the negative aspects and just about none of the positive things, this story probably hits uncomfortably close to home. Lets hope the rest of the MSM does a better job in covering this story and the political tone of the story than the AP's first attempt......................

Update VII

I'm moving to a new post on this, sort of leaving this post as the breaking story and the new post will focus on the next stage of coverage by the MSM and the New Media. You can view it here