Stetson Kennedy Controversy


Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Newspaper, Book

Effects and Outcomes

Many years after publication, Kennedy's work came under sudden scrutiny. The journalist, Stephen J. Dubner and the economist Steven D. Levitt, who had paid tribute to Kennedy in their best-selling book, Freakonomics, then reversed that opinion in a column that appeared in the New York Times Magazine in January 2006, detailing the results of their examination of documents in various Kennedy archives, documents that did not square with what he had told them when they interviewed him for the book. For instance, actual interviews with Klan leaders appeared in the book with "different contexts with different facts." Events that Kennedy covered openly as a reporter he recast for publication as if they had been undercover efforts. Also, Dubner and Levitt concluded, as previous researchers surmised, that much of the infiltration Kennedy claimed as his own was the work of someone who worked for him, whom he identified pseudonymously in memos as 'John Brown.' This led the Freakonomics authors to revise their earlier assessment, honoring Kennedy's fight of the good fight but not the liberties he clearly took with data and facts.

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