In April, Teresa Heinz Kerry gave an interview to Pittsburgh's Channel 4 Action News (WTAE-TV) anchor Sally Wiggin in which Heinz Kerry uttered the word "scumbags." On September 20, The New Yorker published an article by Judith Thurman distorting Heinz Kerry's use of the word, claiming that Heinz Kerry "employed the word 'scumbags' to describe some of her detractors." Conservative news outlets then echoed Thurman's distortion of Heinz Kerry's comment. In response to The New Yorker's September 20 distortion, Channel 4 set the record straight in a September 20 article titled "New Yorker Magazine Quotes Teresa Heinz Kerry Out Of Context."
Following is what Heinz Kerry told Channel 4 Action News' Wiggin in April:
HEINZ KERRY: I believe there is a nobility in public service. I believe every citizen can be a public servant. And should be.
WIGGIN: Do you think some of the nobility has gone out of public service?
HEINZ KERRY: Oh, there is a lot of scumbags everywhere. Not just in politics. In everything. There are a lot of immoral people everywhere.
[I]n a television interview with a Pittsburgh anchorwoman, [Teresa Heinz Kerry] employed the word "scumbags" to describe some of her detractors. I doubt that she knows the literal meaning of "scumbag," but perhaps, after forty years in America, nearly thirty of them as a political wife, observing how the flaws and contradictions of a personality as complex as hers are melted down for ammunition by the other side, she should have learned it.
Also on September 20, FOX News Channel Hannity & Colmes co-host Sean Hannity and right-wing news sites WorldNetDaily.com and NewsMax.com repeated Thurman's distortion of Heinz-Kerry's comment.
From the September 20 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes:
WORDS ON SCREEN: Are you a "scumbag"? Mrs. Kerry might think so.
HANNITY: Let me ask you. So when your husband, so when Jacques Chirac or Vladimir Putin don't agree with her husband's policies, she's going to call them publicly an idiot? Or if a reporter when she's first lady says something she doesn't like she's going to tell the reporter to "shove it" as first lady? And she's going to call her political opponents of her husband "scumbags"? And that will be refreshing in your world?
From the September 20 edition of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
HANNITY: [N]ow Teresa Heinz's latest extravaganza with the media, the hot-tempered Teresa lashing out at critics during a Pittsburgh television interview. By the way, and this was you know pretty much only revealed for the first time nationally in a profile in an issue of The New Yorker magazine, now the most outrageous by far of -- of the, uh, of the senator's wife, pushing the boundary of behavior.
I just -- this could possibly be if you vote for John Kerry to be president, this is what you get. The New Yorker's Judith Thurman chronicled some of Heinz Kerry's well-known verbal gaffes. ... "[I]n a television interview with a Pittsburgh anchorwoman, employed the word 'scumbags' to describe some of her detractors."
And this is the same woman, who by the way, liked calling herself African American to black audiences. So you either agree with her or you [sic: are] an idiot, a scumbag.
From a September 20 article by WorldNetDaily.com, titled "Teresa calls opponents 'scumbags': Would-be first lady continued indelicate invectives against enemies":
In her latest outburst against her political enemies, Teresa Heinz Kerry called her detractors "scumbags" during an interview with a Pittsburgh TV anchorwoman.
From a September 20 NewsMax.com article titled "Teresa: My Critics Are 'Scumbags'"
Hot-tempered would-be first lady Teresa Heinz Kerry has once again lashed out at her critics, this time during a Pittsburgh television interview where she called them "scumbags."
The ugly outburst, revealed nationally for the first time in a lengthy profile in the Sept. 27 issue of The New Yorker magazine, is the most outrageous so far by the billionaire ketchup heiress and pushes the bounds of behavior voters might accept in a first lady.
While WorldNetDaily.com and NewsMax.com ran articles on September 21 reporting that Pittsburgh's Channel 4 said that The New Yorker had taken Heinz Kerry's comment "out of context," neither conservative news site admitted to any culpability in repeating the distortion. In fact, NewsMax.com stood by its criticism of Heinz Kerry: "Sorry, News 4, but when the woman who wants to be first lady uses the word 'scumbag' in any context during a videotaped interview, that's news in anybody's book."