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NPR Exclusive : Ronald Reagan Killed Stork
by Chris Reed
28 August 2003Morning Edition

NPR's usual bias surfaces in its coverage of Animal House.


My interest piqued by the media and advertising blitz surrounding this week’s release of a 25th anniversary DVD of Animal House, I did a Nexis hunt for information on Doug Kenney, the National Lampoon magazine founder who co-wrote the script. Animal House’s more avid devotees will remember Kenney in the bit role of Stork, the frat brother the other Delta Tau Chis once considered retarded. I had a vague recollection that soon after the movie came out in 1978, Kenney had died in mysterious circumstances while hiking in a rugged area of Kauai. 

Lo and behold, it turns out that Ronald Reagan drove him off a cliff. Here’s the Nexis transcript of the final portion of a July 29, 2002, story about Animal House on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition:

Animal House, one of the biggest comedies of the ‘70s, left as legacy some personal tragedies, too. Director Landis likes to say, ‘A little Belushi went a long way.’ It's true in the movie. In the end, Bluto Blutarsky, class of ‘63, goes all the way to Washington as a senator. But it was 20 years ago that Belushi himself overdosed on cocaine and heroin, cutting short his career. Animal House writer Doug Kenney also died young. The year Reagan was elected, he fell from a cliff in Hawaii while on vacation. For NPR News, I’m Molly Peterson in San Francisco.

Ronald Reagan killed Stork. Who knew? And people say NPR eschews the hard-hitting investigative pieces in favor of stories that reflect its silly lefty worldview.

Seriously, there was almost certainly no conscious attempt by the NPR reporter to posit a causal link between Reagan’s election and Kenney’s fatal descent by mentioning them in the same sentence. But subconsciously? Just maybe. Ronald Reagan: the gross psychic weight on us all.

Chris Reed is the Op-ed columns editor for the Orange County Register
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