A story came out today that AP writer Jules Loh had died. The story held out Loh’s work as some of the best ever, and noted that his article on the killing of Ken Rex McElroy was in the APs collection of best stories. It reprinted much of the article.
The truth is Loh’s article was typical of the superficial, hysterical, incorrect and inflammatory writing about the killing. His article contains very few facts; most of its superlatives about what a scary guy McElroy was. He repeats as fact that McElroy fell off a hay wagon as a youth and had a steel plate implanted in his skull and that was what made him so mean. This was a story, not a fact. The autopsy showed no steel plate, but it made for good snappy writing. I never ran into anyone in Skidmore who met the guy. He probably got his story over the phone. He sure as hell didn’t fact check it.
The press generally reported the killing as a “vigilante” killing, which means that the town, or at least a group of citizens, conspired to kill McElroy. I spent three years in the town and never found any evidence of such a conspiracy. “Vigilante” made for a good headline, however.
Little wonder that the press has such a poor reputation with the general public. Writing like that in Loh’s article, which ran nationwide, doesn’t help it.