National Public Radio ombudsman Alicia Shepard isn’t afraid to raise questions of liberal bias occasionally. Her latest column is titled "Too Much Kennedy." She reports NPR offered 53 stories on Ted Kennedy’s death in the first five days (August 26-30), "But on that first day, in the 23 on-air stories, only one mentioned the name Mary Jo Kopechne and 5 mentioned Chappaquiddick." When they did, it was passed over gently as an obstacle to the White House:
Compare that to the death of Sen. Jesse Helms on July 4, 2008. A quick Nexis scan shows in the first five days after the conservative senator's passing, you can count only four stories -- less than NPR had produced for Kennedy in advance. (Five other segments mention Helms in passing.) Then consider the parade for Teddy:
T.K. parked their SUV and they stepped into the late-afternoon heat. Staring down at a stone angel, he realized he was standing over a tiny grave.
"You see that?" he said, reading dates. "Three days. Three days."
"'She was not here long,' " he recited from the epitaph, " 'but will be loved forever.' "
The cemetery official explained available plots and rules: A bench was fine if it fit on their plot. Crape myrtles and rose bushes were OK, but no deep-rooted trees.
"I never imagined this," Deidrea said as T.K. kept pointing out children's graves. "My husband said we went from college to caskets."
The official agreed to hold several plots until after Thomas' birth.
"I don't want to give up," Deidrea said. "What if there's a miracle? We may have an 18-year-old son mad at us for picking out his grave right now."
Deidrea asked T.K. to stop at her family plot on the way out. She stood longest over the graves of a great-uncle who died at 8 months after eating lye soap and a great-aunt who drowned in a farm pond at 12.
Until this cemetery visit, she and T.K. hadn't grasped how many families faced losses like theirs. Now they understood why family elders lingered over these tiny graves with a sadness that never softened. Big gravestones marked full memories and lives. Small ones bounded unfinished futures and dreams.