One more reason for journalism of verification


I've heard a lot of rumors about Harry Reid. Checked out more than a few. I might even believe a couple we couldn't prove.

But Harry Reid's great-great uncle Remus Reid was hanged as a horse thief? Darn, too good to be true and it took about 30 seconds after the letter to the editor came in over the electronic transom to dismiss it. (Not sure that allegation is even considered defamation out West, where a scoundrel in the gene pool is something to brag about.)

Dave and Carol sent us an e-mail asking: "Have you seen this?" and included a forwarded e-mail with the subject line: "Spinning a Story!"

It included a mug shot of the usually dour Majority Leader Reid and a photo of a purported hanging in Montana in 1889.

It claimed a genealogist found that she and Harry shared this common ancestor and that on the back of the photo of the hanging was written:

"Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889."

The best part is that this "relative" claimed to have received confirmation from Reid stating:

"Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."

That's a good story. So good in fact that Snopes.com reports virtually the same e-mail has been sent about politicians named Rodham, Gore, Dion and Stevens, as well as Reid.

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

"Hanging of Remus Reid"
"Hanging of Remus Reid"