“I am outraged to find my name associated with this man.”
–Kennedy Grey, writer
Jeff Rense calls his website, Rense.com, “your first source for reality & honest journalism.” He describes his radio show as “one of a kind”, and elaborates: “No ego, no arrogance, no shouting and ranting, the program is genuine journalism, intellect, reason, care and concern, and true inquiry.”
Given that Rense is so keen on “honest journalism” and “true inquiry”, we decided to take a closer look at a profile piece about Rense that is reprinted on two of his web pages, “About the Program” and “About Jeff”, both of which are linked from a prominent position on the Rense.com homepage.
Both of these promotional pages contain information about Rense, his website Rense.com, and his radio show. Each page includes the same reprint of an article entitled The Most Dangerous Man in Talk Radio, written by Kennedy Grey and first appearing in Whole Life Times magazine in September 1999. [Update 11 May 2012: The Kennedy Grey article has now been removed from the “About the Program” page, but can be accessed through Archive.org; see link  below.] [Update 01 June 2012: The Kennedy Grey article has now been removed from the “About Jeff” page, but can be accessed through Archive.org; see link  below.]
There’s no doubt the article is a complimentary one. It details Rense’s disillusionment with mainstream media’s “thinly-disguised press release ‘fluff’ journalism”, and describes how Rense “set out to re-invent himself into a liberator of truth from the confines of a corrupt and bloated news broadcast industry.”
We decided to contact Kennedy Grey to see if he recalled the article. Even though he wrote it over 12 years ago, he does indeed remember it–and the publication it appeared in. Whole Life Times, said Grey, was “a relatively obscure Malibu beach newspaper with low circulation and no real editorial fact/checking process.” And the article?
If it were WIRED* they would not have published it. When you get paid 25 bucks, you get one source and write a fluff piece.
(*WIRED is a magazine & online periodical that Grey has written for.)
So, The Most Dangerous Man in Talk Radio was a $25 puff piece with one source–Rense himself–written for a low circulation periodical. Well, you might say, what’s wrong with that? Media personalities like Rense have to avail themselves of every available promotional opportunity.
But that’s not all there is to the story.
Turns out, the article that appears on Rense’s website is not quite the same as the one Grey wrote back in 1999.
When Rense reprinted the puff piece on his own website, he couldn’t resist tweaking it to make it just a little more… puffy.
We asked Grey to look at the changes Rense had made to his article. He wasn’t pleased.
Journalism works because it does its best to provide the truth. To find this or any piece rewritten as a self-serving PR piece disrespects both me as a writer, and the realm of responsible journalism.
After closer evaluation of the information available about Jeff Rense, Grey had this to say:
I am outraged to find my name associated with this man. To have been duped by someone with the wanton and reckless desire to further his own reputation by engineering something I wrote is an indication of a deeply troubled individual.
Kennedy Grey was kind enough to send us a copy of the original article, and here we compare selections from it with Rense’s altered version.
|Original text||Altered text||Comment|
|When Jeff Rense walked away from a #1 rated Oregon-based TV talk show, people suspected job burnout.||When Jeff Rense walked away from a #1 rated Oregon TV news anchor position, people suspected job burnout.||Seems that working for a #1 “TV talk show” doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as being a #1 “TV news anchor.”|
|Twelve years as an on-air news personality and production person “up and down the west coast”…||Twelve years as on on-air news anchor and News Director “up and down the west coast”…||Why be a “news personality and production person” when you can be a “news anchor and News Director”?|
|“I witnessed television news in the ’70s recede from film journalism to a video product.”||“I witnessed television news in the 80s recede from journalism to ‘product’.”||Is changing the decade meant to give the perception of youth?|
|Sightings runs the gamut from outright lunacy… to more down-to-earth topics like China’s oppression of Tibet and government whistle-blowing.||His show content runs the gamut from outright lunacy… to more down to earth topics as government intrugue[sic], secret weapons, and cutting edge health issues.||It would appear that “China’s oppression of Tibet and government whistle-blowing” isn’t nearly as sexy as “government intrugue[sic], secret weapons, and cutting edge health issues.”|
|Rense’s fears about media consolidation are easily validated. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 allows any network or company to own TV stations reaching as many as 35% of the nation’s households (previously, the limit was 25%). In areas with fewer than 35,000 people, the local phone company can completely buy out the local cable company. The TC act also lifts national limits on radio station ownership–now one company can own up to eight stations in the market (AM or FM).||[Not in altered version.]||Why clutter up a perfectly good puff piece with all those relevant facts? Better to just delete the whole lot.|
|The TC Act also allows local phone companies to offer cable, and long-distance carriers to offer local phone service: cable can offer phone, or one can offer all three. With the expense of getting into new businesses like phone service or cable, these interests are more likely to merge than compete.||[Not in altered version.]||Ditto.|
|[Not in original version.]||(The top trade magazine, Talkers, named Jeff to the top 100 talk show hosts in America in 2001…)||Always room for a bit more puffery.|
|Rense’s <www.sightings.com> website is also quite popular, currently drawing over 4 million total hits per month.||Rense’s world-renowned news service, www.rense.com, is currently drawing over ten million total hits per month.||Why be a “quite popular” website when you can be a “world-renowned news service”? Might as well change “4 million hits” to “10 million” as well.|
Previous: Truth or “puffery”?
 Rense.com. Retrieved 06 May 2012.
 About the Program (archived). Retrieved 11 May 2012. [Rense has removed Kennedy Grey article from current page.]
 About Jeff (archived). Retrieved 01 June 2012. [Rense has removed Kennedy Grey article from current page.]
 The Most Dangerous Man in Talk Radio(pdf).