Who Among Us Doesn’t Love John Kerry?

The October 4 issue of TIME magazine has an article by Karen Tumulty and John F. Dickerson titled “Inside the Debate Strategies.” The print version’s accompanying graphic has some text that doesn’t appear online. Each of the candidates’ images has three “Things to Remember…” taped to the podium.

Kerry’s list includes:

2) Don’t use “who among us” and “NASCAR” in the same sentence

Referring to a supposed quote along the lines of “Who among us doesn’t love NASCAR?”

That twitched my mind all the way back to last week, when Bob Somerby’s The Daily Howler tore into the provenance of this particular attribution and traced it back to Maureen Dowd. In a letter to AmCop, the Times‘ public editor, Arthur Bovino, reportedly wrote that Dowd “got the quote from someone who had been at a Kerry rally and confirmed it with a reporter who had been there,” but Somerby found no other mention of this remark previous to Dowd’s. According to Somerby, Kerry did attend a NASCAR event in February and utter the words: “I happen to like NASCAR.” The Howler commentary compares the spread of this quote to the way Al Gore supposedly made a comment about inspiring Erich Segal’s Love Story.

For extra frisson, one of the two reporters Gore made his actual, offhand comment to — about how Segal had used Tipper and himself as models for the Love Story characters — and who said she was “appalled to see the way it was played in the media,” was Karen Tumulty of TIME, whose current story now has a reference to an unsourced, possibly false quote from a Democratic presidential candidate attached to it.

I’ve sent a letter to TIME asking them to either print a correction or provide a direct attribution, I encourage you to do the same.