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Michael Kelly (March 17 1957April 3 2003) was an Americanmarker editor and journalist. He was also a columnist for the Washington Post. He died in 2003 while covering the invasion of Iraq. Kelly had written in support of the invasion of Iraq.


Kelly reported on the Persian Gulf War in 1991 for The New Republic, which served as the basis for his book Martyrs' Day: Chronicles of a Small War (1993).

In 1996 he became the editor of The New Republic. Writer Stephen Glass had been a major contributor under Kelly's editorship; Glass was later shown to have falsified and fabricated numerous stories, which was admitted by The New Republic after an investigation by Kelly's editorial successor, Charles Lane. Kelly had consistently supported Glass during his tenure, including sending scathing letters to those challenging the veracity of Glass's stories.. Kelly was portrayed by actor Hank Azaria in the 2003 film about Glass' downfall, Shattered Glass. Kelly was fired in 1997 for clashing frequently with New Republic owner Martin Peretz.

After losing his job at The New Republic, Kelly was hired by David G. Bradley to run the National Journal. Bradley was so pleased with Kelly's work that he hired Kelly to run The Atlantic Monthly after Bradley purchased it in 1999.


Kelly was a supporter of U.S. military interventionism during both the Clinton Administration and George W. Bush's administration.

He was a critic of the anti-Iraq war movement. He coined the term "fusion paranoia" to refer to a political convergence of left-wing and right-wing activists around anti-war issues and civil liberties, which he claimed were motivated by a shared belief in conspiracism or anti-government views.

In September 2002, Kelly criticized former vice president Al Gore for a speech that strongly condemned the Bush administration's efforts to drum up support for the coming invasion of Iraq. In a column in the Washington Post, Kelly said the speech was "wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible." He said Gore's speech "was one no decent politician could have delivered" and was "bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies."


On April 3 2003, just a few weeks following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Kelly was travelling in a HMMWV (Humvee) with a soldier from the 3rd Infantry Division when the vehicle was fired upon by Iraqi soldiers. The HMMWV carrying Kelly and Army Staff Sergeant Wilbert Davis veered off an embankment and into a canal below. Both men died in the accident. The cause of death is officially drowning, but as Kelly was an excellent swimmer, most theories suggest he was unconscious before he hit the water. This makes Kelly officially the first reporter Killed in Action in Iraq . He is survived by his wife, Madelyn, a former producer for CBS News and currently a producer for HDNet's Dan Rather Reports, and his children, Tom and Jack.

The Michael Kelly Award

The Michael Kelly Award is given out on a Thursday in April at the Watergate Office Building. The party, as well as the cash prizes, the largest cash prizes in American journalism, are paid by Kelly's employer from 1997 to his death in 2003, Mr. David Bradley

The awards are for "The Fearless Pursuit and Expression of Truth" and pay $25,000 for the winner and $3,000 for the 4 runners-up . The awards are presented by Madelyn, Tom, and Jack Kelly, Mike's wife and sons respectively. In the past, Kelly Awards have been given to both Pulitzer winners and unheard-of writers.

Year Winner Finalists
2009 Ken Armstrong; Nick Perry Barry Bearak; Celia Dugger; Richard Behar; Peter Godwin
2008 Loretta Tofani Kelly Kennedy; Joshua Kors; Tom Vanden Brook; Peter Eisler; Blake Morrison
2007 C.J. Chivers Rukmini Maria Callimachi; Jesse Hamilton; William Langewiesche; Charles Forelle, James Bandler, Mark Maremont; Steve Stecklow
2006 Sharon LaFraniere Kurt Eichenwald; James Risen; Eric Lichtblau; Chris Rose; Cam Simpson
2005 Nicholas D. Kristof David Grann; Kim Murphy; Maximillian Potter; Elizabeth Rubin
2004 Anthony Shadid Dan Christensen; Tom Junod; John Lantigua; George Packer


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