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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Post trumpeted Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry's choice of running mate as a front-page exclusive on Tuesday. Trouble is, it named the wrong man.
Before Tuesday's long-awaited announcement, the morning tabloid reported in an unbylined story that Kerry's pick was Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri. But around 9 a.m. (1300 GMT), hours after the late edition hit the streets, Kerry named Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.
"KERRY'S CHOICE Dem picks Gephardt as VP candidate," blared the banner headline in the Post, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and is openly supportive of Republican President Bush.
The paper's editor-in-chief, Col Allan, said he ran the story because the newspaper received information it believed to be correct.
"We unreservedly apologize to our readers for the mistake," Allan said in a statement.
The Post's fierce cross-town tabloid rival, the Daily News, could not resist poking fun.
Media sources said the News sent a case of champagne to Post editors and a note, "Congratulations on your front page. Have a nice day," with a smiley face. The barb refers to a Post advertisement near the Daily News building showing improved circulation figures, with the words "have a nice day" and smiley face.
The error recalls the infamous 1948 front-page headline in The Chicago Tribune that blared "Dewey Defeats Truman" -- when in fact Democrat Harry Truman won re-election to the White House against Republican Thomas Dewey in an upset.
Prof. David Rubin, a media expert at Syracuse University in upstate New York, said: "The mistake makes the New York Post look foolish and all it shows is that one should not trust the New York Post, a conservative Republican paper, on inside matters of the Democratic Party."