Harvard Crimson Reposts Dukakis Story After Being Called Out

The URL for the story used a questionable pun to reference Katharine Dukakis's use of shock therapy.

Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis recently made an appearance at the Kirkland House at Harvard University, alongside his wife, Katharine, who spoke candidly about her struggles with depression and how she managed to overcome her battle with alcoholism.

Staff members from the Harvard Crimson were there to listen in on the chat Wednesday night, which focused on Katharine’s use of electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, and the benefits of the shock treatment.

But the website’s choice in wording for the URL link to the story, headlined “Wife of Massachusetts’ Longest-Serving Governor Endorses Electroconvulsive Therapy,” referenced song lyrics from a country-style band, poking fun at Dukakis’ use of the therapy:


The URL plays on the lyrics from an Old Crow Medicine Show song—later remade by Darius Rucker—called “Wagon Wheel,” swapping out the word “rock” with “shock.” The original lyrics are:

So rock me momma like a wagon wheel, rock me momma any way you feel,Hey momma rock me.

Not long after the story was posted and people noticed the link, they didn’t hold back. “Tasteless URL,” one commenter wrote. Another agreed: “Seriously!”

Within minutes of the URL’s wording being shared on Twitter, Crimson staff removed the post:


They then reposted the story with a new URL that reads: “Kitty Duakakis Kirkland ECT.” The comments, once the revised story went up, were deleted. A new commenter wanted them to say sorry. “Thank you for changing the URL. Will there also be an apology?,” they wrote.

Rebecca Robbins, managing editor at the Crimson, apologized in a statement: “After realizing that this text had been entered as the article URL, we immediately republished the story under a modified URL. We sincerely regret that this occurred,” she said.

The Harvard College Democrats, who hosted the event with Katharine, were disappointed by the URL, and reaffirmed their support for mental healthcare:

Unfortunately, campus coverage of the event was somewhat tainted by inappropriate language used on the Harvard Crimson’s website with regards to Ms. Dukakis and her recovery. This transgression is an example of the continued stigma against mental illness, and should serve as a reminder of the importance of open and honest dialogues such as Wednesday’s event.

During Katharine’s appearance this week, where she was promoting her new book, “Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy,” Katharine told the crowd that she “didn’t know where she would be” if it weren’t for the therapy. Dukakis said ECT was the only treatment that managed to change her life, according to the Crimson report.