KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM….One of the signs of a good reporter is knowing when to give up. Sometimes stories just don’t pan out.

One of the signs of a bad reporter is writing up a story even after your research shows there’s nothing there. Case in point: Timothy Noah’s Chatterbox column today in Slate.

Apparently Noah had an idea: why is it that John Kerry’s billionaire wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, isn’t contributing to his campaign? Does she not trust him? Does she think he’d be a bad president?

Now, there are plenty of good reasons for a candidate to rule out using his or her own money, but even so this might have been an angle worth pursuing. The problem is that after pursuing it Noah discovered that the Kerrys had signed a prenuptial agreement before their marriage, a pretty common option among extremely rich couples. And there’s no way for her to invalidate the prenup, either. As Noah concludes, “The only way Heinz Kerry could now give substantial money to Kerry’s campaign would be to tear up her pre-nup and kill herself.”

So there’s a pretty good reason that she’s not contributing to Kerry’s campaign, right? And therefore no story, right? Wrong. It just requires a bit of pretzel-bending speculation:

This leads us to the inevitable question of whether these circumstances could have been foreseen by Teresa Heinz Kerry?if not when she married John Kerry, then anytime prior to his entry into the 2004 presidential race.

….Heinz Kerry must have had some inkling that the day might come when her second husband would need her money. And knowing that, she didn’t make it available. That doesn’t make her a bad wife. But it does raise a disconcerting question for voters. If Teresa Heinz Kerry won’t give John Kerry the keys to the car, why should we?

I’ll say it again: sometimes a story just doesn’t pan out. It’s a bummer, but you just have to move on.