Friday, April 07, 2006

The Associated Press : Smear and Run Tactics ?


Much of what you read in your daily newspaper,or see on TV,comes from the Associated Press.


Once upon a time, the “AP” symbol at the beginning of a news story meant the story you were about to read was reasonably accurate,and reasonably free of political bias. Today, quite the opposite seems true !


Let’s look at a story that appeared in newspapers all over America this morning. “Fair Use” rules permit the quoting of one or two sentences, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON - President Bush and Vice – President Dick Cheney authorized Cheney’s to aide to launch a counterattack of leaks against administration critics on Iraq by feeding intelligence information to reporters,according to court papers citing the aide’s testimony in the CIA leak case.


The article adds : “…the prosecutor,detailing the evidence he has gathered, raised the possibility that the vice-president was trying to use Plame’s CIA employment to discredit her husband,administration critic Joseph Wilson. “


WHOA !


The Prosecutor raised no such possibility ! Unlike the AP reporter,he has been extremely careful to avoid making such irresponsible statements ; careful to avoid this sort of partisan speculation.


The AP did not see fit to disclose the fact that much of the information given to the NY Times reporter was already in the public domain , or that the full text of the National Intelligence Estimate (minus a few redactions) was made public a few days later.


The AP reporter,in a word, was speculating – but refrained from making that clear : thus insuring that millions of Americans would read an editorial – masquerading as news.


This is hardly an isolated occurrence. The AP website showed the following headline and lede this morning:


Immigration Deal Held Up Over Amendments


By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - A Senate breakthrough on an immigration bill praised by leaders in both parties appeared endangered by partisan bickering over amendments from opponents.


Please note the use of the term “partisan bickering”- which apparently means “Republican resistance” to the AP writer. When the story appeared earlier this morning, it was accompanied by a photo of Senate Majority Leader Frist –gesturing with an upraised arm – next to the words “partisan bickering”.


A few days ago, the AP ran a big story about a Department of Homeland Security employee who had been arrested as the result of an Internet sting, after soliciting sex from someone he thought was a 14 year old girl.


AP “suggested ” the suspect was a political appointee,and that his arrest was yet one more embarrassment for a “troubled administration”.


Assorted left wing posters were having a field day with the story, until it was learned the man was not a political appointee, that he was a recent civil service hire, that he had previously worked as a staffer for Time,
that he was a loyal Democrat and a Kerry / Move On supporter.


The AP did not bother to report any of that. They had already pulled what looked very much like a “ smear and run” attack.


Maybe it’s just me, but when I see similar incidents on an almost daily basis – (example: If a Bush administration member introduces a program, it is usually headlined as So-and-So defends new program-even when the accompanying story shows no one actually attacking the proposal ) – it’s clear to me the Associated Press has definitely moved away from the notion of impartial news-gathering.


I can’t help but wonder if AP stands for “Alarmingly Partisan” .

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