Monday, September 13, 2004

Attention AP: Please define "news" for us

They finally put me over the edge and I had to write to them (at reading Tom Raum's article "Both Candidates Often Shift Positions".

Here's the main crux of the letter, which I post here only because I think it's important to point out the ways in which the AP slants their articles and passes them around the wire as reputable news.

I must respectfully as you if this article is an editorial. I ask this question because it seems that most of the points, passed off as facts, are actually editorial-like statements of opinion.

Here is an example:

"Last month, he said he doubted the war on terror could be won, then reversed himself to say it could and would. "

Writing this sentence with no mention of the President's further clarification is irresponsible journalism. The President clearly stated later that he meant that the war could not be won in a short amount of time and that the War on terror is not the typical sort of war where we will sit down with the Terrorists, sign a treaty and walk away smiling. This meaning was understood by most responsible journalists even BEFORE the President's clarification. This is not a reversal, but a clarification and it is very different then anything Mr. Kerry has to offer. In fact, Mr. Kerry very rarely offers any sort of clarification, rather he seems to just assume that we have forgotten his previous positions, just as he has.

Example #2:

""I'm a war president," Bush told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Feb. 8. But in a July 20 speech in Iowa, he said: "Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president." "

Mr. Raum claims that this is evidence of a flip-flop on behalf of Bush, but really, these two statements are consistent. President Bush IS a war president, but he doesn't WANT to be one. It is much like being a victim of a crime, and then having to testify against the criminal. The victim is, by definition of their experience, a victim, but he has no wish to be one and he doesn't particularly enjoy being in court. President Bush is a war president by necessity of the fact that we are at war. He does not enjoy it, but he recognizes the fact and he is doing what must be done.

Example #3:

"In 2000, Bush argued against new military entanglements and nation building. He's done both in Iraq. "

This is the first example given of the President's "Flip-flop"ness, and I think it is the most absurd. Yes, new military entanglements were a bad idea to just about everyone, including probably Senator Kerry, BEFORE September 11th. There are very few elected officials in Washington (and even few foreign leaders) who opposed America's "Military Entanglement" in Afghanistan. In light of September 11th, were President Bush NOT to retaliate militarily, he would have to incur far more horrible derision than simply being called a "flip flopper." Moreover, it is extremely misleading NOT to mention the "military entanglement" and "nation building" in Afghanistan when scolding the President for doing the same in Iraq. Of course, I think that Mr. Raum may even be able to recognize that Afghanistan was a necessary endeavor for a "safer America" and mentioning it here would be far too favorable to the President.

I highly encourage the AP to consider re-evaluating its current standards for political journalism so as not to become completely cast aside as a reputable source of news.