UPDATE: On the Journal's Correction of Yesterday's AP Story

December 2nd, 2011 · No Comments · health care reform, tax policy

By Arthur Alpert

A doff of the old chapeau to the Albuquerque Journal.

The newspaper ran this correction Friday, Dec. 2:

“An Associated Press story and accompanying headline published in Thursday’s Journal should have said that President Barack Obama is pushing a payroll tax cut extension. Both incorrectly left out the word “cut” and said he favored a tax extension.”

It’s good to know the misleading headline I wrote about yesterday was unintentional, at least on the Journal’s part.

I wouldn’t, however, let the Washington Bureau of the Associated Press off the hook. Not after reading the AP story on the Journal’s front page Friday.

Before I tackle it, though, allow me to recap some AP history for those readers who’ve arrived late to the show.

AP is a wire service that American newspapers created and operate as a collective. (Oh, those Marxist publishers!) For years, it was known for solid, accurate, sometimes-dull copy whereas its competition, UPI, was fast, flashy and inconsistently reliable.

A few years ago, when longtime boss Louis Boccardi retired, new AP management decided to allow Washington Bureau reporters the freedom to opinionate in their “news” stories.

As I read them – and I’m fallible – most of these opinionated new stories, representing represent the views of the powerful.

No wonder that (as I have frequently shown here) the Journal consistently uses AP Washington Bureau copy to pursue its own agenda.

Most egregious, perhaps, is the Journal’s unceasing campaign against Obamacare based on AP copy antagonistic to it. (And no,Winthrop Quigley’s excellent healthcare reporting does not remove the stain.)

With that background, let’s look at the Friday, Dec. 2 AP story by Andrew Taylor and David Espo on the Journal’s front page under the headline, “Senate Rejects Payroll Tax Cut”.

In the second graph, we’re told “more than two dozen of the Senate’s 47 Republicans also voted to kill an alternative plan backed by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., in a vote that exposed a wide split among the party ……”

First, what is “more than two dozen of the Senate’s 47 Republicans”? Twenty-five? If that’s the case, why not say so? Or why not say “more than half” of the Senate’s Republicans?

Here I begin to suspect Taylor and Espo have an agenda. The suspicion will harden later, but first let’s consider the wide split “among” the party.

Among? Not within? Sigh.

Back on the road, where the story jumps to A6, the reporters describe the Obama plan to extend the payroll tax cut on both employees and employers “with its hefty $265 billion cost paid for by slapping a 3.25 percent surtax on income exceeding $1 million.”

“Hefty?” Who says so? Compared to what?

“Slapping?” Sure sounds as if the President is unkind to those big earners, which may be true, but since when do reporters get to make such judgments?

They didn’t at your grandfather’s Associated Press.

Finally, a few paragraphs later the authors describe Sen. McConnell’s alternative, financed by freezing workers’ pay through 2015 and “reducing the government bureaucracy.”

Well, that’s one way to put it. Another way would be “cutting jobs.”

I may be wrong (it’s happened once or twice), but I find this AP Washington account inferior – subtly biased and English language-challenged.

Oh, and Journal editors gave it the front page.

I have replaced le chapeau sur la tete.

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  • Reader

    A tiny correction does not make up for a huge mistake in a HEADLINE that has the exact opposite meaning of the truth. The Journal is operating a reality distortion chamber, not a newspaper.

  • Arthur Alpert

    Did you catch what Alpert wrote about 10 paragraphs down?
    “As I read them – and I’m fallible – most of these opinionated new stories, representing the views of the powerful.”
    That’s not English.
    He should have written:
    “….most of these opinionated news stories represent the views of the powerful.”
    At least he was right about his being fallible.
    Arthur Alpert

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