Home 2016 elections AP Fired Va. Reporter Bob Lewis, Sent Out “Mandatory Kill Notice” on...

AP Fired Va. Reporter Bob Lewis, Sent Out “Mandatory Kill Notice” on Story; Now Does Nothing to Reporters of Botched Clinton Story


So let me get this straight. In 2013, the AP summarily FIRED the respected, even beloved dean of the Virginia political reporting corps, Bob Lewis, over a botched story on Terry McAuliffe (” Lewis alleged that McAuliffe had lied to a federal official investigating a death benefits scam. The Associated Press retracted the story less than two hours after it went up, and Lewis immediately took responsibility for the mistake.”) Oh, and the AP also sent out a “mandatory kill notice” on Lewis’ story, all as part of an effort “to send a message to its staff and to the public that the company takes its credibility very seriously.”

But today, I see no “mandatory kill notice” or firing of reporters on the complete mess of a non-“story” by the AP about Hillary Clinton meeting with Clinton Foundation donors when she was Secretary of State. As Matthew Yglesias lays out at Vox (bolding added by me for emphasis):

It’s a striking piece of reporting that made immediate waves in my social media feed, as political journalists of all stripes retweeted the story’s headline conclusions…

Except it turns out not to be true. The nut fact that the AP uses to lead its coverage is wrong, and Braun and Sullivan’s reporting reveals absolutely no unethical conduct. In fact, they found so little unethical conduct that an enormous amount of space is taken up by a detailed recounting of the time Clinton tried to help a former Nobel Peace Prize winner who’s also the recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.


The basic allegation here, that the majority of the people Clinton met with as secretary of state were Clinton Foundation donors, is remarkable. And the implication that the investigation that unearthed this striking fact has also revealed “ethics challenges” is important. The many Americans who already have a negative view of Clinton will see these facts ricocheting through their feeds and appearing on Fox chyrons and will further entrench their negative views.

Only a relatively small handful of people will actually read the story from beginning to end and see that there’s no there there.

The stark fact highlighted in the AP’s tweet and social share card is, for starters, totally false…the AP’s social media claims are simply false — ignoring well over 1,000 official meetings with foreign leaders and an unknown number of meetings with domestic US officials.

In sum, as Clinton’s Press Secretary tweeted last night, the AP claim that “More than half those who met Clinton as Cabinet secretary gave money to Clinton Foundation” is “100 percent factually inaccurate and remains uncorrected hours later.” Yet so far, at least, there’s been no retraction, no “mandatory kill notice,” no firings or even reprimands of the reporters involved (unlike Bob Lewis, who was fired pretty much on the spot after 28 years working for AP!).

Even worse, AP’s story has given the Chris Cillizzas of the world (not to mention the Trump campaign, Fox “News” and the right-wing echo chamber) an excuse to write about this crap (Cillizza has nothing to add, as usual, other than mindless, Clinton-hating blather). It also gives the media another opportunity to continue the “Clinton Rules reporting” (“even the most ridiculous charges are worthy of massive investigation, that the Clintons’ bad faith will always be presumed, and that actions that would normally be deemed banal are newsworthy simply because the Clintons are involved”) the corporate media loves so much. And last but not least, it takes up important band-width that should be spent investigating the massive corruption, bigotry, ties to Russian interests, etc. – infinitely more serious than anything the Clintons have EVER done – of Donald Trump and his close advisers. Ugh.

P.S. Also see this Washington Monthly story, which notes: “One has to wonder why the AP chose this story of Clinton’s 30+ year relationship with a Nobel Peace Prize recipient committed to combating global poverty as the one to highlight in their efforts to suggest that the Secretary of State met with people because of their donations to the Clinton Foundation. I can’t imagine a more flawed example.”

  • Quizzical

    Funny, I don’t remember any criticism of President George H.W. Bush when as President he established the Thousand Points of Light foundation. Maybe I missed it. When a Republic politician does that kind of thing, the label used isn’t crooked or pay to play, it is “humanitarian.”

    Is it a bad thing now to be able to raise a lot of money for charitable causes? Trump gave a speech or two lately in which he directly accused the Clintons of profiting from public office, and called for the appointment of a special prosecutor. Isn’t the Clinton Foundation a non-profit charity? Where’s the evidence that the Clintons profited from the Clinton Foundation? From the way Trump and his surrogates have been talking, I half expected to see reports of evidence found of embezzlement of funds from the Clinton Foundation. But there is no such evidence, of course.

    I thought the Republicans were in favor of helping people through private charities, rather than having big government trying to do everything that needs to be done.

    This is a classic Republican tactic of attacking the opposing candidate in an area of seeming strength. In the normal world, being instrumental in setting up and finding the funding for a large charitable organization would be a huge positive accomplishment.

    What kind of horrible stuff does the Clinton Foundation actually do anyway? Here is what its website says:

    “Because of our work, more than 31,000 American schools are providing
    kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood
    obesity; more than 105,000 farmers in Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania are
    benefiting from climate-smart agronomic training, higher yields, and
    increased market access; more than 33,500 tons of greenhouse gas
    emissions are being reduced annually across the United States; over
    450,000 people have been impacted through market opportunities created
    by social enterprises in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia; through
    the independent Clinton Health Access Initiative, over 11.5 million
    people in more than 70 countries have access to CHAI-negotiated prices
    for HIV/AIDS medications; an estimated 85 million people in the U.S.
    will be reached through strategic health partnerships developed across
    industry sectors at both the local and national level; and members of
    the Clinton Global Initiative community have made more than 3,500
    Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million
    people in more than 180 countries.”

    Also, what is all this hypocrisy about “pay to play”, in the context of getting access, having your phone calls returned, and being able to get a meeting? Isn’t that how our whole damn political system works, from the county level all the way up to the federal government? (Except usually it is paying campaign contributions or contributions to super pacs for access.)

    This whole line of attack on Hillary Clinton is going to be as infamous as the swiftboating of John Kerry.