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.”