I’ve come to expect spin, but this is absolutely inexcusable for an “unbiased” news organization. I had, up until now, assumed that the AP was pretty good at keeping out bias–but then, I’m pretty good at picking out and then ignoring bias whenever I read anything, so I may have ignored quite a bit and not remembered it.
In any case, bias is one thing…an unavoidable thing, it seems. Lying outright, however, is obviously not unavoidable, and it certainly isn’t understandable.
What is really damning about this is the fact that they edited the article without apparently writing a retraction, or mentioning the edit at all. Their lie was public just long enough to be picked up by a dozen other news sources, and now it’s probably filtering down into the public consciousness. A retraction at a later point will do no good. It feels like a carefully-crafted step in a smear campaign. If they could have gotten away with the fallacy, great; otherwise, they can just leave it out there long enough to sow suspicion, and hold off on a retraction, because as we all know no one reads retractions anyway.
Here’s one interesting thing…if you look at the article as it appears on AP’s website, you’ll see the list of related articles below it. Check out these two names.
Bush Offers Best Wishes for Clinton
Kerry Offers Best Wishes to Ailing Clinton
If you just saw the first title by itself, you wouldn’t necessarily realize that Clinton was in for bypass surgery, would you? Or that anything in particular was wrong. You’d just think that Bush was sending some kind of “wishes” to his predecessor. But if you see the Kerry title, you immediately know that Kerry is being big-hearted and sending best wishes to a sick friend. The lack of the word “ailing” in the Bush title takes away a sense of importance, while its presence in the Kerry title adds importance.
Also, check out the prepositions. Bush seems to be offering wishes “for” Clinton–that is, not directly to him, just in general. But Kerry is sending his best wishes right “to” Clinton. Why the difference in wording, when the two men did the exact same thing (offered “best wishes” during a campaign rally)?
Do people who don’t study language and writing notice things like this?