AP Plays Up Romney On Obama and Treason, Plays Down Axelrod Calling Rove, Koch Brothers 'Contract Killers'

AP showed an interesting imbalance in reporting on wild things said on the campaign trail on Monday. First came the article headlined "Romney: Obama Shouldn't Be Tried for Treason." Reporter Steve Peoples passed along the Obama campaign spin that Romney should stand up to "extreme voices" in his party.

Soon after, the same Steve Peoples wrote a story on Obama strategy that waited until paragraph 16 to note the extreme voice of Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod telling reporters in a conference call that Team Obama was ready for criticism from "the Karl [Rove] and Koch brothers' contract killers over there in super PAC land."  Contract killers? Team Koch slammed right back at Axelrod for fact-mangling and incivility:

Koch has not contributed to any super PAC organizations as yet in this election cycle. Our criticisms have been directed at policies of this administration that have looked to big government solutions and have led our country to unsustainable debt. We believe that economic freedom and free markets are the best means to advance societal progress. When the president's campaign singles out individual, private Americans and compares them to hired assassins, it demeans the public discourse and does a terrible disservice to our democratic process. Americans deserve a serious conversation about the immense economic challenges facing our country and instead the Obama campaign is delivering only insults and personal attacks against private citizens for exercising their constitutional rights of free expression.

In the past, the president and his allies have been swift to denounce public figures that use the language and imagery of violence in the discourse. We would urge the president to take responsibility for Mr. Axelrod's remarks and set a better example for his campaign.

None of that was in the AP story. But there was space for AP to find some strange echo in Obama's ads in 2012 of Reagan's in 1984:

The ad traces America's economic landscape from late 2008 and the massive economic downturn that crippled the U.S. economy, with housing foreclosures, job losses and the financial crisis. "The economy spiraling down ... all before this president took the oath," it says. "Some said our best days were behind us. But not him."

"He believed in us, fought for us," the ad says as it highlights jobs being created, the killing of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 2001 terrorist attacks, and the return of U.S. troops from a lengthy war in Iraq in Obama's first term.

It could be considered Obama's take on President Ronald Reagan's patriotic "Morning in America" theme, yet with a gritty undertone.

How on Earth is that a "Morning in America" ad? It's an "America could be so much worse right now" ad.

After the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and all the implications that Palin putting targets on a map inspired the shooter in Tucson, and after the panic about someone shooting the first black president, should Axelrod really be talking about "contract killers"? Peoples (and his AP colleague Ken Thomas just brushed over the statement as if it were utterly reasonable:

In a conference call with reporters, David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the Obama campaign, said the campaign would devote its May advertising to a positive message touting Obama's accomplishments but was prepared to respond to criticism from "the Karl and Koch brothers' contract killers over there in super PAC land."

It was a reference to outside groups linked to Karl Rove, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, and the heads of Koch Industries, longtime supporters of conservative causes.

Here's the gist of the earlier Obama-and-treason story Peoples wrote up for AP:

Obama's likely Republican opponent told reporters after a campaign rally Monday in Cleveland that "no, of course" the president should not be tried for such an offense.

Romney had a chance to make that clear during the rally, but passed on the opportunity when he ignored a questioner who called for Obama to be tried for treason.

Democrats, and Obama's re-election campaign, pounced on Romney's initial silence.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt questioned Romney's willingness to stand up to the "extreme voices" in his party.

A questioner at a Romney rally is apparently more connected to Romney that Axelrod, Obama's senior adviser, is to Obama.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis