AP Sanitizes Sebelius Racism Accusations Against GOP

APlogoUpside DownEd Morrissey of Hot Air noted a revision to an existing Associated Press report carried in the Miami Herald yesterday. It concerned Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius's accusations that Republicans are engaging in racial "code word" campaigning.

The original version that Morrissey cached is here; the revision is here (for now; backup is at my web host here if it changes).

Among other adds, changes, and deletes, the revision deleted a racial reference in the original headline. It also removed a direct quote from Sebelius that "(Republicans) are not going to go lightly into the darkness."

Morrissey wasn't sure at the time he noted the revision whether the Herald or AP and writer Nigel Duara (with editorial help?) instigated the changes.

I can tell you that, as expected, it was AP, as the two Google News search pics taken during the noon hour Eastern Time show:

APsebeliusChanges091608

The first search, on the original headline ("Sebelius says GOP using racial 'code language'"), returns a word series only found in the first report. The second search, on the cleaned-up headline ("Sebelius: 'Code language' hindering Obama campaign") contains a unique excerpt from the second.

Because different versions of the report were and are being carried in a number of media outlets, AP is the obvious culprit.

Here are the first three paragraphs from each report:

(first report, 18 hours old at time of search)

Sebelius says GOP using racial 'code language'

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius accused Republicans on Tuesday of injecting race into the presidential campaign, arguing that they are using "code language" to convince Midwesterners that Democrat Barack Obama is different from them.

"Have any of you noticed that Barack Obama is part African-American?" Sebelius asked with sarcasm. "(Republicans) are not going to go lightly into the darkness."

Sebelius was responding to a question from the audience at the Iowa City Public Library about the tenacity of Democrats and whether they would fight for victory as hard as Republicans in the closing weeks of the election.

(second report, 14 hours old at time of search)

Sebelius: 'Code language' hindering Obama campaign

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that a belief among some voters that Democrat Barack Obama is different from them is hindering his campaign for president.

Asked at a brown-bag lunch at the local library why the campaign is neck-and-neck, Sebelius said "code language" raising doubts about Obama is invalid because his life experience "has a lot more to do with me and my family."

"I think that the notion that, 'By the way, have any of you noticed that Barack Obama is part African American?' I think that is for a number of people difficult," Sebelius said. "I think we need to talk about the fact that that is a real issue."

Also note how Duara's "injecting race into the presidential campaign" (which Sebelius was indeed doing) disappeared from the revision.

Morrissey rightly asks:

Why did this story get changed?  Did someone ..... decide that it made the smear tactics just too obvious?  Clearly, someone got second thoughts about including that quote from Sebelius ....

Nah, you wouldn't want to show a Democrats' true colors or anything.

Sadly, the AP and traditional media sanitizers do things like this to their reports more frequently than the average reader knows. Here are just a few of many other examples:

  • John Kerry's original "botched joke" (yeah, right) in October 2006 about the type of person who becomes a soldier and goes to Iraq (“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq”) disappeared within hours.
  • Barack Obama's Saturday, May 31 announcement that he was leaving Black Liberation Theology-laden Trinity United Church of Christ apparently didn't look too good to the AP's Tom Raum, who thought it necessary to add several irrelevant paragraphs about John McCain's virtually non-existent "woes with religious leaders."
  • In August 2006, when British police thwarted a major terror plot to take down 6-10 overseas flights, Reuters reports wasted very little time adding foundationless references to the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
  • Perhaps most infamously, after the July 7, 2005 bus and tunnel bombings in London, the BBC removed the word “terrorist” from original reportage on the July London Subway bombings that contained the dreaded "T-word" (noted at the time here and here at Weapons of Mass Discussion).

As you can see, original reporting tends to be more truthful than that which follows. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.