Devolution: AP Waters Down Obama-Gates-Crowley Headline, Opening Paragraphs

Watching Associated Press reports evolve, or as is all too often the case, devolve, can be a revealing exercise.

Example: What happened between 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday that would have caused the Associated Press and writer Nancy Benac to water down the headline and opening paragraphs of their story about the Obama-Gates-Crowley situation from this ....

APonObamaGates8pmOn072409

.... to this? (after the jump)

APonObamaGates8amOn072509

Why, 12 hours later, when there are no known developments in the story, is the situation no longer one that Obama "helped fire" or "stoke"?

While the AP headline writers and Benac eased up on Obama, Benac didn't lighten up on Obama critics, as the following paragraphs from each report demonstrate:

(July 24, 7:57 p.m.) There were signs both that Obama's statement had helped to ease tensions and that his critics were not about to let that be the end of it: A trio of Massachusetts police organizations issued a statement thanking the president for his "willingness to reconsider his remarks." And a Republican congressman from Michigan, Thaddeus McCotter, said he would introduce a House resolution calling on Obama to apologize to Crowley.

(July 25, 7:53 a.m.) There were signs both that Obama's statement had helped to ease tensions and that his critics were not about to let that be the end of it: A trio of Massachusetts police organizations issued a statement thanking the president for his "willingness to reconsider his remarks." The statement said Crowley was "profoundly grateful" Obama was trying to resolve the situation. But a Republican congressman from Michigan, Thaddeus McCotter, said he would introduce a House resolution calling on Obama to apologize to Crowley.

In fact, even though nothing happened with the story during the intervening period, the added sentence in this morning's version of the above makes Obama look like more of a peacemaking hero than the self-admittedly uninformed troublemaking busybody he has been through this whole quagmire.

Neither report mentions the pathetic stab at politicization attempted by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, when he implied that a contributing factor to the days-old controversy might be, as reported Friday morning at the Politico, that “I think the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed McCain, if I’m not mistaken.” This would be guaranteed early paragraph material if a Republican President's PressSec had made such a remark.

Memo to AP: Subsequent revisions, when necessary (and this one wasn't), are supposed to improve story content, not water it down.

The current AP dynamic link is here, so readers can see if and/or how Benac's story further devolves. 

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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