AP's Sept. 16 Solyndra Story, Part 1: Passing Off Weeks-Old News As Its Own Work

The public learned on September 3 from William McQuillen at Bloomberg (possibly earlier elsewhere) that now-bankrupt Soyndra's private investors restructured the company's finances in January by lending the company "$75 million." As a condition of doing so, they convinced the government to give the new loan senior status over all other creditors. Now taxpayers face a likely loss of hundreds of millions in Department of Energy loans, perhaps over $500 million.

On September 7, Peg Brickley at the Wall Street Journal clarified that the amount involved was $69 million, and identified the names of the lending entities involved (HT to American Thinker for both stories).

But if you haven't stayed with or are unfamiliar with the story and read the Associated Press report this evening by Matthew Daly and Jack Gillum, you would think that the wire service did all of the dirty work to learn these things (credit-hogging language in bold):


Obama admin reworked Solyndra loan to favor donor

The Obama administration restructured a half-billion dollar federal loan to a troubled solar energy company in such a way that private investors - including a fundraiser for President Barack Obama - moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of a default, government records show.

Administration officials defended the loan restructuring, saying that without an infusion of cash earlier this year, solar panel maker Solyndra Inc. would likely have faced immediate bankruptcy, putting more than 1,000 people out of work.

Even with the federal help, Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month and laid off its 1,100 employees.

... the implosion of the company and revelations that the administration hurried Office of Management and Budget officials to finish their review of the loan in time for the September 2009 groundbreaking has become an embarrassment for Obama as he sells his new job-creation program around the country.

An Associated Press review of regulatory filings shows that Solyndra was hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars for years before the Obama administration signed off on the original $535 million loan guarantee in September 2009. The company eventually got $528 million.

... Under terms of the February loan restructuring, two private investors - Argonaut Ventures I LLC and Madrone Partners LP - stand to be repaid before the U.S. government if the solar company is liquidated. The two firms gave the company a total of $69 million in emergency loans. The loans are the only portion of their investments that have repayment priority above the U.S. government.

... The AP review also found that officials at Solyndra had been seeking a second round of loans from the Energy Department to expand the company's Silicon Valley headquarters. The request for a second loan was denied.

The news of the company's second-round attempt was carried at L.A Observed on September 15 (HT Flopping Aces). Daly and Gillum did the Obama administration a huge undeserved favor by failing to tell readers that Solyndra wanted another $469 million (that's not a typo) in Round 2 -- and yes, that is a mark against Team Obama, because the company wouldn't have bothered to apply if it didn't think it had a chance of getting approved.

Readers should also take issue with the AP pair's characterization of the Solyndra saga as an administration "embarrassment." Sorry folks; given the campaign contributions, White House visits, and lobbying involved, this has all the characteristics of a sc-, sc-, sc- ... scandal.

Nowhere in the AP report does anyone who has done the digging during the past two weeks while the Essential Global News Network hoped the story would go away get any credit.

Here is what the AP's "Statement of News Values and Principles" says about giving credit:

An AP staffer who reports and writes a story must use original content, language and phrasing. We do not plagiarize, meaning that we do not take the work of others and pass it off as our own.

Also, the AP often has the right to use material from its members and subscribers; we sometimes take the work of newspapers, broadcasters and other outlets, rewrite it and transmit it without credit.

They'll argue that they're in a gray area, but when you're nine days to two weeks behind everybody else, I would suggest that going to the regulatory files others have already combed through and making it appear as if you're the first to have discovered what you're reporting -- as indicated in the bolded phrases and statements in the excerpt above -- deliberately misleads readers, listeners and viewers of AP content into believing that the wire service did the heavy lifting. Shame on Daly, Gillum, and AP for failing to give any credit where credit is due, thereby in my view perpetrating a clear deception.

Part 2 (found here) will look at the AP report's deceiving description of campaign contributions by Solyndra's private investors.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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