The Associated Press imagines itself a “news” organization. Ordinarily, “news” does not convey opinion, but only facts… at least that’s the ideal. That being the general understanding of what comprises news, it is interesting when we at Newsbusters find odd bits of opinion encased inside any particular AP “news” story. But, it is really odd to find a story that is predicated almost entirely on opinion. Such is the case with the AP’s ”Frozen federal tax on gasoline leading to more toll roads, higher state fuel taxes”, a story that bemoans the fact that Federal gasoline taxes have stayed stagnant for 14 years.
Why is the AP worried about stagnant Federal gas taxes? Because the “falling” revenue prevents high spending on roads and bridges by the states. The AP worries that “A cash crunch is fast approaching for the government trust fund that pays to build and repair highways and bridges” and broadly hints that the taxes must be raised to save our roads.
The AP is worried that the roads “Trust fund” is too small for our roads, “trust fund” being a euphemism for Taxes, of course, trying to make it sound like it is something other than what it is. This story is filled with all sorts of such euphemisms. Words like “underinvest” (meaning not using enough tax money), “crisis” (meaning no one has raised taxes), and “looming shortage” (again meaning not enough tax raising going on) fill the story.
Amusingly, while other AP stories chronicle the need to raise fuel CAFE standards to “stop global warming”, this story cries that higher gas prices causes motorists to drive less resulting in lower tax receipts for the so-called “trust fund” and calls that fact a disastrous “shortfall”.
Self-service regular now tops $3 a gallon. There is concern the price will reach a price at which people will get serious about cutting back on driving – sending less money into the fund. Fuel tax receipts did dip last summer when there was a spike in pump prices.
All this talk of how low our taxes are, how our roads projects aren’t being adequately funded, and how belly-aching lawmakers are looking for other streams of revenue to fund roads is certainly “news”, but the fact that not one voice against raising taxes is heard and no discussion of fraud, waste and abuse is mentioned makes the story read as advocacy for raising taxes as opposed to the “balanced” discussion that the AP claims is the goal of their service.
Let’s look at the about page on AP’s main website where they discuss how they see their work.
In a section they title “Facts”, the AP congratulates themselves on their “objectivity”.
AP's mission is to be the essential global news network, providing distinctive news services of the highest quality, reliability and objectivity with reports that are accurate, balanced and informed. AP operates as a not-for-profit cooperative with more than 4,000 employees working in more than 240 worldwide bureaus. AP is owned by its 1,500 U.S. daily newspaper members. They elect a board of directors that directs the cooperative.
And ends with their claims of being “unbiased”:
The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the largest and most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP.
Such boasting aside, their gas tax raising advocacy seems to violate their claims of “objectivity” and their status as an “unbiased” news source.
But, then, we have seen their claims so often obviated that it has become an international punch line as opposed to a statement of “facts”, haven’t we?