AP's Elliott Goes After GOP Field's 'Flubs,' Finally Mentions Obama's '57 States' -- After 3-1/2 Years

A frequent emailer who happens to be a retired and now-disgusted journalist sent me a link to an Associated Press item by Philip Elliott and which is so over-the-top that you hope that Phil is on the White House payroll. At least then he'd have a justification for a hit piece which might as well have been written by David Axelrod (well, maybe it really was).

By the time I got to "FACT CHECK: GOP field flubs, big and small," Elliott's excretion was far longer. I did find the original elsewhere and want to point to the statement which got my emailer appropriately exercised:


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What Elliott is saying is that even though Newt has a perfectly good explanation for why he brought up January 21 instead of January 20, and even though he made the press "gotcha" squad look foolish on substance, it still doesn't count. More generally, my emailer writes: "that last sentence ought to be a killer on the extent to which the AP is in the tank." Indeed.

The longer version time-stamped at 9:43 p.m. and found here got worse, going after five of the candidates, even throwing in a Democrat consultant's insult to George W. Bush as a bonus. Beyond that, Elliott referred to an infamous Barack Obama flub, which I suppose would be fine except for one "little" thing -- as I demonstrated in May 2008, the wire service never covered the gaffe when it happened.

Here are several paragraphs from Elliott's longer report:

Newt Gingrich didn't know when he would take office if he wins the presidency. Rick Perry got the voting age and the date of Election Day wrong. Herman Cain didn't realize the president does not sign amendments to the Constitution.

In ways large and small, Republican presidential hopefuls are proving on multiple occasions to be "factually challenged," as Gingrich rather haughtily described a rival, despite getting some things wrong himself.

Campaigns are long and tough, candidates are often tired and flubs happen. But they are adding up and at some point could give Republican voters pause as they look for the candidate best able to take on the highly polished - though hardly factually infallible - President Barack Obama.

... Frequent flubber Michele Bachmann's suggestion many months ago that the Revolutionary battles of Lexington and Concord took place in New Hampshire was an opening shot, of sorts, in a volley of misfires by the candidates. Those battles were fought in Massachusetts in 1775.

And on Wednesday, she offered another: She would support the United States shutting down its embassy in Tehran - but there is no U.S. Embassy in Iran's capital.

... Cain promoted Chile's retirement system as one that gives workers the option of having private accounts, when in fact they have no choice. Mitt Romney accused Obama of "peacetime spending binges" as if there were no wars going on. Bachmann accused Obama of canceling a Canadian pipeline project that has only been delayed.

... And it's not as if Obama hasn't had his doozies. For instance, Obama said during the 2008 campaign that he had visited 57 states. The United States only has 50.

... "Best case of that is George W. Bush, who couldn't pass a civics quiz to save his life. Emotional intelligence is more important in politics than factual knowledge," (Democratic consultant and former 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign adviser Doug) Hattaway said.

I've got two words for sore loser Doug Hattaway, delivered with all the love in my heart: Bleep you.

Back to Elliott -- It's so nice of Phil to accumulate such a roundup of GOP gaffes, isn't it?

It would have been even nicer if the AP had done something similar during the presidential campaign of Barack Obama in 2007 and 2008, but it didn't. As I noted in that May 2008 post in positing the idea that the AP might have covered Obama's gigantic "57 states" gaffe -- with the support of two searches which came back empty at the time -- I wrote, "Surely you jest." More broadly, I noted that a comprehensive Google News search at the time came back with less than a half-dozen Old Media items covering the gaffe. By contrast, even today, after many original articles have surely disappeared or gone behind archive walls, a Google News Archive search for 1992 on "Quayle potato" (not in quotes) returns 980 items.

Finally, this sentence from Elliott's later report needs to find its way into some kind of journalism double-standards Hall of Shame:

In submitting to what is, in effect, America's toughest job interview, there may be only so much leeway in getting matters of current affairs and history plain wrong.

Well Phil, I guess that's true if you're a Republican or conservative. But the AP appears to have given Barack Obama 3-1/2 years of leeway on his "57 states" gaffe -- which is why calling your wire service the Administration's Press is more than appropriate.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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