Associated Press Changes Headline to Distort Results of its Own Poll
RCP linked to an AP article on Friday which originally had the headline “GOP Gains Ground in Battle for Congress.” However, according to an RCP reader, when he or she clicked on the hyperlink for the article, the headline read “Poll Shows GOP Not Making Its Case."
RCP’s Tom Bevan wrote on this issue: “As it turns out, a Google search this morning turned up at least one major media outlet still carrying the original headline. So, sometime between roughly 6:30 am and 10:26 am the Associated Press switched the header on the story about its own poll results from being pro-GOP to something decidedly more negative."
Here are the actual results of the poll that the original headline appears to have been based on:
"Seven weeks before congressional elections, the poll of 1,501 adults conducted Monday through Wednesday showed that the GOP offensive has helped Republicans gain some ground.
"Bush's public support has increased -- 40 percent of likely voters approve of his job performance -- and Republicans have erased an advantage Democrats had last month on the measure of which party would best protect the country. Voters now view Republicans and Democrats as equally capable."
*****Update. it appears that this issue might actually be one of a website choosing to change articles it was featuring as opposed to a simple case of headline switcheroo. As a reader has pointed out in the comments section, the two articles in question not only have different headlines, but also have some differing content. As folks familiar with wire services such as AP know, there are typically multiple versions of basically the same article created. In this case, the AP writer in question, Liz Sidoti, actually created six versions of this story with two published at AP, two at AP Online, and two at AP Worldstream.
What appears to have happened here -- and this is speculation on my part -- is that Tom at RCP originally linked to Yahoo's AP article with the title "GOP Gains Ground in Battle For Congress." Yet, at some point, Yahoo decided to replace this story with one by Sidoti titled "Poll Shows GOP Not Making Its Case."
This somewhat raises a different set of questions. First, why is the AP writing articles about its own poll with differing views of the poll's results that include completely different titles? This almost suggests that the wire service is offering differing content on the same issue for subscribers of differing political leaning. As such, a liberal news outlet could publish an article that more fits their leaning, while a conservative publication could disseminate news more to its liking. Isn't that special?
Furthermore, assuming my explanation concerning what happened at RCP is correct, why did Yahoo change the article it wanted to disseminate from one suggesting the Republicans were improving their chances of staying in power to one that implied they weren't?