A NewsBusters tipster found a perfect example of why those who monitor journalists' original news coverage should look at all iterations of stories they file. Doing so reveals whether coverage of a story improves or degrades over time. It also occasionally exposes biases reporters otherwise try to cover up.
The Associated Press's Ben Feller, tasked with writing a story immediately following President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night, appears to have done the latter as he wrapped up a very early version of his story ("Obama's convention evolution complete"; time-stamped at 11:16 p.m. September 6 at the AP's hosted2.ap.org site and at the Rutland Herald):
Does Middle America really want their country run by celebrities, a kitchen cabinet of divas and Clooneys and Snookis? That’s what was implied in an AP story by Ben Feller titled "Obama to Celebrities: 'You're the Ultimate Arbiter of Which Direction This Country Goes.'"
"President Barack Obama soaked in the support — and the campaign cash — of Manhattan's elite entertainers Thursday as his re-election team sought to fill its fundraising coffers," Feller wrote. "Speaking in a dimly lighted, art-filled room, Obama told supporters they would play a critical role in an election that would determine a vision for the nation's future.’
At the Associated Press this afternoon, White House Correspondent Ben Feller relayed the essence of a statement by Obama administration spokesman Jay Carney about how the President believes that, in Feller's words, "it's up to New York and other municipalities to decide how much force to use in dealing with Occupy Wall Street demonstrations." Feller failed to mention both the President's previous endorsement of the goals of the Occupy protesters, and his inexcusable silence as the encampments have devolved into disease-infested swamps of criminal and antisocial behavior. How convenient.
In Hawaii today, according to an Associated Press dispatch filed by Ben Feller, President Barack Obama is reported to have told supporters that, in Feller's words, "everything they worked for and that the country stands for is on the line in his 2012 re-election bid."
Well, if what those donors have "worked" for is an inside track to government money, and if what the country stands for is crony capitalism, the President is right. The following excerpt from Peter Schweizer's new book, "Throw The All Out," provides the details in just one commercial arena (via The Daily Beast; HTs to Doug Ross, Conservatives4Palin, Victory Chronicles, and Heritage; bolds are mine; extra paragraph breaks added by me):
Six out of seven reporters, called on by Barack Obama at today's press conference, asked a question of the President that came from the left and/or blamed Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans for standing in the way of a deal on the debt ceiling.
Ben Feller of the AP, began the trend of questioning when he asked how Obama was going to deal with Republicans who were "adamantly" opposed to tax increases. CBS News' Chip Reid followed with "isn't the problem the people who aren't in the room, and in particular Republican presidential candidates and Republican Tea Partiers on the Hill?"
The Associated Press's Ben Feller interviewed President Obama on Friday. In the transcript, Feller interrupts Obama's long-winded response to his previous softball question ("Are the Republican leaders lacking compassion and they're pessimistic?") by beginning another question, which is shown as having been stopped before completion:
Q. You said they might lead us to third world -
It's impressive that Feller even knew that Obama, as reported by AFP, indeed accused Republicans of creating a fiscal plan that would, in Obama's words, turn the U.S. into: "... a nation of potholes, and our airports would be worse than places that we thought -- that we used to call the Third World, but who are now investing in infrastructure."
That's because, as seen in a search on "Obama third world" (entered without quotes), there is no current story at the AP's home site:
Not that he legitimately deserves our pity, but imagine the difficulty of being Ben Feller at the Associated Press yesterday.
You've just attended a suddenly announced joint press conference with President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton to announce the latter's support for the former's tax- and spending-related legislative proposals worked out with Republicans. You witness the astonishing spectacle of the current Commander In Chief leaving his own presser to be with his wife at a Christmas party, followed by the former CIC acting as if he never left, holding forth on all kinds of things beyond the presser's original intention.
How do you frame this positively while the rest of the nation -- left, far left, and right -- gasps in utter amazement?
The following excerpt, which only begins to reveal the depth of Feller's feckless fawning, shows us how (especially over the top phrasing is bolded):
File the news in this report filed late yesterday afternoon by Michael Calderone and John Cook at Yahoo's Upshot Blog under "D" for Double Standards:
White House reporters mum on Obama lunch, even as papers back transparency
White House reporters are keeping quiet about an off-the-record lunch today with President Obama — even those at news organizations who've advocated in the past for the White House to release the names of visitors.
But the identities of the lunch's attendees won't remain secret forever: Their names will eventually appear on the White House's periodically updated public database of visitor logs.
... The Obama White House began posting the logs in order to settle a lawsuit, begun under the Bush administration, from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sought the Secret Service's White House visitor logs under the Freedom of Information Act.
... And guess who filed briefs supporting that argument? Virtually every newspaper that covers the White House.
One thing you can say about the Apparatchik Press -- er, the Associated Press -- is that it's leaving no stone unturned in its attempt to prop up their guy Barack Obama.
In the tenth paragraph of an AP report today by Ben Feller on President Obama's stack of priorities ("For Obama, big agenda and small window for results"), the wire service's Ben Feller bitterly clings to an AP-GfK Roper poll result that is sharply at variance with others, and assumes that it gives Obama a level of clout that doesn't exist outside the grounds of the White House:
Obama has a key edge in setting the agenda: public approval. His job-performance rating is holding mainly steady at 53 percent, while a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that fewer people approve of Congress - a mere 22 percent - than at any point in Obama's presidency.
Well, of course his approval is 53% in AP-GfK la-la land. The poll's sample, as you can see at the top right (found at Page 31 of the 42-page PDF, consisted of 33% declared Democrats and 23% declared Republicans.
Associated Press reporter Ben Feller needs a better copy editor to keep him from inventing history for Barack Obama. Near the end of a dispatch filed early Saturday morning on the president’s speech at Camp Lejeune on Iraq, Feller claimed:
The president who voted against the war as senator and ran against in his upstart White House bid said the Iraq conflict is one huge, painful lesson.
The vote authorizing President Bush to wage combat operations in Iraq was on October 11, 2002, and Obama wasn’t elected until 2004. Then Feller failed to note Obama’s "no" vote in the Senate on Bush’s successful surge of troops, although this may have been the most critical-sounding passage in his story:
He applauded the armed forces for its successes in Iraq, where U.S. deaths and violence in many parts of the country are significantly down. He never credited Bush's buildup of troops in 2007 as contributing to those improvements.
Feller opened with a flourish: "President Barack Obama consigned the Iraq war to history Friday, declaring he will end combat operations within 18 months and open a new era of diplomacy in the Middle East."
After the firestorm that erupted Saturday over the Associated Press's classless story on the death of former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, I was hoping that the possibly-chastened wire service could get through its coverage of his funeral without getting in any gratuitous digs.
In that horrid Saturday story (blogged at NewsBusters and BizzyBlog), the AP's Douglass K. Daniel, with the assistance of longtime Bush basher Jennifer Loven, felt it necessary, within hours of Snow's passing, to characterize him as "not always (having) a command of the facts," questioning reporters' motives "as if he were starring in a TV show broadcast live from the West Wing," and turning his briefings into "personality-driven media event(s) short on facts and long on confrontation." In a further descent into tastelessness, they felt it necessary to tell us what Snow's salary at the White House was -- something I don't believe I have ever seen written in a story on anyone else's death. (11:00 a.m. update: See this comment below for an exception.)
Covering Snow's funeral Thursday, AP reporter Ben Feller stayed classy almost to the end. But then he apparently couldn't help himself, and followed the execrable example of his Saturday predecessors in his story's third-last paragraph.