Michael Calderone at the Politico blog managed to get ahold of the talking points that the Associated Press is circulating to managers trying to deal with readers and service subscribers angry over Ron Fournier’s ongoing battle with his journalistic bias. Here they are.
Nearly everything in them has already been noted by Fournier’s critics; the talking points natter endlessly about his career, and downplay the significance of his dalliances with the McCain campaign and Karl Rove, taking Fournier’s own lame apology, such as it was — "I regret the breezy nature of the correspondence" — at face value. Like Fournier himself, AP refuses to recognize that the "breezy nature of the correspondence" revealed an inappropriate familiarness with Rove, just as the willingness to talk to the McCain campaign about a position with a campaign he’s covering reveals a partisan inclination inappropriate for anyone covering the campaign generally — and in both cases, the very clear appearance of a conflict of interest.
The essence of the talking points’ would-be refutation is contained in one sentence:
The analysis was similar in perspective, tone and content to what other journalists for major news organizations were writing or saying.
If they worked for Fox News or Town Hall, perhaps. It’s hard to tell: A search for "obama biden ‘lack of confidence’ " comes up with 38,300 hits — and a run through the first 20 pages indicates that every single one of them links in some fashion to Fournier’s hit piece. So if someone else said this, their influence was wildly overmatched by the massive reach of Fournier’s piece.
Which is the point here: If AP’s standards for "analysis" include producing unbalanced propaganda for one side of a political campaign, then those standards have indeed fallen mightily since the reign of Walter Mears — who would never have been caught dead indulging such crap as emerges from the laptop of Ron Fournier. Especially because the AP’s reach is so deep and so powerful.
This is an abuse of their monopoly on newswire service, and their member-papers’ editors ought to be outraged.
Go here to sign our letter to the AP seeking Fournier’s removal from the presidential-campaign beat.