The Associated Press Keeps Up its War Against Barack Obama
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 07:45:39 PM EDT
The Associated Press decides to double down in its attacks on Barack Obama. Here's the headline from Charles Babington's "analysis" of Obama's speech tonight:
Analysis: Obama spares details, keeps up attacks
Amazingly, it actually gets worse, reading almost exactly like Republican talking points (and in fact parroting that exact spin).
Barack Obama, whose campaign theme is "change we can believe in," promised Thursday to "spell out exactly what that change would mean."
But instead of dwelling on specifics, he laced the crowning speech of his long campaign with the type of rhetorical flourishes that Republicans mock and the attacks on John McCain that Democrats cheer. The country saw a candidate confident in his existing campaign formula: tie McCain tightly to President Bush, and remind voters why they are unhappy with the incumbent.
It is not until after the lede that Babington admits that 35-minute speeches are rarely chock full of details -- particularly those that are enthralling to a crowd. (By the way, it is also below the lede that Babington admits that the Obama speech did actually include specifics.) But this admission misses a key point. Babington, and the Republicans pushing this line of spin to him, set up a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation for Obama -- either he delivers a compelling speech, which they deride as rhetoric, or he delivers an excessively policy-laden speech, prompting calls that he is too professorial.
What a true journalist would do would be to analyze the speech without using the crutch of opposition talking points, without resorting to the easiest "he said, she said" type of stenography. But apparently this is no longer the policy of the Associated Press under Washington Bureau Chief Ron Fournier -- a man, by the way, who spent months in talks with the McCain campaign about possibly accepting a senior level position. No, what we get out of Fournier's AP is pure and unadulterated talking points that are as non-germane as they are simply incorrect.
Update [2008-8-28 23:59:59 by Jonathan Singer]:Chris Cillizza shoots down the AP's nonesense...
"Obama's speech was more substance than style; more specifics than rhetorical flourish."
Update [2008-8-29 0:20:3 by Jonathan Singer]:The Boston Globe agrees with Cillizza: "Analysis: Obama gets specific, and tough"
It's time, then, once again to contact Fournier's boss, Kathleen Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 621-1500 to let her know that you do not want the AP to serve as a stenographer and amplifier for pure spin from the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee. You can also participate in the direct action by MoveOn or FireDogLake. Be POLITE, but be FIRM, and above all speak your mind.
Update [2008-8-29 0:7:14 by Jonathan Singer]: Oy vey. Really? More attacks on Obama from the Associated Press? How long can this organization countenance Fournier sullying its more than century and a half of good reputation?
Update [2008-8-29 0:20:3 by Jonathan Singer]: Wow, just wow. Babington apparently wrote his article before Obama was finished giving his speech.