Media critic

Hillary Clinton during a Democratic debate in February. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

 

The Associated Press deserves credit for fighting for six-and-a-half  years to get the records of Hillary Clinton’s schedules when she served as secretary of state. The AP also deserves credit for analyzing that information and putting it alongside the database of donors to the Clinton Foundation, the better to sniff out any conflicts of interest. The AP, however, deserves no credit for the false tweet that it used to promote the resulting story, which covered her first two years in office.

As the article itself explains, far, far fewer people who met with Clinton when she served as secretary of state made donations to the Clinton Foundation. The AP article excluded all those who worked in the U.S. government and who were representatives of foreign governments. The tweet bypasses that rather critical detail, leaving the impression that Clinton was essentially running the State Department straight out of the offices of the Clinton Foundation. Upon seeing the tweet, the Clinton campaign asked for a correction. It hasn’t come.

Yesterday on his CNN show “Reliable Sources,” Brian Stelter pressed Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the Associated Press, on the bogus bit of social-media activity. Here’s the key part of the transcript:

STELTER:  Really, one of the things that was scrutinized the most was that tweet.  Let’s put it back on screen if we can.  It suggested that half of the people that she met overall during her State Department time were donors to the Clinton Foundation.  Would you agree that tweet was inaccurate?CARROLL:  I would say that we’re a lot better at breaking stories and covering news and gathering video and taking photographs than we are on tweets, (INAUDIBLE).  This one could have used some precision.
STELTER:  Does that mean regret?
CARROLL:  No.  If we felt it was wrong, we would have taken it down right now. 
STELTER:  It was wrong.  It says that half of the people she met with were donors.
CARROLL:  Yes, I think it was sloppy.
STELTER:  Sloppy?
CARROLL:  Yes.
STELTER:  Why not delete it?  Why not take it down and correct it?
CARROLL:  Well, maybe going forward we need to work more on our precision on the tweets.

Bolding added to highlight a mind-boggling statement. There can be no dispute about the tweet. It is wrong, prima facie wrong. Clearly wrong. Patently wrong. Simply wrong. Had AP deleted it and published a follow-up tweet amending the record, we could move on to discussing the organization’s dogged work in digging up documents. Instead, the permanence of the tweet continues to stand as a monument to mainstream media bullheadedness.