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AP – A Lesson In Leaping To Conclusions

From a shameless Associated Press:

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik speaks during a news conference after the shooting of U.S Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) among others at a Safeway, in Tucson, Arizona January 8, 2011.

Giffords story: A lesson in leaping to conclusions

By David Bauder, AP Television Writer [sic] Sun Jan 9, 2011 

PASADENA, Calif. – The rapidly replicated false report that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had died after being shot in the head provided media outlets another lesson this weekend in the danger of leaping to conclusions.

NPR News’ executive editor apologized Sunday to Giffords’ family for the false report. That story came only an hour after NPR scored a significant scoop in reporting on Saturday’s shooting in Tucson, Ariz., itself.

Media organizations also faced scrutiny for how they speculated on potential causes of a gunman’s rampage in a shopping center where Giffords was meeting with constituents.

But we won’t hear anything about this "scrutiny" until the end of the article.

National Public Radio had reported on its 2 p.m. EST newscast — and in subsequent e-mail alerts to subscribers — that Giffords had died from her injury when, in fact, she was still in surgery. Dick Meyer, executive editor of NPR News, said the information came from two different government sources, including one in the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

"This was a serious and grave error," Meyers said in a note posted on NPR’s website Sunday. He said that on behalf of NPR News, "I apologize for this mistake to the family of Rep. Giffords, to the families of everyone affected by the shootings, to our listeners and to our readers." …

Within a half hour, all three cable news networks had bannered the headline of Giffords’ supposed death. Reuters cited NPR in a story that appeared on the front of the Yahoo! News site. CBS broke into the coverage of a women’s college basketball game to report that Giffords had died. NBC had a similar special report.

ABC was more cautious about 15 minutes after the others, noting reports that she had died yet quoting her communications director that she was still alive. The Associated Press, unsatisfied that the reports of Giffords’ death were accurate, did not make a mistaken report.

Wow. Hooray for the AP. Sheesh.

Ironically, NPR’s own work earlier in the day may have given its report more weight than it deserved. NPR appeared to be the first national news outlet to report on the shooting after the wife of Arizona Public Media News Director Pete Michaels witnessed the scene and called her husband.

Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier said on the air at 2:18 p.m. that NPR and one of his own sources reported that Giffords was dead. Fox’s screen carried the headline: "AZ Rep. Giffords Has Died After Being Shot in the Head." Another Fox reporter said that the shooting suspect had himself been shot before being taken into custody, and there’s been no evidence of that happening.

CNN went with NPR’s report, and Martin Savidge quickly added that CNN had confirmed the "death" as well.

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather said that if he were covering the story in the 1970s and 1980s, he would not likely have gone with the NPR report. But if he were in the anchor chair in 2011, he probably would have

We were just asking ourselves: ‘what would Dan Rather do?’

Commentators were quick to weigh in. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann said in an editorial late Saturday that politicians and talk show personalities — himself included — needed to swear off any kind of violent imagery so as not to incite anybody into acts like the Giffords shooting. Those who don’t, he said, should be judged silently complicit of the act.

So we are finally getting to the only real conclusion jumping that has happened since Saturday. (Mistakenly reporting that someone has died does not really constitute jumping to a conclusion.)

And notice that the AP is not being critical of Mr. Olbermann’s preposterous claim. In fact, they don’t even say that he was leaping to conclusions.

News organizations were closely watched in how they offered context to the events. The conservative watchdog publication Newsbusters, for example, faulted the AP for noting that Giffords’ district was targeted by supporters of Sarah Palin while not discussing left-wing commentators’ criticism of Democrats who did not support Nancy Pelosi for minority leader.

That’s it? That’s the full extent of the AP’s self criticism?

Almost half of the AP’s first article on the Tucson shooting, a full seven paragraphs, was devoted to jumping to the conclusion that this attack was the result of right wing extremism.

The AP chronicled the previous vandalism at Rep. Giffords office, and carefully detailed how Giffords had been targeted by Sarah Palin, by putting "the crosshairs of a gun sight over her district."

The AP then went on to list an earlier threat against Nancy Pelosi and shootout with the California Highway Patrol involving a man who "wanted to ‘start a revolution’ by killing people at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation."

The article even mentioned that Giffords "Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle."

But of course the AP didn’t leap to any conclusions. No way.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, January 10th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “AP – A Lesson In Leaping To Conclusions”

  1. Liberals Demise says:

    Perfect example when the MSM chambermaid crawls into the
    bed of dingleBarry for a little pillow talk.
    It is no wonder why the blogosphere is rife with division right
    down party lines. With everyone nose to nose …… Obamao must
    be please at how he has brought Americans together.

    Once again dingleBarrys incompetence is center stage and ‘HE’ is circling his wagons for the upcoming fight……..he started!

  2. tranquil.night says:

    Oh, there are dozens of high-level Democrat operatives and Congressmen who are on record now as saying the regime needs to pin this on Palin and the Tea Party definitively, no matter what the evidence suggests. You can see all the posts at HuffPo, it’s a war-room against the Right. They even cite Clinton’s offensive on the Right following McVeigh. The media blitzes the public with misinformation and Viola, history is forever revised.

    Was Catcher in the Rye on Loner’s reading list? I hear that book’s inspired more famous assassinations than any other.

    It’s not going to work this time, and in fact they’ve really over-played their hand on this and really stand to be called out on a lot of it today (which the smackdown is coming in under 30 minutes). That’s why the AP wrote this soft media criticism today, focussing specifically on the misreport of her death. The Left got their punches in over the weekend, now it’s time to use this attack and their narrative to it to put the pressure on to shut up Palin and Limbaugh before truth is reestablished..

    But shameless propogandizing and repugnant political opportunism on behalf of the regime by the Liberal’s media isn’t going to silence the Conservative Ascendency. Their immoral elitism will backfire again, like it has been for years now.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Yup, they seem to be pulling things out of thin air now, such as his supposed “anger at the government” which can only serve to “motivate” the left to believe that there must be no doubt that Loughner was an extreme right-winger. The comments on the FOX news website and WSJ indicate as much. That is, the lefties truly believe that the guy was a skin-head right-wing, bible-bangin’, gun-totin’ sumbitch. Of course, I see the humor in their notion that they also believe that the MSM is trying to cover that up. Unreal. So, I guess the good news, in a general sense, is that neither the left nor the right tend to believe anything the alphabet media is spewing these days.

  3. Moose Breath says:

    Notice how they say that Olbermann’s comments were an ‘editorial’ delivered ‘late Saturday’. Truth is, hard news stories were blaming Palin and the Tea Party all weekend.

    It would be interesting if someone put together a timeline, chronicling when the shooting occurred and when the media started mentioning Palin and the Tea Party by name. That could be compared with other events where the media urged caution and warned everyone not to jump to conclusions.

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