FIRST-PERSON: The AP 'goes rogue'

Baptist Press
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Posted: Nov 20, 2009 6:00 PM

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--I don't know which frustrates me more: hypocritical politicians -- Democrats and Republicans - who are more concerned about their own power than their constituents concerns, or liberal members of the media who loathe conservatives. Today, given a recent news development, it is the latter.

The Associated Press recently assigned eleven reporters to scrutinize Sarah Palin's new book "Going Rogue." Given the ex-governor of Alaska and former vice-presidential candidate's book is 432 pages long, that comes out to 39 pages per reporter.

The eleven reporters pored over the 39 pages they were assigned and together discovered 12 so-called misstatements of the facts. For those of you keeping score that is 1.09 errors per reporter.

Three of the so-call factual errors cannot even be classified as such.

The AP takes issue with Palin's travel expenses. In her book Palin contends that she asked for "reasonably" priced rooms and "not often" stayed in luxury accommodations. While the AP does admit that Palin's travel record as governor supports her claim, the eleven reporters point out that she once stayed in a fancy hotel in New York City that cost $707.29 per night.

Palin did not say she never stayed in ritzy hotels. Only that she did not make it a habit. The fact that Palin's travel records indicate that her luxury hotel stays were a rarity -- one time -- only serves to prove her statement is true.

If you've priced New York City hotels lately you would find the price for Palin's room is not that outrageous.

In actually, the AP unwittingly supports Palin's statement on her travel habits. So, let's subtract one of the so-called factual errors. Instead of 12 errors, there are now only 11 out of 432 pages.

There is another error the AP highlights that is worth scrutinizing. Throughout her book Palin contends that her reasons for running for office were altruistic. The AP quotes Palin from "Going Rogue," "Was it ambition? I didn't think so. Ambition drives; purpose beckons."

The AP charges that Palin's stated motive for running for public office is not factual. "Few politicians own up to wanting high office for the power and prestige of it, and in this respect, Palin fits the conventional mold," the AP wrote. "But 'Going Rogue' has all the characteristics of a pre-campaign manifesto."

I did not know that reporters were endowed with the ability to see inside a person's mind and discern true motives. With that kind of power I wish they would concentrate on the politicians that are in office rather than one that recently resigned.

The AP's swipe at Palin's motivation for public service is nothing more than an opinion, a jaded one at that. If the AP were scrutinizing Palin in an opinion piece or editorial they would have license to speculate all they want. However, to do so via a supposed straight news report is unconscionable.

Another so-called factual error concerns an interview Palin did with Vogue magazine. In the AP's words "the facts are somewhat in dispute." AP did nothing to clear up the matter, thus the facts are still not clear. That said, this so-called error must also be dismissed.

For the record, the AP spent a tremendous amount of money and manpower to uncover nine errors in a 432 page book by a wildly popular former politician. I hope they think it was worth it.

Of course, the AP will say it is only doing its journalistic duty by scouring Palin's book with a fine-tooth comb. Politicians, whether it be current or former, should be held accountable. However, it is interesting to note that the AP has not so scrutinized the words of other politicians of note. The AP routinely reviews politico's books, but never with the same rigor as was done with Palin's book.

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Books released by Barack Obama prior to his being elected president were not fact checked by the AP. Neither was a volume produced by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Autobiographies by Bill and Hillary Clinton also escaped the AP's fact-checking crew.

The attention the AP has given Palin's book begs the question: "Why?" One person has dared answer that question. "They're obsessed with trying to discredit her," said Adrienne Ross, the state organizer for the New York State 2012 Draft Sarah Committee. "Because she's a conservative woman...."

I have to agree with Ross. Members of the media blinded by liberalism tend to loathe conservatives in general. Add committed Christian into the equation and the emotion seems to rise to disgust.

In the case of Palin, she is not only conservative and Christian, she is also a woman and popular. Not only do many in the media despise her, they want to destroy her.

The AP has every right to fact check any author's work because truth does matter. However, if the AP is to have any credibility it must scrutinize other books equally. By choosing to cherry pick a former, female conservative politician, they reveal they are more political operatives than they are serious journalists.

Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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