August 9, 2013

Weasels: In Its ‘Corrected’ Story, AP Fails to Tag Obama’s ‘Gulf Ports’ Gaffe as a Gaffe

Following blowback which began at Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy.com and spread to Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, and surely other online locales, the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, has issued a thoroughly unsatisfying “correction” to the story I covered here Wednesday about President Obama’s “Gulf ports” gaffe.

The fix applied to the original story by Russ “Nobody’s Fool” Bynum’s is at least as weaselly as the original, especially when one realizes what will and will not end up in the historical record. The full correction, which based on the related video gives Obama a benefit of the doubt to which he is clearly not entitled, followed by the relevant portions of the story’s revised content, are both after the jump.

First, the correction (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Correction: Ports-Obama story

In an Aug. 7 story on President Barack Obama’s comments on the need to deepen U.S. harbors, The Associated Press wrongly inserted an interpretive phrase in parentheses into a quote by Obama:

“If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf – (and in) places like Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, Ga., or Jacksonville, Fla. – if we don’t do that, these ships are going to go someplace else and we’ll lose jobs,” Obama said.

Charleston, Savannah and Jacksonville are not Gulf ports. It wasn’t known if the president was suggesting they were. The AP should not have added the phrase in an effort to clarify his statement.

Sorry, guys. It is known that the President “was suggesting” that the three ports involved are “along the Gulf,” because that’s what he said. The video shows only a very tiny pause between “all along the Gulf” and “places like,” showing absolutely no change in train of thought.

What is not known is whether Obama knew at the time that he erred in making that suggestion and forged on without correcting himself, or whether he really believed at that moment that Charleston, Savannah and Jacksonville are “along the Gulf.” Again, the video gives no indication that Obama knew that he was misstating anything.

In its “correction,” the AP is trying to tell us that we didn’t really hear and see what we really heard and saw.

Now, let’s look at the revised story content (numbered tags are mine):

Obama uses Leno appearance to plug need for deeper harbors at Ga., SC and Fla. ports

During a late-night TV interview with Jay Leno, President Barack Obama slipped in a plug for three seaports in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina that are seeking federal funds to make room for larger cargo ships.

Obama used his Tuesday night appearance on NBC’s “Tonight Show” to push for bipartisan cooperation in funding infrastructure improvements such as widening roads and repairing bridges. The president told Leno that U.S. ports on the East and Gulf coasts [1] need deeper harbors to stay competitive as the Panama Canal finishes a major expansion in 2015 that will give supersized cargo ships a shortcut between the U.S. and Asia.

“If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf – places like Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, Ga., or Jacksonville, Fla. – if we don’t do that, these ships are going to go someplace else and we’ll lose jobs,” Obama said. [2]

Notes:

[1] — This misdirection was present in the original story and has been carried into the “corrected” one. The Leno interview transcript does not include any Obama reference to the “East” coast. Although this sentence doesn’t have quote marks around it, the AP, with the phrase “the president told,” is still putting words in the President’s mouth.

[2] — The “corrected” story which will survive in the historical record does not tag Obama’s statement as erroneous. It just sits there, leaving present and future readers to wonder how the wire service’s reporters and editors can be so dumb that they can’t even recognize an obvious presidential misstatement when it’s right in front of their faces. Or perhaps AP is so dedicated to covering Obama’s keister that it’s willing to feign ignorance in the hope that geographically challenged readers won’t catch the error at all. (Aside: When did it become acceptable to abbreviate state names inside a direct quote?)

The version of the story which survived the “correction” cycle at WSAV in Savannah — one of the two originally flagged at Twitchy — is only four paragraphs long, and entirely avoids the Obama “Gulf ports” quote. It merely tells readers that “Obama mentioned three specific ports that proponents say need deeper harbors: Charleston, S.C., Jacksonville, Fla., and Savannah, Ga.”

The AP’s exercise in “correction” looks much more like an act of stubborn, childish defiance than anything involving genuine journalism. Additionally, although there’s an unusual admission by the holier-than-thous that they were actually wrong about something, as Twitchy noted last night, you can forget about finding an apology or any indications of regret.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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1 Comment

  1. [...] discovered Russ’s ruse, the AP issued a childish “correction.” Its introduction still would not concede that Obama had committed a gaffe. The revised story itself, which is what will remain in the [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — August 14, 2013 @ 7:00 am

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