In what appears to be a deliberate watering down of the significance of the statement a Yale University librarian has identified as the year’s top quote in his eighth annual list, the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, used the following headline in its Sunday morning “Big Story” coverage: “OBAMA’S HEALTH CARE PROMISE IS 2013 TOP QUOTE.”
Uh, no. The statement tagged as 2013′s top quote is Obama’s admission that the guarantee he made dozens of times over a several-year period — “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period” — was, ahem, “not … accurate” (Obama’s words). The wire service also truncated what Obama actually said in his November 14 admission, yet didn’t employ an ellipsis in doing so.
The AP’s John Christoffersen contradicted his employer’s headline in his report’s opening sentence:
President Barack Obama’s acknowledgement that his promise that Americans could keep their health insurance plan turned out to be inaccurate topped this year’s list of best quotes, according to a Yale University librarian.
… The original “Yale Book of Quotations” was published in 2006 by Yale University Press, and Shapiro has updated it with an annual list of the top 10 quotes. Shapiro picks quotes that are famous, important or revealing of the spirit of the times, not necessarily ones that are the most eloquent or admirable.
This is exactly what Obama said on November 14:
With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan, you can keep it, I think — and I’ve said in interviews — that there is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate. It was not because of my intention not to deliver on that commitment and that promise. We put a grandfather clause into the law, but it was insufficient.
But Obama’s statement, as listed in the Top 10 compilation, appears as follows:
Huh? Instead of an ellipsis, there’s just a random period, making the whole thing look erroneously written. Additionally, the elimination of “there is no doubt” from what Obama actually said makes his statement appear less emphatic.
Christoffersen did not truncate any of the other nine quotes of the year.
Why, if I didn’t know better, I would think that AP set out to deliberately confuse harried news programmers and editors at subscribing publications, who then may have decided not to carry the story at all based on the slovenly, inaccurate presentation of its centerpiece quote. If the sloppiness wasn’t deliberate, it was certainly convenient.
As seen here, NBC’s Today Show, apparently “inspired” by AP, did its part to misdirect:
Based on the AP’s and Today’s write-ups, a low-information voter who stumbled upon either might well believe that Obama’s promise still holds. That would appear to be the goal.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.