September 10, 2016

AP Botches Coverage of Hillary’s Regret’ Over Attack on Trump Backers As ‘Deplorables’

As I noted in a Saturday afternoon post, the Associated Press, in covering Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s outrageous Friday night description of “half” of Donald Trump’s supporters as a collection of “deplorables” — as in “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it,” an undetermined “some” of whom are “irredeemable” — made its initial story primarily about Donald Trump’s reaction. It’s as if the wire service believed that what Mrs. Clinton said didn’t really qualify as news until Trump commented on it.

Later, a full AP story had a headline claiming that Mrs. Clinton had called “many” Trump supporters “deplorables,” clearly intending for readers who wouldn’t click through to see Catherine Lucey’s story a false impression. I’m aware of no effort by the AP to correct that erroneous headline. But when the it made a lesser mistake covering Mrs. Clinton’s partial walkback (that’s Politico’s term, not mine), it fixed things faster than you can say one of her husband’s formerly favorite slogans (“Make America Great Again”).

Apparently, AP quickly considered its virtually instant coverage of Hillary Clinton’s “regrets” overly broad:

APtweetOnHillaryDeplorablesCorrection090916

Gosh, you guys didn’t have any problem headlining “half” as only “many,” did you? But you got the absolute vapors when someone might conceivably think that she was describing all of Trump’s supporters that way (a big stretch). Double standards, anyone?

Here is the formal correction:

APcorrectsOnHillarysRegrets090916

Though it may still linger at a few subscribing outlets, often in shorter form than the original, as seen here, Catherine Lucey’s 10:57 a.m. pre-”regrets” report has been flushed down the wire service’s memory hole, both at its main national site and at its “Big Story” site (supplanted by a subsequent story or stories in each instance; that, as I understand it, is not how the “Big Story” site, which is meant to be a permanent record of stories posted there, is supposed to work). This is why yours truly occasionally saves their earlier dispatches as I did in this instance.

Here are excerpts from Catherine Lucey’s post-”regrets” coverage as of 4:27 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday (bolds are mine):

Hillary Clinton said Saturday that she was wrong to put half of Donald Trump’s supporters in a “basket of deplorables,” but didn’t back down from a description of his campaign the Republican nominee said smeared many Americans and would take a political toll.

Less than 24 hours after she made the statement at a private New York City fundraiser, Clinton said in a statement, “last night I was ‘grossly generalistic’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong.”

But she argued that the word “deplorable” was reasonable to describe much of Trump’s campaign.

“He has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people,” Clinton said.

Zero Hedge has noted that “now that Clinton regrets calling even half of Trump supporters “deplorable” it was not immediately clear the final number of deplorable supporters is.” Heck, since half was “overly generalistic” (isn’t it amazing how people who are supposedly so smart so often use words which don’t exist?), maybe she meant to give us a higher percentage; but thanks to the blowback, she’ll never tell us.

Here’s more from Lucey’s writeup:

Responding in a statement Trump said it was “disgraceful that Hillary Clinton makes the worst mistake of the political season and instead of owning up to this grotesque attack on American voters, she tries to turn it around with a pathetic rehash of the words and insults used in her failing campaign?”

Trump added that Clinton was showing “bigotry and hatred for millions of Americans,” arguing that she was “incapable to serve as President of the United States.”

Clinton, who has said she is the candidate to unify a divided country, made the “deplorables” comment at an LGBT fundraiser Friday night at a New York City restaurant, with about 1,000 people in attendance. She has made similar comments in the past, including on an Israeli television station this week.

Wait a minute. Lucey’s “similar comments” reference to Israel would appear to be not valid, at least as it was reported by the AP’s Josef Federman on September 8. What’s described here are personal attacks on Trump, not his supporters.

Clinton also took a jab at Trump, who has said she doesn’t look presidential.

“He looks at a judge and doesn’t see a distinguished federal judge, but the son of Mexican immigrants,” she said. “He looks at an anchor woman and thinks ‘bimbo’. He looks at a reporter with a disability and mocks him. So, the only person he thinks looks presidential is the person he sees in the mirror every day.”

She expressed concerns that his rhetoric could encourage violence.

“But, I’m also not going to be bullied or intimidated by the kind of rhetoric and demagoguery coming from the Trump campaign,” she said.

But it turns out, as Allahpundit at Hot Air has noted, that she did make a very similar attack on Trump’s supporters and the AP’s Federman chose not to report it. It almost seems like a dress rehearsal for what she said on Friday. Quoting from the video seen there:

HILLARY CLINTON: I never expected an easy. If I were to be grossly generalistic, I’d say you can take Trump supporters and put them in two big baskets. There are what I call the deplorables, you know, the racists and you know the haters, and the people who are drawn because they think somehow he’s going to restore an America that no longer exists.

So just eliminate them from you’re thinking, because we’ve always had a paranoic, prejudicial element within our politics.

Cover up much, Josef?

In the full video found here (at the 2:37 mark), Mrs. Clinton did similarly describe the second “basket.”

Now the fact that the press’s failure to adequately cover what Mrs. Clinton said in Israel is cited by Lucey as an excuse for not paying much initial attention to what she said Friday night, and even now minimizing its significance. You can’t make this stuff up.

The “dress rehearsal” theory is that Mrs. Clinton is telling the press to get on the stick and start doing feature stories to highlight how many Trump supporters really belong in her “deplorables” basket. It’s a strategy, perhaps the only one, which would seem to make sense for Team Clinton, because a campaign based on her own positive characteristics has so little raw material to work with.

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