Monday, October 28, 2013

Associated Press Fires Reporters Involved in Erroneous Report on Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe

Media Establishment is Outraged, Shocked at Being Held Accountable

When the history of this period is written objectively one of the major contributors to the lack of reasoned public discourse will be the reporting, or lack thereof by the nation’s print and broadcast media.  They are so cowed by Conservative charges of bias that they deliberately obscure stories on conservative wrong doing.  And every now and then they get it flat out wrong.

Such was the case of AP reporter Bob Lewis, who erroneously reported a scandal concerning Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe, currently running for Governor of that state.  Lewis has been summarily fired.

The decision, which was made Monday, came on the heels of an Oct. 9 report in which Lewis alleged that McAuliffe had lied to a federal official investigating a death benefits scam. The Associated Press retracted the story less than two hours after it went up, and Lewis immediately took responsibility for the mistake.

The other media types, the holier than thou of the national press are outraged.  No, not at the mistake, they are outraged that a person is held accountable.

“I’m hard-pressed to see how this is the right response,” Michael Shear, The New York Times White House correspondent who spent more than five years in Richmond, told POLITICO. “I don’t know all the facts. But on the surface, this is not plagiarism, this is not fabrication, this is not some malicious thing. This is a mistake. He owned up to it. It’s hard to see, when you look on the spectrum of journalistic sins that one can commit — weighed against a career of two decades or more for a guy who has had stellar career — it’s hard to see how this is an appropriate punishment.”

“I’m just sick about it. Bob Lewis is one of the most respected, decent, hard-working, dogged reporters I’ve ever worked with,” said Amy Gardner, The Washington Post’s local politics editor, who has known Lewis for almost 20 years. “He made a mistake, but he admitted it. There are certain things where we shouldn’t have tolerance — cheating, lying, plagiarism infractions — but a mistake is a different beast from a lie or a stolen bit of work. At what point does a mistake become a non negotiable or fireable offense?”

Well in this case the mistake could have changed the outcome of the most pivotal election of the year, it could have re-arranged history and politics, it could have had profound impact on the basic governing of the country.  That’s a fireable mistake.

So no members of the press, you are not immune from the consequences of your actions.  You want to be taken seriously, get it right.  The stakes are that important.  And yes the real problem for Mr. Lewis is that he was not working for Fox News.  If he had been, making a mistake which damaged a Democrat and thus boosted a conservative would have been applauded. 

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