AP Caught Revising Another Story Without Issuing a Correction, This Time One That Makes Obama Look Callous to High Gas Prices (Update: the Streisand Effect)
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
Update: Instalink! Thanks! And I noticed that although the AP seemed to hope to bury an embarrassing gaffe, this seems to be in fact throwing a massive spotlight on it. We call that the Streisand Effect.
Gas prices have been killing us for a while now. Besides the simple fact that I still remember when $1 a gallon gas was considered high…
(I think I am going to cry)
…gas prices have really jumped in the last few months. Now, to be fair, the recent rise in prices is much more related to unrest in places like Libya. Of course putting an illegal moratorium on deep water drilling doesn’t help, nor does closing off ANWR. But even those who defend the President have to admit that this is a political problem for the President.
So the President was dealing with this issue when he said this callous thing:
Obama needled one questioner who asked about gas prices, now averaging close to $3.70 a gallon nationwide, and suggested that the gentleman consider getting rid of his gas-guzzling vehicle.
“If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting 8 miles a gallon, you know,” Obama said laughingly. “You might want to think about a trade-in.”
Yeah, its pretty schmucky, and condescending. It seems too often Obama thinks that people need his wisdom in their day-to-day decision-making, as though he was the life-coach-in-chief. Yes, Obama, we have long ago understood that one way to reduce how much we pay for gas is to reduce how much gas we use. Thank you, Captain Obvious.
It’s like as if he is telling us that we are not living up to his expectations, so we better shape up.
Not to mention the even more obvious point that if you are having trouble affording gas, you might have trouble affording a new car, too. I mean, there is that.
But truthfully, I wouldn’t find that interesting enough to justify a whole post until a funny thing happened: that whole passage in the original AP article disappeared.
Yeah, they did that again. Instapundit caught them at it and is getting more attention than usual because of that. As regular readers know, I have caught them doing this sort of thing before, here and here. And it seems to go against the AP’s official policy on the subject:
When we make a correction in the current cycle, we point out the error and its fix in the editor’s note. A correction must always be labeled a correction in the editor’s note. We do not use euphemisms such as “recasts,” “fixes,” “clarifies” or “changes” when correcting a factual error.
A corrective corrects a mistake from a previous cycle. The AP asks papers or broadcasters that used the erroneous information to use the corrective, too.
So when they make a correction, they are supposed to note it. The only exception is this:
For corrections on live, online stories, we overwrite the previous version. We send separate corrective stories online as warranted.
Now in one version I found that contained the forbidden text, at Business Week, they attempt to claim it is a “breaking news story” with those exact words:
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
But the problem was that it is really stretching the concept of “breaking news.” Check the time stamp on that story: 6:27 p.m. And the completely revised version Instapundit linked to was stamped 7:33 p.m. Now look at Instapundit’s screen cap of the original:
That version was written at 3:26 p.m. So the event this reporter was reporting on was over for at least four hours when suddenly it became breaking news that Obama no longer said that callous thing.
And in fact we know he said it, so really there was nothing to “correct.” We have video:
Now one might argue that this isn’t a correction but a revision, and therefore this is okay, but then you are left trying to argue that if you eliminate a factual error in a story you should acknowledge the correction, but if you just decide to just remove accurate information, you shouldn’t have to note that change. And that raises the question, “why the hell not?”
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Aaron and I have hears from a newsman who wishes to remain anonymous who claims that the version without the gaffe was the earlier version. He includes what he claims is a later version that not only includes the gaffe but also includes Obama haughtily lecturing his questioner, who has ten children, that he needs a “hybrid van.”
I don’t know how the newsman’s version explains what Glenn Reynolds documented: the gaffe appearing and then being removed. What did they do? First use a later version and replace it with an earlier version??
We have written back for clarification and receive nothing in response.