The Locker Room

September 04, 2004

AP's spin cycle outdoes my Kenmore

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:45 PM

Hats off to Matt Drudge and the "blogosphere" for prompting and then charting the hilarious antics by the Associated Press in reporting on a campaign stop by President Bush in West Allis, Wisconsin.

Originally, AP writer Tom Hays filed this report at 2:12 p.m. on Friday (emphasis added):

President George W. Bush, campaigning in Wisconsin, wished Clinton "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery."

"He's is in our thoughts and prayers," Bush said. Bush's audience of thousands in West Allis, Wisconsin, booed. Bush did nothing to stop them.

How thoughtless! How terrible! How insensitive!

More importantly, how completely fabricated!

Someone posted an audio recording of Bush's remarks and the crowd's reaction, and Matt Drudge posted it on his site. What one hears in the mp3 file is cheering in support of Bush's statement that Clinton is "in our thoughts and prayers." Not booing.

Normally, I suppose, a comment like this could at best lead to TV news programs hosting debates over whether the Republicans actually booed, with Hays standing by his report and those in attendance saying the reporter is totally out of his gourd. ("Republicans: Grossly Insensitive or Simply Misquoted?") The existence and, more importantly, widespread Internet distribution of the audio, however, prevents that possibility. It just doesn't even pass the giggle test.

Speaking of giggles, Drudge also posted the initial AP retraction (again, emphasis added):

[BC-Bush-Clinton, 1st Ld-Writethru,150 Bush offers best wishes for Clinton's recovery Eds: SUBS lead to include reference to surgery. DELETES 3rd graf previous, Bush's audience, because of uncertainty about crowd reaction.]

Shortly thereafter, the AP posts a revised story, at 2:41 p.m., removing Hays' byline and making no mention of the crowd reaction:

President Bush on Friday offered former President Bill Clinton, who faces heart bypass surgery, "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery."

"He's is in our thoughts and prayers," Bush said at a campaign rally.

Even later (6:06 p.m.), for whatever reason (perhaps in response to "How the heck did you get boos from cheers?"), the AP revised the story again without Hays' byline. Now it reads:

President Bush on Friday offered former President Bill Clinton, who faces heart bypass surgery, "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery."

"He is in our thoughts and prayers," Bush said at a campaign rally in Wisconsin.

The crowd reacted with applause and with some "ooohs," apparently surprised by the news that Clinton was ill.

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A Good Question

Posted by Paul Chesser at 9:31 PM

From Robert Novak:

Conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly responded to a conciliatory gesture by Sen. Bill Frist by gently suggesting that he should be as tough in his day job as Senate majority leader as he was in chairing the platform committee at the Republican National Convention.

Schlafly had grumbled that Frist acted like an old-fashioned Soviet Communist in blocking her efforts to modify the immigration and stem-cell research planks. After the platform was wrapped up, Frist approached her to make some friendly remarks. Schlafly responded, with a smile: "I have only one question. Why can't you run the Senate this way?" Frist has been criticized for not being more effective as majority leader.

A footnote: Frist's management of the platform was regarded in Republican circles as the launch of his campaign for the 2008 presidential nomination. While he faithfully executed the White House's wishes, he did not get high marks from many Platform Committee members.

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Not really conventional thinking

Posted by John Hood at 08:25 AM

JLF’s longtime friend David Tuerck, who directs a think tank similar to ours in Boston, has become a well-recognized expert on the economics of political conventions. His econometrics students at Suffolk have built some of the best regional and state economic models you can find, and they’ve been putting them to work on the rosy predictions of convention hucksters:

Before the convention, the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University, an economic research organization, predicted the economic benefit would be $163 million, more than $100 million less than the official New York prediction.

"It was a mistake to have these in Boston and New York," said David Tuerck, executive director of the institute. "They both took a big chance with protests and threats of terrorism." Plus, the conventions will not bring either major city any more long-term exposure, he said.

The Democratic convention in July brought Boston's economy $14.8 million, far less than the $154 million predicted by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, according to the Beacon Hill Institute. While the convention raked in $156.7 million, the city lost $141.9 million in lost tourism and commuter spending as well as from two canceled events.

David has been quoted in a wide variety of newspaper and broadcast stories on these issues. The dose of realism is welcome.

Still, convention-center building continues across North Carolina, even though the taxpayers footing the bill are skeptical and demand more of a say.

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