Flt. 93 blogburst: False AP report: Obama did NOT say that Iran must respect voters’ choice


Obama’s comments were mushy, yes, but at least he said the most important thing, according to AP:


He said it’s up to Iran to determine its own leaders but that the country must respect voters’ choice.

Why then have reputable people continued to pass harsh judgment? And why would AP paraphrase what would have been Obama’s key statement?

Turns out Obama said no such thing. What he actually said is that the VOICES of the Iranian people should be heard and respected, not their votes:

And particularly to the youth of Iran, I want them to know that we in the United States do not want to make any decisions for the Iranians, but we do believe that the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected.

This is consistent with the rest of Obama’s remarks. He never said a word about respecting votes. Obama did mention “the democratic process,” but far from saying anything about this process having to meet any standards of integrity, he instead implied strongly that he will accept whatever result the “process” followed by the Mullahs produces:

I want to start off by being very clear that it is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be; that we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran, which sometimes the United States can be a handy political football…

Democracy means that Iranian sovereignty lies with the Iranian people and that a regime that rigs an election is NOT sovereign. Yet Obama is explicit that he will continue to treat the mullahs as the Iranian sovereign no matter how they judge the election. He even goes so far as to suggest that the only reason he is bothering to comment on the competing claim to sovereignty at all is because it would be unseemly for him not to:

We will continue to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries, and we’ll see where it takes us. But even as we do so, I think it would be wrong for me to be silent about what we’ve seen on the television over the last few days.

The only operative concerns that he mentions are for: “free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent.” When he talks about the “democratic process” going forward, all he urges is that the process be peaceful and that dissent be allowed. He says nothing about the process being honest:

…there appears to be a sense on the part of people who were so hopeful and so engaged and so committed to democracy who now feel betrayed. And I think it’s important that, moving forward, whatever investigations take place are done in a way that is not resulting in bloodshed and is not resulting in people being stifled in expressing their views.

It is no accident that Obama ended with the statement that AP paraphrased so egregiously (equating his call for bloodless suppression with a demand for legitimate elections). This was his theme throughout. He views the honesty of Iran’s democratic process as something to be judged by the mullahs, who he clearly accepts to be the sovereign power, regardless of the merits of competing claims.

AP covers its tracks, just like they did with the Flight 93 memorial

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AP’s fraudulent report about Obama demanding respect for voters’ choice was the primary print report on Obama’s comments. Now that it has already misled millions of people, AP has covered its tracks by filing an update that overwrites the errant statement. This is what AP does when it gets caught putting out misinformation. To avoid issuing a correction, they flush the misleading story down the memory hole by using the same url for a completely different story. (Google only finds AP’s original article still posted at Fox News.)

AP did the same thing last year after it was taken to task for failing to check the most basic facts in a story about the controversy over possible Islamic symbolism in the Flight 93 memorial. Ramesh Santanam reported a number of conflicting factual assertions, like the 44 blocks:

Opponents also claim there is a plan to have 44 glass blocks, for the 40 victims and four hijackers, in the design.

“That’s an absolute, unequivocal fabrication that is being portrayed as fact,” said Edward Felt’s brother, Gordon Felt, president of Families of Flight 93. “It’s misleading and helps drive the conspiracy theory.”

When it was pointed out that Santanam could have found the four extra blocks just by opening up the design drawings and counting, AP quickly filed a completely different story (about fundraising for the memorial), under the same url.

It’s not that there is anything inherently wrong with AP using subject feeds that automatically update with their latest offering. It is that AP is systematically using this system to dodge corrections. This is actually their official policy:

For corrections on live, online stories, we overwrite the previous version. We send separate corrective stories online as warranted.

Except AP virtually never issue corrective stories, for the simple reason that AP has no established correction procedure. They just do the overwrite thing and say “too bad.”

Well this time the overwrite thing is not good enough.

Demand a corrective story about AP’s false paraphrase of Obama’s words

Associated Press obviously understands the importance of Obama saying that Iran must respect voters’ choice or they wouldn’t have bothered to pretend that he said it when he didn’t. They don’t just fail to mention Obama’s glaring omission on this crucial point, but actually tell the public via false paraphrase that he did say what he glaringly omitted. This cannot stand. Faced with our new president’s key statement on a historic crisis, AP reports a photo negative of what Obama actually said.

There may be no established procedure for AP corrections, but anyone can still send a pre-written email to AP CEO Tom Curley, Chairman Burl Osborne, Editor Kathleen Carroll, the reporters who worked on the story (the egregious Jennifer Loven, along with Anne Gearan and Robert Burns), plus a smattering of other AP editors and bureaucrats. Who knows. There may even be a limit to how disingenuous some of these people are willing to be.

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