Friday, February 22, 2008

Marines: Associated Press Mischaracterized Civilian's Opinions as Official Study

Now here's a stunner. The Associated Press has been accused of misrepresentation.

Will wonders ever cease?

At issue is this story from last Friday.

Here's the Marine Corps press release in full.
HEADQUARTERS MARINE CORPS (Feb. 22, 2008) - In a letter yesterday to Associated Press president Thomas Curley, the Marine Corps raised objections to a story by reporter Richard Lardner which mischaracterized a preliminary internal paper written by a civilian employee of Headquarters, Marine Corps.

Although the paper was clearly marked as the personal views of that employee and not representative of the Marine Corps or the Department of Defense, the AP headline and story led readers to believe the work was an official Marine Corps study. Statements that the work represented the personal opinions of the author were placed deep within the article.

In addition, another AP report three days later stated that "The Associated Press first reported Friday that hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps officials refused the request of the commanders." This statement was presented as fact and not attributed to the author of the paper, as representing his personal views.

As a result of the AP's inaccurate and imprecise reporting, the Marine Corps was forced to respond to numerous requests for clarification from news organizations, members of Congress and other groups.

"There has been a clear reluctance on behalf of the AP reporter and his editor to accurately state the nature of the civilian's opinion paper, and to correct the record," said Col. Dave Lapan, deputy director of Marine Corps public affairs. "So we are. This is an example of how inaccurate reporting leads to continued inaccuracies and ultimately does a disservice to the millions of readers who rely on the AP for accurate and factual information."
Nobody is diputing the nuts and bolts of the story. However, the AP makes it as if this is an official Marines study when it was in fact written by a civilian.

Somehow I doubt they'll be issuing a clarification.

Blackfive has more.

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