Associated Press Stonewalls on Flubbed Senate Bill 1070 Item
Another pic from July 29: Once again, no one "beating" on the doors, as the AP story insists
Following my column this week regarding the Associated Press' flubbed piece on the sentences received by 13 anti-SB 1070 protesters arrested outside the Fourth Avenue Jail on July 29, 2010, attorney Antonio Bustamante, one of the lawyers for the defendants, wrote the AP asking for a correction or retraction of its inaccurate account.
Bustamante detailed at great length and with tremendous patience why the AP story was inaccurate and why the AP should do something to remedy the situation. The demonstrators were practicing non-violent civil disobedience. None of them were "beating" on the large metal doors of Fourth Avenue's central intake before being arrested by sheriff's deputies, as the AP story reported.
For his efforts, he received a terse reply from Traci Carl, the AP's West Editor, who is based in Phoenix.
"We have looked into your concerns, but have no reason to doubt the validity of the article," she wrote. "Thanks for your interest."
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As Bustamante stated in his reply, which is reprinted below, Carl should have reason to doubt the validity of the reporting, but I get the distinct impression that Carl just doesn't give a flip. Her "can't be bothered" attitude flies in the face of the very "news values and principles" posted on AP's Web site, where it states that, "we abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions."
It's important to note that the MCSO's own report on the arrests says nothing about protesters "beating" on the large bay doors of the central intake. And as Bustamante and Sean Larkin, another lawyer for the defendants, have pointed out to me, if this had happened, you can be sure that the prosecutors would have tried to use it against the activists.
But the prosecutors didn't, because it didn't happen.
"The protesters showed passive resistance to the orders [to disperse]," sheriff's office Lieutenant C. Brackman writes in his summary, "and it appeared they wanted to get arrested."
In other words, no door-banging needed.
In my column, I also took issue with the characterization of the number of demonstrators on the streets that day being in the "dozens." In reality, there were hundreds, and it's not just me saying so. The headline for the Arizona Republic's July 30, 2010 piece on the protests reads, "Hundreds protest as law takes effect."
The AP's recent item on the sentencing of the Fourth Avenue 13 was reproduced online and in print in numerous publications nationwide: Huffington Post, Salon.com, Arizona Republic, KTAR, Arizona Capitol Times, The Charlotte Observer, The Idaho Statesman, and CBSAtlanta.com, along with many, many others.
It may have even gone international, as far as I know. I stopped Googling the story after clicking through several pages of links.
This repetition is one reason why the AP's errors should be taken seriously. Also, it's an insult to these demonstrators in particular to suggest that they were anything but non-violent.
Two reporters contributed to this short, 362-word piece: Amanda Lee Myers and Michelle Price.
It's the job of their editors to correct factual mistakes.
Indeed, the intransigence of the AP's middle management in this instance is telling. I spoke to the AP's Phoenix desk about the item prior to my column running and encountered the same stubborn indifference. Prior to this, e-mails sent to one of the reporters and to the Arizona AP at large were ignored.
I have no faith that Carl will suddenly experience an epiphany and act as she should. She is a gatekeeper for the hive, and as such, it does not behoove her to admit error. To do so undermines the larger media entity and the Borg mindset which is essential to its continued existence.
Still, it's worthy to resist the Borg, and to throw a wrench of doubt into the AP's presumption of infallibility.
So, if you are so inclined, I encourage you to e-mail Carl at TCarl@ap.org, the Arizona AP at firstname.lastname@example.org, reporter Amanda Myers at email@example.com, and the AP in general at firstname.lastname@example.org, and ask, simply, why the AP refuses to correct the obvious inaccuracies in its story.
Should you receive any replies, feel free to share them in the comments below.
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