After falsely reporting that a crowd President Bush was speaking to booed after he wished President Clinton a speedy recovery from heart surgery, the Associated Press has refused to identify the reporter who filed the story or say what punishment he or she might face.
The original report stated: “A crowd at a Bush rally in West Allis, Wis., booed when President Bush offered ex-President Clinton best wishes for a speedy recovery from coronary bypass surgery scheduled for next week.”
Milwaukee talk radio stations WTMJ and WISN were first to debunk the report.
At WTMJ, talk-show host Jeff Wagner’s producer, Dan Walsh said, “We carried the President’s speech live, which included the applause for his best wishes for Clinton’s recovery. There was no booing and we had a large number of calls deploring what AP reported.”
At Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters in Milwaukee, communications director John Brain said, “We received lots of outraged calls about AP, which put this untruth on their national wire. West Allis is a Milwaukee suburb and two Milwaukee talk-radio stations, WISN and WTMJ, played what was undoubtedly applause and not booing.”
On the day after its original report had been circulated nationwide, AP sent out the following correction:
“This is a correction to an incorrect story posted by AP on Friday stating the crowd booed the president when he sent his good wishes. The crowd, in fact, did NOT boo.”
Telephone inquiries to the AP in both Washington and New York – as to who was the reporter who put this falsehood on their national wire – resulted in references to higher authority.
On Sunday afternoon at 5:46 p.m. Eastern, Jack Stokes, director of media relations of the Associated Press, sent an e-mail that stated:
“The Associated Press does not comment on personnel issues.”
To which Milwaukee Bush-Cheney’s Brain responded:
“Can you imagine most corporations responding like this?”
So, the identity of just which AP reporter put this falsehood on their national wire will remain concealed by the world’s largest news-gathering service.
None of the media that depend on AP for news will be allowed to know who did this, or whether he or she has been fired for this nationally circulated falsehood.
A transcript of Bush’s remarks released by the White House noted applause after Bush offered Clinton “best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery.”
ABC Radio Network news also confirmed that the Clinton reference was applauded, not jeered. In its original version of the story, the AP had reported: “Bush’s audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them.”