Salem Radio Network (SRN), the home of conservative talk radio show hosts Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, and Mike Gallagher, is holding the liberal Associated Press’s (AP) feet to the fire. The AP has been leaning left for years, and Salem, a major subscriber to AP, had been upset. Finally, however, AP crossed the line; they offered an “analysis” (read: “fact check”) of Dinesh D’Souza’s wildly successful documentary 2016.
Tom Tradup, the Vice-President of News & Talk Programming for Salem, was attending the Republican National Convention when he saw the write-up in AP. He fired off a letter:
As I am overseeing our SRN News coverage and four SRN nationally-syndicated talk programs here in Tampa during the 2012 Republican National Convention, I’ve been “off the radar” a bit on checking my AP files. However, I just saw the Associated Press “analysis” of Dinesh D’souza’s documentary by Beth Fouhy.
As Vice President of SRN News and an AP subscriber—and one who you know has repeatedly raised concerns over the lack of objectivity by AP writers in the past—I am astonished at this biased, one-sided “fact check” on the 2016 film, distributed world-wide under the AP banner. And I need to strenuously object to AP devoting funds from subscribers like SRN to create and distribute such left-leaning diatribes.
Did I miss the AP “fact checking” of Michael Moore’s “Farenheit 9/11” or “Bowling for Columbine” documentaries? Was there a “fact checking” of Al Gore’s questionable global warming movie “An Inconvenient Truth”?
Additionally, your writer Beth Fouhy is now on Twitter (Beth Fouhy
@bfouhy ) telling people: I've gotten more hate mail and tweets for my fact check on 2016: Obama's America than any story I've written. http://hrld.us/PpjaIx
While we regret anyone sending “hate mail and tweets” to your writer—or anyone else for that matter—the fact is your AP writer is not the victim here. If there IS a victim, it is subscribers like SRN News who have subsidized without our permission the AP’s biased account of “2016: Obama’s America.”
We have addressed this on several of our talk shows already, but we also need some action within your organization itself.
As Thom Callahan is no longer at the helm, please share my concern with the top people at AP in both hands-on news as well as management. This is as bad—or worse—than bias issues we have raised in the past, and I ask for immediate attention to our concerns so that whatever led to this unacceptable “news item” will not be repeated going forward.
AP responded in a letter from Sally Buzbee, chief of their Washington Bureau:
Please assure Mr. Tradup that we do Fact Checks on a wide variety of statements and material from all sides of the political debate. We have very aggressively Fact Checked statements by President Obama and other Democrats, in addition to material and statements from Republicans.
I don’t know specifically if we did Fact Checks per se on the other documentaries from the past that he mentioned. But we certainly in many of those cases did look at those political documentaries factually to see if there were distortions and report on any distortions.
It’s worth noting here that the fact that the AP did not do fact checking on Michael Moore’s fabulously successful documentaries demonstrates the AP’s inherent bias. But Buzbee continued:
If something becomes a part of the political dialogue, we feel we need to look at it.
We also have a story coming this weekend that looks at what a phenomenon the film has become, how well it’s doing at the box office, etc.
On the twitter issue, I have spoken to the reporter and asked her to keep her tweets focused on things she is covering. I do think that tweet was somewhat inappropriate and I appreciate him drawing it to my attention. As I am sure he is aware, social media is an area where news organizations are feeling their way. AP has a strong set of guidelines that prohibit reporters from expressing opinion or being too edgy on social media. Ms. Fouhy did not strictly break those guidelines. But I agree that the tweet made me uncomfortable, and I have spoken to the reporter.
We always appreciate feedback. I personally strive pretty hard to ensure we are covering the issues of the day but also being entirely fair and objective and I’m happy to always get feedback.
AP isn’t going to change: just today they joined with the Huffington Post to report that Mitt Romney had told a flood victim in Louisiana just to call 211, and refused to report the entire conversation, which had the victim saying:
“He’s good, he’ll do the best for us, he has our best interests at heart. I thought he’d be more like a politician, but it was more understanding and caring. He was caring.”
Salem and Tradup should be commended for taking the fight to AP. And the AP ought to be ashamed of itself for running hit pieces on films they find politically distasteful while ignoring liberal films that richly deserve fact checking.