Yes, we know, we chided the Associated Press and its reporter Liz Sidoti yesterday, but this appears to be one of those weeks when the misdeeds of the wire service and the intrepid Sidoti are like the pop-up ducks at a county fair shooting gallery; as soon as you blow one away, another appears.

This time around, Sidoti and AP’s Sharon Theimer gave the folks at the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign lots of free ink to bloviate over a new round of anti-Bush ads scheduled to hit the airwaves today.

According to the story, the Bush-Cheney campaign plans to ask the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate the Democratic-leaning Media Fund, which is underwriting the $4.5-million ad blitz in 17 competitive states. The Media Fund is supported by so-called soft-money contributions and thus is exempt from provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. The FEC has agreed to consider the legality of these groups, but that decision is not expected anytime soon.

It’s not until the 16th paragraph of AP’s story — which is chock full of quotes with fightin’ words like “blatant,” “cynical,” “intimidate,” and “bogus” — that the reporters deliver the punch line, a.k.a. the point of the piece:

Bush-Cheney doesn’t want the ads pulled, or a court to intervene. Rather, the reporters tell us, “the object of the complaint is to highlight what Bush campaign officials say are Democratic hypocrisies and to prod the FEC to act more quickly than it has in the past.”

Forget the FEC. Seems to us that, with this kind of stenography disguised as reporting, AP is already carrying that water for the re-election campaign.

Susan Q. Stranahan

Update: An incorrect reference has been deleted from the above post.

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.