The Associated Press’s Nedra Pickler today takes “he said/she said” campaign reporting to new heights — or depths — in her report previewing Sen. John Kerry’s speech at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri today.

Pickler writes, “Kerry said the Bush administration has extended tours of duty, delayed retirements and prevented enlisted personnel from leaving the service.”

Those aren’t just things that “Kerry said.” Those are facts. And yet in Pickler’s hands, the sentence gets a “Kerry said,” as if it were just another unverifiable piece of rhetoric — leaving hapless readers to determine its accuracy or, more likely, to tune out.

Just as readers should be told when a candidate says something misleading or downright false, so also should readers be informed on those occasions when a candidate actually strays from campaign rhetoric and says something factual.

Someone at AP needs to remove the “he-said/she-said” button from Pickler’s keyboard.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.