Which AP Will Your Paper Print?

Sen. John Edwards’ victory in the veepstakes came at an inopportune moment in the news cycle and most outlets, aside from a few such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, deferred online coverage of this major political event to the Associated Press.

Thus, odds are, interested voters checking in with their hometown paper’s .com version today found themselves reading an Associated Press story penned by Ron Fournier. In it, Fournier all but dismisses Edwards, with an arch throw-away line that stings: “[A] rich former trial lawyer and rookie senator.” Later on in the fifth paragraph, Fournier offers the reader a softer take on Edwards, describing him as a “smooth-talking Southern populist.”

While these two images of the freshly anointed VP candidate aren’t necessarily contradictory, it’s safe to say that latter is more laudatory than the former. After reading Fournier’s morning take, a sharp-eyed Campaign Desk colleague (who, a la the New York Times, asked to remain anonymous so he wouldn’t be pestered by reporters) intoned:

“His editors are going to get a hold of this and revise it this afternoon.”


Sure enough, Fournier’s less-than-flattering introduction this morning was replaced with the kinder, gentler “smooth-talking Southern populist” narrative.

Sometimes it’s as easy as predicting sunrise and sunset.

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.