You Wouldn’t Believe What We “Hear”

The Associated Press newswire just coughed up an understandably unsigned story, headlined, “GOP Blames Clinton for Iraq Intel Lapse.”

And here’s what the wire service provides as the late-breaking news peg for this story:

Rep. Porter J. Goss, R-Fla., said he heard a 1998 speech in which then-President Clinton warned that something must be done about Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. “Unfortunately, he did not complete that task before his term expired,” Goss said at a Capitol Hill press conference.

Huh? “Said he heard … “?

By what journalistic standard does that qualify as attribution?

Has AP lost its contract with Nexis? Or has it just lost any pretense at attempting to nail down the facts? Has it no clue how to, say, peruse Clinton’s 1998 speeches to see if Goss is talking through his hat or, conversely, if he’s on to something?

Or is it, as we here at Campaign Desk have “heard,” that AP’s editors have a clause in their contracts letting them leave early on Wednesdays?


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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.