On Monday, President Bush gave a speech and took questions at Kansas State University. It's been a couple of days, and the last wire stories on that have probably been written. So it's interesting to look and see what the Associated Press thought was newsworthy about the speech.
First, they ran a story from Jennifer Loven, which focused on the NSA's surveillance program.
President Bush pushed back Monday at critics of his once-secret domestic spying effort, saying it should be termed a "terrorist surveillance program" and contending it has the backing of legal experts, key lawmakers and the Supreme Court.
Notice that the term "domestic spying effort" is used to describe the program, while the phrase "terrorist surveillance program" is in quotes, emphasizing that, while the President may want to call it a "terrorist surveillance program," the AP knows that it is actually a "domestic spying effort."
Bush's remarks were part of an aggressive administration campaign to defend the four-year-old program as a crucial and legal terror-fighting tool. The White House is trying to sell its side of the story before the Senate Judiciary Committee opens hearings on it in two weeks.
An "aggressive administration campaign" to "sell its side of the story." Maybe, just maybe, that's necessary, because the stories that have been published have only told the other side. Certainly, the AP, in this story, has emphasized that they don't think that the President's characterization is accurate. They've implicitly called him a liar by continuing to call the program "domestic spying" when the White House has repeatedly pointed out the inaccuracy of the term.
In any event, there was another AP story from the KSU event, a non-bylined story which focused on the President's assertion that "the war on terror is an 'ideological struggle'," and appears to have been mostly written before the speech occurred.
There was a story from Nedra Pickler, which also focused on the NSA program.
And that was basically it. The President took and answered questions on the War on Terrorism, on Iran and China, on immigration and Social Security and education and Tony Blair and nuclear weapons. An American Iraqi Kurd got up and praised the President, talked about how many family members she'd lost under the Hussein regime. None of that got a mention in anything that the AP ran. None of that was news. (Maybe if he'd included a couple of good mispronunciations they'd have found space.)
But they did find one question newsworthy. When someone got up and asked the President if he'd seen "Brokeback Mountain." Somehow, the Associated Press deemed that newsworthy. (One wonders if it would have warranted an AP story if the question had been about "Munich" or "Underworld: Evolution" or "Hoodwinked...")
And they still pretend not to have an agenda...
I've said it before, I'll say it again - the AP is very good at what it does. It's just a shame that unbiased news reporting isn't it...
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