Is There NB Commenter-Inspired Journalistic Improvement in Latest AP Interrogations Memo Story?

Between its January 31 and February 20 reports on developments in the "interrogation memos" saga, the Associated Press may have learned a lesson in basic journalism from a NewsBusters commenter. I'll describe; readers can decide.

The wire service's unbylined report three weeks ago opened with this paragraph:


NB commenter "TE" took justifiable umbrage at that opening:

This Associated (with terrorists) Press editorial also swallows the allegation that Bybee and Yoo "showed poor judgment". The Associated (with terrorists) Press conveniently failed to place quotation marks around its unsubstantiated allegation that Bybee and Yoo "showed poor judgment". "Showed poor judgment" according to whom? The Associated (with terrorists) Press?

Lo and behold, today's report by the wire service's Matt Apuzzo, with help from Devlin Barrett and Pete Yost, does things a little differently:


Imagine that. The AP actually put quote marks around something it quoted.

Other verbiage in the report's second paragraph demonstrates that if the folks at AP are taking journalistic tips from NewsBusters, they are either very slow learners, or can only handle one lesson at a time.

Apuzzo's second paragraph reference to "giving CIA interrogators the go-ahead" demonstrates a second failure to pick up a crucial point raised after the first AP report in two comments (here and here) by NB commenter "CobraMan." The wire service completely misrepresents the memo writers' true level of authority at the time they composed their missives:

Ahh, excuse me, but the lawyers didn't "craft" anything that "allowed" the use of any "harsh interrogation tactics." Those men didn't have that authority. Those lawyers only wrote a legal opinion, they didn't write legal policy. That's like claiming that the people who draft war plans are the ones who "allow " the use of those plans. But that's not how it works.

.... That's the whole issue here, punishing someone for offering an opinion others don't agree with. Two men wrote a legal opinion that others disagree with, and that's all that they did! Because they disagree, other people want those men punished.

Yea, that's a proper response to differing legal opinions, NOT. The thing that bothers me about this the most are all the LAWYERS who insist that these men be punished simply for writing a legal opinion! They better hope that this doesn't become precedent! Half of all criminal and civil attorneys (and Judges!) will be punished for issuing opposing opinions if it does become precedent. You would think that college educated law "experts" would realize this and try to stop this obvious First Amendment violation in its tracks.

There are other weaknesses in Apuzzo's coverage that I'll leave to commenters -- items we may find AP heeding in the future. In the meantime, be on the lookout for other possible evidence that "The Essential Global News Network" is getting schooled by NewsBusters commenters.

Maybe a fee for ongoing training and development is in order.

Cross-posted at

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.