Not April Fools Day: AP Brands Itself as 'Advancing the Power of Facts'

July 29th, 2020 1:33 PM

Here’s something that might make you laugh. The Associated Press wire service, the liberal-tilting longtime home of Helen Thomas, has a new slogan: “Advancing the Power of Facts.” The Editor & Publisher website reports:

The Associated Press recently revealed a new brand campaign which, according to a press release, emphasizes the global news organization’s “vital role as the provider of accurate, unbiased, fact-based reporting to the world.

“The main goal is to elevate our position and our mission in the world,” global marketing director Julie Tucker told E&P. “People think they know who we are, but we have not been as bold in saying who we are, why we matter and what our mission is.”

When they were putting together the campaign, the theme of neutrality spoke to Tucker, but as they worked to unpack that idea it became clear that the AP was “all about facts,” she said.

That certainly sounds good -- but it's not the trend we've noticed at AP. Decades ago, AP still had that reputation as straight news, almost boring news, not a place for salty opinions That's changed.

We recently noted AP's Jonathan Lemire (now a Morning Joe regular) writing badly disguised editorials with headlines like "As pandemic deepens, Trump cycles through targets to blame." 

Or take Calvin Woodward's recent piece, headlined "Coronavirus shakes the conceit of ‘American exceptionalism’." Woodward wisecracked "At the time of greatest need, the country with the world’s most expensive health care system doesn’t want you using it if you’re sick but not sick enough or not sick the right way."

Even the "AP Fact Check" is all about bashing Trump, not even allowing the president to predict the future of coronavirus with "no evidence."  Who has "evidence" from the future? 

By contrast, in January the AP published an embarrassing 831-word puff piece about “the typically reserved and measured” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “rare display of emotion” in which his “voice cracked under the weight of the moment” at terrorist Qasem Soleimani’s funeral.

But the AP marketing guru insists they're all facts, all the time: 

“This is an enduring brand mission and positioning. It’s something that we’ll roll off for next year,” Tucker said. “It’s not a tagline or slogan. It is really what we do in the world and how we should behave. Unless we decide to go into a completely different industry, it is what the Associated Press will always do—advance the power of facts.”