AP's Feller Asks Obama About Thursday 'Third World' Comment the Wire Service Flushed Out of Early Report

The Associated Press's Ben Feller interviewed President Obama on Friday. In the transcript, Feller interrupts Obama's long-winded response to his previous softball question ("Are the Republican leaders lacking compassion and they're pessimistic?") by beginning another question, which is shown as having been stopped before completion:

Q. You said they might lead us to third world -

It's impressive that Feller even knew that Obama, as reported by AFP, indeed accused Republicans of creating a fiscal plan that would, in Obama's words, turn the U.S. into: "... a nation of potholes, and our airports would be worse than places that we thought -- that we used to call the Third World, but who are now investing in infrastructure."

That's because, as seen in a search on "Obama third world" (entered without quotes), there is no current story at the AP's home site:


The only item referencing Obama's "third world" comment is Feller's interview (the April 14 Libya story is unrelated).

The wire service is still carrying a home-site story on the Chicago speech where Obama made his "third world" remark. From all appearances, at least one of their reporters was there, as these paragraphs from an unbylined Thursday evening report show:

Obama says Republican efforts to go after him in a politically expedient way create problems for them.
The president joked about the "birther" issue at a fundraiser Thursday night in his hometown of Chicago. As he described his deep roots in the city, he noted, "I wasn't born here" - referring to Chicago. Then the president paused and chuckled as the crowd at Navy Pier broke into knowing laughter.

"Just want to be clear - I was born in Hawaii," the president said to more laughter.

But there is no reference to the "third world" remark.

The AP did run one story by Erica Werner with a late mid-Thursday evening timeline that I found at only three subscribing outlets in an April 14-17 search on [Obama "Associated Press" "third world"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets, sorted by date with duplicates) that did carry the remark. But in the wire service's inimitable presidential keister-covering style, it apparently decided that Obama's "third world" comment wasn't really newsworthy and removed it from subsequent story revisions.

Getting back to Feller's half-question: Was it halted because Obama interrupted him, or because Feller realized he had just brought something up that the AP wished to bury? My money's on the latter, because AP's mini-stories on the interview released ahead of the transcript (here and here) make no reference to Obama's "third world" Chicago remark, even though Feller asked about it.

For what little it's worth, here is Obama's answer to Feller's half-question:

Well, literally, if you look at the numbers, we could not afford to repair our roads in this country under their budget. We couldn't afford to provide the kind of financial assistance that we provide to poor kids or middle-class kids to go to college. We just couldn't afford it. We could not afford under the budget that they've proposed to invest in medical research in the way that we're currently doing. So that's what I mean when I say that it is a pessimistic vision. It's one that says that America can no longer do some of the big things that made us great, that made us the envy of the world, and so we're going to leave it to China or we're going to leave it to Japan or we're going to leave it Brazil to make these big investments, to have the new discoveries. And that's not I think how most of us think America should be.

Of course, Feller never asked why so many of these problems remain after two years of "stimulus" and with federal spending on track to come in a full trillion dollars higher than it was just four years ago:


That's why a good working nickname for Feller's employer is the Apparatchik Press.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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