The Associated Press and Reuters joined Mitt Romney in not attending this week’s Republican quasi-Presidential debate. A story written by the AP covering the AP’s decision quoted an AP official:
The opening stages of an event as important as the presidential selection process should be as accessible as possible to all forms of journalism,” said Michael Oreskes, the AP’s senior managing editor. “These candidates want to lead the country. The country has a right to see them from various angles, not only where the TV cameras are positioned.
Remember, Journalism school students, there’s no reason you can’t quote yourself in a story you write about yourself. That’s completely fine.
The AP isn’t clear exactly how the rights of the voting public are trampled by Fox News in restricting still photos during the televised event, but not by the AP in refusing to cover the event at all.
The only potential problem is that there will be no embarrassing pictures capturing candidates with their faces scrunched up or with mouths gaping ajar while they pronounce words like “sure” or “capital.” The restriction on pictures would be horrible for the AP if they sold pictures.
Oh, wait, that’s right: they sell pictures.
It is also tough to stomach the spin used by both AP and Reuters in holding up their readers and news consumers like human shields as the aggrieved parties. In reality it was the news organizations who were slighted by the picture ban. This isn’t a First Amendment problem; it is similar in that such cases the “public right to know” is used as shorthand for “the news company’s right to publish.”
But luckily for the voters, the AP is pretty much irrelevant as a news gathering organization anyway. By using their platform for political speech, they become even less so.