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March 3, 2006
AP Plays Emily Litella

The AP started a firestorm with its report that transcripts from emergency meetings somehow proved George Bush lied when he said that no one imagined the levees around Lake Pontchartrain would be breached in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After its report got picked up by every news source in the US, and after the discovery that these transcripts and videos never contained any warnings about breaches, the AP has finally decided to actually read the transcript and watch its video:

Clarification: Katrina-Video story


WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a March 1 story, The Associated Press reported that federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees in New Orleans, citing confidential video footage of an Aug. 28 briefing among U.S. officials.

The Army Corps of Engineers considers a breach a hole developing in a levee rather than an overrun. The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking.

The day before the storm hit, Bush was told there were grave concerns that the levees could be overrun. It wasn't until the next morning, as the storm was hitting, that Michael Brown, then head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Bush had inquired about reports of breaches. Bush did not participate in that briefing.

So on a Friday night, the AP finally decides to issue this half-hearted retraction -- after its clients have run what turned out to be an entirely false story for most of the week. The AP has, over time, drifted from its initial mission to report news and instead has embraced partisan cheapshotting. Any editor who actually reviewed the video or read the transcripts would have immediately realized that no one talked about levee breaches at all. This vaunted system of editors and fact-checking at Exempt Media outlets failed yet again, and yet again the hack job that emerged was intended to damage George Bush.

This pattern looks all too familiar.

UPDATE: I got this from a media source who noted it hadn't been released through AP's web service as yet. Keemo points us to Drudge, who also posted it.

UPDATE II: CQ reader and frequent source River Rat notes that the AP still engages in some dishonest vocabulary in its clarification:

They are replacing the verb "breach" with the verb "overrun" which means: 1 a (1) : to defeat utterly and occupy the positions of : OVERWHELM, OVERPOWER, CRUSH (2) : to invade and occupy or ravage b obsolete : to run over destructively or harmfully : run down c : to spread or swarm over The word used in all of the briefings was "overtop" or "top" as a diminutive form thereof. Overtop means. 1 : to rise above the top of : exceed in height : tower above

Definitions are Merriam Webster Unabridged. They are still using misleading language and really should be renamed, Agitprop Pravda.

Good point.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 3, 2006 8:40 PM

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