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SELLERS: Jan. 6 Coverage Makes AP the New Standard-Bearer for Media Bias

'The AP's assertion that the election unequivocally was not stolen does not align with the reality that many have empirically observed...'

A year since the great uprising of Jan. 6, 2021, the political landscape is no less bleak than when thousands gathered on the National Mall for President Donald Trump’s last major rally as the sitting US leader.

Sadly, the day’s events resulted in the killings of two Trump supporters—Ashli Babbitt and Roseanne Boyland—while injuring many decent, America-loving people on both sides of the skirmish and doing nothing to effect any tangible progess or meaningful dialogue.

Even so, I have long maintained that the violence that broke out between demonstrators and Capitol Police was—in the words of the late Democrat Rep. John Lewis—“good trouble,” in service of a noble cause.

No, not insurrection, mind you. Contrary to what conspiracist BlueAnon wingnuts may claim, there was never a concerted effort to take control of the government, nor any serious plan to prevent the inevitable installation of Biden as president.

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Nonetheless, the J6 protest was absolutely necessary as a means to rebuff the onslaught of abuses waged by the left-wing elite’s systems of power and oppression: the political and corporate spheres, Big Tech, Hollywood, the news media, academia, and many others that conspired to disfranchise some 75 million voters while undermining the basic tenets of democracy.

Given the brazen overreach that leftist powermongers have attemped while in control of the White House and Congress, can anyone imagine where we might be if not for the few hundred of patriots who—for four fleeting hours—forced them to account for their actions?

LIES AND MORE LIES

It would not take a major stretch of the imagination for Democrats—a party that claims to be the great champion of empathy—to recognize the outrage over these abuses and to validate the concerns that half the nation felt about what went down in 2020, not to mention the more extensive yearslong ‘resistance’ campaign to undermine the Trump administration.

Instead, as if they desperately had something to hide and feared imminent discovery, leftist lawmakers spent every ounce of effort they could muster on trying to starve out any dissent through censorship, lawsuits, kangaroo hearings, threats and all-around divisive rhetoric.

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Since then, Jan. 6 has morphed from images of Nancy Pelosi’s son-in-law taking selfies with the Q’Anon Shaman to CNN hack Brian Stelter claiming he suffers from J6-PTSD (which some might argue is simply a new variant of Trump Derangement Syndrome).

Americans spent much of 2021 locked in the same media holding pattern, with the obvious gaslighting becoming—in the words of Barack Obama—yet another “new normal.”

Now—as it was in the days preceding Nov. 8, 2016 and Jan. 6, 2021—the backlash is building.

Democrats can sense the reckoning that awaits, be it in the upcoming midterm elections or before. Yet, bizarrely, they have doubled down on their bogus and debunked narratives, hoping to repeat a web of “big lies” and meta-lies (i.e. lies about the lies) until they eventually become the truth.

FROM BIAS TO PROPAGANDA

The decisions by networks like CNN and MSNBC, and major left-owned newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post, to slant their coverage has long been recognized.

Journalist Sharyl Attkisson compiled what may be considered the most accurate among many media-bias charts that exist in the blogosphere.

Media Bias Chart
Media Bias Chart / IMAGE: SharylAttkisson.com

But Attkisson’s last update was in 2019, as made obvious by the Drudge Report’s presence in the righthand column. Since then, some in the mainstream media have moved decidedly farther to the left, following Democrats as they stroll down the garden path toward socialism.

Among the biggest offenders to divorce itself from reality has been the Associated Press, the syndicated wire service that licenses content to untold numbers of smaller outlets throughout the world (including Headline USA).

While its bias always has been evident, there was a sense that the AP at least went through the motions of trying to maintain an impartial facade.

Yet, recent personnel changes would seem to cast doubt on whether the AP should be considered the standard-bearer for other media outlets—a designation that it has long enjoyed because of its wide reach.

A ‘SLOW-MOTION’ TRAIN WRECK

I had noted for some time the AP’s radical transformation to lapdog of the Biden administration, with its chief White House correspondent, Zeke Miller (a former Buzzfeed reporter), becoming one of the go-to sources for inane softballs on Biden’s pre-vetted list of approved media.

However, the moment that the AP appeared to jump the shark—the tipping point after which it became impossible to suspend disbelief—may have been an article last week accusing Republicans of mounting a “slow-motion insurrection” for courting candidates who remained skeptical of the 2020 election outcome.

Days later, I noticed that a barrage of falsely-framed articles about Jan. 6—all closely aligned with the Left’s most egregious talking points—was occupying nearly all of the syndicate’s top news section.

As a paying AP client, I decided that it was high time to call out its decision-makers. Thus, I drafted an email to John Daniszewski, the AP’s so-called vice president for standards, to seek some clarification as to what those ‘standards’ may be.

For good measure, I also included Miller and Nicholas Riccardi (author of the “slow-motion insurrection” piece), as well as Julie Pace, the AP’s recently appointed executive editor and former DC bureau chief. After a day’s time, Daniszewski graciously responded with a message that was every bit as thoughtful and polite as it was dishonest.I responded with a rebuttal of my own but have yet to hear back. To justify the time drain, I am here repurposing it as content:

Mr. Daniszewski–

The problem that the AP faces, as with many instances of bias (whether pernicious or unintentional) is in the false framing that underlies it. The AP’s assertion that the election unequivocally was not stolen does not align with the reality that many have empirically observed—more on that below.

Your tu quoque attempt to claim that I am biased does little to make your case since I am not purporting to be the arbiter of definitive Truth as the AP frequently is. However, I welcome the comparison. If the answer is “So what, so are you,” then I construe that to be an acknowledgement that you have become the Biden administration’s de facto propaganda mouthpiece just as my aim is to be a steadfast critic of it and to hold it thoroughly accountable.

While Mr. Miller and Mr. Riccardi—among others—have had their noses up the presidential posterior, there are significant points of concern and interest being covered by the conservative press that you have wilfully ignored, including the valid questions about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. Just because every single Biden supporter did not pull the lever with the intention of committing fraud does not negate the election-meddling that occurred, much of it wonderfully outlined in a post-inauguration victory lap by Time‘s Molly Ball.

Treating the actions taken by billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, activist organizations, labor unions and partisan officials to interfere with proper election administration under cover of “emergency orders” as if they were legitimate actions and were entirely above-board does not make them inherently legitimate. And your editorial staff’s refusal to accurately cover in a fair and rational light many other irregularities that occurred does not make them go away.

For instance, the Arizona audit report found that there were significant issues involving mail-in ballots that could not be traced or accounted for, well and above the so-called margin of victory in the statewide race; and Maricopa officials have acknowledged trying to conceal unfavorable data in order to undermine the audit process. Focusing on the report’s bottom-line finding (Biden got 300ish more votes) without supplying the full context (thousands of those votes were highly suspicious) is a deliberate obfuscation and omission of the facts—-and one that conveniently aligns with the precise talking points of far-left activist groups like Democracy Docket. Several other states—including Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—continue to investigate illegal activity, despite the endless efforts of the Left to hinder and obstruct transparency.

So, to respond to your question, Mr. Riccardi’s framing is inherently flawed because Republicans are courting candidates who accurately recognize the Left’s attempts to suppress democracy in 2020 and beyond—and who, while accepting the realities of the 2020 debacle, are determined not to allow these attacks on our democracy by the elite ‘ruling’ class to continue. It is not only misleading and manipulative but dangerous to equate their efforts to heal and restore democracy—and to do so through the proper channels of the midterm elections—with the notion of insurrection. The obvious intent is to cast aspersions, preemptively, on a midterm outcome that is likely to be a blowout given the failed policies of the Biden administration.

Moreover, suggesting that some throwaway line about Democrats also changing laws makes up for accusing the GOP of a ‘slow-motion insurrection’ in the headline does not make it a balanced and objective account. The Georgia laws are designed to close the loopholes on the gross abuses of election law waged by Zuckerberg, Marc Elias, Stacey Abrams, et al., whose efforts were expressly intended to facilitate the commission of fraud. Even Democrats long agreed that measures like ballot harvesting and universal absentee ballots enabled fraud. That is, until Democrats realized they could not win the war of ideas and that their only path to victory was changing the rules to their favor. The “partisan” legislatures of which you speak are duly elected. The embattled “local election officials” you speak of are not. Unfortunately, thanks to the infusion of dark money into the process, many are radical activists who can no longer be trusted to do their jobs honestly.

The idea of anything happening “systematically” smacks of conspiracy theory. There is no vast right-wing conspiracy, and it is time you let go of Hillary Clinton’s claims to the contrary—and that Democrats stop responding in kind by conspiring to blame the “system” for which they hold all the levers of control. The election reforms in states like Georgia and Texas were enacted because of the blatant abuses that occurred. It is quite telling, however, that Democrats in Congress are now attempting to make these “emergency” changes permanent.

In each of the stories I mentioned previously—and which you defended in your response—the problem was generally with the framing and inflection. The AP’s coverage of George Floyd was nothing like its Ashil [sic] Babbitt smear. The coverage of Floyd’s crack dealing (couched by the push for Abbott to pardon him amid “crooked cop” accusations) was far more forgiving in tone than the portrayal of Babbitt’s traffic infraction, which implied she was unhinged. Are you really trying to make the case for some sort of equivalency in coverage? If so, shouldn’t conservatives be allowed to respond to Ashli Babbitt’s “martyrdom” the same way leftists did to George Floyd’s?

Were your other coverage consistently honest and accurate, it would be easier to trust your proprietary data regarding the election outcome. But that’s precisely the problem. It isn’t.

The same is true of other sources that dismissed the evidence of foul play in the election. Attorney General Barr’s true motives—a personal vendetta with Trump and his concerns as a longstanding member of the DC establishment with his own reputation—cast doubts on the sincerity of his efforts to investigate abuses before, during and after the election. He is documented in Jonathan Karl’s book as saying he thought in advance Trump would lose and that his main interest was one of self-preservation. Chris Krebs has likewise proven to be anything but a reliable and trustworthy source of information. Just look at his Twitter.

Of the court cases that have been heard—rather than dismissed on technicalities–Trump and his allies have something like a 70% rate of victory. Claiming that a dismissal of cases due to lack of standing or laches validates the disputed election results underscores either the AP’s ignorance or bad-faith distortion of the facts. With all that was going on amid the backdrop of Biden’s and Schumer’s threats to pack the courts, is it any wonder they wanted to wash their hands of the whole messy affair, even at the risk of getting it wrong?

I am glad that the AP’s stated objective remains aligned with the essential functions of a free press. But to step back and look at the disparities in coverage, it is hard to believe that everyone on your editorial team is fully on board with that objective. Out of curiosity, how many conservatives are there in leadership positions at the AP? Or in any newsroom positions, for that matter?

I think it would be of great value for the AP to consider hiring a conservative ombudsman if it truly wishes to support the functions of democracy instead of undermining them.

Very truly yours,

Ben Sellers

A HOPELESS CAUSE?

Perhaps the pushback will lead the AP to pivot toward a more reasonable stance, although it is unlikely.

The actual Jan. 6 article selection appeared to be more of the same—and Headline USA, accordingly, made the editorial decision not to run any of them.

But like the Jan. 6 revolt itself (which I followed in real time from the safe comfort of my TV screen), I like to think my stand against the news-media goliath at least helped to define the boundaries of a red line that the newly radicalized Left crosses at its own peril.

Let’s just hope they don’t cancel our subscription.

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