(January 3, 2024) The Associated Press, despite boasting many excellent individual reporters, long ago lowered standards and became, at least at its top levels, a frequent purveyor of toxic and dishonest left-wing agitprop. Even by those lowered standards, though, the Associated Press’s main story on the resignation of Harvard University President Claudine Gay was a disgrace.

Indeed, even after it was updated to mitigate some of its worst flaws, it was so full of bias and inaccuracies that it read like a slipshod legal defense brief for Gay grafted onto a Harvard Lampoon satire of woke reporting.

For an organization that for decades took pride in being a reliable, just-the-facts, no-bias provider of hard news to almost every journalistic outlet in the nation, the story on Gay marks the lowest of new lows.

A primary rule of good journalism is that facts come first, motives afterward. In other words, facts speak for themselves as either accurate or not, no matter who first brings them to light. For years, though, liberal news outlets have specialized in the form of reporting derided by critics as the “conservatives pounce” model. If left-wing activists allege bad but undeniable facts about conservatives, those facts are treated as the main (or only) story, but if conservative allegations about bad liberal behavior prove true, the outlet makes the main story about how mean it is of conservatives to “pounce” on the facts to serve their own political ends.

Within just a few paragraphs, then, the story all but defends the original misbehavior while treating the conservative whistleblowers as suspects or outright “bad guys.” To the utmost extreme, that’s what the Associated Press did in its Jan. 2-3 overnight story about Harvard’s president.

The original headline itself is a perfect example of the “conservatives pounce” formulation: “Harvard president’s resignation highlights new conservative weapon against colleges: plagiarism.” As if plagiarism is an issue only because conservatives make it one, rather than being for well over a century one of the cardinal sins of both academia and journalism…. [Please read to the end of this. After the intro above, the point-by-point examination shows astonishing, mind-boggling evidence of both sloppy reporting and, worse, absolutely terrible journalistic ethics. Again, read to the end here.]

 

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