After years of investigation, Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits, the Associated Press obtained two years of Hillary Clinton’s schedules from her tenure as Secretary of State. It culminated with this tweet on their findings:
There was one problem: This tweet is completely inaccurate.
The AP analysis includes only 154 meetings. It excludes all meetings with domestic and foreign government officials — the people who a Secretary of State spends most of her time meeting.
Clinton actually participated in over 1,700 meetings as secretary of state during that time period. That means, in truth, fewer than 5 percent of Clinton’s meetings as Secretary of State were with Clinton Foundation donors. (The AP’s story also does not allege that any of those meetings were improper.)
Nevertheless, the AP refused to delete the tweet.
Kathleen Carroll, the AP’s executive editor, was confronted by CNN’s Brian Stelter about the inaccurate tweet.
Asked directly by Stelter if she would agree that the tweet is “inaccurate,” Carroll said the AP was better at “breaking stories and covering news… than we are on tweets.” She said the tweet needed “more precision.”
Pressed by Stelter, Carroll said she did not “regret” the tweet because, if she did, the AP would have deleted it. She then acknowledged that the tweet was “sloppy.”
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 28, 2016
Carroll seems unfamiliar with the tweet itself. She insisted, contrary to Stelter’s claims, that the tweet “included a link to the story itself.” The tweet is embedded above. It does not include a link.
The AP’s decision to stand by the tweet, even while acknowledging it was “sloppy” and wrong, appears to violate their publicly stated “news values” which apply to “all media.”
In the 21st century, that news is transmitted in more ways than ever before — in print, on the air and on the Web, with words, images, graphics, sounds and video. But always and in all media, we insist on the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior when we gather and deliver the news.
That means we abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions.
It’s hard to square a news organization that claims to “abhor… carelessness” with a decision to stand behind a tweet its executive editor admits is “sloppy.”
Carroll’s more fundamental problem seems to be her belief in a false distinction between “reporting” and social media. In the modern media age, many people consume reporting through Twitter and other social media channels.
It is likely that far more people would read a “sloppy” 140-character tweet than a lengthy story about Clinton’s schedule. Dismissing the tweet as a side issue fails to recognize the importance of social media in the AP’s own reporting and distribution strategies.
The AP Twitter account was involved in a separate controversy yesterday when it linked the reactions of Donald Trump and Dwayne Wade to the murder of Wade’s cousin in Chicago.
Carroll called that tweet “clumsy.”
UPDATE (September 8, 2016):
The AP finally deletes their incorrect tweet.