Piranhas Like Us
Michael Ubaldi, February 17, 2004.
Glenn Reynolds has been looking into the highly editorialized "reporting" of one Scott Lindlaw of the Associated Press. I found an archive of the reporter's work; abridged, it still shows a three-year-long arc for Lindlaw as White House correspondent. Lindlaw was relatively objective in late 2001 and 2002. Clearly no sympathizer of the president's, his articles were nevertheless straight descriptions of political events at the time. Contrast that with his most recent work, awarded booby prizes from the Columbia Journalism Review. Short story? It appears he wasn't always like this.
Lindlaw turned towards skewered news after last summer; his motivations are anyone's guess, but recall that between June and August 2003 heavily reported troop losses and a general withholding of municipal and infrastructure development stories caused a slide in public opinion. Conventional wisdom and the Democratic Party declared Bush vulnerable - the press probably did, too. Lindlaw's first noticeable play of tit-for-tat ("Bush said the nation has lost 'thousands of jobs in manufacturing.' In fact, the losses have soared into the millions...") was in a September 2, 2003 report. Thus begins a staggered, horizontal transfer into opinion-column authorship, as Lindlaw is compelled to fence President Bush and his administration. Some articles are fair; others are ping-pong tournaments - President Bush says "A," Scott Lindlaw believes "B," though "B," however politically inclined or debatable, is instead presented as objective reality. Whether David Kay's WMD report or Washington budget battles, Lindlaw consistently inserts conjecture where none is warranted.
These examples aren't as egregious as Lindlaw's latest, linked by Instapundit. If this is an indication of the reporter's journalistic direction, the influence of the Scylla of the White House Press Room, Helen Thomas, has rubbed off on him quite a bit. And that's unfortunate.
CREATIVE WRITING, ONLY BILLED AS 'JOURNALISM': This addendum has been added September 3, 2004, on account of some archive hits from Glenn Reynolds. And for good reason. Unprofessionalism, thy name is Scott Lindlaw.
AHA! A CORRECTION: Apparently the story's author is not Lindlaw. But I don't believe I'll pull an AP and erase everything. And besides, with Scott Lindlaw writing ledes elsewhere like "President Bush sought to take the edge off a conservative image sharpened by three years of war and aggressive tax cuts," and jumping on the we-can't-win-the-war bandwagon, my condemnation above still fits like a glove.
THEN AGAIN: Update September 9, 2004. Powerline says it was Lindlaw. Condemnation still stands.