The Associated Press is the primary source of news for most of America’s 1,300 daily newspapers and for thousands of radio and television broadcasters. This is impressive and frightening.
The AP has won 52 Pulitzer prizes for journalism since the prize was established in 1917. This is way impressive.
How Americans and the rest of the world see our president and our people is in large part the province of our news media, particularly our biggest news service. So it’s a very big deal that the AP’s range and influence are beyond enormous. Big deal but not good deal.
“Our teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting,” according to the AP, which boasts that “more than half the world’s population sees our content every day.”
The news service’s distinctly liberal bias alone doesn’t seem sufficient to explain the extent of its relentlessly harsh criticism of President Trump. The AP has been gut-punching him since he declared for the Republican presidential nomination way back on June 16, 2015, in New York City.
So it wasn’t exactly a big surprise on Tuesday to see an AP story, datelined Flagstaff, Arizona, that began with this journalistic kick in the president’s privates:
“Families of Navajo war veterans who were honored at the White House say they were dumbfounded that President Donald Trump used the event to take a political jab at a Massachusetts senator, demeaning their work with an unbreakable code that helped the U.S. win World War II.”
This lead sentence, like the rest of the “news” story, reads like a press release from the Democratic National Committee. A news story it wasn’t.
Neither the AP nor any other news-gatherer reported any criticism of Mr. Trump’s remark by the any of the three Navajo code talkers, all in their 90s, being honored by the president.
Nor did the AP story quote any relatives of the Navajo code talkers who were in the Oval Office with the president on Monday. Here’s what Mr. Trump did say to the native American code talkers:
“I just want to thank you because you are very, very special people,” he said. “You were here long before any of us were here — although we have a representative in Congress who, they say, was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”
The slap at Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was unpresidential (at least pre-Trump and maybe post-Trump). It certainly was uncalled for, except by a neuron that fired somewhere in the president’s brain. His Warren dig was also typical of Mr. Trump’s irreverence — his utter inability to go for extended periods, like minutes on end, without slapping political correctness in the face and making friend and foe alike wince.
But some wincers follow up with a smile — in their minds if not always on their faces. The smilers, feeling a bit guilty for thinking anything that could be construed as excusing what Mr. Trump said, nonetheless think he wasn’t being mean. He certainly wasn’t being racist. The internal smilers think he thought he was being funny. Good naturedly so. Maybe like Clint Eastwood in his movie “Gran Torino.” His character was Walt Kowalski, a Vietnam War veteran of Polish descent who exchanges mock ethnic insults with his hair-cutter friend, who is of Italian extraction.
The solemn White House ceremony honoring Native American war veterans is not remotely like a barbershop insult-fest between two old friends. Mr. Trump should have known that. Five will get you 10 he did know that. Anyone would know that. He’s not anyone.
A replay of the televised Oval Office ceremony shows the obviously proud and happy code talkers continuing to beam at Mr. Trump as he makes his Pocahontas crack. No stunned silence after. No outward sign of shock or tension or crushed sensitivities. Yet The New York Times’ version of the event claims that when the president made the Pocahontas remark, the code talkers “stood stone-faced.”
In a lead sentence that was even nastier than the AP’s, The New York Times managed to drag, for the umpteenth time, race into its habitual disparagement of Mr. Trump.
“President Trump on Monday transformed a White House ceremony to honor Navajo veterans of World War II into a racially charged controversy, using the event as a platform to deride Senator Elizabeth Warren as ‘Pocahontas,’” the paper wrote.
The New York Times reaches the capitals of the world. The AP reaches the world.
For this story, the AP was no slouch either in scouring the countryside for relatives of code talkers who weren’t at the ceremony but would damn the president. It came up with Michael Smith, a Marine whose father was a code talker. Mr. Smith, according to the AP, “said most of the code talkers would be skeptical about going to the White House because it could be construed to mean they support a political cause.” Maybe most would, maybe not. Bet Mr. Smith didn’t vote for Mr. Trump.
The AP found another Trump slammer in the person of Helena Begaii who “said her 94-year-old Navajo code talker father, Samuel T. Holiday, declined an invitation to the White House on Monday. She said he would have a better feel for what happened once he reads the newspaper.”
Not if the newspaper carried the AP or New York Times account. (There were no other accounts.)
The AP (in its rewrite of a DNC release?) also quoted Democratic New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall as saying, “Donald Trump’s latest racist joke — during Native American Heritage Month, no less — demeaned the contributions that the code talkers and countless other native American patriots and citizens have made to our great country.”
Here’s the world-informing wire service quoting a full-time Democratic Trump disparager and selected relatives of code talkers, all impugning the president every way to Sunday. And smearing him as racist, based on no facts or evidence. If you don’t see danger here, you’re not looking hard enough.