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Tell the AP you support real journalism, fair, balanced, and unafraid

Reported by Chrish - March 21, 2006

A recent AP article by Jennifer Loven detailed a rhetorical tactic used by GW Bush (and his mouthpieces Hannity, O'Reilly, Gibson, etc.). For her efforts the right-wing smear machine is headed her way. You can contact the AP and tell them you support journalism that dares speak truth to power.

MoveOn.org, the grassroots organization that is home to millions of moderate and liberal progressives, has gathered the details here:

Dear Media Action member,

Some reporters take notes on what President Bush says and don't bother to research what is and isn't true. But the AP took a bold step this week and engaged in exactly the sort of strong watchdog journalism MoveOn Media Action members have been calling for.

The story, called "Bush Using Straw-Man Arguments in Speeches," details how President Bush defines his opponents' positions in a way that "bears little resemblance to their actual position" and then knocks down those fake arguments.1

The right wing is already attacking the AP for publishing this story and is trying to intimidate the journalist, Jennifer Loven, by attacking her personally.2 Those attacks could muzzle hard-hitting stories in the future unless the AP gets positive feedback from the public at large.

Read the news story, then thank reporters at the AP for this sort of strong watchdog journalism.

First, read the story.

Then, write to the AP by clicking here.

The AP provides stories to thousands of newspapers worldwide, so your positive comments can have a huge impact. Take a couple minutes to read the full story before writing a thoughtful, polite comment from the heart. The more personal your note is, the more effective it will be.

AP reporter Jennifer Loven examined a pattern of President Bush debating against opposing arguments no one is making—like "Some say that if you're Muslim you can't be free"—to make his opponents look unreasonable and to avoid the real debates. Here's an excerpt:

When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position.

He typically then says he "strongly disagrees"—conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.

Bush routinely is criticized for dressing up events with a too-rosy glow. But experts in political speech say the straw man device, in which the president makes himself appear entirely reasonable by contrast to supposed "critics," is just as problematic...

A specialist in presidential rhetoric, Wayne Fields of Washington University in St. Louis, views it as "a bizarre kind of double talk" that abuses the rules of legitimate discussion.

"It's such a phenomenal hole in the national debate that you can have arguments with nonexistent people," Fields said. "All politicians try to get away with this to a certain extent. What's striking here is how much this administration rests on a foundation of this kind of stuff."1

This AP story is a great example of the media we want: fearless reporting that explodes political deception and digs into the assertions of people in power to see if they are true. This is hard work, and it risks attack from political ideologues angry at being challenged.

The right wing has responded to Loven's truth-telling by attacking her personally and demanding she lose her job.2 The enemies of journalism would rather the press serve as a lapdog to those in power. Before the AP turns tail in fear, we must prove the general public wants more fearless, watchdog journalism like Loven's "Bush Using Straw-Man Arguments in Speeches."

Can you read this strong watchdog reporting, then thank the AP? It's important to read the story first.

Thank you for all you do.

–Noah T. Winer and Adam Green
MoveOn Media Action
Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

1. "Bush Using Straw-Man Arguments in Speeches," Associated Press, March 18, 2006

2. "A New Low for Loven," Power Line blog, March 19, 2006

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