For those of you who months ago read AP Washington Bureau Chief Ron Fournier's terribly offended screed on how this uppity arrogant black guy named Barack Obama thought he might actually be president and started wondering what Fournier's problem was after that piece basically set the tone for the AP's election coverage, Politico's Michael Calderone might have some answers.

Before Ron Fournier returned to The Associated Press in March 2007, the veteran political reporter had another professional suitor: John McCain’s presidential campaign.

In October 2006, the McCain team approached Fournier about joining the fledgling operation, according to a source with knowledge of the talks. In the months that followed, said a source, Fournier spoke about the job possibility with members of McCain’s inner circle, including political aides Mark Salter, John Weaver and Rick Davis.

Salter covers for Fournier later in the article, stating he "could never tell [Fournier's] politics." Right. Because the GOP doesn't ever consider political sympathies when hiring campaign staff. Gee, I wonder what those email exchanges look like. I suppose the point is--none of this should have mattered. Having political beliefs or sympathies shouldn't affect the way a journalist does their job, and this article wouldn't even have been written if the AP didn't have reporters writing stuff like this.

Some might see this as just another example of why "objectivity" in journalism is a myth, but for some reason, that's an argument I find a great deal more compelling with a network or a newspaper. There's something disconcerting about bias in wire services, since many papers may rely on them entirely for their national affairs or international coverage. There's also something bizarre about Fournier's brand of "accountability journalism," which aims to be opinionated but essentially relies on the credibility of the AP's past, non-opinionated work for any sense of authority, the reputation of wire reporters as "straight-shooters". In other words, the appeal of AP reporters giving their opinions is premised on the myth that wire reporters can't possibly have strong ideological opinions.

Also, Calderone confirms that McCain may have been aware of the internet as early as 2006.

Fournier also met privately with McCain in his Senate office in late 2006, a discussion that Salter maintains was related to that “Internet thing.”


--A. Serwer

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