Today, you printed a lie which is rapidly spreading around the country, if not the world. That lie is insulting to me, as a supporter of President Bush, the people of West Allis, Wisconsin and all Americans who plan to vote for Bush. In an unattributed wire story, your reporter stated:
"President Bush (news - web sites) on Friday wished Bill Clinton (news - web sites) "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery." "He's is in our thoughts and prayers," Bush said at a campaign rally. Bush's audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them."
That is patent nonsense. Was your reporter even at the event? You can listen to an audio clip of Bush's comments and the audience's reaction here
. That reporter simply fabricated the supposed boos and Bush's supposed failure to stop them. While I did not like President Clinton's policies or his behavior in office, your story is insulting to the people at that rally, and to me and everyone who supports Bush because it deliberately attempts to falsely portray the Bush's supporters as callous, unkind, uncivil and uncaring.
Your subsequent revision of the story is completely insufficient. Your revised copy reads:
President Bush (news - web sites) on Friday offered former President Bill Clinton (news - web sites), who faces heart bypass surgery, "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery."
"He is in our thoughts and prayers," Bush said at a campaign rally in Wisconsin.
The crowd reacted with applause and with some "ooohs," apparently surprised by the news that Clinton was ill.
There are no "ooohs" in that audio clip, either. Your reporter, having been caught in his original fabrication, is apparently attempting to lay the groundwork for a later claim that he mistook the "ooohs" for "boos".
This story goes well beyond slanting a story in favor of one side of an issue and crosses into Jayson Blair and David Glass territory. Even so, had the original story not been repeated in many different places (Salon, WSTM TV, WRIC TV, KWWL TV, KPLC TV, and numerous other news outlets throughout the country, a more complete list of which can be found here
), that revision might have sufficed to correct the misimpression your reporter deliberately created for the obvious purpose of attempting to affect the upcoming election. But the story is spreading rapidly and it is incumbent upon you not only to deal severely, publicly, and quickly with your reporter, but also to contact every news outlet that repeated the fabrication, apologize to them and request that they print your apology and retraction. Then, and only then, you should explain to your readers how you dealt with the reporter that so abused their trust.
The only possible result of your failure to do so immediately is for all future AP reports on the election to be treated as campaign press releases issued by the Kerry campaign organization. Perhaps under those circumstances, it would be necessary for the FEC to be informed of your in-kind contributions to the Senator's campaign.
I look forward to your prompt response.