Last Friday, PJ Media’s estimable and inimitable Zombie strongly advocated getting in the faces of those who take the world’s daily events and turn them into barely recognizable, left-distorted “news.” Earlier that same day, Associated Press reporter Steve Peoples and his employer duly qualified for such treatment with coverage that was at once outrageous and all too sadly typical.
That morning, Peoples told readers that Mitt Romney’s definition of “middle class” is “income of $200,000 to $250,000 a year.” He then snarked that “the Census Bureau reported this week that the median household income — the midpoint for the nation — is just over $50,000.”
Romney actually told former Clinton administration de facto press secretary George Stephanopoulos, who is now at ABC’s Good Morning America, that “middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less.” It’s hard to imagine how the AP reporter could have missed the clearly spoken final two words in Romney’s statement, but he acted as if the Republican presidential candidate never uttered them.
Combined, Peoples’ recent record as a “journalist” and his employer’s reaction to his “error” make the idea that the two-word omission was deliberate the default assumption.
Peoples’ dispatch went to the AP’s thousands of print, online, and broadcast subscribers, and officially stood unaltered long enough for leftist bloggers and other commentators to spread the cut-off “Romney’s out of touch” quote far and wide, while center-right commentators like the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto played catch-up with the truth.
The AP copped to Peoples’ error later Friday morning, but almost invisibly and without apology. A Sunday morning Google News search returned only two results containing the wire service’s admission, after adding “and less” to Romney’s quote in an earlier paragraph, that it “initially reported that Romney defined ‘middle-income’ as $200,000 to $250,000.” The self-described “essential global news network” did not include Peoples’ error in its list of corrections. Additionally, a version of the report with “and less” omitted was still present in its original form at the wire service’s “hosted2.org” site on Sunday morning. Beyond that, even with the content corrected, dozens of headlines claiming that Romney defined “middles class” as “$200-250K” remain.
In a later report which failed to mention his previous error, Peoples acknowledged that President Obama “has also has set his definition for ‘middle class’ as families with income of up to $250,000 a year.” In other words, the two candidates agree, and Romney’s statement wasn’t news at all. But I’d say that the attempt to undermine the campaign of Obama’s challenger went off pretty well.
A look at even a small sample of Steve Peoples’ body of work provides ample support for the notion that he is not a reporter of events, but one who opportunistically pushes the envelope to discredit conservatives and protect liberals.
At a private reception for then-GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry a year ago, Peoples claimed that the Texas governor’s opposition to a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border “produced an angry shout from at least one audience member,” exposing “an ongoing rift with some conservative voters over Perry’s immigration record.” The rift existed, but, according to a person who claims she “stood about 15 feet from where he (Perry) delivered those remarks,” the shout didn’t. Reporters at the AP, which as far as I know provided no proof for Peoples’ contention, have a long and sordid record of hearing things not said.
Just a few days later, Peoples and colleague Michael Blood twisted an AP-GfK poll already thoroughly cooked with oversampling of Democrats into an indictment of the Tea Party movement, using its results to go after “its unyielding tactics and bare-bones vision of the federal government” while making an unsupported blanket claim that the public was going “sour on the movement.” That’s a real howler, Steve. An August 2012 AP-GfK poll shows about the same level of support for the Tea Party as two years ago. If that translates into voter turnout as it did in 2010, over one-third of voters in the presidential election will have Tea Party values. Meanwhile, Tea Party-driven insurgent candidates for U.S. Senate are leading the Republican Party towards what appears to be a likely U.S. Senate majority by the time the dust settles in November. I’ll bet most readers are unaware of that sea change.
In January, Peoples didn’t understand how Romney could criticize Obama’s stewardship of the economy “despite a declining unemployment rate and the creation of 200,000 jobs last month.” The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at the time was 8.5 percent, in an economy which was then and still is the worst since FDR extended the Great Depression for eight years.
A month ago, Peoples dishonestly reported that Romney’s vice-presidential running mate Paul Ryan spoke to “hundreds of supporters” at a rally at Miami University, Ryan’s alma mater, in Oxford, Ohio. The truth: The Secret Service estimated the crowd at “about 5,500.” A Cincinnati TV station claimed it was “over 6,000,” while noting (which Peoples naturally didn’t) that “a whole line of people were (sic) turned away, because there wasn’t enough room” at the outdoor venue.
Finally, at the Democratic National Convention, Peoples, along with co-conspirator Julie Pace, began a chain of clumsy reports intended to cover Obama’s keister over the initial removal of both God and a reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from the party’s platform, followed by their hasty and tyrannically forced re-insertion. The petulant pair initially acted as if the only people outside the convention hall who cared enough to complain about the omissions were Republicans, and made no mention of the fact that Democrats fraudulently pretended, over the vocal objections of roughly half of those present, that two-thirds of the crowd approved the re-insertion of the omitted terms — when they clearly didn’t. A later report by Pace and another AP reporter contended that Obama “intervened directly to get the language changed” and that he was wondering, as if unaware, “why it (the word ‘God’) was removed in the first place.” After Politico, of all places, exposed Obama’s original claim of ignorance as a lie, designated AP fixer Jim Kuhnhenn whitewashed all references to what Obama did or didn’t know beforehand.
There are far too many acts of omission, commission, and distortion in Steve Peoples’ body of work to shrug them off as sloppy or inadvertent. His continued employment as a political reporter at the Associated Press, along with at least a dozen others whose records are arguably no better, demonstrates that what was once a proud news organization has become the Obama campaign’s house organ, i.e., the Administration’s Press.