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by
Patrick Richardson

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August 4, 2011 - 10:50 am

On Saturday I received an email, showing that the Associated Press was finally noticing the months-long Operation Fast and Furious scandal.

We first broke our part of the story on April 28, 2011, when Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, demanded an answer to several subpoenas from the Department of Justice. The story had first broken to national attention in March when CBS News aired a report on the program which allowed thousands of guns to “walk” from Arizona gun shops into the hands of straw purchasers who then passed the guns on to buyers in Mexico. It had apparently been on the radar of gunbloggers like the Sipsey Street Irregulars as early as February of this year.

There have been multiple Congressional hearings, several reports on CBS, hundreds if not thousands of reports on the blogosphere and it took roughly six months for the flagship organization in the Mainstream Media to twig to the fact there was a major story here.

More than four thousand words later (which by the way is a huge story for a print organization to run), the AP has broken — exactly nothing that wasn’t already known.

As a long-time print journalist, who looks at the AP wire every day, let me say this: The story is well researched, well written, fairly balanced and mostly what you expect from AP. This not to say the story hasn’t got its biases, nor that AP doesn’t absolutely have their slant — they do — but the story is exactly the sort of in-depth, investigative reporting AP does very well — at least from a technical stand point.

This story would have taken weeks to run down, hour after hour of exhausting research, with yet more hours of writing — at least it would have even 10 years ago.

The problem, is every bit of the information they cite in the story, with the exception of a few personal interviews, was already available on the Web. Indeed, most of it here on PJM.

And I suppose that’s the real story here. The vaunted Associated Press, the prestige organization most of us aspired to as young cub reporters and held in something resembling religious awe — took six months to notice a major scandal shaping up in Washington D.C. and after much painstaking work told us nothing we didn’t already know.

Some of that has to do with the aforementioned slant. I have no doubt that while AP field correspondents in Arizona probably were chomping at the bit over this story, the Washington and New York Bureau Chiefs wanted nothing to do with it. Indeed they managed to try to defend something essentially indefensible in the story, at one point repeating a carefully parsed version of the 90 percent lie and at the end of the story touting new ATF regs which require border state gun shops to report multiple long-gun purchases to the ATF, ignoring the reality that every one of the guns purchased by the straw buyers was reported to the ATF as suspicious and the stores were ordered to complete the sales.

This all proves once again the power of the new media. The new media had the story first, we had it better and we’ve covered it far more exhaustively, and in real-time, while the MSM was sticking to out-dated and ineffective techniques.

How the mighty have fallen.

Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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