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March 9, 2009

Open Letter to AP Washington Bureau Chief Ron Fournier

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Mr. Ron Fournier
Washington Bureau Chief
Associated Press
1100 13th St NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC  20005

Mr. Fournier:

I was disturbed by reading an Associated Press story out of your bureau late Friday that used Democratic propaganda to demonize Rush Limbaugh and make him appear nasty and disrespectful for suggesting the same thing that Democrats on the Hill have been suggesting for months: that a health care bill would be named after Senator Ted Kennedy. As such, I appeal for you to correct and update the story given the journalistic standards that you and the Associated Press are committed to upholding.

The story titled “Democrats blast Limbaugh for comment on Kennedy” led with the accusations by Brian Wolff, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), charging that Rush Limbaugh made “outrageous and reprehensible” comments in suggesting that “a health care proposal will be named in memory of Senator Ted Kennedy who is battling brain cancer.”

Except the story omits a key fact: it was Democrats themselves who first suggested this naming months ago, not Rush Limbaugh or any other conservative for that matter.

A little research would have found a FoxNews.com story dated January 13, 2009 that reported:

“A spokeswoman for one of the architects of a national health care bill said that any legislation that emerges would be named after Kennedy.”

That spokeswoman, as later identified in the piece, is Jude McCartin, a spokeswoman for Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman who is also a member of Kennedy's committee. She continued:

“He wouldn't name it for himself, but the majority of the body working on the legislation would say he's devoted his life to it … Now that we're on the verge of doing something major, the naming of the legislation should reflect his longstanding involvement.”

Is this not extremely relevant to the story? And is there any reason it was omitted?

The DCCC posted a deceptive blog and statement by Wolff on its website on Friday that accused Limbaugh of demonizing Sen. Kennedy. While disappointed by this fabrication, we’re not surprised as it is the kind of tactic we’ve come to expect from the Democratic leadership. But if your bureau used this posting for content as appears to be the case, you owe both an apology to Rush Limbaugh and an immediate update to correct the record.

Since taking over as Washington bureau chief, you have consistently called for accountability journalism, stating that it is the AP’s goal to make it “a consistent theme in our coverage of public affairs, politics and government” as “we have unmatched resources and expertise in every state” [source: Politico ] This smear story against Limbaugh lacks both accountability and credibility and appears to be carrying water for the Democratic Party.

Further, this was not just a simple late Friday post; it was read over countless broadcast affiliates over the weekend as they have come to rely on the weight of the AP in reporting accurately. You cannot take back the damage that has already been done, but you can and should correct the record, issuing an update that includes asking the DCCC spin doctor Brian Wolff if he plans on criticizing fellow Democrats for suggesting back in January that they name health legislation after Limbaugh.


L. Brent Bozell, III
President and Founder
Media Research Center

UPDATE: Monday afternoon, AP's Ron Fournier sent the following response to Brent Bozell, which he asked to be put on the record:

Saying that a bill should be named after Sen. Kennedy is different from saying the bill will be named after the late Sen. Kennedy. (As Rush Limbaugh put it, "Before it’s over, it’ll be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care Bill.")

To schedule an interview with MRC President Brent Bozell or another MRC spokesperson, please contact Tim Scheiderer (x. 126) or Colleen O’Boyle (x. 122) at (703) 683-5004.


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