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(Associated Press)

Beam: Obama hasn’t won election yet

Last Modified: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 6:51 PM

By Jim Beam / American Press

The presidential election isn’t until Nov. 6, but The Associated Press has already given the victory to President Obama. It’s one of the most offensive abuses of a free press I’ve seen in a long time.

“Obama within reach of second term in office,” said the Monday morning headline. The story laid out its conclusions that the president would get the required 270 electoral votes.

“If the election were held today, an Associated Press analysis shows Obama would win at least 271 electoral votes, with likely victories in crucial Ohio and Iowa along with 19 other states and the District of Columbia. (Republican nominee Mitt) Romney would win 23 states for a total of 206.”

And how did the AP arrive at that conclusion? It said its findings were “based on a review of public and private polls, television advertising and numerous interviews with campaign and party officials as well as Republican and Democratic strategists in the competitive states and in Washington.”

That is quite a reach to try and justify a story that serves only to help the Obama campaign at the expense of Romney.

What about the people out there who haven’t voted yet? Shouldn’t the AP and other national media be willing to give the voters a chance to state their preferences on Election Day?

Just who is AP anyway? One reader even wonders if I’m part of a grand scheme to hand the election over to Obama. Here is what she said in a Monday morning e-mail:

“I don’t know if you are responsible for those negative articles that hit us in the face every morning on the front page, but whoever it is, he/she seems to have their main goal to discourage Republican voters enough that they stay home on election day. Where are the articles against Obama? I realize this is an AP article, but does it have to appear every day and on the front page? Give us Republicans a little bit of encouraging news every now and then.”

The AP is a world-wide news-gathering, not-for-profit cooperative funded by member newspapers and broadcasters. The American Press is one of those members, and it depends on the AP for news beyond its circulation area from the national and international scene. Most of the news the AP distributes comes from other newspaper and broadcast members.

Although the AP brags about its “highest standards of objective, accurate journalism,” that simply isn’t the case in this instance. The AP even admits in its own story that “much could change in the coming weeks,” including effects from the presidential debates, events in the Middle East and any of those miscues that could help or hurt either candidate.

People love to vote for winners, and the AP said early voting is under way in dozens of states (32), and “surveys show undecided voters feel more favorably toward Obama than Romney.”

Anyone who thinks that comment isn’t going to help Obama isn’t tuned in to voter behavior.

USA Today in an editorial said roughly a third of the nation’s voters will have cast ballots by Nov. 6.

“But six weeks before the election? That’s way too early,” the newspaper said. “Voters can, and sometimes do, change their minds. They can be swayed by events that have not occurred. An unexpected crisis can test the candidates in revealing ways.”

The final insult from the AP came when it said its analysis isn’t meant to be predictive, calling it “a snapshot of a race that until recently has been stubbornly close in the small number of the most contested states.”

Does the AP think our readers are so dumb they would accept that verbal nonsense? The story clearly gave the election to Obama, and that is a decision only the voters have a right to make. And most of them have another month to make up their minds.

Patrick Caddell, a Democratic pollster and Fox News contributor, talked about the media’s role in American Society in a recent address to an Accuracy in Media conference.

“We designed a constitutional system with many checks and balances,” Caddell said. “The one that had no checks and balances was the press, and that was done under an implicit understanding that, somehow, the press would protect the people from the government and the power by telling — somehow allowing — people to have the truth...”

It isn’t happening in this election. And critics will dismiss Caddell’s remarks because of his Fox connection, but he speaks the truth. A Sept. 21 Gallup poll shows distrust of the media is the highest it has been in history. The poll showed 60 percent have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly.

The media has no one else to blame but itself. And the reputation of the national media reflects on all of us in the profession. I tried to explain to another reader last week that the American Press has no control over AP’s reporting. Maybe not, he said, “but the stories are appearing in our newspaper.”

I would be the last person in the world to support censoring the news — good or bad. However, I reserve the right to criticize the media for its irresponsibility and its news bias. The AP in this case is simply way off the mark, and I’m just as upset about it as any of our readers.

•••
Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or jbeam@americanpress.com

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