AP Provides a Master Class in Bad Headline Writing


I don’t generally go ballistic over every headline or Twitter summary that doesn’t accurately represent the underlying story, but WTF AP?

The Twitter summary makes it sounds like both candidates were about equally fact challenged, but if you click through you’ll find six (6) cases of Trump lying in various degrees, and two (2) cases of Hillary—well, of Hillary not lying. One passage is simply Hillary saying what she thinks policy should be, with AP’s “fact check” consisting of telling us that this isn’t what current policy is. The other is a little complicated, but it appears that Hillary may have overstated the results of a study.

So that’s that. Trump pretty much lied his way through his speech, while Hillary was slightly too far over her skis about the results of one study. And that produces the Twitter summary above.

Sometime soon we’re bound to get another round of “Gee, why don’t people see through Donald Trump???” Well, this is one of the reasons. If you read only the Twitter summary of this AP story—and lots of people do—you’ll come away with the impression that both candidates are basically cut from the same cloth. You’d never know that one makes only small and occasional exaggerations on policy issues while the other is a blowhard demagogue who flatly doesn’t care about the truth one way or the other. No wonder so many people just shrug when you tell them that Trump lies practically every time he opens his mouth. Doesn’t Hillary do the same thing?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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