Wire Service Reports on Obama Letter, Fails to Cite BRAD BLOG for Breaking Story, Misses Much of the Point in General...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2007, 1:46pm PT  

AP is notorious for refusing to give appropriate credit to blogs that break stories. They've done so again in their coverage today of Barack Obama's letter calling for the firing of DoJ Voting Rights section chief John Tanner in the wake of our video coverage of his recent objectionable comments [emphasis ours]:

"That's a shame, you know, creating problems for elderly persons just is not good under any circumstance," Tanner said, according to video posted on YouTube. "Of course, that also ties into the racial aspect because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

Setting aside the de rigueur BRAD BLOG slight, AP received a response to Obama's call for Tanner's head from DoJ spokesman Erik Ablin:

"Mr. Tanner is an attorney who works to protect civil rights on a daily basis," Ablin said, adding that the official had won numerous awards from African-American groups. "Nothing in his comments deviated from his firm commitment to enforce the law, and it is unfortunate that they have been so grossly misconstrued."

"Grossly misconstrued"? AP does not detail in what way Ablin believes the comments to have been "grossly misconstrued," but quotes him as saying the department "continues to have full confidence" in Tanner.

Former colleagues of Tanner's, however, don't seem to agree that the comments were misconstrued...

Tanner's predecessor as Voting Section chief, Joe Rich, a forty-year veteran of the DoJ, responded to the remarks by saying, "In trying to defend his decision [to overrule career staffers] in the Georgia [Photo ID] case, he’s saying things that are frankly ludicrous."

Toby Moore, an analyst at the Civil Rights Division who worked with Tanner until early 2006, said the comments were "false," adding, "This is the kind of analysis that the voting section has been doing: seat of the pants generalizations and suppositions instead of hard numbers and analysis."

He went on to say that Tanner's findings on these matters were "always in support of what his Republican appointee bosses wanted him to say, which is why he got to where he is."

The AP goes on in their coverage to largely miss the point of the entire brouhaha by pointing to "well documented" National Center for Health Statistics numbers on shorter life expectancies of "particularly male blacks," and graciously notes: "But blacks do live to become senior citizens."

Aside from the utter distraction of that particular issue, it should be noted, as PortlyDyke did shortly after the comments were first reported here, his comments referred to "minorities" as opposed to strictly African-Americans. When factoring in the longer life spans of Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native American women (the voting rights of whom the DoJ Civil Rights Division is also tasked with protecting), minorities actually live longer than Caucasians.

All of which, as we mentioned, is rather beside the overall obnoxious and incorrect points of Tanner's comments...Even if Tanner, as TPM Muckracker pointed out today, will have to explain his comments soon in a House Judiciary Commitee hearing to the elderly, not dead first, 78-year-old minority chairman, Rep. John Conyers.