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Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Huston Smears McGovern, Doesn't Understand AP
Topic: NewsBusters

It started with John Stephenson's callousness toward illegal immigrants, and Hate Week at NewsBusters rolls on with an Oct. 30 post by Warner Todd Huston needlessly attacking a George McGovern museum merely because the Associated Press had an article about it.

Insisting that "A South Dakota museum devoted to the political career of far-left Democrat George McGovern registered 5,000 fewer visitors last year than a Wisconsin museum devoted to mustard," Huston writes, "why is the AP pushing this thing? Could it be because of their affinity for McGovern's extreme left views? Do they want to urge people to attend to be exposed to McGovern's failed ideas of the past?" concluding, "So, AP, I have to say, don't bother me with the loser from 1972."

What Huston is really saying, of course, is that in his perfect little media world, liberals would be ignored unless they could be disparaged.

Huston also exhibits a fundamental ignorance of how the AP works. AP is a cooperative, which means that a majority of items it distributes are generated by the newspapers, broadcasters and others who are AP subscribers. The McGovern story apparently began life as a Oct. 17 article ($) in the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic newspaper, and the AP merely picked up the article for redistribution on its wires. It can safely be assumed that the AP did not "push" this article any more than the hundreds of others AP distributes on any given day -- unless, of course, Huston is arguing there mere distribution is "pushing," which parallels the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy. In fact, individual news organizations make their own decisions on what specific AP copy to use or not use.

Further, given that this is a two-week-old story by a (presumed) AP affiliate, it's not exactly breaking news. Indeed, the Oct. 28 Chicago Sun-Times version of the AP article to which Huston linked shows that it was placed in the paper's travel section -- in other words, it was not used for political purposes but as a travel idea. And given the shortness of the item (four paragraphs), it was likely used as a filler article (if it indeed appeared in print, which is not clear from the web version of the article). Huston didn't tell his readers any of this.

Remember that reference to a mustard museum earlier? Huston wasn't done working that:

Sorry, AP, but that just isn't very much. I worked at a museum in my youth and 25,000 would have had us in tears.

So, here is a little perspective about the Mustard Museum I mentioned.

The Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin says that they welcomed 30,000 visitors last year. Yes, you read that correctly. A museum that showcases thousands of brands of mustard drew more people than the McGovern Museum.

A condiment is more popular than George McGovern.

Now, can we say that mustard has "a lot of friends around the country and world"?

How, exactly, does Huston's partisan smearing of McGovern fulfill the MRC's "media research" mission? We don't know either.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:56 PM EDT

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