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Biting The Hand It Feeds pays the Associated Press for the privilege of running AP articles on its website -- while it lambasts the AP as "liberal" and rewrites its headlines to add right-wing bias.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/6/2011
Updated 10/10/2011

Lots of news websites run content from the Associated Press. The AP offers numerous ways to provide such content, for which the websites must pay. is one such website that pays for the privilege to host AP content. On any given day, there are many more AP articles on the CNS website than original CNS content.

But the two are strange bedfellows -- after all, CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, considers the AP to be part of the so-called "liberal media." For instance, in a 2003 column headlined "Associated (With Liberals) Press," MRC chief Brent Bozell was upset that "the socially liberal Associated Press" was the "biggest promoter" of criticism of conservative then-Sen. Rick Santorum for making "hurtful comments on homosexuality." Santorum survived the criticism, according to Bozell, because "no one outside AP and the radical left wanted to see Santorum get sacked." Bozell further complained that "AP made an obscure murder victim in Laramie, Wyoming a household name, turning the brutal killing of homosexual Matthew Shepard into grist for a countless series of editorials, books, plays, and TV 'docudramas.'"

In 2005, the MRC issued a press release attacking the AP for issuing an article it claimed branded then-Supreme Court nominee "a possible racist because he grew up in a town that banned the sale of homes to blacks and Jews." Bozell is quoted as saying, "The AP’s sleazy and insipid bias is obvious. What will they do next? Report that one of his neighbors used a racial epithet when Roberts was 5 years old?"

With such hostility to the AP, why would the MRC pay the AP for the privilege of putting its content on a MRC-operated website?

The answer, it can be argued, is that the MRC decided to set its right-wing principles aside. Biased or not, the AP has long been the pre-eminent provider of news content in the U.S., offering not only national news but regional-based content keyed to the needs of local news organizations. Providing AP content is one quick way to make a news organization appear credible.

As a bonus, the AP content allows CNS to obscure the fact that its original content is highly biased, and placing it amid AP content makes the CNS articles seem slightly less biased.

In short, it appears to be a cynical move to enhance the credibility of CNS as a "news" organization.

The fact that the MRC is paying the AP, interestingly, doesn't mean it treats the AP and its content with any sort of respect.

A Sept. 19 CNS article by Susan Jones on President Obama's deficit reduction plan contained this line: "As for Obama’s call to put 'country above party,' even liberal media outlets don’t see it that way." And what is the only "liberal media outlet" that Jones cites in her article? The Associated Press. At no point does Jones offer any evidence that the AP is "liberal."

Then, Jones hilariously included this footnote at the end: "The Associated Press contributed some of the information used in this report."

CNS is paying AP for the privilege of insulting it -- something it could easily do for free. Talk about ingratitude. If the AP is so "liberal," why is paying to run the AP's news on its website?

CNS also regularly pokes the AP in the eye by regularly rewriting the headlines of AP articles to infuse the right-wing bias CNS is known for (and the AP is not):

  • A Dec. 15, 2010, AP article on on Tufts University providing therapy dogs to stressed-out students during final exams, was released with the headline "Tufts Uses Dogs To Ease Student Exam Stress." But that's not the headline CNS put on its copy of the article; it went with "Coddled Students Getting Quirky ‘Therapy’ to Ease Stress of Final Exams." But the article itself makes no mention of criticism of the therapy dogs, and nowhere does it attack students as "coddled."Apparently, CNS decided that students seeking to relieve stress during finals are worthless and weak.
  • A May 29 AP article was sent out with the headline "Obama travels to Missouri to view tornado damage." CNS decided it wasn't anti-Obama enough, so it changed the headline to "Obama Will Visit Joplin, Missouri Today to Belatedly View Tornado Damage." The AP article mentioned nothing about Obama visiting "belatedly," only that it comes "comes a day after he returned to Washington from a four-country tour of Europe."
  • When the AP issued a short July 13 article on a reportedly contentious meeting between President Obama and members of Congress over the debt ceiling, it carried the headline "AP sources: Obama ends talks brusquely." But decided that headline wasn't anti-Obama enough, so it was changed to "Obama Showboats His Way Out of Debt-Limit Talks."
  • The headline on an Aug. 19 AP article, originally read "US makes criminals priority for deportation." But that wasn't anti-immigrant enough for It changed the headline to read, "Obama Administration Grants De Facto Amnesty to Many Illegal Immigrants." (The article has apparently been removed from the CNS website; a screenshot is here.)
  • When President Obama gave a speech at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Awards Gala, the Associated Press write-up of the event led with Obama saying his jobs package "would put more money in the pockets of Latino workers and business owners and increase opportunities for Hispanics." It carried the headline "Obama pushes jobs plan as help for Hispanics." That headline apparently wasn't exciting enough -- or sufficiently disparaging of Obama -- for CNS; its version of the AP article carries the headline "Obama Renews Call for Amnesty for Illegal Aliens," with the original headline relegated to a subhead.
  • Update 10/10/11: An Oct. 6 AP article was sent out with the headline "Unions lend muscle, resources to Wall St. protests." Run that AP story through CNS' bias machine, and it now carries the headline "Labor Unions Join Rabble in Wall Street Protests: 'We're in It Together'." The word "rabble" does not appear in the original AP article.

While AP subscribers are permitted to change headlines, such changes are usually dictated to making it fit in a particular layout, such as on a newspaper page. Web design, however, typically does not necessitate rewriting a headline to conform to a layout. There is no apparent reason for CNS to rewrite those headlines other than to make it conform to its right-wing bias.

While all of this rewriting is going on, the sign-up box for CNS' email newsletter on the CNS website contains this exhortation: "Be the first to know all of the news that the liberal media are hiding." It's laughable for CNS to make that claim when much of the news on the CNS website is directly from that very same "liberal media" it purports to despise -- content CNS is paying the AP to run on its website.

Either CNS and the MRC have no scruples and is simply paying for AP copy to create a veneer of credibility it wouldn't have otherwise, or it's simply too cynical to care about the logical inconsistency of publicly bashing a news organization it pays to obtain the content it's bashing.

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