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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/15/19

Covert Operative in Ukraine Controversy Revealed to Be Associated Press

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Amid wildly conflicting stories about the Ukraine scandal one thing's for sure. Someone's not telling the truth. That means some of the news reports are based on misinformation.

Who is spreading the misinformation? Associated Press has been caught as one guilty party. That troubling revelation comes not from the ubiquitous news stories we see carrying an AP byline. It has been conducted out of view of the general public.

AP's vehicle for this covert activity involves an AP publication that is generally unknown to the public at large. But for news editors and journalists it is a bible. It's called the AP Stylebook. News people rely upon it as a reference on style matters, such as whether to write website or Web site, or how to spell the name of China's president.

The Stylebook goes beyond that, however. For instance AP just released a supplement titled, "Impeachment Inquiry Topical Guide." It recommends how to spell Ukraine's new president's surname and the country's capital city. But it goes further than that. It delves into the political arena. And that's where AP went wrong. Under the guise of providing the news community with useful background it has snuck in one-sided versions of controversial issues that are far from settled.

One example appears in the background on the unusual role of Rudolph Giuliani in the Ukraine affair. AP makes reference to "the discredited theory that Ukraine and not Russia tried to intervene in the 2016 election." Stating that this has been categorically discredited is a boldly false statement.

The facts are that the issue is presently the subject of a criminal investigation by a US Attorney. Surely AP is aware of that, and indeed it reported on October 24, 2019, "DOJ review of Russia probe now a criminal inquiry." An honest report on the cited theory would have said that the matter is sharply contested and currently an issue within a criminal investigation.

Another example is the question of whether President Trump has violated his oath of office. His opponents have made a strong allegation on that. AP advised editors that "House committees are trying to determine if President Donald Trump violated his oath of office by asking a foreign country to investigate a political opponent."

But that allegation is far from being self evident. By not warning of that fact, AP has misled the journalists again.

How is it not self evident? Here's the presidential oath of office:

"I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The premise of AP's argument is that asking a foreign country to investigate a political opponent violates the oath of office. But the oath of office is clearly silent on any such type of activity. It is an open issue on whether Trump committed a transgression here. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. That's a subject being considered by highly visible Congressional inquiries in which some parties are seeking to impute meanings into the oath. But for now the allegation is unsettled and the supposed violation is not in the oath per se.

AP's transgressions continue in the Guide's section on "Key Places." It states that Russia "annexed Ukraine's Crimea region" as if that were a settled matter. However, it is clearly in dispute. Most Crimeans rebut the annexation claim, believing that they voted to be reunited with Russia.

It is true that the United Nations passed a non-binding resolution that claims the Crimean referendum on independence from Kyiv was invalid. "Non-binding" is a critical term here. What's more, that resolution would seem to conflict with the very Charter of the UN that cites "the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples."

This is plainly a contested political battle in which AP is playing the role of a combatant.

AP could learn a lot from the National Geographic Society. While claims still abound that Crimea remains subject to Ukrainian sovereignty, the Society has drawn its maps to show Crimea as an integral part of Russia. The organization's director of editorial and research for National Geographic Maps put it simply: "We map the world as it is, not as people would like it to be."

Even on simple matters AP misrepresents. For instance it announces a style change from Kiev to Kyiv. There's nothing wrong with that. But AP's rationale is mistaken. It claims that change is "in line with the government's preferred transliteration to English." But it is not a "transliteration" issue. The name for Ukraine's capital city is Kiev in the Russian language. In Ukrainian it's Kyiv. It's a language difference, not one of transliteration. It's like we say Moscow, they say Moskva.

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William Dunkerley is author of the books "Litvinenko Murder Case Solved," "The Phony Litvinenko Murder," "Ukraine in the Crosshairs," and "Medvedev's Media Affairs," all published by Omnicom Press. He is a media business analyst and consultant (more...)
 

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Michele Goddard

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(Member since Mar 28, 2019), 4 fans, 20 articles, 139 comments
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William, Thank you for a well written article on a subject that unfortunately gets lost among more emotional or "exciting" ones. I am a huge word awareness advocate. I try to warn the public about the overt, inflammatory use of rhetoric seen more and more in the media but it is often more difficult to explain how the more subtle bias adds to this cumulative effect. It is also dangerous because it is subtle and has an almost subconscious effect on readers. The State Department held a press conference (tu.be/C-2pP3WuAVw) to warn/correct journalists advising them to stop referring to Juan Guido as the "opposition leader". The justification for this directive was that the United States had deemed Guido as the official leader of Venezuela. A reporter pushing back against the directive said that there were more countries who believed Maduro was the rightful leader (50 with the US out of 190 in the United Nations) and Guido's position in Venezuela prior to the elections was as the leader of the opposition party. Guido boycotted the elections and encouraged his followers to do the same and then asserted himself the rightful leader without any official or legal process declaring him to actually be the rightful leader. The fact that the United States Government was giving a directive to the press is frightening because they are telling the free press to use verbage which supports the American perspective. As you point out, when issues are in dispute around highly divisive issues it is sometimes difficult to try and find words which don't take a political position. I do think historian Howard Zinn has a point that sometimes documenting the reality of an event will make it impossible to maintain objectivity because we live in a world where bad things happen and we can't describe those events without the implication that the perpetrators of atrocities are bad people. But journalists are not historians and you make the very good argument that word choice can affect perception and in that way, steer the course of history, which then mankes them influencers, not journalists. Thanks again for the article, Take Care, Michele

Submitted on Friday, Nov 15, 2019 at 11:26:54 AM

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Michele Goddard

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The link in my response was incomplete so I am repasting it here. tu.be/Ba2GiC69Suk

Submitted on Friday, Nov 15, 2019 at 11:29:16 AM

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