by MATTHEW BOYLE
The Associated Press is at it again, pushing more fake news. Sadly, the once-great news wire service is trying to cover up its mistake—nearly the exact mistake that cost three editorial staffers at CNN their jobs in a scandal that first exploded a week ago today.
A Breitbart News investigation has led to the correction by the Associated Press–which originally resisted–of the fake news it printed as deeper questions of responsibility, accountability, and journalistic ethics consume the AP heading into Fourth of July weekend.
This time, the Associated Press invented an imaginary meeting between EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, and then alleged that some kind of impropriety happened as a result.
This is exactly the same mistake CNN made a week ago, when it alleged that Anthony Scaramucci—the founder of SkyBridge Capital and an associate and ally of President Donald Trump—held “meetings” with Russian investment fund leaders and was under investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee and Treasury Department as a result.
A Breitbart News investigation uncovered that no such “meetings” took place, the Senate Intelligence Committee was not investigating the matter, and the Treasury Department had already—at the urging of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to now Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before Trump’s inauguration—looked into it and determined the matter to be entirely “without merit.”
The very fake news scandal that is consuming CNN right now is the biggest scandal in the network’s history, and comes as media D.C.-wide find themselves under intense scrutiny amid a litany of industry mistakes.
Breitbart News’s investigation into CNN’s very fake news piece forced the network to retract it and has led to the resignation of three top officials from inside CNN. Now that the Associated Press has made literally the exact same mistake with different actors and players—alleging a meeting took place that never occurred, something that supposedly led to something untoward that also didn’t happen—the news wire service is not stepping up and holding its staff to the same level of accountability. The only difference between the CNN scandal and this AP scandal is that the AP did not also inaccurately allege the existence of non-existent Senate and Treasury investigations.
The Associated Press’s top official in Washington—D.C. bureau chief Julie Pace—has not responded to an email requesting her comment and whether she believes in journalistic integrity. And AP spokeswoman Linda Easton is refusing to be transparent about what’s shaping up to be yet another major media scandal after a week of failures throughout the fourth estate.
Under the headline “EPA chief met with Dow CEO before deciding on pesticide ban,” the AP’s Michael Biesecker alleged that some super-secret covert meeting occurred between Pruitt and Liveris—and that awful things came as a result of that meeting. Biesecker wrote:
The Trump administration’s top environmental official met privately with the chief executive of Dow Chemical shortly before reversing his agency’s push to ban a widely used pesticide after health studies showed it can harm children’s brains, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s schedule shows he met with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris on March 9 for about a half hour at a Houston hotel. Both men were featured speakers at an energy industry conference. Twenty days later Pruitt announced his decision to deny a petition to ban Dow’s chlorpyrifos pesticide from being sprayed on food, despite a review by his agency’s scientists that concluded ingesting even minuscule amounts of the chemical can interfere with the brain development of fetuses and infants. EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said Tuesday that Pruitt was ‘briefly introduced’ to Liveris at the conference.
The problem with Biesecker’s piece, which ran over the Associated Press wires on Wednesday evening, is that as Breitbart News has confirmed from both sides: No meeting ever occurred, despite one appearing on Pruitt’s schedule. Sure, both were at the conference and briefly shook hands when introduced, but they never had a “meeting” because of scheduling conflicts.
“Administrator Scott Pruitt did not meet privately with Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow,” Liz Bowman, the EPA’s spokeswoman, told Breitbart News. “The AP article is inaccurate and misleading. Despite multiple attempts to provide the Associated Press with the facts, this article has not been corrected.”
Dow Chemical’s director of public affairs also confirmed to Breitbart News that no such meeting ever occurred.
Rachelle Schikorra of Dow Chemical’s public affairs department confirmed:
I can confirm that a meeting between Andrew Liveris and Scott Pruitt never happened. The two were attending the same conference where an introductory meet-and-greet was scheduled with no topics specified. However that meeting never happened due to schedule conflicts. The two have never had a meeting and have never discussed any Dow products.
The Associated Press originally refused to issue a correction on this despite knowing since at least Thursday, as Breitbart News can confirm—the article ran on Wednesday—that the piece was inaccurate. The AP has caved and finally corrected the inaccurate hit piece on Pruitt. What’s more, the Associated Press is now—while under scrutiny thanks to a Breitbart News investigation—trying to cover up the mistake and not answer questions about the editors and others involved in the grave error, or whether they and the reporter responsible for it will be held accountable.
The AP refused to do anything about its inaccurate reporting for two days, after the original piece was printed Wednesday. Now, Friday evening, the AP is admitting its original piece was wrong by running a new piece that completely undercuts the old one. And, finally, hours later after originally refusing to do it even on Friday evening, the wire service has issued a correction on the old piece.
The new Associated Press piece, which ran without a byline late Friday reads:
The Environmental Protection Agency and Dow Chemical said Friday that a planned meeting in March between EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the company’s CEO never took place. The meeting was listed on Pruitt’s schedule and reported by The Associated Press on Tuesday. EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in a statement that Pruitt and Dow’s Andrew Liveris did have ‘a brief introduction in passing’ during an energy conference in Houston. She said ‘no substantive issues’ were discussed. Rachelle Schikorra, a spokeswoman for Dow, said the formal meeting ‘never happened due to schedule conflicts.’
Easton, AP’s spokeswoman, has not answered substantive questions about this new scandal engulfing the Associated Press. Easton originally refused to answer whether the AP was going to actually correct, update, or retract the old piece that is demonstrably inaccurate based on the AP’s own new reporting or whether the reporters and editors involved in the matter will resign or be terminated, as happened at CNN.
But now the AP has corrected it. They said in the correction sent out over the AP wires late Friday night:
In a story June 27, The Associated Press, relying on schedules provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, reported erroneously that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris for about a half-hour at a Houston hotel. A spokeswoman for the EPA says the meeting listed on the schedule was canceled, though Pruitt and Liveris did have a ‘brief introduction in passing.’
When originally contacted about the fake news Biesecker printed on Wednesday, Easton only told Breitbart News on Friday afternoon that she planned to respond later.
“Thank you for your email. I will get back to you,” Easton said mid-Friday afternoon, just after 4:00 p.m. ET.
Later, Easton said that the AP would be printing a new article. “We will have a new story on the wire shortly,” she said at 5:16 p.m., adding in a follow-up email at 5:58 p.m. ET: “It should be on the wire momentarily.”
Then, when the new wire that undercut the old one was published, Easton sent a link with this text at 6:11 p.m. ET: “The story is available here.”
For hours, until after 8:00 p.m. ET on Friday, Easton continued refusing to answer whether the AP would be issuing a correction on its clearly inaccurate piece.
She has refused to answer any more questions about this matter, including which AP editors were responsible for this, why this correction took so long, and whether there will be any consequences for those responsible for this grave error.
Easton similarly originally resisted transparency a month ago before the AP terminated New Hampshire-based freelancer Melanie Plenda after a Breitbart News investigation over the course of several pieces discovered she violated AP standards for journalistic integrity.
Plenda snuck into a GOP fundraiser in New Hampshire that featured White House counselor KellyAnne Conway, and then she misreported what Conway said as well as the size and reaction of the crowd. The event was closed to the press, and Plenda—as Breitbart News reported—misrepresented herself to get inside. The Associated Press editor who asked her to go was aware of the fact, as a voicemail by Breitbart News showed, as the event was closed press.
It also came out over the course of the investigation into the Melanie Plenda scandal that she was not truly a journalist but had pledged allegiance via social media to the anti-Trump resistance in the days after the election, a violation of AP standards. Eventually, though, the AP corrected the inaccuracies in the Plenda story and terminated her.
This latest development in a series of media-wide scandals comes after three senior editorial officials at CNN—a reporter, an editor, and the chief of CNN’s investigative unit—were forced to resign after a Breitbart News investigation uncovered a now-retracted very fake news hit piece they did on President Donald Trump and his associates.
The scandal has sparked an internal investigation at CNN, which is ongoing and being led by CNN president Jeff Zucker. All of that comes as videos released by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas throughout the course of this week have uncovered two separate CNN producers and a major leftist personality on the network’s payroll making seriously untoward remarks on hidden camera.
One, a CNN health producer based in Atlanta, said that the network—at Zucker’s direction—regularly ignores newsworthy stories to shift coverage back to the question of Russian interference in the U.S. election and whether there was collusion with the Trump campaign.
That producer, John Bonifield, has CNN’s full support for now, while he also finds himself as a co-defendant in a defamation lawsuit being brought against him and the network by a Florida hospital, despite his saying on camera that he knows there is no evidence to back up the charges on the Russia scandal against Trump but that CNN pushes the story anyway for ratings.
Van Jones, a former Obama administration official who now works at CNN, said on another hidden camera video that the Russia scandal is a “nothing burger” despite CNN’s breathless coverage of it. A third video from O’Keefe’s team, which dropped on Friday morning, showed CNN New Day producer Jimmy Carr attacking the appearance of White House counselor KellyAnne Conway, as well as viciously criticizing the intelligence of the American electorate and calling President Trump “crazy”—a viewpoint he said is shared by the vast majority of those inside his network.
CNN is refusing to answer questions about these matters, either the O’Keefe videos or the deeper scandal that saw the head of its investigative unit and two others step down. Its public relations team is not commenting on record to any news outlets, or answering detailed questions about it.
Network president Jeff Zucker ducked a camera when O’Keefe attempted to ask him questions about the scandal this week, and he has refused Breitbart News interview requests and declined to appear in front of television cameras to do an on-camera briefing about what happened.
Media-wide, not just at CNN, there has been a breakdown in credibility. The New York Times is getting sued by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, for inaccurately alleging in an editorial that she was responsible for motivating the shooter of Rep. Gabby Lee Giffords (D-AZ) in Arizona several years ago.
Palin’s lawyers are Hulk Hogan’s old attorneys, who successfully sued Gawker into non-existence. The lawsuit literally cites the New York Times’ previous reporting to debunk the Times own piece, which has since been corrected. Meanwhile, New York Times editors this week led a protest outside their headquarters in Manhattan as mass layoffs loom for a publication President Trump has called “failing.”
Meanwhile, over at the Washington Post, new editorial standards uncovered by Washingtonian magazine literally make it a fireable offense for staff to on social media to criticize the Post’s business parters and advertisers. That means journalists there can be fired if they speak out on social media in a manner the business side does not like about Jeff Bezos, Amazon, Whole Foods, other Bezos properties, or against advertisers.
In other words, advertisers to the Washington Post and business allies of Bezos can expect a modicum of protection from news media scrutiny if they pay up to Bezos’s empire. And of course, as Greta Van Susteren is no longer hosting her MSNBC show, her now former MSNBC colleagues Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are in a tit-for-tat feud with the President of the United States over their love affair and Brzezinski’s supposed bloody face-lift.