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I was outraged about the AP's widely-reported story that Howard Dean was repeatedly warned about security at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

So I wrote this letter to their editors:

Subject: Headline: Dean Was Warned on Vt. Nuke Security

"Dear Sir or Ma'am,

I am outraged and appalled at the biased and
mendacious reporting that is being provided by the AP on the record of Howard Dean during his tenure as governor of Vermont, especially in regards to the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

According to Vermont State Police Homeland Security Unit and Vermont Yankee, "Most of the things mentioned in the article are 10 to 12 years old," and that plant has spent $8 million in upgrades since then.  Those upgrades include additional perimeter fencing, a state-of-the-art intrusion detection system, closed-circuit video surveillance, reinforced guard towers, concrete vehicle barriers, explosive detection devices and enhanced guard weaponry.

According to the officials, Vermont Yankee is the most highly protected facility in that part of the nation's infrastructure.  Yet, according to your article written by JOHN SOLOMON and DAVID GRAM, "despite a decade of repeated warnings of poor safety at Vermont Yankee, Dean's administration was poorly prepared for a nuclear disaster."

How can you allow your reporters to disseminate these damaging LIES as the truth and still call yourselves an objective news outlet?  This article was a blatant hatchet job aimed at Howard Dean.  Your organization has taken a very transparent dislike to Doctor Dean, and are apparently more than willing to print lies and untruths to damage his credibility.  

The only credibility being damaged is that of the Associated Press.  You better believe that this is not going unnoticed.  You need to print a retraction and correction of this piece - and not buried in your corrections section.  

The Associated Press should also think very carefully about the consequences of continuing to print the disgraceful "news" stories by Nedra Pickler and Calvin Woodward.  Their kinds of pseudo-news pieces, which are really mendacious misrepresentations and thinly-disguised attempts to damage Dean and Democratic candidates in general, are NOT GOING UNNOTICED.  If you wish to retain your name as a reliable news outlet, you need to stop this kind of behavior right now.  

Sincerely,

[Rumblelizard]"

Almost immediately, I received this reply from AP:

"Dear [Rumblelizard],

The Associated Press does not insert the headline. The headline is
inserted by the customer who receives the AP story.

Where did you see the story?

AP Corporate Communications/NY"

To which I replied,

"Dear Sir or Ma'am,

Thank you for your reply.

On a Google search of the headline mentioned, the
headline and variations on it came up in the following places:  http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&edition=us&num=30&newsclusterurl= http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/ats-ap_us13jan04,1,5705429.story%3Fcoll%3Dsns-ap -topus

[Would not take my a href command for some reason]

As you can see, this distortion has been widely picked up online (and in print) and was reported as fact, while Vermont officials have denied the conclusions reached by your reporters, as reported in this article

Thank you for your time.

Best regards,

[Rumblelizard]"

Writing to the editors works!  Keep it up!

Originally posted to Rumblelizard on Tue Jan 06, 2004 at 02:30 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Re: A Reply from the AP! (4.00)
    Hey, you wrote them complaining about an article's accuracy and now they've got you talking about the headline only.  Sounds like they are not really addressing your concerns and are hope you'll be satisfied with an explanation of a concern that was not your point.
  •  Re: A Reply from the AP! (none)
    Exactly, Dave.  The point was not a mismatch between the article and the headline, or even a bad article with a worse headline.  

    Here, the headline seemed more or less to reflect the content of a terrible article.  

    The AP's determination to distract you by changing the subject itself implicitly bespeaks an acknowledgement of guilt, far more than a denial or "explanation" would.

    You could write them back and point all this out.

  •  Re: A Reply from the AP! (none)
    Good work.  This really is an important contribution to the '04 election campaign.  Maybe even the most effective use of time in that effort.

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