The AP’s Sins of Omission and Commission on Bailey’s “Tell-All” Book on Governor Palin

by Whitney Pitcher

A chapter in one of my graduate school textbooks opened with a quote from Aaron Levenstein that says, “[s]tatistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital. ” Research involving statistics and journalism are supposed to be similar. Both are supposed to collect the data and report objectively on those data. Neither are supposed to conceal facts or results that run counter to their hypotheses or their own personal opinions. However, it seems that Associated Press reporter Becky Bohrer has neglected the journalistic tenet of objectivity in her piece on Frank Bailey’s “tell all” book about Governor Palin. Her piece is rife with omissions. This is nothing new for Bohrer. As Stacy wrote earlier this month, Boehrer showed glaring omissions in an AP story about the most recent frivolous suit against Governor Palin by serial lawsuit filer, Chip Thoma. In this most recent piece, Bohrer is guilty of both omission and commission.

The first glaring omission from Bohrer in this piece is in that she does not even once mention Frank Bailey’s ethical lapses. One of the frivolous ethics complaints filed against Governor Palin and her staff exonerated her, but required Bailey to take ethics training. Comments made by SarahPAC staff corroborate with this:

“Frank Bailey was the only member of the Palin administration to be found to have acted unethically – twice,” Crawford said. “He is currently under investigation again by the state attorney general. Then, as the administrator of certain email accounts, he acted unethically by appropriating account information he was entrusted to protect.”

This would seem a pertinent detail, but is omitted by Bohrer. This omission allows readers unfamiliar with Bailey’s unethical behavior to assume that because Bailey once worked for the Governor, he may seem a credible source. His ethical lapse tells a different story, however.

Additionally,while Bohrer does discuss the attorney general’s investigation of Bailey’s use of emails, she is not entirely forthcoming:

The Alaska attorney general’s office has said it’s investigating Bailey’s use of the emails. Executive ethics laws bar former public officials from using information acquired during their work for personal gain if the information hasn’t been publicly disseminated.

This is not an investigatory effort started by the attorney general’s office on their own accord. This is effort is due to the filing of a complaint by serial ethics complaint filer, Andree McLeod. McLeod is no friend of Governor Palin and, in fact, is responsible for many of the frivolous ethics complaints filed against Palin in the last few years, yet Bailey’s use of emails against Governor Palin for his own gain have spawned complaint from McLeod. If another person who seems to have an agenda against Governor Palin is even questioning the ethics of Bailey in writing this book. would that not give people pause with regards to Bailey’s credibility? Would not the complete facts behind the attorney general’s investigation be pertinent to the story?

Thirdly, Bohrer neglects to identify Bailey’s co-authors in his book. She writes:

In February, the book project also made headlines when a draft manuscript was leaked. An attorney for Bailey and his co-writers accused author Joe McGinniss, who has his own Palin book coming out this year. McGinniss’ attorney acknowledged McGinniss selectively shared the manuscript, but said the manuscript included no request for confidentiality.

Who might those unnamed co-authors be? None other than Jeanne Devon and Ken Morris–bloggers from the anti-Palin blog Mudflats. Even the biased Politico was honest enough to report the names of the co-authors. Again, does not the mention of co-authors further reveal the potential intentions and credibility of Bailey’s book? Bohrer quotes Bailey as saying that he has nothing against Governor Palin, but wouldn’t his selection of such individuals as co-authors tell a different story? However, Boehrer does not bother her readers with such details.

In addition to these glaring omissions, Bohrer tops off her piece by building a strawman argument regarding Bailey’s suggestion of unethical behavior by Governor Palin and the Republican Governors Association in the production of an ad. Boehrer writes:

At that time, there was a one-year statute of limitations on complaints, and the Alaska Public Offices Commission did not receive any complaints related to Palin and the association during that period. However, the RGA was fined – unrelated to Palin – for late reporting, according to the commission’s executive director, Paul Dauphinais.

Bohrer is right to say that no complaints were filed regarding the RGA and Governor Palin. Ian has written about this false claim already. However, why would Boehrer mention a missed deadline by the RGA unrelated to Governor Palin unless she was trying to implicate Governor Palin in some kind of wrongdoing? It is a false argument with no reason for inclusion except to misrepresent Governor Palin.

Bohrer’s piece shows several sins of omission. What the media choose to report is important, but what they omit is equally vital. Journalists’ sins of commissions and omissions in attempts to reveal a “scathing” story about Governor Palin only leave their bias exposed.

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