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Forty-six years after I began as a newspaper columnist and a talk-radio host, at the San Francisco Chronicle and at that city’s KCBS, I am compelled to ask: What on earth has happened to the Associated Press?

Thousands of us in the media throughout the last half of the 20th century had good cause to have highest regard for AP as strongly objective, fair, unbiased and surely not subject to undue influence or pressure from any political party.

On April 3, during a speech by President Obama to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Weekly Standard reported:

  • “Dean Singleton, chairman of the Associated Press board, introduced President Obama. … But Singleton didn’t just tell the audience the president was the next speaker – the supposed newsman offered lavish praise for the Democratic president.”

  • “‘President Obama made history as the first minority to be elected president,’ said Singleton. ‘Even many who opposed his election felt proud of our country as he took the oath of office.’

  • “Singleton went on to detail the challenges Obama faced, much in the same way Obama himself details his own presidency. … ‘As president, he inherited the headwinds of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. He pushed through Congress the biggest economic recovery plan in history and a government reorganization of two of the big three American automakers to save them from oblivion. He pursued domestic and foreign policy agendas that are controversial to many, highlighted by his signature into law of the most comprehensive health care legislation in history. … We are honored today to have the man currently holding the office and aspiring for another term,’ said Singleton before finally announcing the president himself.”

The Weekly Standard also noted: “Indeed, it sounded like a campaign speech from the AP chief himself.”

Then, from Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt – under the memorable headline “Newshounds in Heat over Obama” – the following:

“Any hope that the full-blown love affair the old-guard media has with President Obama might cool off for their coverage of the 2012 presidential election vanished long about lunchtime Tuesday. …

“But for the assembled ‘news’ hounds – the most vaunted gathering of news executives from across the country – it was all very serious swooning. They were like a bunch of dogs in heat.

“Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP board, introduced Mr. Obama. No, actually, it was more like he proposed to him. Sang him an icky love song in which he reminisced about all their hot dates and then pledged his undying love forever.

“The only way you know that the White House didn’t actually write the introduction, as it often does when the president speaks, is simply that Mr. Singleton’s Valentine essay was so over-the-top fawning that even the White House probably was embarrassed – if that is possible. …

“Then, apparently reading directly from one of the Obama campaign’s teleprompters, Mr. Singleton proceeded to absolve him of any blame for the current financial crisis.

“‘As president, he inherited the headwinds of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. He pushed through Congress the biggest economic recovery plan in history and led a government reorganization of two of the Big Three American auto manufacturers to save them from oblivion.’

“Seriously? This from the leader of what is supposed to be the most basic, unbiased, straightforward news-reporting organization in the country?

“But Mr. Singleton was still not finished. …

“Before consummating the relationship with a leg-tingling handshake on stage and expressing his ‘honor’ to be in the presence of Mr. Obama, Mr. Singleton issued a warning about the coming presidential election.

“‘We thought the 2008 White House race was rough and tumble,’ he said. ‘The 2012 race makes it look like bumper cars by comparison as our country has become even more polarized.’

“Well, is it any wonder we are so ‘polarized’ considering how America’s ‘news’ hounds – our most trusted guardians of fairness and truth – have gone completely into heat and jumped into bed with Mr. Obama?”

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