For more than 100 years, the Associated Press was a beacon of unbiased journalism. Its copy delivered the news, withheld the opinion and covered, as Mark Twain once said, everything under the sun.
But that’s no longer the case. The AP Stylebook, its guide for questions such as where to put the comma, how to write formal titles and whether to put quote marks around the names of movies, has become compromised by political correctness.
This was on display over the weekend in a story about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his reportedly estranged relationship with his boss, President Donald Trump.
Tillerson has said their relationship is solid and that “the continuing public focus on whether he’s been undermined by the president has not impeded his ability to succeed in his role,” the weekend AP story reported. “As the drama has played out, Tillerson has brushed it off as meaningless Washington-centric noise that he says he doesn’t understand as an outsider.”
“I know the appearance of it certainly looks like there’s sometimes disunity. There’s no confusion among the people that matter,” Tillerson said on Face the Nation.
Part of the reason for that is a report that Tillerson called President Trump a moron. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert denied Tillerson said this, and the secretary of state has said he will not dignify the question, which he referred to as the “petty stuff” of Washington, with an answer.
Mainstream media won’t even countenance the thought Tillerson perhaps did not call Trump a moron. AP said he “ducked, danced and sidestepped” the question “again and again” this weekend.
The AP story also made a number of assertions for which it offered nothing in the way of proof. It was unclear why Tillerson would not deny he made the comment but allow his spokesman to do so, the story said.
“The continuing questions have brought his strained relationship with the president into focus.”
It was so strained that Trump joked that if they had an IQ contest, he would win.
Two paragraphs later, we learn of the implications of this unproven infighting.
“Questions about Trump’s tensions with his secretary of state come as the U.S. faces a series of international crises … “
“Despite Tillerson’s attempts to show he’s in lockstep with the president, the NBS News report of his ‘moron’ comment infuriated Trump, who privately bashed his secretary of state to associates.” Privately, with no named sources.
“People close to Trump say the president has grown increasingly dissatisfied with Tillerson, whom Trump views as holding a conventional view of America’s role in the world and lacking star power,” the story continues. “Tillerson, meanwhile, is said to have grown weary of Trump contradicting his public pronouncements and of becoming increasingly isolated in a capital to which he has never warmed.”
All this from insiders who apparently can read Trump’s mind about Tillerson. Tillerson was the chairman of ExxonMobil before this; he does not lack star power. And the contradiction they think so frustrates him was not a contradiction at all. Trump didn’t tell him to stop trying to negotiate with North Korea; he just predicted – correctly, so far – that nothing would come of it.
“Trump himself has been irked by Tillerson’s advocacy of staying in both the Paris climate deal and the Iran nuclear pact and has complained to associates that he does not like how Tillerson candidly voices his disapproval to the president in meetings, according to White House officials and outside advisers.”
In other words, whenever the two voiced differing opinions, it signified discord. And when they didn’t voice different opinions, different opinions were ascribed to them by anonymous sources.
It’s possible Tillerson and Trump hate each, and that Tillerson will be out of a job tomorrow. But it’s also possible that two men who have no reason to lie say they do get along as much as they need to, and they will work together for the duration of Trump’s term. Nobody has a credible source to dispute it.