November 17, 2009

AP Turns Heads for Devoting 11 Reporters to Palin Book 'Fact Check'

Reviewing books and holding public figures accountable is at the core of good journalism, but the Associated Press' treatment of Palin's book seems an unprecedented move at the wire service

The AP, however, regularly writes "fact checks" for major political speeches, such as a September health care speech by President Obama.

Doug Underwood, a University of Washington journalism professor who covered Washington politics in the late 1970s for Gannett, said Palin brings some negative attention on herself with a history of bad interviews and misstatements. In addition, the press cannot ever be perfectly consistent or fair, he said.

Still, the media treated Biden and Palin differently, he said.

Biden's book "Promises to Keep" became an instant best-seller when he was chosen to be Obama's running mate, but was not fact-checked by the AP and only received passing interest. In a story last year on Biden's Vietnam War draft deferments due to asthma, the reporter notes Biden didn't mention the malady in his book.

Palin is not the standard presidential possibility for 2012, Underwood said.

"She's a figure who's a politician, but also a part of popular culture," he said.