During the Bush years Ron Fournier was an editor at AP. He was a classic example of a reporter in the GOP tank. There were many examples (like here, here, and here for starters). From 2004 to 2009, I helped quite a number of AP reporters working on the Abramoff scandal. After the initial media scandal news burst, these reporters had lots of problems getting stories about deeper Republican involvement in the scandal published. Some stories made it in, but after spring of 2006 many, many more stories were spiked by AP editors–like Ron. Some of these stories where later published by other outlets. It was then I started paying attention to Fournier and it did not take much observation to see that he was a GOP stenographer–especially for John McCain. In 2006 he almost went to work for McCain and during the 2008 campaign he used his position as an AP editor to place a pretty heavy pro-McCain thumb on the coverage. Fournier’s and the AP’s actions at their 2008 annual luncheon for newspaper editors was especially shameful.
These days Fournier is an Editor at the National Journal and today he did something surprising: he called out the Romney campaign on their Welfare Ad Lie. I was looking at some news this evening and I read this story. Good thing I was turned away from computer otherwise my spit take would have sprayed it with a recent sip of Brew Free or Die IPA.
As part of National Journal and Atlantic Magazine coverage of the conventions, Fournier was on a panel today with senior Romney campaign
adviser spin master Ron Kaufman. It was a typicle wank fest until Fournier challenged Kaufman on the Welfare Ad Lie:
Though the first few minutes were spent on niceties, Fournier soon brought the conversation around to a hot-button topic: the Romney campaign’s new series of welfare ads. [snip]
Fact checkers have largely debunked the premise of the ad, pointing out that the work requirements in fact have not been ended.
But Fournier did not just tell Kaufman the ad was wrong, he also accused the Romney campaign of “playing the race card.” Fournier, who is from Detroit, Mich., said that welfare is a hot button issue in his hometown, and that this ad was “pushing that button … playing to that racial prejudice. And I’m wondering: are you guys doing that on purpose?”
The full 40 minute event can be seen on C-Span here and the National Journal has put up a shorter version of the Welfare Lie Ad back and forth. It can be viewed here. [I would embed these video links, but because of some longstanding FYWP interface problems. I’m not able to do that–so you’ll just have to click on through].
This is a pretty stunning turn of events. When Ron Fournier is straight out asking Team Romney if they’re running the Welfare Lie Ad because President Obama is black and then pushes back on their denials–well, something odd is in the air. Perhaps the Romney campaign’s message that the press can go fuck themselves is opening the eyes of even the most dedicated GOP stenographers. Or perhaps like his pal McCain, Fournier just hates Mitt. Or perhaps he was visited by the ghost of Lincoln Steffens and remembered that journalism was supposed to be about the truth or something.
Whatever the reason, I never thought that I would live to see Fournier ask any Republican a hard question, let alone push back on their nonanswer.
I need to get a drink.