AP, please define "refuses"

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Just gruesome.

Here's the AP headline:

Sotomayor refuses to renounce 'wise Latina' words

And here's the lede:

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor declined Wednesday to renounce her comment that a "wise Latina" woman might make a better ruling than a white man without the same life experiences.

Wasn't the news hook from yesterday's hearing that Sotomayor had distanced herself from the "wise Latina" quote and said she'd misspoke?

But here's how the AP reported today's exchange [emphasis added]:

She was answering questions at her confirmation hearing from Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a former state judge and attorney general who said he was troubled by conflicting images he had of the nominee — one from her speeches and writings and another, more moderate snapshot, from her bench rulings.

"I need your help reconciling those two pictures," Cornyn told Sotomayor.

Sotomayor told Cornyn that "my words failed" because they have been taken by many to suggest she believes she'd be a superior judge because of her personal profile and life experiences.

But she also said that "I stand by the words."

Here's the actual exchange with Cornyn in which it's blindingly obvious that when Sotomayor said she "stands by the words," she was referring to yesterday's testimony in which she walked back her "wise Latina" quote. In other words, the AP got the story exactly backwards:

CORNYN: Do you stand by your words of yesterday when you said it was a failed rhetorical flourish that fell flat, that they were words that don't make sense, that they were a bad idea?

SOTOMAYOR: I stand by the words. It fell flat.

We await the AP correction.

UPDATED: No formal correction, but AP cleaned up its flawed Sotomayor article. It now states the obvious that she "acknowledged Wednesday that her 'wise Latina' remarks had stirred controversy and conceded that they'd been taken the wrong way by some."

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