The Associated Press has released a statement explaining their decision to delete a 2-week-old tweet about Hillary Clinton’s meetings as Cabinet secretary after concluding the tweet fell short of AP standards by omitting essential context. According to the statement, the August 23 tweet “gave a distorted picture of” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “meetings and was not backed up by the AP’s own reporting.”
On August 23, the Associated Press published a “misleading” tweet alleging that “more than half those who met Clinton as Cabinet secretary gave money to Clinton Foundation,” findings that the report the tweet linked to claimed indicate “possible ethics challenges if [Clinton is] elected president.”
Now, after more than two weeks of allowing the misleading tweet to circulate on Twitter, and over a week after the AP’s executive editor dubbed the tweet “sloppy” (but refused to take it down), the Associated Press has decided it is time to delete the tweet.
The decision to delete the tweet comes after “near unanimous agreement” among journalists that the AP’s tweet was “inaccurate” and “false,” and widespread criticism of the underlying AP report, which provided no evidence of wrongdoing and scandalized Clinton’s effort to aid a Nobel Peace Prize winner. House Republicans are now using the botched report to call for an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
The statement from Associated Press Vice President for Standards John Daniszewski noted that “[t]he tweet omitted [an] important distinction” in the AP report, and adds that “the controversy over the AP tweet has led us to an extensive reflection.” From the AP’s September 8 statement:
The Associated Press today is deleting a 2-week-old tweet about Hillary Clinton’s meetings as Cabinet secretary after concluding the tweet fell short of AP standards by omitting essential context.
At the same time, we are revising our practices to require removal and correction of any AP tweets found not to meet AP standards, including tweets that contain information that is incorrect, misleading, unclear or could be interpreted as unfair, or having a problem in tone.
The tweet sent on Aug. 23 was the subject of criticism from supporters of Clinton, a number of people in the media and others who said it gave a distorted picture of the secretary’s meetings and was not backed up by the AP’s own reporting.
The tweet omitted the important distinction between discretionary meetings and official meetings. It read:
BREAKING: AP analysis: More than half those who met Clinton as Cabinet secretary gave money to Clinton Foundation.
In the earlier days of Twitter, there had been a belief that removing tweets was akin to retroactively editing a conversation; it wasn’t transparent. Additionally, tweets were seen more as providing paths to in-depth content and less as content in themselves that would remain in the public discussion for an extended period. Industry thinking on this topic has been changing. And the controversy over the AP tweet has led us to an extensive reflection on this evolution.