Every Homeric hero comes with an epithet: a phrase tacked on to the name identifying or describing the character. (Most come with more than one, to accommodate different placements in the rhythm of a line of verse.) Sometimes it’s just a patronymic, as in “Penelope, daughter of Icarius.” But often the epithet gives a key fact about the person it refers to. So we have “Zeus, who gathers the clouds,” and “wide-ruling Agamemnon” and “Menelaus of the loud war-cry” and “Achilles fleet of foot” and “wily Odysseus.”
So let me introduce you to “Ron Fournier, who negotiated for a job on the McCain campaign before taking over as chief of the AP Washington bureau.” He’s also referred to as “Fournier the sycophant of Rove.” Here, as often in Homer, the epithets are essential to the understanding of the character’s actions.
Update A reader points me to this list of the board of AP, in case anyone wants to complain about having a Republican hack cover the Presidential campaign.
Second update More on Fournier’s journalism, and his ethics (such as they are). Steve Benen summarizes the case for the prosecution.
The Associated Press
Dear Ms. Carroll:
I apologize for further crowding your in-box, but ever since I was old enough to read a newspaper I have thought of the AP as the gold standard for objective, “just-the-facts” journalism. Ron Fournier’s conduct, and AP’s decision to leave him in charge of the Washington Bureau, have forced me to re-think that belief.
It seems to me that, just as a matter of appearances, allowing someone who negotiated for a job with one of the candidates to drive AP’s election coverage is imprudent. The sycophantic emails from Fournier to Karl Rove — at the moment when, as we now know, Rove was engaged in an especially ghoulish act of deception with the press as his instrument — make things worse.
Those suspicions might have slept if Fournier and his colleagues had provided even reasonably even-handed treatment of the candidates. But the actual slant of AP’s Presidential campaign coverage — culminating in this morning’s hit-piece aimed at Joe Biden and at Barack Obama for choosing him — is now too obvious to ignore.
I urge you, for the sake of the institution you lead, to replace Fournier with someone who understands the difference between fact and opinion and who will cover this campaign with something resembling an even hand and insist that others do the same.
Fourth update My argument failed to convince Bill Nance. But Ron Fournier’s next article did the trick.