Media Swings And Misses On Rutledge E-mail Non-Story

rutledgeemails-01-01Some eager journalists thought they’d gotten a major scoop yesterday after the state Department of Human Services (DHS) released the emails of attorney general candidate Leslie Rutledge that she wrote during her 14 months as a DHS lawyer.
One of the e-mails released contained this bombshell:

A pregnant woman, no matter what age, should have the right to an abortion without parental notification anyway — we shouldn’t allow wacko religious parents to force a young woman to carry to term a unwanted pregnancy — but apparently that is exactly what the Young Republicans favor. Its even better if they are barefoot the whole time I bet.

Several news outlets were quick to jump on that e-mail. Rutledge is pro-life; presumably, they thought they had caught her being hypocritical.
However, shortly after the e-mail was made public yesterday, the Rutledge campaign notified the press that these words weren’t hers. She was simply forwarding along a fellow DHS employee’s post on the Arkansas Times blog in 2007.
Yesterday, that fellow employee then told the Arkansas Times that Rutledge’s version of events was accurate:

Gray Turner, a former co-worker with Rutledge, has now written me to say that he was the “hoglawyer” who wrote the item reprinted in Rutledge’s mail and that all comments under the “hoglawyer” on the blog were his and no one else’s. That would make sense of a remonstrating “shame on you” by Rutledge on the comment in disagreement with the sentiment. I talked with Turner about it and he said he’s sure he wrote the item. He added, “Leslie has always been clearly pro-life as long as I’ve known her.”

To the Associated Press’s credit, they quickly retracted the story. To the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s greater credit, they didn’t even do a story on the non-story in today’s edition.
However, even though the AP has since retracted its story, the original story is still posted on numerous websites without any updates under the headline of “AG hopeful criticized “wacko parents on abortion.” ”
Once the AP files a story, it gets sent out to newspapers, websites, and television stations across the state and country. If they issue a retraction, as they did in this case, it’s each  editor’s job at those news organizations to update the original story with the retraction.
This is Journalism 101, but some involved in this incident haven’t seemed to learn that yet.
For instance, a quick Google search reveals that the Baxter Bulletin still has the original, incorrect article on its website.
Among national newspapers, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News both have the original, incorrect version available on their website.
It’s been  24 hours since the AP issued their retraction. Maybe these sites will get around to updating the story with a retraction eventually, so this non-story can be left on the ash heap of the 2014 campaign cycle.

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