Absolutely zero news value: We're going to disagree with Kevin Drum. We're even going to disagree with Gene Lyons on this point.
We think the AP was silly this week. We refer to its fevered election eve report, in which it announced that Candidate Clinton had gone over the top in the delegate count.
What an utterly pointless "news report!" Everyone had known for weeks that the primaries of June 7 were going to put Candidate Clinton way, way over the top, if you were willing to include the so-called super-delegates.
In the face of that certain knowledge, what did the AP decide to do? In this morning's New York Times, Michael Grynbaum offers a sad explanation:
GRYNBAUM (6/8/16): Officials at The A.P. offered a simpler explanation: There was news, and they reported it.To us, that report seems quite revealing.
“We’re not calculating about when something happens,” Kathleen Carroll, The A.P.’s executive editor, said. “News is news. You put it out when you have it.”
The A.P. employs a crew of reporters to track delegates, distributing its tally to dozens of news organizations. On Monday, its chief delegate reporter, Stephen Ohlemacher, said that after days of nonstop calls to superdelegates, he had received enough commitments to support Mrs. Clinton for her to clinch the nomination.
Everyone knew that Tuesday's results would put Clinton way over the top. So what did the AP do?
Of course! They wasted several days having reporters make "nonstop calls to superdelegates."
Given what everyone already knew, there was absolutely zero point to this utterly silly behavior. Why didn't they have their reporters pursue something useful instead?
This is the ultimate horserace story. It involves the ultimate waste of journalists' time, chasing down an election result which everyone knew was coming.
What happened because the AP decided to waste its time this way? In theory, the world was deprived of the knowledge its reporters might otherwise have created. Much worse, and needless to say, Sanders supporters were given yet another way to think the election was rigged.
Drum and Lyons have both said that the AP should have reported the news when they got it. In theory, that's true, of course—though it's also true that news orgs exercise judgment all the time about the release of reports. (Generally speaking, polling stops right before an election to avoid giving the impression that news and polling orgs are trying to influence outcomes.)
In this case, the so-called "news" the AP released wasn't really news at all. The news they released had zero news value! More and more, this is precisely the way our silly, faux "news business" works.