Misleading AP Headline of the Day: “No Link to Russian Gov’t in Plane Downing”
A wave of WTFs went through Twitter this afternoon when the Associated Press tweeted this:
BREAKING: US officials: Intel suggests Malaysia plane shot down by separatists, no link to Russia found.
Because of course, the BUK surface-to-air missile was supplied by Russia, the people who used it had to have been trained by Russia, and Russia’s links to the separatists are very well known and thoroughly documented.
A few minutes later the actual AP story was posted, and lo and behold… the headline didn’t tell the full story. In fact, it almost seems designed to mislead: US: No Link to Russian Gov’t in Plane Downing.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement.
The plane was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, the intelligence officials said, citing intercepts, satellite photos and social media postings by separatists, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.
But the officials said they did not know who fired the missile or whether any Russian operatives were present at the missile launch. They were not certain that the missile crew was trained in Russia, although they described a stepped-up campaign in recent weeks by Russia to arm and train the rebels, which they say has continued even after the downing of the commercial jetliner.
In terms of who fired the missile, “we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” one official said, adding at another point, “There is not going to be a Perry Mason moment here.”
So what this really looks like is that some intelligence people were asked to give details about MH17, and carefully parsed their words to be as equivocal as possible. Basically, there’s no real news here at all — except the headline. And the headline is contradicted by the story.
But guess who jumped all over that headline within minutes?
BREAKING: US intelligence: No link to Russia in Malaysia plane downing http://t.co/iZ5yKSJBiC
Clearly, this is going to be a propaganda bonanza for the Kremlin.
The Associated Press has now changed the headline, presumably responding to criticisms like ours: US: Russia ‘Created the Conditions’ for Shoot-Down.