Tuesday, March 04, 2008

AP Does It Again

The headline reads: Five-year-old Iraq war expected to affect Ohio, Texas votes and general election. Over here, it's "Iraq, politics and primaries: Ohio, Texas combine for an eighth of U.S. troop deaths."

By LIZ SIDOTI , Associated Press

McCONNELSVILLE, Ohio - Two big states holding presidential primaries Tuesday have something more tragic in common β€” high numbers of military casualties in Iraq.

Combined, Ohio and Texas have sustained roughly one-eighth of all U.S. troop deaths in a war that's certain to shape the general election as candidates with two vastly different approaches β€” stay or go β€” compete for votes in communities that have been personally touched by the conflict that began with a U.S.-led invasion five years ago this month.

One-eighth of the total casualties in the war, from the two states voting today! Therefore those states have a particular "personal" connection to the war.

Except AP never bothered to check the population statistics [PDF alert]. Ohio has 3.9 percent of the total U.S. population. Texas has 7.7 percent. Combined total = 11.6 percent; "roughly one-eighth" of the whole.

This version of the story goes even further -- showing how waves of copy editors make bad journalism worse as it whispers down the lane. The headline here reads, "Ohio and Texas Share Highest War Casualties;" not only wrong, but unsupported by the text.