Associated Press Fact-Check on DOJ Targeting School Parents Is Not Just Wrong but Insidious

Renee Jones Schneider

While we are used to fact-checks being slanted, we must ask ‘Why’ on AP’s blatant prevarication here.

There is no shock in a revelation that a fact-checker in the media is contorting the very foundation of its mission statement — the facts. This adjunct in the journalism complex has been shown to be a narrative-manipulating device, one employed to aid and abet one party. For proof, just choose a news outlet, comb through its fact-check section, and note how frequently the entries are used on critics of the Democrats and how infrequently they actually fact-check Democrats.

One of the latest examples however requires full analysis – the recent news of parents of school children being deemed domestic terrorists. The Associated Press recently corrected the story that broke about there being an effort made to list parents in this fashion, and it is a disturbing effort. Their assessment is remarkable, in that the news syndicate did not reframe the story, or resort to the tried practice of delivering “context,” suggesting there are “nuanced details,” or otherwise suggesting details have been omitted. The AP declares the claim to be outright false.

This is done, despite the fact that The National School Boards Association sent out a letter specifically outlining their contentions, and its call to have President Biden step in and control their contentious meetings. Over the past year, we have seen numerous school board meetings turn contentious regarding the refusal to open schools, mandated mask-wearing for students, and/or the Critical Race Theory curriculum, and now they want the actions of parents of students to be deemed acts of domestic terrorism.

The AP goes to great lengths in attempting to deflect on this matter. First, here is the declaration made by the AP.

CLAIM: The National School Boards Association is asking the Biden administration to label parents who protest school policies domestic terrorists.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The organization — the NSBA, for short — is not asking Biden to label parents who protest at school board meetings as terrorists.The NSBA asked the administration to do an interagency investigation of threats of violence against school board members and said the threats “could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” 

Now on first blush, this appears to be the application of the fact-checker’s nuance. It is not the protesting, they say, but the select violent aspects seen at particular times during, or following, these meetings, goes the explanation. But for the AP to come to this conclusion, the outlet either never read the letter sent by the NSBA, or it was merely repeating fed talking points from a spokesperson. 

Students react while attending a Jefferson County School Board meeting, which saw several hours of testimony from members of the public weighing in on the school board's controversial p

This is because we can read the letter that was sent to President Biden. In it, the NSBA wants protests labeled as domestic terrorism, and suggests the president should involve the DOJ, possibly the Patriot Act, the Hate Crimes Act, Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, the Conspiracy Against Rights statute, the US Postal Inspection Service, and even the possibility of a presidential executive order. Yes, they have suggested any and all of those to be used regarding school board meetings with parents present.

The AP quotes a PR rep from the school board group attempting cover for their wild claims, and to place a better image on this hysterical bout of overreacting.

NSBA and school board members don’t want to stop parents from expressing their First Amendment rights or label them as terrorists,” NSBA CEO Chip Slaven said in a statement emailed to the AP. “Our letter to President Biden was about stopping dangerous and threatening acts that school board members and other education leaders are receiving,” Slaven added.

Yeah, except…

In their letter, the NSBA actually went so far as to list out actions and activities that the group deemed worthy of being labeled as domestic terrorists, and to call some of their examples violence is to employ the most woke/triggering/safe-space definition of the word. Here are some of the examples of the activity they want the force of the federal government thrown at for their sake.

School board meetings have been disrupted in California, Florida, Georgia, and other states because of local directives for mask coverings to protect students and educators from COVID-19.

Disruptions are now to be regarded as “violence”?

During two separate school board meetings in Michigan, an individual yelled a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements, and another individual prompted the board to call a recess because of opposition to critical race theory.

Okay, while crude and probably unnecessary, this amounts to the shouting of words, not a violent act. 

In New Jersey, Ohio, and other states, anti-mask proponents are inciting chaos during board meetings. In Virginia, an individual was arrested, another man was ticketed for trespassing. In other states including Washington, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Tennessee, school boards have been confronted by angry mobs and forced to end meetings abruptly. A resident in Alabama, who proclaimed himself as “vaccine police,” has called school administrators while filming himself on Facebook Live.

Yes, there have been some instances of very select examples of violent behavior, but these have been dealt with by local authorities. But look again at the words of the spokesman, claiming they do not want to stop the expression of First Amendment Rights.

Most of what they list — disruptions, yelling, angry parents, or filming of some events — are forms of expression, not violence, yet these are being held up as terrorist behavior, and numerous federal agencies are being called on to stifle these expressions.

Virus Outbreak Florida
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File

So why would the Associated Press look over these very strained efforts to relabel what is considered violence approvingly? Why is the wire service agreeing with this organization that what amounts to vocal outbursts is considered terrorist behavior? This is not reflexive media defense of Joe Biden since, as the fact-check stipulates, neither Biden nor the DOJ has declared parents to be terrorists — so they are siding with the school boards on this matter.

As the NSBA is quoted calling outbursts at meetings terrorism, the AP says anyone stating such is in the wrong. In its rundown, it twice calls the claims “false,” also labeling them “misinformation,” and that they “aren’t accurate.” This means effectively the AP is perfectly fine with the wrongful classification of parents of school children objecting to school boards overstepping authority. Sure, the school board authority only wants help investigating threats and violence; the issue is in what that entity classifies under those terms — and who.