The Upper Cut: The AP Is Covering Up the Truth on Riots & The Western Journal Will Not Cooperate


Here’s a shock: The Associated Press leans left.

I hope you were sitting down for that.

Obviously, this is not news to anyone who follows the establishment media coverage of, well, anything. But when the AP leans left, it brings a lot of other publications along with it. That’s because lots of media outlets (including The Western Journal) publish content from the AP, and others use The Associated Press’ guidance on style to a greater or lesser extent (again, including The Western Journal).

In recent years, some of the entries in AP style, however, have become increasingly agenda-driven.

In June, for example, the AP changed its style guide to including the capitalization of “Black” when referring to “people in a racial, ethnic or cultural context, weighing in on a hotly debated issue.”

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When an organization as large and as influential as the AP “weighs in” on a debate, it does so not to further the exchange of ideas; it does so to end that exchange.

Almost exactly a month later, the organization announced that it would not require the capitalization of “white” in the same contexts, citing the “fact” that “[w]hite people generally do not share the same history and culture, or the experience of being discriminated against because of skin color.”

So essentially, the AP believes all black people (sorry, all Black people) share a common history and culture, whereas whites are actually diverse. Got it.

The Western Journal, which believes neither of those ideas, ignored that change to AP style. Now, we’re doing it again.

Do you consider The Associated Press a trustworthy news source?

Full disclosure: The Western Journal uses our own House Style Guide to maintain consistent usage in all of our written material. The House Style Guide is based largely upon The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law 2017.

(We’re in the process of updating to the 55th edition — we intentionally stay a couple of years behind so that freelance writers don’t have to purchase the current version, which is almost $30, and can instead get used copies of the previous year’s edition online for five or 10 bucks. The idea that we need to re-purchase the newest edition annually so that we’re up to date on each year’s “more than 200 new or revised entries” is an ancient and lucrative grift, but not one The Western Journal is interested in supporting.)

On to the matter at hand: On Sept. 30, the latest guidance from the AP suggested that journalists avoid using the term “riot” in most cases, defining it as “a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium.”

You know — like all the “mostly peaceful” protests that have been occurring throughout the country this year, particularly in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

For the masochists reading this, here is the entire tweet thread in which the AP announced this latest change:

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This is probably true, at least to a degree. The problem is that doing the opposite — focusing on the underlying grievance as opposed to the rioting and property destruction — tends to legitimize the violence, as if the underlying grievance somehow justifies violence and destruction of property owned by individuals who are not guilty of, and in fact have little or no connection at all to, the underlying grievance.

And that’s assuming the grievance has any legitimacy at all. The belief that black Americans are killed by police disproportionately to white Americans, for example, is not the basis of a legitimate grievance, because it has proven untrue again and again.

One thing any good writing teacher will tell you — writing is better when it’s as vague as possible. So use “unrest” when you’re trying to enhance your vagueness.

I hope the AP recognizes the sarcasm in those last sentences. I can only assume it will, since “The Associated Press Guide to Good Writing, 3rd Edition” argues strongly against the use of abstract nouns: “Besides being stuffy, these nouns are vague,” Rene J. Cappon complained there (emphasis mine), and rightly so.

Now, the AP apparently wants to encourage vagueness.

And why would it want to do that? Because when a word or phrase is “not clearly, precisely, or definitely expressed or stated,” it serves to hide, rather than uncover, the truth.

(That definition of “vague,” by the way, is quoted from Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 5th Edition — the official dictionary of The Associated Press Stylebook. The Cambridge Dictionary says vague expressions are useful for “making things sound less factual.”)

The AP, therefore, is working to alter English usage in journalism so as to obscure truth — the very opposite of what journalism is supposed to do. Truth also happens to be one of the most important core values of The Western Journal, so we cannot follow this new guidance. Neither, in good conscience, can any publication that claims to support Truth.

To give leftist writers in the establishment media even more cover, the AP now defines “protests” and “demonstrations” as “peaceful or violent.” Thus, acts of violence can be written off, with the full blessing of the Associated Press,” as mere “demonstrations.”

Peaceful protesters everywhere should be offended. They should, in fact, buy as many used copies of “The Associated Press Stylebook” as they can find — and burn them in the streets. Heck, soak them in gasoline, set them on fire and throw them into The Associated Press’ headquarters building, for all the AP cares. It’s not like they’d be rioting or anything.

Finally, the AP ended its tweet thread with a couple of definitions we can agree with:

Seemingly lost on the organization, however, is the fact that the AP itself, with these tweets and its leftward lurch in general, has transformed itself into one of the very “powerful groups or governing systems” that revolts and uprisings should legitimately target.

No, of course I’m not advocating violence — not under any definition. With changes like this, the AP will render itself irrelevant to all but the wokest of the woke within a couple more years anyway.

That’ll be another 400 or so “new or revised entries” designed (a) to move the language further left, and (b) to get you to cough up another $35 or so annually to learn how to keep your language acceptable to BLM rioters and beta males in vagina hats.

Visa and Mastercard accepted, of course.

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics