By Peter Hasson
The Associated Press on Sunday changed a headline after a backlash from liberals furious at the news agency for describing a caravan of illegal immigrants heading towards the United States as an “army of migrants.”
“A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US,” read the original headline on the AP story. The AP later changed the headline to replace the word “army” with “caravan.”
Though the AP has used the word “army” to refer to large groups of people besides migrants — including nurses and political activists — many on the political left criticized the wire service for its original headline.
Words matter. Is it @AP style to call migrants an “army”—above a photo of mothers tending to their infants and toddlers, no less? This is not only incorrect, but it enables a racist narrative sold by this @POTUS and his supporters. Armies invade. These people are running away. pic.twitter.com/p9TBA0y9PG
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) October 22, 2018
“AP borrows language from fascists and refers to child refugees and their mothers fleeing US-fueled violence and poverty as an ‘army,’” wrote left-wing writer Ben Norton. “Truly vile.”
The @AP has been misinforming readers for over an hour with this shockingly dishonest story.
— Bob Brigham (@BobBrigham) October 21, 2018
“Toddlers and their parents are not an ‘army,’” wrote Mother Jones editor-in-chief Clara Jeffrey. “They are not marching. They are struggling. They are not an army, they are a ragtag group of refugees. Words matter,” she added.
Others leveled similar criticisms.
What does the AP Style Guide say about using the word "army" to describe desperate families who lack any guarantee of adequate nourishment as they flee destruction and head on foot across a desert toward a heartless regime that steals children and threatens to deploy a real army?
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) October 21, 2018
this is a terrible tweet, AP https://t.co/Q8QDne9Xw7
— Alex H. Kasprak (@alexkasprak) October 21, 2018
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) October 21, 2018
The AP did not immediately return a request for comment on the headline change.
President Donald Trump has threatened to close the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico and cease aid to some Central American countries in order to stop the caravan.
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