The AP ended up with egg on its face earlier this month thanks to an ill-chosen quote. The New York Times reports the wire service each day pushes out a feature called "Today in History," which rounds up events that happened on that day in history and recounts which famous people were born or died on that day. It ends with a "Thought for Today," and on June 3, the AP went with one from Confederate leader Jefferson Davis, who was born on that day. "Never be haughty to the humble; never be humble to the haughty," was what the AP shared, and the Times reports the line ended up running in more than two dozen newspapers—against the backdrop of protests against racism nationwide.
"We are totally appalled by it, it should not have happened, and it was a mistake," says AP managing editor Brian Carovillano, who explained the feature is compiled about six weeks in advance and that quotes are used repeatedly. In fact, the one from Davis previously ran on June 3 in the years 2008, 2012, and 2016. After fielding a complaint from one of the publications the AP provides its stories to (Newser among them), the AP subbed in a corrected version featuring a replacement quote from the author Franz Kafka, who died at age 40 on that date in 1924. It read, "There are two cardinal sins from which all the others spring: impatience and laziness." A rep for the AP says the "Thought for Today" will be retired altogether as of next week, and the Davis quote has been wiped from the AP's database. (Read more Associated Press stories.)