FOURNIER CAN’T HELP HIMSELF…. Over the weekend, Ron Fournier, the AP’s Washington bureau chief and the man responsible for directing the wire service’s coverage of the presidential campaign, received a fair amount of criticism for the latest in a series of pieces that toed the McCain campaign line.

I was curious to see if Fournier would consider the negative response, reevaluate his rather obvious biases, and take pains to improve his reporting going forward. Apparently not. Here’s his piece analyzing Hillary Clinton’s speech to the Democratic convention:

“Barack Obama is my candidate,” she said. “And he must be our president.” But did she mean it? And would it matter?

True, her challenges Tuesday night were impossibly high, perhaps mutually exclusive.

She had to both promote her political future and unify her party. Clinton had to somehow convince people that she honestly thought Obama was ready for the presidency. But something stood in her way: Her words.

From there, Fournier recites the very quotes from the Democratic primaries that the McCain campaign has been pushing desperately all week. So, to hear the AP’s Washington bureau chief tell it, the most important takeaway from Clinton’s stirring speech at the convention is the criticism she directed at Obama as far back as nine months ago. And this, coincidentally, just happens to be what Republicans want to see emphasized this week more than anything else.

Swopa added, “[W]hat Clinton and Obama actually believe isn’t important to Fournier, any more than he gave a flying fig about Clinton’s actual speech last night. His intention is to distract readers from what she said, to disrupt what Clinton and Obama are seeking to achieve by imposing his previously-formed opinions on the event.”

Fournier isn’t exactly a neutral observer. I get it. But given Fournier’s recent history — he actually considered joining the McCain campaign’s payroll last year — one would like to think he’d take steps to bolster his journalistic credibility and objectivity. As the criticism has grown louder, even from mainstream news outlets, it stands to reason that Fournier would go out of his way to clean up his act.

He is, regrettably, doing the exact opposite.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.