TIME FOR THE AP TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR…. About half way through Barack Obama’s convention speech last night, he told his audience, “That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.”

He did just that, with an emphasis on depth. Taxes, healthcare, energy policy, education — Obama left little doubt about what he would do if elected. Indeed, the emphasis on details, which his detractors have said is a weak point in his campaign, was hard to miss. Chris Cillizza said, “Obama’s speech was more substance than style; more specifics than rhetorical flourish.” Greg Sargent said the speech “was strong because of its specificity.” Robert Gordon and James Kvaal added, “In its depth and detail, his speech resembled a State of the Union address more than a typical stump speech.”

And yet, there was the Associated Press, doing what it’s been doing far too often: parroting the Republican line.

Barack Obama, whose campaign theme is “change we can believe in,” promised Thursday to “spell out exactly what that change would mean.”

But instead of dwelling on specifics, he laced the crowning speech of his long campaign with the type of rhetorical flourishes that Republicans mock and the attacks on John McCain that Democrats cheer. […]

The crowd at Invesco Field cheered deliriously, but Republicans almost surely will decry the lack of specifics.

This is utter nonsense. Obama detailed his policy vision in a way few convention speeches of the modern era have. What, exactly, did the AP’s Charles Babbington expect Obama to do? Break out a chalk board and some pie charts? Start reading white papers?

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, soon after the AP piece hit the wires, read excerpts before trouncing the ridiculous analysis. “It is analysis that strikes me as having born no resemblance to the speech you and I just watched,” Olbermann said. “None whatsoever. And for it to be distributed by the lone national news organization in terms of wire copy to newspapers around the country and web sites is a remarkable failure of that news organization. Charles Babington, find a new line of work.”

That’s reasonable advice, but I’d just add that it’s time for the AP to take a long look in the mirror. The man responsible for directing the wire service’s coverage of the presidential campaign, Ron Fournier, considered joining the McCain campaign’s payroll just last year, and his “leadership” has taken the AP in an unprofessional direction. Its coverage of the race has not only been biased and misleading, but has become an embarrassment to once-great media institution.

The Associated Press is just too important to slip so far from where it once was. It can become credible again, but the service is in desperate need of sweeping changes.

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.