As the Associated Press prepares to celebrate its 170th birthday in May, new reports have surfaced that threaten to dirty its shining achievement.
The Guardian reported Wednesday that AP cooperated with Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime during the 1930s by selecting and producing materials used to cover the war in American newspapers.
German historian Harriet Scharnberg's discovery shows that the AP was the only Western news organization allowed to stay open in Hitler's Germany (all others were banned), and gave access to his inner circle after agreeing to not publish anything "calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home."
The news agency also hired reporters and a photographer from the Nazis' propaganda division and SS parliament. Photographer Frank Roth's photos of the war were personally chosen by Hitler before they were published in American newspapers. The lurid partnership allowed the Nazis to control the narrative of the war, and therefore, as Scharnberg writes,"portray a war of extermination as a conventional war."
Beyond influencing coverage in America's broadsheets, AP's cooperation with the the Nazi regime extended to German soil. The news organization allowed the Nazis access to its deep photo archive, which helped fuel its antisemitic propaganda literature.
When reached for comment, AP told Guardian that it's continuing to research the matter, but that it "rejects any notion that it deliberately 'collaborated' with the Nazi regime."
The validity of Scharnberg's discovery could call into question the AP's operation in North Korea, which has received criticism for fulfilling a similar role in the modern-day dictatorial regime after a draft agreement between the news agency and the Korean Central News Agency was leaked in 2014.