AP director asks Obama about 'Obama bin Laden'
John Byrne
Published: Monday April 14, 2008

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While McCain appeared to have stolen the show at an Associated Press forum in Washington today by declaring the economy in "recession," the conservative newspaper owner -- and the board chair of the AP -- may have made a bigger but unreported splash.

Certainly unreported by AP.

Associated Press director William Dean Singleton, who serves as the publisher of Denver Post, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Detroit News and is one of about twenty newspaper owners that run the wire service, asked Sen. Barack Obama about shifting troops into Afghanistan to fight al Qaeda leader "Obama bin Laden."

"Can you imagine shifting a substantial number of Afghanistan -- a substantial number to Afghanistan where the Taliban has been gaining strength and Obama Bin Laden is still at large?" Singleton queried.

According to ABC News, Obama "interrupted" and said, �I think that was Osama bin Laden,� before taking "a big gulp of water from the glass next to the podium."

Singleton appeared to apologize, but did not acknowledge having said Obama bin Laden.

"If I did that I'm so sorry," he said.

�No, no, no, this is part of the -� part of the exercises that I�ve been going though over the last fifteen months,� Obama added, �Which is why it�s pretty impressive that I�m standing here.�

After the event, ABC said "an embarrassed Singleton could be heard off camera, but on microphone, telling an unidentified man: 'Can't believe I did that. I didn't think I did. But he said it so I assumed I did. So, certainly wasn't on purpose.'"

A recent New York Times profile of Singelton quoted John McManus, "the director of GradetheNews.org, at the journalism school of San Jose State University in California, said many of Mr. Singleton's papers were low-wage and mediocre, and allowed advertisements to bleed all too easily into news content."

"Mr. Singleton, 54, a bantam figure with flinty blue eyes, is indeed thought of as something of a magician in the newspaper world — having transformed himself from the son of a ranch hand in a tiny town in Texas to a media baron who now controls a newspaper empire that sprawls from coast to coast," the Times adds. "He has, in a manner of speaking, sawed many of his competitors in half, only to have them hop off the table and become his partners."

This video is from CNN.com, broadcast April 14, 2008.