Tom Blumer has written for several national online publications  primarily on business, economics, politics and media bias. He has had his own blog, BizzyBlog.com, since 2005, and has been with NewsBusters since December 2005. Along the way, he's had a decades-long career in accounting, finance, training and development.

Latest from Tom Blumer
May 4, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT

This morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Friday afternoon's coverage of the government's jobs report at the Associated Press by economics writers Christopher Rugaber and Josh Boak carried predictions of "nearly 3 percent" economic growth this year. Those predictions ignore how difficult achieving that will be after the first quarter's miserable 0.1 percent annualized result and "most economists'" estimates that the second quarter will come in at 3.5 percent. Those two results require average annualized growth of 3.9 percent during the third and fourth quarters — something the economy hasn't seen in ten years. Additionally, it appears that if the Federal Reserve under Janet Yellen sees that kind of growth, it will put on the brakes by raising interest rates in the name of heading off inflation.

Since they were entertaining predictions about future developments, it's more than a little odd that the AP pair chose to ignore many analysts' predictions that the first quarter's GDP result will move into contraction when it gets revised in future months — especially since those downward revisions, supposedly reflecting deferred growth, partially justify their 3.5 percent second-quarter prediction. It sure looks like Rugaber and Boak were selective in deciding what they would report.

May 4, 2014, 9:56 AM EDT

In a Friday afternoon dispatch issued in the wake of the government's jobs report earlier that day, Christopher Rugaber and Josh Boak at the Associated Press wrote that "most economists ... forecast a strong rebound in economic growth - to a 3.5 percent annual rate in the current April-June quarter. And growth should reach nearly 3 percent for the full year, up from 1.9 percent in 2013, they expect."

There are two problems with that prediction. The first lies in how strong the third and fourth quarters will have to be for the economy to get "nearly 3 percent" for the full year, given the tiny first-quarter annualized growth of 0.1 percent reported on Wednesday. The second and perhaps more crucial issue is that the full-year estimate significantly exceeds the "altered assessment" at the Fed concerning how fast it thinks the economy can grow without running the risk of igniting inflation.

May 2, 2014, 11:59 PM EDT

In June 2006, the New York Times, over strident pleas not to from the Bush 43 administration, published details of how counterterrorism officials were "tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry." According to the administration, the program had "helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia." Other outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, which were apparently on the brink of breaking what the Times reported first, also chipped in with their own supplements. The stories received prominent network TV coverage, and reinforced the image of the Bush administration as secretive and far less than transparent.

So the details of how the government was monitoring the operation of the world's financial system to obtain clues to help catch terrorists apparently deserved full exposure. If that's fine, why has the press been barely interested in a far more troubling development, namely Eric Holder's U.S. Department of Justice using pressure on the financial system to conduct "a massive government overreach into private businesses that are operating within the law," which has been going on for at least a year? Welcome to "Operation Choke Point."

April 30, 2014, 10:21 PM EDT

Last weekend in Indianapolis, a reported 80,000 people attended the 143rd NRA Annual Meeting.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's group Everytown For Gun Safety was also present — but barely. Media coverage of that group's activities largely tiptoed around the tiny number of people, some allegedly paid, the group was able to gather. Let's start with a Sunday morning report from NPR's Bill Chappell (bolds are mine throughout this post):

April 30, 2014, 7:17 PM EDT

When several members of Congress set out in the early 1990s to improve fiscal reporting and internal controls in the federal government, one thing they certainly had a right to expect is that the press would report on lapses as embarrassments, and that otherwise nonchalant or reluctant bureaucrats would figure out that it would be in their best interest to tighten their ships. It hasn't happened, largely because the press quickly got bored, enabling the bureaucrats to thumb their noses at those who called them out for weak reporting or control violations.

To name just one glaring example: Concerning the Internal Revenue Service, in August of last year, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration happily reported "the downgrade of the information security material weakness to a significant deficiency during the Fiscal Year 2012 financial statement audit," and that "the IRS removed it from the December 31, 2012, remediation plan" (that's bureaucratese for "finally solved the problem") — 19 years after it was first identified in 1993. In that context, let's look at an outrageous situation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

April 30, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt has made nice with President Barack Obama on several occasions. Among other things, he chaired the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which met a grand total of four times in 2011 and 2012 before it was unceremoniously allowed to expire a year later. He fully expected that his company would benefit from its involvement in green energy and its membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. He also endeared himself to Team Obama by calling "other U.S. business leaders greedy and mean."

In more than a minor comeuppance, as well as the latest evidence that business-related news reflecting badly on the Obama administration almost never escapes the business pages and center-right blogs and outlets, Inmelt's company has seen its medical division hit hard by the onset of Obamacare. Portions of Bloomberg News's original April 17 report follow the jump.

April 30, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

NewsBusters commenter "bkeyser" at my Benghazi-related post last night pointed to a tweet from Politico Magazine Deputy Editor Blake Hounshell that is at the same time breathtakingly ignorant and astonishingly insolent.

Reacting to the contents of Benghazi-related emails finally obtained and published by Judicial Watch, Hounshell asked, "Can you point me to a credible, authoritative story saying the WH knowingly pushed a false narrative?" Well Blake, on the off-chance that you're really interested in the truth instead of serving as one of your organization's lead Obama administration lapdogs, I give you the Tuesday night writeup from an investigative journalist who, per her "about" page, has won four national Emmy Awards and has been nominated for eight others.

April 29, 2014, 11:07 PM EDT

This afternoon (late morning Pacific Time), Roger Simon at PJ Media had several reactions to the latest developments in the Benghazi saga, as new evidence surfaced of a White House "effort to insulate President Barack Obama from the attacks that killed four Americans." Simon's press-related assertion: "We will now see if there is even a figment of honesty in our mainstream media ..."

Though it's still early (but just barely), it's not looking good, my friend. Matt Hadro at NewsBusters indicated as much earlier tonight in noting that the TV networks have thus far ignored the news. Later, I'll show that other key online establishment press sources are also ignoring this bombshell story.

April 29, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT

At the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Martin Crutsinger has pretty much proven that he's been on some kind of workout regimen. If he wasn't, he couldn't possibly have carried so much Obama administration water in his 1:45 p.m. report on the state of the economy (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) as he did.

Crutsinger's message: Pay no attention to that lousy GDP report we expect to see tomorrow morning (there's some reason to believe that it may get artificially juiced, which I'll explain later). Starting this month, the economy has been smokin', and this year's going to be just great. Too bad the evidence for his optimism mostly doesn't exist — and to the extent it does, it's not rip-roaring great. Excerpts from Crutsinger's latest crummy creation follow the jump.

 

April 29, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT

The National Employment Law Project claims that it is dedicated to "working to restore the promise of economic opportunity in the 21st century economy." That sounds promising, but one look at NELP's directors and the supposed "solutions" the group and its friends advocate — e.g., higher minimum wage, "uphold the freedom to join a union." etc. It's clear that NELP is just another lefty advocacy group pushing the kinds of policies which have led to six years of economic weakness.

That said, NELP recently released research showing that jobs gained since the recession ended have skewed far more heavily towards low-wage industries than the jobs which were lost during the recession. Press coverage has been skimpy. The one major writeup at the New York Times on Sunday for Monday's print edition appeared on Page B4. The nature of Annie Lowrey's coverage at the Times led Fox News to accuratey tease it as a story about the "Fast-Food Recovery." Excerpts from the Times story follow the jump (bolds are mine):

April 28, 2014, 11:51 PM EDT

The Associated Press's lengthy Monday evening treatment of Toyota's decision to move its U.S. headquarters and consolidate many of its North American operations in Metro Dallas is reasonably good in spots. But Gillian Flaccus and Michael R. Blood were unduly selective in reporting Torrance, California Mayor Frank Scotto's reaction to the news that his town would be losing several thousand jobs, and downplayed the relevance of clearly obvious factors influencing the move.

Let's see what Scotto, a Republican, told the Los Angeles Times, followed by the AP's reporting.

April 28, 2014, 8:49 PM EDT

At the Associated Press today, economics writer Christopher Rugaber was a bit subdued, even when presented with nominally favorable news. He wrote that the March rise in the National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index of 3.4 percent, the first gain in nine months, was "a sign that the housing market might pick up after a sluggish start to the year."

Rugaber's relative ruefulness, which after being fed through the media translator actually means "Things really stink," is understandable once one looks at how pathetic that gain is in the circumstances, and at a key paragraph in the NAR's press release which he chose to ignore.

April 28, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

Professor Robert N. Stavins at Harvard's Kennedy School hardly seems like a major climate change/global warming boat-rocker. At his blog last year, he described climate change as "the ultimate global commons problem," where "international, if not global, cooperation is essential." Commenting on climate talks in Doha, Qatar in December 2012, he saw the role of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements as helping countries and international bodies "address climate change in ways that are scientifically sound, economically rational, and politically pragmatic."

So Stavins is no "denier," as enviros on the left are given to calling anyone who dares to question climate change dogma. But he strongly objects to how his role in the latest IPCC report relating to how countries might co-operate to reduce carbon emissions — basically where the rubber meets the road in affecting everyday citizens' lives — was compromised by intense political interference. Excerpts from the UK Daily Mail's coverage, once again an instance of the UK tabloids scooping the U.S. press, follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):

April 28, 2014, 1:13 PM EDT

Politico's David Nather must have thought he was so clever. Here's how he opened a recent column: "It can happen to anyone, right? You rally behind a guy ... and suddenly he’s spewing racist bile and boy, does it splash on your face." Yes, I left out a few words, and I'll get to that. But before providing them, the quote just rendered would apply to how those at Los Angeles branch of the NAACP must feel about their now-withdrawn but not forgotten plan to confer a lifetime achievement award on Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling, who has been caught on tape allegedly telling a woman that she shouldn't "associate with black people" or have blacks accompany her to Clippers games.

Let's revise Nather's blather a bit for another comic circumstance: "It can happen to anyone, right? You rally behind a guy because he comes over to your side on climate change, and suddenly he’s arrested in 'a 20-count federal indictment that includes charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and tax fraud.' Boy, does it splash on your face." Now I'm talking about the fools at Organizing For Action, who celebrated the "breakthrough" of having GOP Congressman Michael Grimm come over to their side mere days before his indictment, which occurred today

April 27, 2014, 11:59 PM EDT

In a Saturday afternoon tweet, former Bill Clinton campaign strategist and former CNN talking head Paul Begala showed that he's quite a confused guy concerning Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling. Sterling, as noted previously (here and here), has been caught on tape chiding a person who is apparently his girlfriend for "taking pictures with minorities" and "associating with black people." Sterling sees her as a "delicate" "Latina or white girl" who shouldn't "associate with black people." He asks her not to bring black people, including NBA legend Magic Johnson, to games.

Given these developments, Begala gave a "friendly tip" to several conservatives and Republicans, specifically talk radio's Sean Hannity and GOP Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. In the process, he betrayed a likely need to broaden his media consumption habits beyond the liberal bubble. Begala's tweet follows the jump:

April 27, 2014, 10:37 PM EDT

A Friday afternoon email I received from Organizing For Action, aka BarackObama.com, aka the group whose mission in life is to support whatever President Obama wants them to support, took me by surprise.

The email, which is replicated at an OFA post, told readers that "There's one fewer climate change denier in Congress." I figured that the congressman who flipped almost had to be a Republican, and I was right: "Congressman Michael Grimm (NY-11) is standing up for an honest and reality-based discussion on what to do about climate change." I also thought to myself that something else must be going here. Is it ever. I hope OFA didn't spend too much on party favors for what it described as a "breakthrough," because they happen to be cheering the "conversion" of a guy who is about to be indicted:

April 27, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT

Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Donald Sterling, owner of the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Clippers, was allegedly caught on tape chiding a person who is apparently his girlfriend for "taking pictures with minorities" and "associating with black people." He also tells her that she is a "delicate" "Latina or white girl," and because of that doesn't understand why she would "associate with black people." He doesn't want her bringing black people, including NBA legend Magic Johnson, to games.

It turns out that Sterling must be known in liberal and politically correct circles for far more than the few small political donations from two decades ago identified in last night's post. The Clippers owner is scheduled in less than three weeks to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP at its 100th anniversary event, where Al Sharpton and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti will also be honored as persons of the year (HT to a NewsBusters commenter):

 

April 27, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT

In stunning audio posted at TMZ, Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling chides a person who is apparently his girlfriend for "taking pictures with minorities" and "associating with black people." Sterling sees her as a "delicate" "Latina or white girl," and as such doesn't understand why she should "associate with black people." He doesn't want her bringing black people to games, including NBA legend Magic Johnson.

Assuming the audio is authentic — What kind of crazy, reactionary mindset would cause an owner who works in an industry dominated by black players to have such opinions and feelings? The evidence is admittedly thin and a bit dated, but to the extent it exists, that answer is, apparently, "one who supports and donates to liberal Democrats" (HT Gateway Pundit):

April 26, 2014, 9:49 AM EDT

From time to time, leftist media members have regaled us about how the Obama administration somehow remains totally or  nearly scandal-free (two of many examples are here and here). Part of the reason they actually believe this is because real-time press dispatches covering scandalous circumstances are rarely described that way.

The journalistic gymnastics involved were on vivid display Friday evening at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. In one of the more ridiculous such dispatches to date composed by the Obama-supportive media, AP reporter Alicia A. Caldwell lauded new Department of Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson for taking actions to "to tamp down what could have been political scandals." The problem with that assessment in two of the three instances Caldwell cited is that a "scandal" ("a disgraceful or discreditable action, circumstance, etc.") had already occurred.

April 25, 2014, 8:11 PM EDT

A search at the Associated Press's national site on the last name of Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn and "Jews" at 7:30 this evening returned nothing.

That's pretty amazing, considering that Quinn's campaign enthusiastically retweeted its support for an outrageous April 17 column by Neil Steinberg at the Chicago Sun-Times. For all practical purposes, Steinberg equated African-Americans who might support Republican Bruce Rauner in November's gubernatorial election against Quinn to "Jews (who) collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, helping them to round up their own people in the hopes they’d be the last to go." Quinn's people quietly deleted the tweets, according to the Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo, "after local Jewish community officials quietly communicated their outrage to the governor." Given that the time between the tweets and the deletes was apparently a few days, and that the sort-of apologies came almost a week after Steinberg's column, I'm not detecting a lot of sincerity here. Coverage from CNN's Political Ticker follows the jump (bolds are mine; links are in original):