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 23, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT

During the Pentagon Papers controversy over the release of Vietnam-related military and other documents in 1971, if a columnist had written that "the private companies that own newspapers, and their employees, should not have the final say over the release of government secrets, and a free pass to make them public with no legal consequences," and that "that decision must ultimately be made by the government," he or she would have been tagged in the press as a "(Richard) Nixon defender" and "an enemy of press freedom."

How ironic it thus is that Thursday, in his New York Times review of Glenn Greenwald's new book ("No Place to Hide"), current liberal Vanity Fair columnist and former CNN "Crossfire" host Michael Kinsley used that very language as he went after Greenwald, who has been NSA eavesdropping leaker Edward Snowden's go-between for the past year, with a vengeance. And yes, he did it at the Times, the very newspaper which was at the heart of the Pentagon Papers litigation that was ultimately decided in its favor.

May 22, 2014, 10:11 AM EDT

In discussing President Obama's Wednesday press conference on the Veterans Administration wait-list scandal, CNN's Drew Griffin, identified by the network's Jake Tapper as "the reporter who began this whole story with his investigation into the Phoenix VA," appeared to barely contain himself as he described the "disconnect between what's happening out here in the country and what the president is talking about."

Specifically, Griffin asserted that "this problem is real; it exists; it really doesn't have to be studied," and that "the vets I've been talking to wanted much more direct action." Griffin clearly expected a far more substantive and immediate response from Obama yesterday, and was disappointed that it didn't come. The video segment (via the Washington Free Beacon), a transcript, and Rush Limbaugh's insightful reaction follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):

May 21, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT

At a website called Girard at Large in Manchester, New Hampshire, proprietor Richard Girard videotaped and reported on the proceedings of a debate held at St. Anselm's College on the Common Core educational standards — something you'll almost never see anyone in the establishment press deign to do.

Girard appropriately described proponents' descriptions of and arguments in favor of the standards "revealing," "enlightening," and "well, frightening." Perhaps no statement made during the two-hour event Monday contained more of all three adjectives than one made by Dr. David Pook, a teacher at The Derryfield School in Manchester, about what motivated him to get involved with having input into the English Language Arts standards. Brace yourself (HT BizPac Review; specific audio segment is at this link; bolds are mine throughout this post; May 22 Update: Mr. Pook's comment was slightly revised at the original link for accuracy; that revision is now reflected below):

May 21, 2014, 2:28 PM EDT

One would think that Florida Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia can only get so many free passes from the national press before they'll have to acknowledge his serious problems. We'll see.

Back in January, the Associated Press and the rest of the national establishment media managed to limit their coverage of the arrest and ultimate guilty plea of Garcia's chief of staff for illegally plotting to obtain absentee ballot to local outlets. They did this even though — or perhaps because — the Congressman excused the man's attack on election integrity, for which he received a wrist-slap sentence of 90 days in jail, as "a well-intentioned attempt to maximize voter turnout." A week or so ago, there was an ear wax incident, which I'd rather skip. Earlier today, America Rising posted a far more important video, wherein the congressman bizarrely claimed — he says he wasn't serious, but it doesn't sound like it to me — that additional money spent on Mexican border security proves that "communism works."

May 21, 2014, 9:27 AM EDT

During the Obama administration, the Associated Press has annually gone through the motions of noting its lack of transparency in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. In March, its coverage of 2013 FOIA results led with the following sentence: "The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data." Then everyone went back to work defending the administration against the information seekers.

Part of that defense includes mischaracterizing the legal hurdles those who file FOIA requests must overcome to get the administration to do what it is legally required to do right off the bat. Three sentences from recent coverage of Judicial Watch's attempts to pry information out of the State Department will make my point.

May 20, 2014, 3:09 PM EDT

If there was ever drop-dead obvious proof that it's more than fair to call the Associated Press the Administration's Press, it's in the opening phrase of the first sentence of the wire service's Monday morning report on the House's select committee on Benghazi: "Republicans hoping to ride their Benghazi investigation to a November election sweep ..." As far as reporters Donna Cassata and Bradley Klapper are concerned, there can't possibly be any other motivation for holding the hearings.

Cassata and Klapper's agenda-driven drivel makes several trips into the land of "Republicans say," when the correct words should be: "The facts are." More crucially, Klapper completely ignored two reports he filed on October 10, 2012 which showed that the State Department "never believed" that the murder of Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in the Benghazi attack was inspired by an anti-Muslim video (bolds numbered tags are mine throughout this post):

May 19, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT

In a Monday evening report at the Associated Press, reporters Bill Barrow and Christina A. Cassidy did their best to try to minimize the impact of a politically disastrous dodge on the part of Georgia Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn.

In a weekend interview with NBC, Nunn refused to say whether she would have voted for or against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, saying that "it’s impossible to look back retrospectively and say what would you have done if you were there." (And besides, she was working for a not-for-profit foundation at the time, so how could she know?) Additionally, Nunn got so rattled that she invented a new use for the word "architect" — as a verb: "I wished that we had more people who had tried to architect a bipartisan legislation." Clearly, the AP's Barrow and Cassidy were hoping for a real answer from Nunn. But they didn't get one. Not even close (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

May 19, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

In July 2013, the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber finally noticed the meteoric rise in the number of temporary help service and other non-payroll personnel working at U.S. employers — a trend which at the time was about 2-1/2 years old. Rugaber noted that "temps and to a much larger universe of freelancers, contract workers and consultants ... number nearly 17 million people who have only tenuous ties to the companies that pay them – about 12 percent of everyone with a job." He also cited two likely contributors to that growth. First, "Some employers have also sought to sidestep the new health care law’s rule that they provide medical coverage for permanent workers. Second, "companies want to avoid having too many employees during a downturn."

This morning, the AP's Tom Raum did another report on the situation, and proceeded to blow the numbers, ignore Obamacare, and downplay the influence of the mediocre economy. 

May 19, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I pointed to the track record of Dean Baquet, who has ascended to the hallowed perch of executive editor at the New York Times, and observed that "someone who has clearly been a troubling and disruptive presence is now in charge."

Two incidents spanning seven years support my contention. The first occurred in 2006 at the Los Angeles Times, where Baquet, then that paper's editor, petulantly refused to make budget cuts the paper's Tribune Company parent demanded, took his complaints public in the paper itself, metaphorically barricaded himself in his office, and dared the Trib to fire him (they did, two months later). The second occurred in April of last year, when Baquet, now at the New York Times, got into an argument with now deposed Executive Editor Jill Abramson, "burst out of Abramson’s office, slammed his hand against a wall ... stormed out of the newsroom ... (and was) gone for the rest of the day." Now we learn from David Carr at the Old Gray Lady itself that, in essence, Baquet did an "it's her or me" number on Abramson (HT Ann Althouse) to grease the skids for her firing.

May 18, 2014, 11:49 PM EDT

At the Politico, concerning Dean Baquet, the new Executive Editor at the New York Times, Dylan Byers wonders: "How will ... (he) handle the necessary digital transformation facing 'All the news that’s fit to print.'?" The better question is: How will he handle the financial constraints Times management will almost inevitably have to impose on a stagnant if not shrinking newsroom operation?

To say that Baquet didn't deal with such matters well when he was in a similar position at the Los Angeles Times eight years ago is an understatement. The working press seems to consider him some kind of hero for standing up to senior management at the Tribune Company, the paper's owner. The fact is that his childish, passive-aggressive posturing made his firing inevitable, and that he should have been sent packing months earlier than he was.

May 18, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

A search at 11:00 p.m. ET tonight at the Associated Press's national web site on "Serco," the company with a five-year, $1.25 billion contract to process paper Obamacare enrollment applications, returned no results. That's absolutely pathetic, given that St. Louis TV station KMOV, based on multiple accounts from several current and former employees and contractors, has reported that the company has well over 1,000 people doing almost nothing all day simply because there are very few paper applications to process. KMOV, which carried five consecutive reports this week (here, here, here, here, and here), even noted in its later segments that its work had drawn national attention.

What's worse than AP not covering the story nationally? How about the wire service treating it as a local and regional story, even though Serco and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are wasting roughly $20 million per month of U.S. taxpayers' money, and even though calls for investigation have come from U.S. senators in at least two states? It would have been just as absurd if AP had treated bankrupt Solyndra, which failed to repay an Energy Department loan of over $500 million several years ago, as a California-only story because that's where its plant was. Excerpts from the AP's story, including a "This story is boring, so don't read it" headline, follow the jump (bolds are mine):

May 16, 2014, 10:08 AM EDT

Did you catch the story about those conservative Republican male chauvinist pig politicians in Florida who think that it was a waste of time to pass a bill which would make it a crime for a guy to secretly administer an abortion-inducing drug to a spouse or partner he impregnated? How utterly outrageous ... Wait a minute ... It was Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz who said that? C'mon, that's not possible. What? There's audio of her saying that on a Florida public radio station? Get outta here. If that were true, the press would be printing and broadcasting stories on her outrageous statement 24/7 ... wouldn't they?

Well, no. The audio of Wasserman Schultz can be found here at WFSU in Tallahassee. Excerpts from the related report by Sascha Kordner follow the jump:

May 15, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT

It looks like the "weather" excuse the press went to repeatedly to explain weak economic results in December, and January, and February, and March still has life in April. But this time, warm weather (which most of us would find "good," at least in April) is to blame. An early afternoon report (relevant portion saved here in graphic form) on the Dow's 200-point mid-day dip by the Associated Press's Ken Sweet claims that April's reported decline in industrial production was "possibly due to more bad weather" (while this post was prepared, the AP issued a 2:17 p.m. update which still had the "bad weather" excuse.)

That "bad weather" line is odd, because an earlier AP dispatch by Paul Wiseman exclusively about today's production release from the Federal Reserve didn't mention or allude to the weather at all. After the jump, I'll walk readers through Sweet's possible "warm weather was really bad weather (for the economy)" logic and critique Wiseman's longer coverage.

May 14, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT

The government is paying private contractor Serco $1.2 billion over five years — and likely more, as will be seen later — to process paper Obamacare applications. In turn, according to a report by television station KMOV, Serco has hired and continues to pay a reported 1,800 workers who have virtually no work to do.

Massive waste like this should develop into a national story and create a journalistic swarm. If it does, it will be unusual, because the press has been avoiding stories which make President Barack Obama's "signature accomplishment" of state-controlled health care look bad like the plague. We'll see if it's different this time. The KMOV report follows the jump (HT Gateway Pundit's Progressives Today blog):

May 14, 2014, 12:20 AM EDT

According to a Government Accountability Office report released in March but inexplicably only getting attention just now, the pain resulting from last year's sequestration "cuts," which were mostly reductions in the growth of spending in comparison to the previous year, bore no resemblance to the Armageddon-like warnings which preceded their imposition. Only one federal employee was laid off. You read that right — one. Only seven agencies out of 22 furloughed any employees, and they were ultimately given $2 billion in back pay.

What the results exposed by the GAO demonstrate, in addition to the fact that the government had plenty of places to cut and funds to access to keep its operations going without meaningfully affecting the federal workforce, is either that almost nobody in the establishment press cared about what the GAO had to say, or that if they did, they didn't believe that they should tell the nation that the Obama administration's scare tactics had no basis. Excerpts from one of the establishment press reports I found via CBS News's Stephanie Condon predictably turned the whole thing into a "Republicans attack" exercise:

May 13, 2014, 2:58 PM EDT

The Associated Press's unbylined coverage of the Census Bureau's April retail sales report — sales rose 0.1 percent, falling far short of consensus expectations of 0.4 percent, a result Reuters predictably called "unexpected" — slipped in a sentence that had me rubbing my eyes.

In early May, after the government announced that first-quarter gross domestic product growth came in at a barely perceptible annual rate of 0.1 percent — the equivalent of a business which grossed $100,000 in the previous quarter seeing its sales rise by $25 — reporters at the "essential global news network" were regaling readers with an air of assuredness that the rest of the year would be different. Specifically (both here and here), the wire service carried predictions that the economy would turn in annualized second-quarter growth of 3.5 percent, and that the entire year would end up at 3.0 percent. As seen after the jump, put a big "oops" on those figures (bolds are mine):

May 13, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

File this under "Epic Fails: Layers of Editors." National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru submitted a requested column to the Washington Post’s Outlook section. After several rounds of mutually agreed-upon edits, the geniuses at WaPo made a final change without consulting Ponnuru. That change inserted erroneous information into what had been an otherwise clean column. The Post then published two letters to the editor criticizing Ponnuru for the error WaPo had created. That caused Ponnuru to demand a correction, which he ultimately received. Amazon.com CEO and WaPo owner Jeff Bezos really needs to take a hard look at the leftist koolaid-drinking Keystone Cops operation for which he massively overpaid. Otherwise, the default assumption will be that he's fine with the completely unacceptable status quo.

Excerpts from Ponnuru's retelling of the story follow the jump (HT Twitchy):

May 12, 2014, 11:12 PM EDT

Tonight, the Associated Press treated a story about a suit to overturn tiny-population Alaska's ban on same-sex "marriage" as national news — even giving it a"Big Story" promotion. Meanwhile, it kept Planned Parenthood's decision to abandon its legal effort to obtain state funding in more-populated Kansas out of its national site, thus treating it as a local story.

Same-sex "marriage" and abortion are about equal in the pantheon of establishment press sacred cows, and each issue has been the subject of disputes in several states. So the only explanation for the disparate treatment seems to be that the Alaska story's national treatment occurred because it seems to advance one pet cause, while the Kansas story stayed local because it is a significant defeat for the other. In the Kansas story, Roxana Hegeman, as seen in the final excerpted paragraph following the jump, predictably misled readers about the nature of Planned Parenthood's services (HT Life News):

May 12, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

Early this morning, award-winning author and bioethicist Wesley Smith posted at National Review on a Sunday Medical Futility blog entry. That entry previewed a presentation scheduled to occur on morning of Sunday, May 18, the third day of the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego.

The topic: "Unilateral Do-Not-Attempt Resuscitation Orders In A Large Academic Hospital." These are situations where "clinicians withhold advanced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of cardiopulmonary arrest despite objections of patients or their surrogates." The presenters indicate that "The ethics committee at Massachusetts General Hospital has had a unilateral DNR policy since 2006." Patients allowed to die against their or their surrogates' will is news, right? Let's see if anyone in the press cares. (So far: No.) A full description of the presentation, relevant background, and Smith's reaction follow the jump.

May 12, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

The Associated Press's unbylined 2:25 p.m. report on the government's April Monthly Treasury Statement contained an unhealthy dose of the historical revisionism we've come to expect from the outfit which really should be called in the Administration's Press.

AP's tallest tale is in ascribing the four annual deficits of over $1 trillion incurred from fiscal 2009 through 2012 entirely to the "deep recession" and the need to "stabilize the financial system," when the truth is that huge increases in government spending not related to those matters are primarily what shot the annual deficits upward — and are still keeping them at historical highs. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):