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
July 17, 2012, 9:33 AM EDT

One useful interpretation of a journalist's use of "some people say that" or "some argue that" without an accompanying reference to or quote from a subject matters expert is that such phrases really mean "in my opinion."

This is the very likely case in a disingenuously headlined Associated Press story yesterday by Andrew Taylor concerning the standoff between the Republicans, who want the current income tax structure continued for at least another year, and Democrats, including President Obama, who want to raise taxes (they describe it as "ending the Bush tax cuts," which fully went into effect over nine years ago) on "the rich," currently defined as people making $200,000 or more per year. Taylor put the following statement out there without identifying any economist or political analyst who might agree with it (because I doubt there are many, or even any):

July 16, 2012, 4:53 PM EDT

Here's how a "Business Highlights" item at the Associated Press summarized the situation between Timothy Geithner and London banks whose officials had admitted to rigging the London Interbank Offered Rate ("Libor") on Friday evening: "The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released documents Friday that show it learned five years ago of big banks understating their borrowing costs to manipulate a key interest rate. The documents also show Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was then president of the New York Fed, urged the Bank of England to make the rate-setting process more transparent."

Today, Charles Gasparino at the New York Post called total BS such pathetic media spin (bolds are mine):

July 15, 2012, 11:17 PM EDT

Democrats are at it again, claiming that Republicans, particularly House Republicans, are sabotaging the economy, while ignoring the quite effective job President Barack Obama has done to ruin the economy both on his own (regulatory and anti-fossil fuel hostility, wasteful green "investments," etc.) and with the help of Congressional Democrats when they controlled both Houses of Congress (stimulus, ObamaCare, trillion-dollar deficits, etc.).

The best argument against this nonsense is that if Republicans were really interested in hurting the economy, GOP governors wouldn't be doing good to even great jobs with their own states' economies. At the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Josh Lederman, reporting from the National Governors Association meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia, attempted to frame a response to GOP governors' contentions (in bold after the jump) which qualifies as the howler of the day:

July 14, 2012, 6:47 PM EDT

One might think that yours truly, who has been nagging the establishment press for years over its blind acceptance of seasonally adjusted data in government economic and employment reports, would be pleased to see that the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber finally got around to making such adjustments the primary focus of his final report on the most recently released unemployment claims numbers on Thursday. His story's headline at the AP's national site even noted that "Seasonal adjustments to economic data can mislead."

That's fine, but it's not yesterday's full story. Rugaber noted that Thursday's report from the Department of Labor (DOL) -- that 350,000 initial jobless claims were filed after seasonal adjustment -- was influenced by the relatively light level of summer shutdown-related layoffs in the auto industry. But he totally and all too conveniently missed the fact that this year's number looked better after seasonal adjustment than last year's comparable week primarily because, as will be seen later, this year's seasonal adjustment factor was so inexplicably different. First, some excerpts from Rugaber's report:

July 13, 2012, 11:40 PM EDT

My, it was awfully nice of Marcy Gordon at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, to give Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner such excellent protection in her report on the New York Federal Reserve Bank's release of documents relating to its knowledge of the manipulation of the "Libor" (London interbank offered rate) used as the basis for the pricing of trillions of dollars of loans.

Her report's second paragraph only tells readers that Geithner, "who was then president of the New York Fed, urged the Bank of England to make the rate-setting process more transparent." What a helpful guy. Readers needed to go to Paragraph 12 to see more about Geithner, and even that information was given kid-glove treatment:

July 12, 2012, 11:51 PM EDT

Uncle Sam's June Treasury Statement released today told us that with three months remaining in the 2012 fiscal year the government has already run up a deficit of over $900 billion. According to the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger, Americans should see that as a "positive sign," because "deficit is growing more slowly than last year."

During the final three months of fiscal 2011, the government ran a deficit of $326 billion, which is why the following statement found in Crutsinger's Thursday afternoon report is such a howler:

July 11, 2012, 12:42 PM EDT

Not only is the Associated Press aptly currently described as the Administration's Press -- as least as long as the White House's current occupant remains there -- it also seems to be serving as the Administration's Protection.

In a story about the "Lie-bor" scandal, wherein British banks have admitted to colluding to set the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) -- arguably the world’s most important benchmark for interest rates -- artificially low, AP reporter Martin Crutsinger "somehow" forgot that current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was President of the New York Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank during much of the time period in which Congressional investigators are interested. Clearly, they want to know what Geithner knew, and when he knew it. The first three paragraphs of Crutsinger's writeup, followed by his sole context-free mention of Geithner, follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):

July 7, 2012, 12:44 PM EDT

It seems that Matt Drudge is a better headline writer than whoever at the Associated Press performed the same task at its story about California lawmakers' passage of "building the nation's first dedicated high-speed rail line, a multibillion dollar project that will eventually link Los Angeles and San Francisco" -- if sanity doesn't prevail in the meantime.

Since late yesterday, Drudge's home-page headline linking to the AP's story is "Broke California OKs funding for high-speed rail line..." That's a lot more complete than the wire service's "California high-speed rail gets green light." Then again, if the headline writer didn't already know about the state's serious budget situation, he or she wouldn't have learned from reporter Judy Lin, who stayed conveniently vague, as seen in the following excerpt:

July 6, 2012, 3:55 PM EDT

On Tuesday, Tom Brown at Reuters (HT CounterContempt.com aka "Republican Party Animals") wrote about the case of Quartavious Davis, a 20 year-old sentenced to life (and then some) after being "convicted of participating in a string of armed robberies in the Miami area in 2010."

In the process, Brown, whose column title was inadvertently humorous ("Insight: Florida man sees 'cruel' face of U.S. justice"), demonstrated his lack of knowledge and failure to confirm through research by asserting that "United States ... prisons house fully one-quarter of all the prisoners in the world, most of them black." As David Stein at the linked blog noted, this statement isn't merely untrue, it's most sincerely untrue (link was in original):

July 6, 2012, 12:04 AM EDT

The establishment press often pays a price in lost credibility when it ignores important economic reports. The original omission is bad enough, of course. But when subsequent business coverage makes assertions which the ignored reports directly refute, it leaves you wondering why you should even try to believe anything they compose.

Such is the case with Martin Crutsinger's report today on the Institute for Supply Management's Non Manufacturing Index (NMI). Following on the heels of Monday's Manufacturing Index, which slipped into contraction (as perceived by surveyed purchasing managers) for the first time in three years, the NMI declined but at least remained in (perceived) expansion mode. In the course of describing current economic conditions, Crutsinger made the following erroneous statement:

July 4, 2012, 7:02 PM EDT

In an analysis piece which, based on its title ("In divided era, what does July 4th mean?"), was as predictable as heat in July, Ted Anthony, who is tasked with writing "about American culture" at the Associated Press, attempted to explain, 236 years in, where what he claims is "the only nation in the world that was built solely upon an idea" stands. (Communism as an idea is what originally built the historically destructive Soviet Union, so Anthony is obviously wrong on that; readers will see another example later in this post.)

In the process, even beyond his tedious complaints about commerce ("Independence Day ... (is) more about the pursuit of happiness than life and liberty"), Anthony revealed utter ignorance about the nature and interrelationship of this country's key founding documents, as seen in the following excerpts (bolds are mine):

July 3, 2012, 11:38 PM EDT

A write-up with a current time stamp of Tuesday afternoon on how shocked (shocked, I tell you) legal Mexican immigrants and Mexican illegal aliens in the U.S. are that the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) just won a plurality of the popular vote in "their homeland" by the the Associated Press's Julie Watson posited as a fact a statement so obviously false that you have to wonder if she has editors at all.

After finding an 18 year-old (as if a teenager would know) to claim that "I think most immigrants kind of fled Mexico because of the PRI" (it couldn't have had anything to do with better jobs with no responsibilities of citizenship in the U.S. -- no way), Watson presented the following statement as a cold, hard fact:

July 2, 2012, 5:32 PM EDT

At the Associated Press, Christina Rexrode placed the blame for Monday's mediocre performance in the stock market squarely and obviously where it belonged: "Stocks struggled to stay out of the red in quiet holiday-week trading after a trade group said American manufacturing shrank in June for the first time in almost three years." The trade group involved is the Institute for Supply Management. Its manufacturing index dropped from 53.5% in May to 49.8% in June. Any reading below 50% represents contraction. Analysts expected that it would come in at between 52% (per Business Insider's email) and 52.5% (according to Zero Hedge).

Apparently the people who write CNNMoney's emails didn't want their readers to know the truth, as will be seen after the jump.

July 2, 2012, 10:56 AM EDT

I'll bet it would shake people up to know that all of the recent and steep decline in consumer confidence has occurred in households earning $75,000 or more per year. On Friday, the June Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers told us just that.

The key sentence in the U of M press release reads as follows (PDF; bold is mine): "Perhaps of greater importance was that the entire June decline was among households with incomes above $75,000." Look at how the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber recharacterized that direct, unmistakable assertion in his four-paragraph item on Friday:

June 30, 2012, 9:59 PM EDT

In a report currently time-stamped early Saturday morning, Emily Wilkins at the Columbus Dispatch claimed in her opening sentence covering Ohio's second We The People Convention in Columbus ("Fears fuel kinship at tea party convention") that "Tea party members are alone and scared — and to them, that’s a good thing."

Well, I was there this weekend in Columbus. I didn't see "alone" or "scared," or hear anyone say that such a combination of emotions would be "a good thing. Neither did the rest of Wilkins' report, some of which follows the jump:

June 30, 2012, 8:54 PM EDT

From the headlines to the verbiage in many establishment press write-ups, it would be easy to believe that the just-resolved controversy over interest rates on student loans affects virtually everyone in college who has borrowed money and anyone who graduated (or didn't) who borrowed and is still owes Uncle Sam.

That isn't so. To cite just one example, readers of Christine Armario's Saturday morning report at the Associated Press have to work way too hard to figure that out. Additionally those who listen to snippets of Armario's work on TV and radio broadcasts probably won't hear what she doesn't get to until her third paragraph:

June 27, 2012, 8:52 PM EDT

It seems that there will be little reason for the Obama campaign to bother issuing press releases as long as Julie Pace of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is around to breathlessly relay the information for them as some kind of exclusive, insider report.

If there's any difference between campaign hype and what Pace wrote in a theoretically objective news piece, it must be really subtle, because I didn't see it. Here goes (fawning and/or obsequious word choices are in bold):

June 27, 2012, 12:27 AM EDT

Recent job cuts at Alabama newspapers have been steep. The Birmingham Business Journal, which (ahem) apparently is not among the participants, reports that "Three of Alabama’s largest daily newspapers, including the Birmingham News, will lay off about 400 employees as they cut back their printing schedules and increase their focus on digital." The other affected publications include the Huntsville Times and the Mobile Press Register. The job cuts are on the order of 50%-60%.

Across the Alabama border in Florida at the Pensacola News Journal, cartoonist Andy Marlette did not handle the layoff news well, as will be seen after the jump.

June 26, 2012, 10:50 PM EDT

Despite several updates to the story first reported by Bloomberg last night that the Democratic National Convention's "move" of its "celebration" originally scheduled to take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway is really a cancellation likely driven by money problems, the Associated Press has not updated its virtual relay of the DNC's related press release published late last night.

Additionally, in its brief story on Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill's decision not to attending the convention, the AP made no reference to the nine other prominent Democratic Party politicians who have decided they'd be better off not being seen in the same convention venue with their party's incumbent presidential candidate.

June 26, 2012, 12:25 AM EDT

The stenographers at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, were apparently only too glad to relay the spin about the Monday night decision by organizers of the Democratic National Convention to move a "celebration" on September 3 from the Charlotte Motor Speedway to an unspecified (in the coverage) location in downtown Charlotte.

The AP's virtual press release follows the jump, after which I'll excerpt an item from Bloomberg a few hours ago containing the probable real explanation for the move -- money.