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 23, 2012, 12:13 AM EDT

If the idea of tax increases is so darned popular, why do journalists "creatively" avoid using the term?

Here's an example from a lengthy Saturday report on Democrat Bob Kerrey's U.S. Senate comeback effort in Nebraska by Karen Tumulty at the Washington Post, wherein she describes the 1993 Clinton tax hikes as a "deficit-reduction plan" (bolds are mine):

July 22, 2012, 10:31 AM EDT

In September 2010, the Associated Press prepared an advance report on the expected surge in the Census Bureau's official poverty rate, which rose from 13.2% to a 15-year high of 14.3%. Their stated preoccupation was not with the associated pain, but with "the unfortunate timing for Obama and his party just seven weeks before important elections when Congress is at stake."

Well, this year's official poverty rate will very likely be the highest seen since the mid-1960s, and there's a presidential election coming up. What's the AP, aka the Administration's Press, to do? It looks like the strategy is to get a comprehensive report out on how bad things are in July when few are paying attention, and then to give the official report short shrift when it arrives in mid-September. Here are excerpts from Hope Yen's nearly 1,500-word writeup:

July 21, 2012, 10:22 AM EDT

Poor David Espo and Nancy Benac. A six-paragraph squib this morning headlined "Calls for gun control stir little support" at the wire service's national site and "Despite a string of high-profile shootings, calls for gun control stir little support" at Newser.com really should have been titled "Why Aren't You Guys Politicizing This, D**nit?"

The two AP "reporters" bitterly wail and gnash their teeth over how little outcry there has been for stricter gun laws after the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre (shown in full because of its brevity and subsequent later expansion, to be discussed later in this post, and for fair use and discussion purposes).

July 21, 2012, 8:46 AM EDT

Brian Ross is not the only blameworthy party in the irresponsible smear of a 52 year-old Tea Party activist as the possible perpetrator of the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre early Friday. Everyone on the set of ABC's Good Morning America could have said "wait, this is premature and irresponsible" -- and didn't.

GMA co-host and former Bill Clinton advisor George Stephanopoulos's response to Ross's identification of 52 year-old "Jim Holmes" as perhaps the same "James Holmes" who had been arrested earlier that morning arguably added legitimacy to Ross's speculation: "OK, we'll keep looking at that. Brian Ross, thanks very much." As if they would actually find more of a tie-in, which of course they didnt. In his column yesterday, the underappreciated John Kass at the Chicago Tribune succinctly described Stephanopoulos's likely mindset, as well as how ABC was originally hoping to blame "social media" for Ross's GMA team-assisted smear (bolds are mine):

July 20, 2012, 10:22 PM EDT

The Boston Herald has reported that Mayor Tom Menino is threatening to make obtaining the necessary licenses for a family business to operate "very difficult" -- not because the business's products are controversial or hazardous, but because the privately-held company believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

The middle three paragraphs of an unbylined Associated Press report predictably watered down Menino's threatening posture against the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain to an issue of "discrimination" and made it appear as if there is some kind of rift between the president and the company (bolds are mine throughout this post):

July 19, 2012, 5:26 PM EDT

In case you missed it (which wouldn't be surprising given how quiet the press has been since the related report's release, the Department of Labor reported that initial claims for unemployment rose to a seasonally adjusted 386,000 from a review (up, or course) 352,000 the previous week.

An unbylined Reuters report carried at CNBC (HT to an NB tipster) bizarrely described this result as a "rebound," both in its headline and text:

July 19, 2012, 9:59 AM EDT

Todays unemployment claims release from the Department of Labor reported that initial jobless aid applications for the week ended July 14 were 386,000 after seasonal adjustment. Business Insider's email this morning carried a prediction of 364,000. Bloomberg's consensus prediction was 365,000.

At the Associated Press, in his 8:45 a.m. dispatch (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Economics Writer Paul Wiseman was inadvertently correct when he wrote that "the figures may have been distorted by seasonal factors." Well yeah, Paul, but the seasonal distortion isn't the one you cited. As will be seen after the jump. today's number arguably should have come in at over 400,000.

July 19, 2012, 1:46 AM EDT

On July 13, President Barack Obama told a campaign audience in Roanoke that "If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen." As Geoffrey Dickens at NewsBusters pointed out on Wednesday, it wasn't until July 17 that any of the Big Three broadcast TV news networks recognized the existence of the remark -- and two of them failed to run the actual quote.

Part of the reason for the avoidance is that the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, which seems to be serving as the establishment press's signal caller and official Obama administration water carrier, has given the remark little heed -- so little that, as is so often the case with controversial remarks made by leftists or Democrats, Obama opponent Mitt Romney had to force it into the news by incorporating it into his stump speech. At that point, as seen in Steve Peoples' Tuesday writeup carried at AZcentral.com (HT to an NB tipster; the story is already gone at the AP's national site), the wire service went into "mean Republicans attack" and "what he really meant" modes (bolds are mine):

July 18, 2012, 8:22 AM EDT

On July 12, the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children & Families, the group which administers the entitlement program known to most as "welfare" or "traditional welfare, issued an "Information Memorandum" entitled "Guidance concerning waiver and expenditure authority under Section 1115" (i.e., not "proposed guidance"). After navigating the thicket of bureaucratic babble contained therein, Robert Rector and Kiki Bradley at the Heritage Foundation asserted, with agreement from several other quarters and no meaningful dissent I have detected, that the memo's effect "is the end of welfare reform."

The next day at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, the headline at Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar's related story was: "Administration proposes welfare-to-work waivers."

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):