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
April 24, 2012, 10:18 AM EDT

It would appear that if you're an op-ed columnist at the New York Times, you can make up just about any outrageous claim and not get called on it by anyone responsible (if there is such a thing) at the Old Gray Lady.

The column in question, Joseph P. Kennedy II's "The High Cost of Gambling on Oil," goes back two weeks to April 10, but deserves a closer look for two reasons. First Kennedy, who wants to see "pure" speculation by those who are not actual industry participants completely banned (confirmed in the item's browser window title), claimed that oil "extraction" costs "average $11 a barrel worldwide." Second, Kennedy's concluding bio gives the impression that he is an energy industry mogul and not in fact the head of "a non-profit organization that primarily aids the poor in the United States and throughout the world ..." First, here is Kennedy's extraction cost claim (bolds are mine throughout this post):

April 24, 2012, 12:44 AM EDT

At Bloomberg Business Week, the distortion of what the Social Security system's trustees told the public on Monday began with its headline and opening sentence.

The headline: "Social Security Fund to Run Out in '35: Trustees." Any reader would assume that the reference is to the situation with the retirement and disability programs combined, as both are collectively referred to as "Social Security." Reporter Brian Faler doubled down on the headline error in his opening sentence:

April 23, 2012, 11:31 AM EDT

In the campaign to ensure that anyone with a proposal to actually do something about the federal government's out-of-control spending gets demonized, while incumbent Barack Obama and his party go scot-free for proposing nothing beyond the autopilot, budget-free situation of the past three years, Andrew Taylor at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, went after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's spending proposal in an early-morning item today.

There are so many problems with Taylor's presentation that it would take a writeup longer than a college term paper to fully vet them all. But the report's most risible aspect is its blithe and unsupported assertion that Romney's plan would require "big cuts" in "nuts-and-bolts" federal programs.

April 22, 2012, 3:27 PM EDT

It has become clear what the Obama campaign's strategy for trying to win states like Michigan and Ohio is and will continue to be. In three steps, it's as follows: 1) Pretend that the states' Republican governors, John Kasich in Ohio and Rick Snyder in Michigan, who both succeeded free-spending Democrats who presided over stagnant economies, have had nothing to do with their increased employment, lower unemployment rates, and improved business climates (as well as balanced budgets in fiscal 2012 involving no tax increases, though Snyder may ruin that in Michigan this year); 2) Instead give the credit for all of these favorable developments to Obama and the governments' bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors; 3) Don't say anything about how other states run by Dems, particularly Illinois, North Carolina, and Connecticut, are lagging because they have instead tried to apply Washington's tax-and-spend model to their states' fiscal situations.

Of course the AP, aka the Adminisitration's Press, is all too willing to make the administration's laughable claims appear credible. It did so in two separate items this week, one giving basic details about the job-market situations in Ohio, Michigan, and North Carolina, and the other covering Obama allegedly improving chances of winning Ohio, Michigan, and a dozen other "swing" states. There was no mention of the Buckeye State's or Wolverine State's chief executives in either article.

April 21, 2012, 5:14 PM EDT

Karl at Hot Air and others recording their objections at Twitter caught Politifact being two-faced in deciding who gets the "Truth-O-Meter" text.

As Karl notes: "PolitiFact rated the story about the Romneys transporting the family dog on the roof of their car as 'Mostly True.' And PolitiFact rated the story about former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee frying squirrels in a popcorn poppersimply 'True.'" But in tackling the topic of President Obama's boyhood appetite, even though the item is in the web site's "Truth-O-Meter" directory (URL -- www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2012/apr/20/context-obama-dog-eating-indonesia/), it kept the Truth-O-Meter in the closet, and only lamely reproduced some of the verbiage from Obama's Dreams of My Father, introduced by the following narrative (original was in italics; internal links were in original):

April 19, 2012, 9:40 AM EDT

UPDATE: The headline at AP's 9:37 a.m. report now reads "US unemployment claims signal slower hiring." That's nice, but it won't what was broadcast immediately after the report's release until news outlets become aware of the revision.

The games the Associated Press's Chris Rugaber and the wire service's headline writers are playing with the weekly unemployment claims from the Department of Labor are getting tiresome, and grow seemingly more disgraceful with each passing week. Today, DOL told us that initial unemployment claims were 386,000. Last week's 380,000 was revised upward to 388,000. Both figures are significantly higher than the number in the low 360s seen in the four prior weeks. The sadly predictable headline at Rugaber's AP story (saved here at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) follows the jump.

April 18, 2012, 11:33 AM EDT

Yesterday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, the headline at reporter Jim Kuhnhenn's story on President Obama's latest excuse to add more bureaucrats to the government payroll ("Obama wants to target oil market manipulation") presupposed the existence of oil market manipulation when none has been proven. In 850 words, he didn't find any space for critics of the move, who include the Daily Ticker's Henry Blodget, CEO of Business Insider, using descriptions like "embarrassing," "give me a break," "smoke and mirrors," and "a crock." Finding contrary opinion is something Kuhnhenn would almost definitely have done with an economy-related move of a Republican or conservative president.

Before getting to Blodget, let's look at what the government itself had to say to everyday Americans about what influences gas prices just two months ago at the USA.gov blog (bolds are mine):

April 17, 2012, 10:24 PM EDT

After reading Derek Kravitz's final report of the day at 4:45 p.m. on the housing market at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, I just had to check the other wires to see if they were sipping from the same housing-market-in-recovery koolaid.

The answer is no. At Reuters, Jason Lange's 3:22 p.m. dispatch reported that "Output at U.S. factories slipped in March and builders started construction on fewer homes, offering cautionary signals for an economy that appeared to be gaining traction." At Bloomberg, Timothy R. Homan wrote: "While warmer weather may have spurred home construction at the beginning of 2012, a competing supply of cheap existing properties may be steering potential buyers away from purchasing a new home. That means home construction may not help boost the economy in 2012." Both of these assessments make Kravitz's take on housing, which included omitting very negative data on housing starts, seem that much more bizarre (my comments in italics follow each paragraph):

April 17, 2012, 6:18 PM EDT

The stunts the folks at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, continue pulling to downplay, minimize, or whitewash bad or embarrassing economic and other news shouldn't surprise us any more. But they continue to disappoint nonetheless.

Last month, a consumer sentiment index reported by the Conference Board fell by a relatively modest amount. Headlines and descriptions at related AP reports went from “falls” to “dips slightly” to “roughly flat” to a “rosy outlook” in the course of a single day. Today's AP rewrite only involved one step. At 9:04 a.m., Derek Kravitz's dispatch on the Census Bureau's New Home Construction report gave equal play to the seasonally adjusted (and totally unexpected) fall in new housing starts and the also unexpected but more modest rise in building permits:

April 17, 2012, 1:15 PM EDT

Derek Kravitz and Alex Veiga at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, must have doubled down on the energy drinks over the weekend. A Sunday morning report (HT to a NewsBusters tipster) telling readers that signs are "pointing to a long-awaited recovery" in the housing market went on, and on, and on, and on for over 1,350 words.

The factors the AP pair cited were primarily these: "Hiring has strengthened," "Loans remain cheap," "Homes are more affordable," and "Americans are more confident." They should have known that their first point has become questionable with March's mediocre jobs report and the recent spike in weekly initial unemployment claims to 380,000 (which so happens to be above his colleague Christopher Rugaber's already too-high benchmark for job-market improvement of 375,000), and that their last point should read: "Americans are less un-confident."

April 16, 2012, 2:26 PM EDT

The willingness of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, to cover for Democratic Party flubs, crimes, and scandals is something to behold. On Sunday, the wire service's Gary D. Robertson (pictured from a recent YouTube video) opened his coverage of North Carolina's Democratic Party executive director Jay Parmley with the following sentence: "The executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party has resigned amid concern among party activists about high turnover at the party headquarters and harassment allegations there." Yeah, that "turnover" had to be a much bigger problem than those harassment allegations.

Gosh, the coverage two days earlier by Matt Boyle at the Daily Caller "somehow" had nothing to say about "turnover." But Boyle did name names and cite other specifics, with which the AP's Robertson, in his terse, five-paragraph "I guess I have to do this but I'm not going to like it" piece, never bothered:

April 15, 2012, 9:45 PM EDT

There are a few Democrats in Vicki Smith's coverage at the Associated Press, aka the Adminsitration's Press, of the fraud investigation of former Mine Safety and Health Administration Director J. Davitt McAteer. As is AP's derelict custom in cases where Dems are involved in scandal or corruption, the party affiliation of those Democrats isn't mentioned.

The first Democrat is McAteer himself, who, based on a review of Federal Election Commission records, given roughly $1,900 to various Democratic Party candidates and causes during the past 13 years, including contributions to the party's presidential nominees in 2000, 2004, and 2008. Then there's West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who was previously the state's governor. Finally, although the AP gets a pass for this (it's Sunday, and we're in a forgiving mood), the name and administration of Democrat Bill Clinton, the guy McAteer worked for when he headed MSHA, never comes up. Excerpts from Ms. Smith's party ID-free report follow:

April 15, 2012, 11:19 AM EDT

For an ineffectual class warfare ploy to "work" politically, its ineffectuality must stay hidden to most. The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is doing its part to keep the utter immateriality of President Obama's Buffett Rule designed to go after certain high-income taxpayers hidden.

In the five relevant articles found in a search on the Omaha billionaire's last name at the wire service's national site at 10:30 a.m. ET, only one (the latest) mentions that it might raise $47 billion over 10 years, i.e., the paltry $5 billion per year cited at media outlets ranging from CNNMoney.com to Rush Limbaugh that the rule might raise. Beyond that, if the rule is couple with permanent Alternative Minimum Tax repeal, as is being proposed (HT American Thinker) by Congressional Democrats, the federal treasury will be out hundreds of billions of dollars. None of the AP reports mentions that. Brief excerpts from the five examples follow.

April 14, 2012, 10:33 PM EDT

In covering GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's appearance at the annual National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis yesterday, Associated Press aka Adminstration's Press reporter Charles Babington pretended to know nothing about President Barack Obama's opposition to basic Second Amendment rights. At least I hope he was pretending, because Obama's hostility to the right to keep and bear arms is longstanding, well-known, and did not stop when he swore an oath to "protect and defend the Constitution" on January 20, 2009.

I have excerpted Babington's first four paragraphs plus three others. I will follow that with a rundown of Obama's pre-2008 gun-hostile record, his meeting with the Brady group in May 2011, and this "little" thing called Operation Fast and Furious Babington and his establishment media colleagues have mostly deliberately ignored for well over a year (bolds are mine throughout this post; HT to a frequent emailer):

April 14, 2012, 6:55 PM EDT

Yesterday, Time's Joe Klein may have produced the single dumbest analysis post ever. Absurd as it is, it's still important, because it probably betrays Barack Obama's election strategy, with which the press will gleefully cooperate. The strategy is: Make it about anything and everything besides what I and my administration have and haven't done, because it hasn't impressed anyone, and we know it.

Klein's entry (HT Hot Air Headlines) at Time's Swampland, which should be named Fever-Swampland, was so brain-dead that he failed to cite a single example of an incumbent facing reelection (vs. a successor seeking election for the first time) in attempting to make his case:

April 13, 2012, 11:55 PM EDT

Jury selection in the trial of two-time Democratic Party presidential candidate and John Kerry's Democratic Party running mate in the 2004 election John Edwards began on Thursday. In the related five-paragraph Associated Press story, Michael Biesecker actually identified Edwards as a Democrat in his fourth of his five paragraphs.

That's not a stellar performance (a Republican or conservative in the kind of trouble Edwards is in would have his or her party identified in either the headline, the first paragraph, or both), but at least the party label is present. As blogger extraordinaire Doug Ross noted earlier this evening, in an 1,800-word item at the Atlantic on Wednesday ("Why the John Edwards Trial Is a Bigger Deal Than You Think"), author and undisclosed former Democratic candidate for statewide office Hampton Dellinger failed to name Edwards's party at all, while figuring out a way to tag something or someone "Republican" five times. Here are the opportunities studiously avoided in his treatise only relating to variations on the word "president" (bolded by me):

April 13, 2012, 10:44 AM EDT

When I saw the headline at last night dispatch from the Associated Press's Charles Babington on presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his campaign ("Romney rebuts claims that he, GOP are anti-women") I thought that the Obama administration and Babington's employer, also known as the Administration's Press, might finally be throwing the inane "war on women" meme into the dustbin. After the Hilary Rosen disaster of the past 36 hours, that would seem wise.

The headline's reference to rebuttal leads one to believe that Romney had successfully "refute(d) by evidence or argument" the utter garbage the left's "war on women" accusation against Republicans and conservatives has always been. I should have known better. The headline doesn't reflect the underlying article at all, leading one to hope that most readers stop right there. Babington's report is so disgracefully over-the-top it deserves its own wing in the Journalism Hall of Shame (bolds and numbered tags, which cover only a portion of the journalistic offenses committed in Babington's full write-up, are mine):

April 12, 2012, 10:49 AM EDT

Today's Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report from the Department of Labor revealed that, after seasonal adjustment, 380,000 Americans filed initial applications for unemployment benefits the week ending April 7. That figure was 13,000 higher than the week ending March 31. The AP headline at Christopher Rugaber's report as of 9:18 a.m.: "US applications for unemployment aid tick up."

Additionally, the March 31 initial claims figure of 357,000 was revised upward to 367,000. So the April 7 figure of 380,000 -- even before it almost certainly gets revised up next week (upward revisions have occurred in 53 of the past 54 weeks I have tracked) -- is 23,000 higher than what DOL initially reported for March 31. Yet Rugaber didn't tell his readers about the degree of the revision to March 31. Several paragraphs from the AP report, which contains an excuse which seasonal adjustment if done correctly by DOL should have covered, follow the jump (bolds are mine):

April 11, 2012, 11:40 PM EDT

In his report on the February 2012 monthly federal deficit on March 12, Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press (aka the Administration's Press) told readers that the month's deficit was $232 billion, but "somehow" forgot to tell readers that it was an all-time record for a single month in U.S. government history.

Well, there's good news, much worse news, and an utterly predictable agenda-driven item in the AP's coverage of March's deficit, this time courtesy of the wire service's Martin Crutsinger. The good news is that Crutsinger recognized that March's deficit was the highest on record for any March. The much worse news is that, as I forecast AP and others would do at my home blog last last week when the Congressional Budget Office estimated March's results, he failed to tell readers that March's spending of $369.37 billion was the highest single-month amount ever recorded by $30.32 billion -- a whopping 8.9% above the previous record of 339.05 billion set in March 2011. The increase is largely due to the fact that checks for many April 1 items were written on March 30 because April 1 was a Sunday, but a record is a record, and failing to recognize one (and only then trying to explain it away if there is cause for it) is shoddy journalism. The utterly predictable agenda-driven item is after the jump.

April 11, 2012, 12:51 PM EDT

On March 1, 2011, 14 year-old Makayla Norman of Dayton died of neglect at the hands of adults (her mother and three others) who were responsible for her care and safety. Makayla weighed 28 pounds when she died, and was found "covered in bedsores, living in filth and starved to the point the she looked more like a skeleton than a teenager." On Friday, her mother pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and endangering children. The cases of the three other adults go to trial on April 16.

In January, an investigative report by Cox Newspapers Dayton-area staff writers Josh Sweigart and Doug Page identified several parties who could and should have prevented the neglect in the first place, or detected it while in progress: "the home care agency responsible for feeding her"; "an extensive bureaucracy where officials say fraud is a massive and growing problem"; her case manager (among those indicted), who "worked for CareStar of Ohio"; and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Bizarrely, two months later, while barely mentioning any of the aforementioned parties in their report, Mary McCarty and Margo Kissell at the Dayton Daily News, using questionable methods and verbiage (to be noted later), decided that one other element in Makayla's life should be nominated to receive part of the blame -- homeschooling: