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
June 23, 2011, 1:36 AM EDT

When the Associated Press's Paul Wiseman and Martin Crutsinger team up for a report on the economy, there's no limit to the comic potential.

Today, in covering what the folks at Zero Hedge described as "Ben Bernanke's 'I Have No Idea Why The Economy Will Get Better But It Will' Speech" (transcript is at link), the AP pair may have set a new world record for most unused words one would expect to be employed in a report on the condition of the economy.

Readers will not find the following words, all of which bear at least somewhat on why the economy is currently failing to live up to expectations and to meaningfully rebound nearly two years after the official end of the recession, in the wire service's report:

June 22, 2011, 12:17 PM EDT

At Big Government yesterday, Kristinn Taylor and Andrea Shea King compiled overwhelming evidence refuting one key element of a cease-and-desist letter sent to Fox News by lawyers for former Obama administration "green jobs" czar Van Jones. In doing so, they referenced and credited a video I posted in September 2009 of an anti-American rally in Oakland, California on September 12, 2001 where Jones spoke. They pair did a great job, and I appreciate the credit.

I would like to give Taylor's and King's work greater visibility, and extend it just a bit, especially because you can virtually bank on the fact that the establishment press won't touch it -- or if they do, they won't accurately report it.

June 21, 2011, 10:00 PM EDT

The headline at Michael Gormley's Associated Press story on the status of New York State's legislation legalizing same-sex marriage ("NY GOP tables gay marriage; showdown looms") does not reflect the bill's status in the legislative process as described in his underlying report.

Additionally, Gormley had either the ignorance or the gall to characterize an official with Common Cause, an organization whose leadership and national governing board comprise a virtual leftist Who's Who, as a "good government advocate." Gosh, the people at Heritage are also "good government advocates." Does anyone think they'll live to see an AP reporter describe any Heritage official in such terms? (To be clear, the wire service shouldn't do that in describing leftist or conservative officials.)

Here are excerpts from Gormley's report (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

June 21, 2011, 4:07 PM EDT

In the run-up to the passage of Obamacare in March 2010, Nancy Pelosi infamously told a friendly audience: "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."

Fifteen months later, we still haven't learned everything about a bill which no honest congressperson or senator can claim to have read and fully understood.

Today's "discovery" is that some couples in their early 60s earning up to $64,000 a year can qualify for Medicaid. As has become establishment press custom since Obamacare's passage, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar at the Associated Press reports on the "anomaly," without getting to its root cause, namely that nobody who voted for the 2000-page legislation knew it was there:

June 20, 2011, 10:54 PM EDT

To be fair to the Associated Press's Charles Babington, he may not have written the headline applied to his early analysis ("Obama wants big 2012 campaign map, GOP wants small") of how the presidential electoral map looks. But what he wrote essentially fits the headline, but didn't provide any evidence that the Republican Party is only focusing on winning back the states lost by John McCain in 2008 which George W. Bush won in 2004 to get past the 270 electoral votes needed to retake the presidency.

Here are several paragraphs from Babington's coverage (numbered tags are mine):

June 20, 2011, 10:01 PM EDT

In a late Monday morning report, the Associated Press's Erica Werner wondered why "the White House has yet to take any new steps on gun violence" he supposedly promised in the wake of the January shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Either Werner or the headline writers at AP are getting extraordinarily impatient, as seen in the headline which follows the jump:

June 19, 2011, 11:52 PM EDT

Update, June 20, 12:30 p.m.: Revised to reflect another AP math error not caught the first time around.

Update 2, June 20, 3:20 p.m.: The AP has issued a correction indicating that lost sales taxes are $23 billion and teachers' salaries which could be paid are 460,000. The contradiction explained below about California's claim that it is failing to collect only $200 million (less than 1% of the total, in a state with 12% of the nation's population) is unexplained. The post's text has been revised to reflect AP's correction. AP has NOT corrected its original story here or here.

What is it with Associated Press reporters and basic math?

Earlier this evening, I noted how the wire service's Scott Bauer failed to correctly state the nature of the pension costs many of Wisconsin's unionized workers will have to pay; he said they would have to pay "5.8% of their pension costs," when it's really "5.8% of the gross pay into the state's retirement fund.

Yesterday, the AP's Chris Tomlinson, in reporting on states' desperate attempt to force online vendors to collect sales tax on their behalf, contributed a couple more math and conceptual errors of his own:

June 19, 2011, 10:15 PM EDT

Gosh, I would have thought that someone in Wisconsin's or America's labor movement would have caught Scott Bauer's clear June 15 understatement of the net pay hit many unionized public sector workers in the Badger State will be taking as a result of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, commonly known as the "Budget Repair Bill," once the law's provisions become effective on July 1. That error is in the following sentence from Bauer's report ("New lawsuit filed against Wisconsin union law"):

The law also requires workers to pay 12 percent of their health insurance costs and 5.8 percent of their pension costs, which amount to an 8 percent pay cut on average.

The AP reporter apparently spent time which should have gone towards getting the facts right to ensuring, as he did in a June 14 story (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), that the law was described as "polarizing" as often as possible. Bauer's frequent use of the P-word also seemingly distracted union supporters who read or heard portions of Bauer's report from noticing the error I will explain shortly.

June 17, 2011, 11:49 AM EDT

Thursday morning, initial weekly unemployment claims as reported by Uncle Sam's Department of Labor came in at a seasonally adjusted 414,000. It was 16,000 lower than the previous week's upwardly revised (as usual) number, but certainly no indicator in and of itself of meaningful improvement.

The housing industry data really wasn't any better. True, the seasonally adjusted figures from the Census Bureau for building permits issued and housing units started were somewhat improved, but the raw data still had several examples of record weakness.

Wait until you see the headline the Associated Press applied to a story covering the DOL and Census reports by Derek Kravitz and Christopher Rugaber:

June 14, 2011, 9:04 PM EDT

As has been the case virtually from the beginning, the Associated Press's Scott Bauer has been clearly unhappy with 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, commonly known even to the Wisconsin Supreme Court as the "Budget Repair Bill." Today, the court ruled that the law as enacted by the Badger State's legislature and signed by Governor Scott Walker can go into effect on July 1.

Looking back at what's available of Bauer's body of work on the matter during the past four months, his consistent mischaracterization of the bill's contents, saying that it would "eliminate collective bargaining" when it doesn't (shown here and here), is truly striking. What's even more striking (pun intended) is how he and his employer described the law in the report's headline and first sentence in at least one early version this evening:

Wisconsin's Polarizing Union Law To Take Effect

June 14, 2011, 10:58 AM EDT

Many people, including yours truly, believe that one of the primary reasons for the Politico's existence is to carry negative stories about Democrats and leftists which the rest of the establishment press then mostly chooses to ignore ("Why should we cover that? It's at the Politico already").

President Obama's more than half-empty campaign fundraising stop in Miami Monday is a case in point. As far as I can tell, only the Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown ("Empty seats: Obama fundraiser underwhelms") and Mary Bruce at ABC's Political Punch blog, whose item was also referenced at ABC's The Note, covered the politically embarrassing situation.

June 13, 2011, 10:47 PM EDT

To say that the statistics concerning new business formation during the past few years haven't been very good would be a major understatement.

USA Today's Scott Patterson deserves some credit for even looking at the topic. It is tailor-made for neglect by the rest of the establishment press. When government policies lean towards lower taxation and regulation, policies left-leaning journalists tend to oppose, net business formations generally grow, and they'd rather not report it. In the high-tax, high-regulation environments they favor, net business formation slows considerably -- and again, they'd rather not report it.

June 13, 2011, 11:48 AM EDT

Yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted a reluctance on the part of Associated Press reporters to describe the farm involved in "the world's deadliest known outbreak of E. coli" as "organic."

The wire service issued two additional reports this morning, both of which failed to use the "O-word." The case for the use of the word in these reports is as strong, if not stronger, than it was in the seven items discussed yesterday. Beyond that, AP, along with the rest of the press, has failed to explore the possibility that Germany's 1950s-era outlook towards farming practices may have helped to create the conditions allowing such an outbreak to occur.

June 12, 2011, 6:40 PM EDT

On Wednesday evening in Europe (12:31 p.m. Eastern Time), in what it was already describing as "the world's deadliest known outbreak of E. coli," the Associated Press reported that "No cause for the outbreak has yet been found," while farmers on the continent were petitioning the EU for hundreds of million of dollars in compensation.

By midday European time (6:27 a.m. ET) on Friday, June 10, it was known ("Sprouts are cause of E. coli outbreak") that the contaminated food had come from Germany, when investigators "linked separate clusters of patients who had fallen sick to 26 restaurants and cafeterias that had received produce from the organic farm."

It is not my intention to get involved in a debate on farming techniques. But it seems obvious that if the outbreak came from an "organic" farming enterprise, follow-up stories should continue to mention that origin. Failures to mention organic farming have occurred often enough at the AP that one begins to wonder if those omissions are deliberate -- especially when coupled with the wire service's complete lack of coverage identifying skepticism, of which there is plenty, about the safety of organic farming practices.

June 9, 2011, 12:48 PM EDT

There must be something in Chicagoland's drinking water which causes either acute memory loss or a persistent inability to pay attention.

First, we had presidential candidate Barack Obama, who sat in Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ for nearly two decades, but who supposedly had no idea Pastor Wright was so hostile towards America ("US KKK of A"), its history (we deserved the 9/11 attacks because of Hirsohima and Nagasaki), and its white citizens (the "white supremacy Rhetorical Ethic").

Now we have Roxanne Martino, a Chicago-area member of the University of Notre Dame's Board of Trustees, who resigned Wednesday after serving less than two months. The Cardinal Newman Society noted that Martino had made $27,150 in political contributions to Emily's List over a 12-year period. Her claim, relayed through the board's chairman and the university's president, is that she "didn't realize any of the organizations she supported also promoted abortion rights." Uh, Roxanne -- Emily's List has only one mission: "electing pro-choice Democratic women to office."

Here's some of the Chicago Tribune's skepticism-free take:

June 8, 2011, 10:54 PM EDT

Statism never sleeps.

The Obama administration has apparently identified a significant constituency it hasn't been able to buy off, and is attempting to do something about it.

Of course, the ever-gullible Darlene Superville at the Associated Press is swallowing the White House line completely, as seen in these excerpted paragraphs:

Obama to create White House Rural Council

 

President Barack Obama plans to create a special advisory council to recommend ways to boost the economic outlook and quality of life for the estimated 60 million people who live in rural areas of the U.S., a White House official said.

June 8, 2011, 3:41 PM EDT

Early Tuesday morning, David Shepardson and Christina Rogers at the Detroit News ("GM's Akerson pushing for higher gas taxes") reported that General/Multi-Government Motors CEO Dan Akerson "wants the federal gas tax boosted as much as $1 a gallon to nudge consumers toward more fuel-efficient cars."

Later in the interview, Akerson was much more emphatic about what he would like to see done immediately:

"You know what I'd rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas," Akerson said.
June 7, 2011, 8:55 PM EDT

Dennis Cauchon at USA Today has been one of a very few establishment press reporters willing to expose federal workers' disproportionate pay and benefits (previous examples here and here) as well as Uncle Sam's precariously dangerous financial situation.

Cauchon has two USAT items today on the latter topic (HT to NB commenter Gary Hall): "U.S. funding for future promises lags by trillions," which reports that federal obligations totaled $61.6 trillion as of September 2010, a $5.3 trillion increase from a year earlier, and "Government's Mountain of Debt," which itemizes those obligations by major source.

Unsurprisingly, 75% of federal obligations, or a combined $46.2 trillion (actually more, which will be seen at the end of this post), relate to Social Security and Medicare, which no one but a few deluded leftists believe (or pretend to believe) are sustainable in their current form. Unfortunately, at the end of his first story, Cauchon quoted one of them, Michael Lind, whom the USAT reporter described as "policy director at the liberal New America Foundation's economic growth program," who said the following:

June 7, 2011, 3:33 PM EDT

The educated guess here is that Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler is currently not the most popular person in the White House.

On Saturday, in a relatively rare rebuke originating from what G. Gordon Liddy has mockingly derided as "Washington's quaint little alternative newspaper" (daily circulation 741,000 in March 2005, 551,000 in March 2011), Kessler ripped into the President's claims about the auto bailout, giving him "Three Pinocchios," which in his ratings system means "Significant factual error(s) and/or obvious contradictions." Kessler found "weasel words," a "misleading figure" (actually, more), and (imagine that) a straw man.

Here are selected paragraphs from Kessler's KO (bolds are mine; internal link was in original):

... What we found is one of the most misleading collections of assertions we have seen in a short presidential speech. Virtually every claim by the president regarding the auto industry needs an asterisk, just like the fine print in that too-good-to-be-true car loan.

June 6, 2011, 10:30 PM EDT

On Friday, Cass Sunstein, the White House's 56 year-old Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (pictured at right), attempted to disavow a 42-page paper he wrote called "Lives, Life-Years, and Willingness to Pay," which recommended that the government reduce resources directed at benefitting the elderly in favor of increasing what goes to young people, because young people have more years of life ahead of them. His statement, as carried at CNS News:

“I’m a lot older now than the author with my name was, and I’m not sure what I think about what that young man wrote,” he said. “Things written as an academic are not a legitimate part of what we do as a government official. So I am not focusing on sentences that a young Cass Sunstein wrote years ago.

So, dear readers, before you go to the rest of this post, guess how "young" Sunstein was when he engaged in his de facto "death panels" advocacy.

... Ready? Okay, here goes: