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
December 18, 2010, 10:21 AM EST

Did you know that the "big new tax law" signed by President Obama yesterday "will save taxpayers, on average, about $3,000 next year," and that it will have "tax breaks for being married, having children, paying for child care, going to college or investing in securities"?

Don't spend that extra $3,000 yet, because it mostly won't be there. With the only major exception being the 2-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax, and of course barring new legislation the next Congress may take on, the tax laws for the next two years will essentially be the same as they have been since 2003, when Congress lowered marginal income, capital gain, and dividend income tax rates.

This lack of major change didn't stop the Ministry of Propaganda -- er, the Associated Press -- and reporter Stephen Ohlemacher from calling the new legislation "the most significant new tax law in a decade," when there's almost nothing "new" about it, or from trumpeting how much certain American families will "save" as a result.

Here are a few paragraphs from Ohlemacher's report:

December 17, 2010, 11:14 PM EST

Leave it to the Associated Press, with the assistance of the "magic" of seasonal adjustments, to make the November housing market appear as if it was a bit better than the two months that preceded it. It wasn't.

Thursday, the wire service grabbed the single crumb that was available, namely the Census Bureau's report earlier that day that annualized, seasonally adjusted housing starts had increased by about 4% and turned it into a decidedly positive headline: "Home construction up after 2 months of declines."

AP Economics Writer Jeannine Aversa watered down the headline in her very first sentence, describing the "up" part of the headline as a "nudge."

That's nowhere near enough. The available evidence indicates that November may have been the worst month the homebuilding industry has had in 4-5 decades of related recordkeeping.

December 16, 2010, 8:00 AM EST

It seems to be almost required by now that any indictment of Kwame Kilpatrick must be accompanied by two or more establishment media outlets reports that fail to inform readers that the former Detroit Mayor is a Democrat -- in fact, a Democrat who was singled out for copious praise during the early stages of Barack Obama's campaign for president.

In unbylined reports, CBS News in Detroit and the Associated Press took the "Hide That Party" helm this time around. Here are a few paragraphs from the CBS report:

December 15, 2010, 10:55 AM EST

Maybe we need to add the word "Palinography" to the dictionary. Its definition would be: "The process of preparing news photographs and accompanying captions about Sarah Palin in a deliberately negative light."

One example many will likely remember involved the amateurish wire service shoes-and-calves-only photos frequently seen during Palin's vice-presidential run.

Lori Ziganto at the Daily Caller's DC Trawler flagged the latest outrage, which is shown below (direct link):

December 13, 2010, 2:24 PM EST

A useful guideline in evaluating the significance of a national security-related news story first revealed by someone in the establishment press is whether other media outlets pick it up. If they don't, it's probably significant.

Such is the case with the Washington Post's Saturday story about Venezuela acquiring 1,800 Russian antiaircraft missiles. That appears to be 1,700 more than originally thought.

The story has gone through two additional overnight news cycles. Yet it appears from relevant site searches that both the Associated Press (searches on Venezuela, Venezuela missiles [not in quotes], and missiles) and the New York Times (Venezuela, "Venezuela missiles," and missiles) have chosen to ignore the story.

The news relayed by the WaPo's Juan Ferero seems objectively very significant, and more than a little worrisome, based on the bolded paragraph in the following excerpt:

December 13, 2010, 12:54 PM EST

How did the nation ever survive without the government telling its schools what foods they should serve?

This is one of many questions the Associated Press's Mary Clare Jalonick did not explore in her brief de facto press release this morning trumpeting the wonders of the "nutrition bill" President Obama is signing into law these days (presented in full for fair use and discussion purposes):

December 12, 2010, 11:41 PM EST

One of the press's longest campaigns to systematically obfuscate the truth about a specific government program is the one that has protected Social Security from reasonable scrutiny for most of the 75 years of its existence.

The Associated Press's Stephen Ohlemacher did his part to continue the misdirection in his coverage of the possible effects of the payroll tax cut President Obama and congressional Republicans have proposed.

To Mr. Ohlemacher, the Social Security system has this huge, "guaranteed" trust fund. I can almost stop there, but readers should buck up and see the following excerpt as an object example of the falsehoods fed to the public for so many years (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

December 12, 2010, 10:06 AM EST

A New York Times "Learning Network" graphic informs us that under the proposed Obama-GOP tax and spending compromise, "rates will not change for at least two years for anyone."

Wow. Somebody at the Learning Network needs to tell the Old Gray Lady's beat reporters, editorial board, and opinion columnists. Just today, reporter Helene Cooper, in noting how Vice President Joe Biden is playing a "bigger role" in the administration (translation: picking up the pieces from President Obama's disastrous ongoing alienation of anyone and everyone, friend and foe alike), twice refers to the compromise as involving "tax cuts." Cooper's defenders may claim that the Times reporter is partially referring to the proposed one-year reduction in the Social Security payroll tax from 6.2% to 4.2%, but that's not a contentious issue at the moment (though given how broke the Social Security really is, it should be). Federal income tax rates for 2011 and beyond are.

Anyway, as far as the Learning Network is concerned, so far, so good. But then it commits its own unforced error:

Who Benefits? All taxpayers, but especially high-income households, which had faced a new, higher rate.

December 12, 2010, 8:54 AM EST

How can you cover a story about Uncle Sam's November Monthly Treasury Statement and the proposed Obama-GOP compromise on taxes and unemployment benefits without using the words "spending," "receipts," any form of "collect," or "unemployment"? It's a neat trick, but the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger pulled it off in his Friday afternoon dispatch shortly after the government report's release.

Instead of communicating apparently boring facts, Crutsinger concentrated his fire on the "tax-cut agreement" with a supposed "cost (of) $855 billion over two years" worked out by President Obama and Congressional Republicans. In doing so, he "somehow" failed to mention that the proposal includes a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits.

Based on a comparison to this detailed analysis at the Hill, which reported yesterday that the proposal's "cost" is really $857 billion over 10 years, Crutsinger's two-year, $855 billion "cost" assertion, which does not include a detailed breakdown, appears to be wildly inaccurate.

December 11, 2010, 9:21 AM EST

Justin Fenner at Styleite needs to buy a clue or two about how women who like Sarah Palin think and act, and about Palin herself.

In a post late Friday afternoon, he asked, "Why Isn’t Sarah Palin Selling More Clothes?" (bolds are mine):

December 11, 2010, 7:46 AM EST

Not that he legitimately deserves our pity, but imagine the difficulty of being Ben Feller at the Associated Press yesterday.

You've just attended a suddenly announced joint press conference with President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton to announce the latter's support for the former's tax- and spending-related legislative proposals worked out with Republicans. You witness the astonishing spectacle of the current Commander In Chief leaving his own presser to be with his wife at a Christmas party, followed by the former CIC acting as if he never left, holding forth on all kinds of things beyond the presser's original intention.

How do you frame this positively while the rest of the nation -- left, far left, and right -- gasps in utter amazement?

The following excerpt, which only begins to reveal the depth of Feller's feckless fawning, shows us how (especially over the top phrasing is bolded):

December 9, 2010, 1:59 PM EST

In a 12:35 p.m. story at the Associated Press's main site (pictured here, here, and here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes), reporter Jim Fitzgerald covers the conviction of White Plains Mayor Adam Bradley ("Suburban NY mayor convicted of attempted assault").

At Paragraph 12, Fitzgerald writes:

Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore, also a Democrat, praised Fumiko Bradley's "courage and credibility." She said Adam Bradley's position as mayor "demonstrates that we will support victims of domestic violence no matter who the abuser may be."

There's only one problem. No one has been specifically identified as a Democrat in the story up to that point, and it's not at all clear who may or may not be a Democrat:

December 7, 2010, 3:04 PM EST

There are many areas where the establishment press's terminology preferences are significantly out of sync with everyday usage by the general public. To name just two examples, the ever so PC press routinely replaces publicly favored and more informative terms such as "illegal immigrants" and "Muslim terrorists" with "undocumented workers" and "militants." And of course, we can't forget the press's affection for "a certain late-term pregnancy-ending procedure," when it's really "partial-birth abortion."

Though the disconnect I'm about to describe isn't as serious as the ones just noted, there is another area where press terminology is at wide variance with the public's preferences. That would be in how to describe the shopping season that occurs from Thanksgiving until the end of the year.

For a while, the press's terminology choices seemed to be winning over retailers. But at least this year, that isn't so, as noted in an item at Advertising Age (HT to Tim Graham at NewsBusters, who tweeted on this about 10 days ago):

December 7, 2010, 1:30 PM EST

A few weeks ago, just before GM's initial public offering went to the market (at the Washington Examiner; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Multi-Government/General Motors had spent the past several months shipping more cars than its dealers were selling, to the point where dealer stocks represented an unusually high number of days of dealers' sales.

GM's December 1 press release made that trend even more obvious, as month-end dealer inventory rose to 536,000 units, about 30% higher than May's level.

As seen below, the trend was already pretty obvious in October, and a vigilant press should have been alert enough to notice it and attempt to gauge its financial impact:

December 5, 2010, 9:24 PM EST

At the Associated Press late Sunday afternoon, reporter Paul Wiseman, who may have the most inappropriate last name in the history of business journalism, engaged in a brazen "It's really not that bad" excuse-making exercise on behalf of the economy Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Ben Bernanke have created. In the process, he joined a Reuters reporter in questioning the validity of the information Friday's Employment Situation Report.

December 5, 2010, 3:35 PM EST

I do hope that Associated Press reporters Arthur Max and Charles J. Hanley are finding some recreational time while they are reporting from Cancun about what's happening at the "United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change."

The pair's bosses ought to be asking them how much real attention they are paying to the festivities since they began. For example, as far as I can tell from two reports by Mr. Max (here and here), he seems to have missed the opening prayer to the pagan goddess Ixchel; Ken Shepherd at NewsBusters took note of it from thousands of miles away.  We'd understand if you were really at the beach, Arthur.

Hanley's report early this morning also seems quite oblivious to what's really going on in Cancun:

December 4, 2010, 4:12 PM EST

The unemployment rate jumped to a seasonally adjusted 9.8% in November and only 39,000 seasonally adjusted jobs were added during the month, according to the Employment Situation Report released yesterday by Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although she at least recognized the report's negativity, Lucia Mutikani at Reuters seemed bent on downplaying its impact, even finding an "expert" who characterized the BLS's work as an "outlier" in her Friday evening write-up. Nobody's claiming the folks at BLS are perfect, but I cannot recall a time when an establishment press wire service reporter has questioned the Employment Situation Report's underlying validity. Despite its supposed lack of credibility, Ms. Mutikani still used the information provided as an excuse to insert a point about how it should cause Fed chief Ben Bernanke to continue the "money from nothing" enterprise euphemistically referred to as "quantitative easing."

Of special note was Ms. Mutikani's bizarre contention that the seasonal adjustment calculations might be flawed. Unfortunately for her, comparisons of actual results on the ground (i.e., the not seasonally adjusted numbers) to the seasonally adjusted numbers that resulted were consistent with November 2004, the last comparable year. This has not always been the case in the volatile economy of the past 2-1/2 years.

Here are the first eight paragraphs from Ms. Mutikani's morose musings (bolds and number tags are mine):

December 2, 2010, 2:58 PM EST

Here's something about which the environmentalists and car czars planted inside the Obama administration can't be pleased: as a percentage of their U.S. sales, Multi-Government/General Motors and Chrysler are selling more "light trucks," consisting of pickups, SUVS, and "crossover" vehicles than any other major manufacturer. Further, the companies are clearly emphasizing light trucks at the expense of their car models.

I wonder how a government promise to accomplish this would have been received by the fossil-fuels-are-awful media at bankruptcy crunch time last year?

You can pretty much count on this inconvenient product mix not getting a great deal of establishment press attention while it drools over the underpowered, heavily subsidized electric lemon known as the Chevy Volt and whatever toy disguised as a useful vehicle Chrysler/Fiat plans on foisting onto the market.

The detail is at the Wall Street Journal's monthly report on vehicle sales (link will change in one month). Key items include these:

November 30, 2010, 6:31 PM EST

In no uncertain terms, Rush Limbaugh (link will become unavailable in seven days) ripped into an Associated Press report today on the alleged perils of allowing unemployment benefits to expire for what the Labor Department says is nearly 2 million unemployed:

I have not had one class in economics since high school in the 1960s -- not one -- and I understand more about this through my own self-education than these wizards at the AP. And I'm still convinced they just repeated it. They just printed a fax from Pelosi's office or whatever. ... After 23 years and we still get trash like this in our major, #1 wire service. I guarantee you whoever wrote this story is an absolute, abject ignoramus. I don't know about you, folks, but I don't like being surrounded by stupidity.

The chief ignoramus in question whose name Rush didn't have is the misnamed AP Economics Writer Paul Wiseman, with the ignorant assistance of Christopher Rugaber. Behold their ignorance:

November 29, 2010, 10:18 AM EST

This would be really funny if it weren't for the fact that so many supposedly informed people, including our president and those who surround him, may actually buy into ideas being proposed at the United Nations-sponsored Cancun climate conference, and will relish the means by which they could be put into place.

At the UK Telegraph today, environment correspondent Louise Gray feeds us the following headline and sub-headline:

Cancun climate change summit: scientists call for rationing in developed world

Global warming is now such a serious threat to mankind that climate change experts are calling for Second World War-style rationing in rich countries to bring down carbon emissions.

From all appearances, such rationing would last at least two decades, during which there would be, by design, no economic growth. Zero, zip, nada.

Here are selected paragraphs from Gray's grouse (bolds and number tags are mine):