A year ago, Standard & Poor's cut its rating of U.S. government debt from AAA to AA+.
Very early Monday morning, in what read more like an Obama administration press release than a wire service news report, Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press claimed that subsequent events and other agencies' decisions not to deliver similar downgrades represent a "decisive repudiation" of S&P's call. Gee, I think an element of other agencies' holdbacks had quite a bit to do with the Obama administration's almost immediate move to launch an investigation into how S&P handled the ratings of mortgage-backed securities leading up to the housing and mortgage lending mess in 2008. The others didn't want to become the Department of Justice's next targets. But of course Wiseman didn't bring up that inconvenient point. Excerpts follow:
Clay Waters at NewsBusters addressed this item earlier today, but I want to emphasize one particular quote in the related New York Times piece which also caught the (possibly gullible) attention of Chris Ariens at Media Bistro's TV Newser: "In private meetings with columnists, he has talked about the concept of 'false balance' — that reporters should not give equal weight to both sides of an argument when one side is factually incorrect. He frequently cites the coverage of health care and the stimulus package as examples, according to aides familiar with the meetings."
Wow. Where do you start? I'll cite just one example in each area Obama cited. I suspect readers will have more.
Since Mitt Romney is supposedly responsible for the death from cancer of a woman who died in 2006, seven years after the presumptive GOP nominee left Bain Capital, it seems more than fair to talk about what has resulted from the Obama administration's blatant favoritism towards UAW members while shafting former Delphi salaried workers.
Tonight, the Associated Press's Adwatch entry by Stephen Braun actually calls out the Obama super-PAC Priorities USA, specifically saying that the assertion by Joe Soptic, the woman's widower, "that Romney bears some blame in his wife's death is not backed up factually in the ad." Fair enough, but, especially because it was in the news today, let's look at the Delphi situation.
The modern equivalent of a broken record, which used to be a common saying about someone who says the same thing over and over, is the "infinite loop" -- "a sequence of instructions in a computer program which loops (i.e., repeats) endlessly."
On Social Security, the establishment press has played a false infinite loop for decades, namely that its "trust fund" contains lots of real assets. Here is Stephen Ohlemacher's replay of the loop found in his coverage at the Associated Press on early Monday:
It's as if these people think that we're still in the era of the Pony Express and passenger pigeons.
Both CNN's email alert after the close of the markets today and the Associated Press's post-close report acted as if Monday's stock market gain was due to a positive momentum effect from Friday's splendiforous jobs report, which really wasn't that good at all. CNN's 4:01 p.m. email told recipients that "U.S. stocks end higher on momentum from July jobs report." AP's first paragraph at its news summary page read as follows:
Well, it looks like Democrats in a Southern state have embarrassed party officials once again. Back in 2010, it was Alvin Greene in South Carolina, whose victory in that state's U.S. Senate primary so infuriated Palmetto State Congressman James Clyburn that he accused Greene of being a plant and called for a federal probe. Greene refused to step aside; incumbent Republican Jim DeMint defeated Greene in a landslide.
A similar script is playing out in Tennessee, where relative unknown Mark Clayton defeated seven other challengers in the Volunteer State's Democratic U.S. Senate primary. It turns out that Clayton is vice president of an alleged "hate group." If that characterization really fits Clayton's Public Advocate of the United States (there's ample reason to doubt that), then Associated Press reporter Lucas L. Johnson II "somehow" forgot to notice that a couple of national Democrats apparently agree with the group's supposedly "hateful" positions -- as well as, it would appear, President Barack Obama himself. Excerpts follow the jump:
The Associated Press carried two stories on Friday about the attempt by and ultimate failure of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to avoid going back to prison.
In the first, ahead of that day's hearing, AP reporter Bob Johnson failed to mention Siegelman's Democratic Party affiliation. In the second, Johnson managed to get Democratic Party references designed to raise what appear to be partisan questions about whether Siegelman really deserved his fate into his 29th and 34th of 35 paragraphs. Excerpts follow (AP is using all uppercase in its national site headlines now; bolds are mine):
The wire services and other establishment press members appear to be getting more selective in what they will allow into their headlines, particularly omitting items which might hurt Dear Leader.
Take the coverage of yesterday's Employment Situation Summary from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The news was a combination of bad and mediocre (though expectations-beating): The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 8.2% to 8.3% (or from 8.217% to 8.254%, if you're Obama administration hack Alan Krueger), while the seasonally adjusted number of jobs added was 163,000. Both results are really unacceptable when there's so much not utilized and underutilized labor. Three establishment press headlines avoided mentioning the rate increase, even though it was a major element of the underlying story:
General Motors didn't have a very good second quarter, as the Associated Press's Tom Krisher duly noted on Thursday.
What Krisher didn't note, and what almost no one in the establishment press ever notes, is the fact that the company doesn't have to pay any income taxes on its U.S. profits until it uses up losses carried forward from before its 2009 bankruptcy filing accompanied by at least $50 billion in government capitalization -- something other companies emerging from bankruptcy are almost never allowed to do. Based on the company's reported North American income for the quarter of $2 billion, most of which would have been realized on U.S. business, taxpayers subsidized the company to the tune of several hundred million dollars in just three months.
Start with the item's headline: "US consumers more confident in the economy in July" Uh, no. Given that a value of 90 is what the AP acknowledges in a later paragraph "indicates a healthy economy," today's overall reading of 65.9, up from 62.7 in June, means that consumers are less gloomy or less downbeat. Confident? Hardly. AP even got the report's underlying indicators wrong:
Sunday on ABC, as Rush Limbaugh noted on his show yesterday, Obama campaign senior adviser and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney a "schoolyard bully."
Just a couple of hours later (the time stamp is noon on Sunday), what little is left of Newsweek published "Mitt Romney's Wimp Factor." Zheesh -- So which is it?
Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) I critiqued a short Associated Press item posted earlier Monday by reporter John Hanna which seemed quite alarmed at the notion that "Conservatives in Republicans are turning against moderates in their own party."
Hanna expanded his report on Monday. Its apparently final version, time-stamped at 5:16 p.m. at the AP's national site, goes further into describing those scary conservatives who want Republicans who will act on principle instead of just going along. What follows are excerpts from material added after the initial report:
Gosh, I think John Hanna and the Associated Press need to do something about their use of eliminationist language and violent imagery.
Look at how AP headlined Hanna's late morning report on the rise of conservatism in several midwestern and southern states at the likely expense of moderate incumbents (shown in full because of its brevity and for fair use and discussion purposes).
In his column at the Los Angeles Times today (HT to a NewsBusters tipster), Michael Hiltzik engages in predictable whining about discussions on how to bring the federal deficit under control seem "increasingly to be driven by the wealthy." In the instance he cites, one could substitute "big bank and big company CEOs," who seem to have recently decided that President Obama's Simpson Bowles debt commission had a good roadmap in late 2010 after being as far as I can recall pretty much AWOL on the matter when it was first presented.
That's fine. Hiltzik entitled to his take. But he's not entitled to his facts, particularly his assertions on Social Security (bold is mine):
In the kerfuffle over the initial refusal by Mitt Romney's campaign to allow reporters into a fundraising event to take place at an Israeli hotel on Monday, a position the campaign reversed late yesterday (early morning in Israel), the Associated Press's Kasie Hunt had, to say the least, an interesting take on property rights, while clearly misstating how the Obama campaign has handled press access.
You know, President Obama is such a constructive guy. Why, he's a veritable Mr. Sunshine like Chicago Cubs baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks. He hardly ever goes after presidential opponent Mitt Romney with harsh criticism. When he does, it's a "rare swipe."
That's what Jim Kuhnhenn at the Associated Press told his readers yesterday in his coverage ("New day, old bickering on taxes between Obama, GOP") of the President's weekly radio address and related matters. Kuhnhenn, who between shifts as a reporter must live in a hermetically sealed cave, wrote the following:
It's becoming increasingly clear that the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, believes there are two primary kinds of users of its output: those who only read headlines and those who read on or click through. It often dresses up the headlines with inaccuracies, omissions, and occasional downright falsehoods, which more often than not are respectively rendered properly, included, and stated truthfully (or at least sort of close) in the actual content.
It's hard to find a more stark example of a contradiction between an AP headline and its underlying content than Martin Crutsinger's late afternoon report Friday following that morning's Gross Domestic Product report:
One of the most embarrassing yet telling exchanges (using the term loosely, as will be seen) in the history of presidential press secretaries occurred on Thursday. Connie Lawn, described here as longest-serving White House reporter, asked Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney what should have been a really easy question: "What city does this administration consider to be the capital of Israel -- Jerusalem or Tel Aviv?"
Carney wouldn't answer it, and accused Lawn and relentless national treasure Les Kinsolving of WND.com of asking about something they already knew. Carney's contemptible behavior has been virtually ignored in the establishment press. Here is the complete exchange as relayed at the White House's web site, complete with an asterisk, which I will explain (I have added names of the questioners where needed; a YouTube of part of what follows is here; bolds are mine):
Give credit to CNN Money's Annalyn Chensky for intuitively recognizing the ridiculousness of the economic projections included in the White House's Mid-Session Review released today. That especially goes for the assumption that full-year economic growth in 2012, with the first and second quarters coming in at an annualized 2.0% and 1.5%, respectively (the latter subject to revisions which probably won't be significant), will somehow still come in at 2.6%.
Chensky gets demerits, however, for understating how fast growth will really have to be during the second half of the year to get that 2.6% (bolds are mine):
Today's report on the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) during the second quarter didn't impress anyone -- except, apparently those who send out email alerts to CNN Money subscribers.
For several years, it has seemed like the primary goal of these alerts has been to create the illusion of pervasive prosperity when the economic news is even remotely tolerable, and to ignore or downplay news that is really bad -- all so that the relatively disengaged can be convinced that the economy isn't performing as poorly as it really is. The email alert received shortly after the government released its report showing that the economy grew at an annualized 1.5% rate during the second quarter arguably fits both categories:
Poor guy. This darned economy has a mind of its own and isn't cooperating.
That's pretty much what you're forced to think in the following cop-out sentence from the Hill in anticipation of tomorrow's report on second-quarter gross domestic product (along with revisions to prior years):
On May 2, Matt Sheffield at NewsBusters ran down a list of national media outlets which failed to report the Occupy movement connections of the five men arrested by the FBI for plotting to blow up a suburban Cleveland bridge, despite the fact that the Cleveland Plain Dealer began noting those relationships from the get-go.
Matt wrote that the Associated Press recognized the connections, but watered it all down by "letting an Occupy Cleveland spokesman's claim the men 'weren't affiliated with or representing the group' go unchallenged." Yesterday, after one of the five arrested entered a guilty plea to avoid a probable life sentence, an unbylined AP report waited until the final of 13 paragraphs to even mention Occupy, and then proceeded to engage in the same dishonest downplaying -- even though evidence revealed a few days after Matt's post proved an undeniable, high-level relationship (bolds are mine; HT Instapundit):
No matter how inane or damning his comments and answers to inquiries, it appears that Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can continue to count on favorable coverage from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, aka the Administration's Protection.
The AP's Marcy Gordon, with the help of her story's headline writer, made Geither's appearance before the House Committee on Financial Services all about partisanship until near the very end. Incredibly, she also relayed a very important question committee members asked about Geithner's use of an interest rate he knew was being lowballed by British banks as the basis for determining the interest rate on Treasury bailout loans while he was still head of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve Bank -- but didn't tell readers what his answer was. Excerpts follow (bolds are mine):
I suppose the Associated Press deserves some credit for what appears to be a grudging acknowledgment that opponents of the oil and gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, aka "fracking," "sometimes mislead the public." Also, Kevin Begos's story does a good job of letting Josh Fox, producer of the fundamentally dishonest documentary "Gasland," hang himself with his own dodgy, reality-denying words.
But the credit pretty much ends there. Begos's report is a largely a study in false equivalence (y'know, everybody exaggerates -- except, Kevin, opponents do so serially while proponents do so rarely) and psychobabble (y'know, everyone uses "facts" they like and ignores the one that don't -- except, Kevin, for the inconvenient reality that opponents' "facts" are largely falsehoods). The problem is best exemplified in the final excerpted paragraph which follows the jump (bolds are mine):
While it's nice that the 2000 election cycle made a fool out of Al Gore for his outrageous claim that "I took the initiative in creating the Internet" -- which was in due course shortened by critics to a claim that he invented the Internet -- it's more than a little annoying that an accompanying myth emerged and has long persisted that the Internet was created by the government.
President Obama repeated this supposedly established wisdom during his infamous "You didn't build that" speech" on July 13 in Roanoke, Virginia: "The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet." Geez, even I know that the original purpose of the Internet had nothing to do with companies making money. But at the Wall Street Journal on Sunday evening, L. Gordon Crovitz took a deep dive into the actual history, and -- Surprise! (not) -- the government wasn't the Internet's creator, or its enabler, but was instead a barrier:
Gosh, if Apple would only send the money it has parked overseas back to the United States and pay income taxes on it, the federal government's situation would be so much better, the budget would would balance, and ... no, not really. According to Peter Svensson at the Associated Press, the company has $74 billion in cash parked overseas, meaning that it would owe federal income taxes of about $26 billion at the maximum statutory rate of 35% if it brought it all back at once. That amount would cover the average daily deficit incurred during the past three and now going on four years for about a week.
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):
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:
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).
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):