Some readers here may have a tough time discerning why the economy's mediocre to stagnant performance isn't fully registering with the general public, which feels that things aren't going too well but still doesn't how weak the situation really is. The obvious answer is that the press overemphasizes any good news which appears and downplays marginal or bad news — while occasionally, as seen last night in Bloomberg's coverage of yesterday's largely miserable homebuilding statistics, pretending that bad news really was good.
Perfect examples of this problem came in two CNNMoney.com emails I received this afternoon. The emails has news which could be considered news, while leaving out some clearly bad news which delegitimizes their email's optimism:
At roughly 8 a.m. Eastern Time Tuesday morning, the wire service AFP (Agence France-Presse) had a story entitled "Fighting nears Baghdad as UN warns crisis 'life-threatening.'" AFP reported that "Militants pushed a weeklong offensive that has overrun swathes of Iraq to within 60 kilometres (37 miles) of Baghdad Tuesday." A Skynet video found at Gateway Pundit tells us that "ISIS Terrorists Surround Baghdad From Three Sides."
Meanwhile, as of 12:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday only one of the three Iraq-related stores (here, here and here) at the Associated Press refers — and even then only in a very late paragraph — to how ISIS (or ISIL, using AP's preferred acronym) "overran Mosul then stormed toward Baghdad."
There must have been a double delivery of Obama administration koolaid over at Bloomberg News this morning.
The business wire service, which ordinarily is slightly less imbalanced in its business and economics reporting than the Associated Press, somehow interpreted a 6.5 percent seasonally adjusted decline in housing starts during May and a nearly identical percentage drop in building permits — with both figures lower than May 2013 — as evidence that "the homebuilding industry stabilized after a first-quarter swoon." That's ridiculous. The first quarter was supposedly as bad as it was because of bad winter weather; so there should have been an overcompensating bounceback. It hasn't happened. Meanwhile, that second Bloomberg koolaid delivery must have been the one meant for AP, whose Josh Boak turned in a report noteworthy for its unusual sobriety (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Though he has dispatched 275 military advisors to that country, his virtual ultimatum to that Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — no angel by any stretch, but still a better alternative to a civil war or an ISIS-run terrorist state — that he must negotiate with all parties involve before the U.S. will even think about making a meaningful military commitment seems destined to allow matters to deteriorate further, perhaps to the point of no return. Despite all of this, Donna Cassata and Bradley Klapper at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, implied in a Tuesday afternoon dispatch that anyone who doesn't support plan-free military action now is some kind of hypocrite — except for Democrats who say that their support of going to war in 2002 was a mistake. The AP pair also falsely asserted that weapons of mass destruction "were never found" in Iraq.
Following the insulting trend of tagging every objection or concern raised about Obama administration policy and conduct as exclusively the province of Republicans and conservatives to an outrageous extreme, Rebecca Kaplan at CBS News opened her Monday story about whether the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) might plan terrorist acts in the U.S. as follows: "Republicans are sounding the warning that the next 9/11-like terror plot could emerge from the regions of Iraq and Syria that are currently dominated by an extremist group bearing down on Baghdad." Really, Rebecca? No one else is worried about that? Wanna bet?
Kaplan also seemed to believe that it would calm readers' nerves if they learned that it will be "at least a year before ISIS might pose more of a serious threat to the U.S." If that was meant to make me feel better, it didn't work. Excerpts follow the jump (links are in original; bolds are mine):
The people at NBC who are agonizing over David Gregory's ongoing audience freefall at his Meet the Press perch need only look at the first half of his interview with 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to see why it's happening.
Gregory basically refused to acknowledge the existence of Romney's core argument, which is essentially that he wouldn't have done what President Obama did in withdrawing from Iraq so hastily and leaving things to run on auto-pilot. Instead, he insisted on sticking with a "Well, what would do now?" line of questioning, even though, as Romney indicated, he doesn't have access to intelligence briefings necessary to assert an informed opinion. When that didn't work, he tried to hold Romney to a stale 2007 quote from when conditions were obviously very different. The fact is that wouldn't be facing the present quandary if Obama hadn't acted directly against the (often privately expressed) desires of Iraqi leaders and U.S. intelligence officials to maintain at least a significant advisory presence there. Video and a transcript of the Iraq-related portion of the interview follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Paul Whitefield "is a 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles Times who is copy chief of the editorial pages and a writer/scold for the Opinion L.A. blog." He also has a serious but far from unique case of Bush (and Cheney) Derangement Syndrome and an extraordinary ignorance of the history of last decade's war in Iraq, which included a victory in 2008 the U.S. press, with rare exceptions, refused to recognize.
Clueless Paul, in a Thursday post, claimed that what has happened recently in Iraq proves (italics are his) that "the invasion ... in 2003 wasn’t a very good idea" Admitting that "I don’t know how these things keep sneaking up on us" (I can help you with that, Paul), he petulantly wrote: "Send Mr. (George W.) Bush and Mr. (Dick) Cheney over there and let them try to negotiate a solution," because "they’re the ones who created this mess in the first place." Well no, Paul. Excerpts from Whitefield's work, followed by a pointed riposte from a National Review op-ed, follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
You've got to hand it to Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press. His Thursday writeup on May's disappointing retail sales result — a 0.3 percent increase compared to expectations of 0.4 percent to 0.6 percent — was infused with optimism. It's "unlikely to derail overall economic growth." There's been a "revival in consumer spending." We'll see "boosting incomes and supporting stronger consumer spending" as a result of more hiring."
But along the way, Crutsinger quietly downgraded his estimate of second-quarter and full-year economic growth. Just a few weeks ago, AP reports were predicting that the second quarter might come in at an annualized 4 percent, and that 2014 on the whole would surely come in at 3 percent or greater, even after the first quarter's annualized 1.0 percent contraction. Let's see how Crutsinger stealthily reported a far lower estimate after the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
On Tuesday, the Associated Press carried a regional story about the status of North Dakota's planting season. Readers will be pleased to know that 93 percent, 78 percent, and 92 percent of the state's wheat, potato and corn crops have been planted.
Of course, farm news is important in the Roughrider State. But so is the latest information on its stratospheric economic growth, as well as looking at last year's growth in the nation's other 49 states and DC as reported by the government's Bureau of Economic Analysis yesterday. But I could not locate a national AP story on state-by-state gross domestic product growth, and there have been almost no national-scope stories anywhere else. Perhaps that's because the country's top performers are predominantly deep-red states, while its significant laggards, at least based on who they supported for president in 2008 and 2012, are mostly blue.
First the good news: Ashley Fantz, Lindsey Knight and Kevin Wang at CNN did a very good job this morning in an online writeup debunking Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun group's claim "that there have been 74 school shootings in the past 18 months."
The bad news is that the web page still contains the CNN video which aired the Bloomberg claim without challenging it, thereby continuing to give it credibility.
The AP, like most establishment press outlets, has virtually if not completely ignored an inconvenient and alarming Obamacare-related statement in a footnote found in a recent Congressional Budget Office report. Paul M. Krawzak at Roll Call, who reported on it last week, seems to have been the first one to discover it. In Krawzak's words, the CBO "said it is no longer possible to assess the overall fiscal impact of the law." This didn't stop Crutsinger from relaying a claim about projected Obamacare cost savings which the CBO's surrender has rendered irrelevant. There's a good chance that he ignorantly did so because his colleagues haven't covered CBO's white-flag statement (if they have and he went ahead anyway, that's an even bigger problem).
It took less than two hours for leftist media types to imply that voters in VA-07 who ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in last night's Republican congressional primary did so partly because of Cantor's Jewish faith. It took less than 12 hours for Politico refugee Reid Epstein, now inexplicably at the Wall Street Journal, to go after Brat with a misleading headline — "David Brat’s Writings: Hitler’s Rise 'Could All Happen Again'" — which was repeated in the opening sentence. Without presenting any evidence, Epstein also claimed that Brat predicted a "second Holocaust."
Uh, Reid: Adolf Hitler died 69 years ago. David Brat, based on what you presented, was talking about the rise of tyrannies like Hitler's (who was predominantly a leftist; what about "nation socialism" doesn't anyone understand?) — or Stalin's, or Mao's, or Ho Chi Minh's, or any number of relatively petty Eastern European tyrants propped up by Moscow during the Cold War. But an apparent desperate need to get a Hitler reference into a headline about a Republican insurgent ruled the day.
Desperate to tie David Brat's shocking defeat tonight of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia's Republican Congressional Primary to something other than voter resistance to illegal-immigrant amnesty, some on the left are already implying that Cantor's Jewish faith had something to do with the result. The fact that the seven-term Congressman has, as far as I can tell, never gotten grief of any kind from either party about his religious affiliation seems not to matter.
After the jump, readers will find a couple of religion-tainted tweets from bona fide members of the liberal media elite, followed by interesting items I found indicating that the left-leaning Jewish community's aggressive push for "immigration reform" in a district whose voters clearly oppose it may have helped do him in.
At the Associated Press yesterday, Christopher Rugaber's writeup on the latest economic growth projections of the National Association of Business Economists (NABE) contained several glaring weaknesses.
Take the headline (quite possibly not his doing) and his opening sentence. The headline, "SURVEY: GROWTH TO PICK UP, HIRING STEADY," seems designed to ensure that those who only look at headlines in print or on their online devices will remain blissfully ignorant about the economy's first-quarter contraction. The fact is that following a quarter of shrinkage, economic growth first has to "return" or "resume" before it can "pick up."
In a video segment (HT Twitchy) entitled "How Low Can You Go?" on MSNBC's "Last Word," which the network's web site corrected as this post was being drafted, substitute host Ari Melber, filling in for Lawrence O'Donnell, is seen bemoaning the resignation of a Democratic legislator in Virginia. An accompanying visual originally showed a map of North Carolina. Apparent the answer to the map's captioned question — "How Low Can You Go?" — is, "further south than Virginia actually is."
The far-left network and Democrats in general are apopleptic over the sudden resignation of Demcorat Phillip P. Puckett from the State Senate, giving the GOP a 20-19 majority in that body. As a result, the Washington Post reported on Monday that Puckett's resignation caused "Democratic negotiators ... (to agree) in a closed-door meeting Monday to pass a budget without expanding health coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians."
In a Monday National Journal column about how many Democrats are allegedly saying they have "quit" on Obama — claims I find quite hollow, given that no one asserting this has yet had the guts to go on the record — Ron Fournier quotes "a senior White House official" with a head-shaking take on the Veterans Administration scandal.
Specifically, "Questioning why the Veterans Affairs Department hadn't been overhauled months ago as promised by Obama(actually that was seven years ago, plus six other times, Ron — Ed.), a senior White House official conceded privately to me, 'We don't do the small stuff well. And the small stuff is the important stuff.'" If the VA is "small," what in the world is big? And for that matter, what have these people done well, big or small? I suspect that the rest of the press, and Fournier himself, would be absolutely livid if they became aware of such an ignorant statement made by someone in a Republican or conservative administration.
Both Time and the Wall Street Journal have reported that Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier released by his Afghan captors in exchange for five hardened Gitmo terrorists — or, in the alternative universe of the Los Angeles Times, five guys aged 43 to 47 who "are pretty old now" — will not contact his parents (WSJ's headline says he "has declined to speak to his family").
That news broke several hours after Fox News's Juan Williams appeared on Chris Wallace's Fox News Sunday and compared Bowe Bergdahl to the biblical prodigal son. The analogy didn't even work at that point, as RedState poster Aaron Gardner explained this morning. Video of Williams's wacky whine follows the jump:
On Thursday, the editorial board at the New York Times, reacting to the growing firestorm over the release of five hardened terrorists from Gitmo in return for the Army's Bowe Bergdahl, went after Bergdahl's "army unit’s lack of security and discipline." It then incredibly claimed that a classified army report described in a separate Times dispatch that day suggested that those alleged conditions were "as much to blame for the disappearance" of Bergdahl as ... well, the sloppy editorial didn't specifically say.
On Sunday, two Times reporters continued the offensive against Bowe Bergdahl's platoon and its members, apparently wanting readers to believe that the unit's occasionally "raggedy" attire and alleged poor leadership somehow explain Bergdahl's "disappearance."
The seething anger at seeing the Obama administration being raked over the coals by critics of the Bowe Bergdahl exchange of five hardened terrorists for a soldier who left his post, including many Democrats and most prominently his fellow unit members, was apparently too much for the editorial board at the New York Times. On Thursday, they let loose with a poorly sourced and hastily drafted editorial originally entitled "The Politics of the Bergdahl Case." Tim Graham at NewsBusters alluded to this editorial on Friday in covering fake conservative David Brooks's completely predictable defense of President Obama's decision.
Several revisions later — five in all, tracked by an impressive site called NewsDiffs.org — there is a more pointed title ("The Rush to Demonize Sgt. Bergdahl"). The Times has also had to make two corrections, including an important qualification to a statement made by Arizona Senator John McCain which negated the Times's attempt to go after him (of course, the Times pretended that it didn't). The editorial went on to outrageously impugn the motives, integrity and basic decency of Bergdahl's comrades in Afghanistan and sympathizers who have had the unmitigated gall to help them tell their story to the press.
Los Angeles Times reporter Shashank Bengali clearly put a great deal of energy and time into trying to persuade readers on Thursday that the five Gitmo terrorists released in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl "may not live up to (that) description."
It only took a day for Bengali's work to be discredited. The person he seemed to believe would be among the least likely to become a threat — after all, he was supposedly just a "civilian official" — "pledged to return to fight Americans in Afghanistan." Geez, couldn't Noorullah Noori at least have allowed a decent interval before telling the truth? Don't you just hate it when one of the guys you're trying to whitewash almost immediately turns around and makes you look like a complete fool?
UPDATE, 4:40 p.m.: Friedman has partially scrubbed his Twitter bio. His Tumblr bio linked in this post remains — for now.
Late last night, Brandon Friedman, the Obama administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, unleashed a furious five-tweet barrage attacking those who dare to question whether Bowe Bergdahl served "with honor and distinction" (National Security Advisor Susan Rice's words on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday).
Friedman's tweets would already be headline news in the establishment press if an official in a Republican or conservative administration published what readers are about to see. He saved his strongest venom, couched in a question, for Bergdahl's fellow soldiers — apparently including the ones who died trying to retrieve him — after Bergdahl left his unit (HT Gateway Pundit via Hot Air):
In the midst of the VA scandal and the Bergdahl saga, two unfavorable Wednesday stories about Obamacare are garnering relatively little attention.
One appeared at the Associated Press ("NOW APPLICATION 'INCONSISTENCIES' VEX HEALTH LAW"), and reprised something the Washington Post brought out 2-1/2 weeks ago (covered here at NewsBusters) about how "at least 2 million" Obamacare enrollment applications have "data discrepancies" holding up their full processing. The other far more troubling story appeared at Roll Call. It dealt with a separate mountain of unprocessed paperwork in Medicaid. In her reporting, the DC publication's Rebecca Adams revealed how twisted and potentially dangerous the Obamacare-related political motivations are on the left, where pretending that everything is fine is clearly more important than acknowledging and quickly fixing serious – perhaps even deadly serious — problems (bolds are mine):
Politico Magazine Deputy Editor Blake Hounshell has made a fool of himself yet again. Three months ago, Hounshell grudgingly and bitterly had to acknowledge that former Alaska Governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was right — and he was wrong — when she predicted in 2008 that Barack Obama's weakness might cause Russia's Vladimir Putin to calculate that he could invade Ukraine without suffering meaningful consequences. That's what happened in Crimea. Hounshell characterized Palin's contention at the time as "an extremely far-fetched scenario."
In late April, he tried to claim that no one "credible" or "authoritative" had shown that the White House had knowingly pushed a false Benghazi narrative — just as award-winning reporter Sharyl Attkisson was proving otherwise. Then in a tweet Monday evening, he petulantly questioned why everyone's so concerned about the five hardened Taliban terrorists freed from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl (HT Twitchy):
Far too many journalists in the Washington-Gotham axis believe that any criticism of President Barack Obama must have its roots in cynical right-wing political opportunism and nothing else. At Bloomberg News, in a dispatch time-stamped June 4 at midnight, reporters David Lerman and Kathleen Hunter regaled readers with how the "Taliban Release Gives Republicans Fuel Beyond Benghazi." Some Democrats' concerns about Obama's actions in the freeing of Bowe Bergdahl were already known, including substantive issues of national security. But the Bloomberg pair limited the scope of Obama's problem with Dems to notification, while contending that "the demands for more information have come mostly from Republicans, some of whom already have declared their opposition to a deal whose details have yet to be fully disclosed."
The left-leaning New York Daily News also didn't get the memo that any criticism of Obama can only come from the right.
For evidence that no one looking for objective reporting should seriously consider reading output from the Politico, look no further than the 5,900-word puff piece propagated by Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein on Sunday.
Their "Special Report: The Obama Paradox" told readers what that President Obama supposedly "recognizes that he is less in control of the Washington agenda than ever in his presidency — a reality that has left him deeply frustrated at times." Meanwhile, the EPA is going wild with carbon regs in the name of the "climate change" hoax, federal regulators are harassing banks and their customers who operating legal businesses in Operation Choke Point, and immigration policy has been unilaterally hijacked. And in a final irony, as the Politico pair were putting their handiwork to bed, Obama was conducting a prisoner swap — one soldier whose loyalties are questionable for five hardened terrorists — while violating a law requiring him to notify Congress of what he was going. "Less in control" my foot. Instead, we are seeing ever-expanding usurpation of authority by Obama and his executive branch.
Establishment press outfits have an annoying and in my view fundamentally deceptive tendency to make the content of news reports disappear once they have been "updated" with new information. The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is one of this technique's most egregious practitioners.
There's really no good reason for this practice. Storage is cheap. But far more important, so is leaving tracks for the sake of the historical record. In the past 48 hours, AP has virtually deep-sixed a particularly damning incident involving Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as he crowed in front of U.S. troops about Bowe Bergdahl's release.
A month ago, I noted that the establishment press has ignored an especially pernicious program undertaken by Eric Holder's Department of Justice and the Obama administration's regulatory apparatus, namely Operation Choke Point.
On Thursday, a strong 321-87 bipartisan majority of the House passed H.R. 4660, the "Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (of) 2015." Among its provisions: "Sec. 554. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to carry out Operation Choke Point." The final bill's supporters included 204 Republicans and 117 Democrats. The establishment press has ignored the vote. Excerpts from Kelly Riddell's Friday coverage at the Washington Times follows the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
In what should be considered embarrassing timing, LA Weekly Magazine is running a June 1 cover cartoon showing establishment and anti-establishment Republicans playing tug-of-war with an elephant in the middle. Among those pulling on the anti-establishment side is a hooded Klansman who serves as the primary puller (reproduced after the jump for fair use and discussion purposes; HT Joel B. Pollak at Breitbart via Godfather Politics):
An item which appears to be overlooked in the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal is the press's and presumably the public's blind acceptance of the department's goal to reduce its average wait times to 14 days as supposedly "aggressive."
My reaction is that the goal doesn't seem "aggressive" at all, or even borderline acceptable, based on both personal experience and some admittedly limited research I've done on best practices. It seems to me that the average consumer, and for that matter the average journalist, would have a hard time accepting the idea of an average 14-day wait time for a personal appointment involving real urgency. So why should the expectations of or for those who served our country be any lower?
After investing so much emotional energy in the idea that the weather-impaired contracting U.S. economy of the first quarter is going to give way to a super-duper awesome second quarter and strong rest of the year, it was foolish to think that Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, would backtrack after just one contradictory report on consumer spending, which "unexpectedly" fell 0.1 percent in April, confounding expectations of a 0.2 percent pickup.
And of course he didn't. What's remarkable is that Crutsinger's Friday report seemed to get even more aggressive with his second-quarter prediction, citing "some analysts" who believe that it will come in at an annualized 4 percent — quite the reversal from the first quarter's 1.0 percent annualized contraction. Meanwhile, the AP reporter missed a less buoyant report from his colleague Christopher Rugaber which punctured a bit of Crutsinger's premise. Excerpts from both items follow the jump.