At several points in 2010 (just one example: at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog; graphic), I pointed out that despite the federal government's continued insistence that its budget deficit for fiscal 2010 was on track to come in lower than fiscal 2009, the deficit based on real spending would be, and turned out to be, higher in fiscal 2010. That's important to know, as clever year-crossing accounting entries can't change the fact that Uncle Sam's financial situation continues to worsen at an accelerating rate. Don't expect the establishment press to acknowledge this; the illusion of improvement is important to getting their propped-up president another four years.
Similarly, it may be futile to expect that establishment media outlets, especially the Associated Press, will ever report that 2010 was the worst yearby far in new home construction since World War II. That this is indeed the case was shown last month (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). This post will use December 2010 data, most of which is now in, to add an exclamation point.
Yesterday, the AP's Winston Smith-like headline writers tried to pass off 2010 as bad, but not as bad as 2009. As is the case with the government's annual budget deficit, the AP's persistent prevarication in the face of drop-dead obvious facts is an attempt to make readers, listeners and viewers believe that as bad as things are, they're at least improving (with implication, of course, that our poor, put-upon president is making progress cleaning up what was supposedly George Bush's mess). Things are not getting better, and Martin Crutsinger's narrative in the related article stops just short of saying so.
The folks in the establishment press are looking for any sign of upward movement in the housing market, especially in new home construction, that they can portray positively as the beginning of a general recovery.
That desperate search explains the content of the following e-mail alert from CNN which arrived in my inbox this morning:
Especially on Martin Luther King Day, it seems worth asking whether or not the assassinated civil rights leaders would have cared more about:
Whether a talk radio host told his audience, in reference to the No Child Left Behind Act causing many school districts, including the Toledo Public Schools (TPS), to believe they must "teach to the test" to avoid serious sanctions: "teaching little monkeys to peel bananas and so on and then doing it correctly on cue, does not mean that they’ve learned everything except a funny parlor trick."
The fact that TPS is rated dead-last in its metro area, and failed to meet state test-result requirements in 21 of 24 testing categories in the 2009-2010 academic year. The worst examples: In the eighth grade, only 39.0% and 34.3% of TPS students tested as proficient in math and science, respectively. According to Toledo-area blogger and sometime WSPD host Maggie Thurber, the District is also "facing a $38 million deficit and ... 58% of voters said no to their last levy request."
I think it's safe to say that King would have preferred that attention stay focused on dealing with Toledo's schools, and for that matter Ohio's schools in general, as according to the just referenced Ohio Department of Education (ODE) report card, TPS actually outperformed (actually, "less underperformed") "similar districts" in the Buckeye State in 15 of those 24 categories.
But that must not be how the Toledo Blade sees it. The far left Blade, which in distant-past editorials regaled readers with its indispensable importance as a Glass City civic institution and has been in a figurative war with local talk station WSPD for years, clearly thought it saw an opening when host Brian Wilson said the following on January 7:
Yesterday (covered here at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in his report on the arrest of Eric Fuller at an ABC "This Week" taping in Tucson, Arizona, the Associated Press's Bob Christie either failed to perform a basic web search that would have revealed Fuller's Friday "Democracy Now!" rant, or failed to report what he found.
This evening's AP report from Christie and Amanda Lee Myers at least recognizes Fuller's appearance on the far-left program. But that acknowledgment appears at Paragraph 14 of a report that is primarily about Gabrielle Giffords's recovery (headlined "Rep. Gabrielle Giffords condition improves"), instead of in a different AP dispatch this evening ("With shock subsiding, pain sets in for AZ victims") where addressing Fuller's outburst would have made more sense (what would have made the most sense is a separate report on Fuller alone).
The submission by Christie and Myers also fails to go into much of the substance of Fuller's "Democracy Now!" appearance. Readers get the impression that Fuller was fulminating against conservatives in general, when in fact he called out several by name -- including, bizarrely, new House Majority Leader John Boehner.
Here's the opening paragraph of the Associated Press's 8:16 p.m. ET report on the arrest of Eric Fuller:
One of the Arizona shooting victims was arrested Saturday and then taken for a psychiatric evaluation after authorities said he took a picture of a tea party leader at televised town hall meeting and yelled: "you're dead."
The rest of Bob Christie's dispatch reflects either a failure by "The Essential Global News Network" to do a simple Google search on the guy, or, if such a search was attempted, a failure to report what was found.
Noel Sheppard posted the news about J. Eric Fuller's arrest at NewsBusters earlier this evening:
According to the website of ABC-TV affiliate KGUN, J. Eric Fuller was arrested and charged with threats, intimidation, and disorderly conduct.
Demonstrating impressive prescience, John Hayward at Human Events predicted on Friday that Fuller would attempt to capitalize on his being among the injured in last Saturday's Tucson murders. After the jump, you'll get a sampling of Fuller's full feelings from Hayward:
On Wednesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in commenting on USA Today's poor decision to quote a paragraph from a New York Times op-ed by former Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) -- a bad decision because Kanjorski's call for "civility" directly contrasts with his call for someone to shoot Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott just a few months ago -- I wrote that USAT Founder Al Neuharth's "'civility' credentials are also suspect."
Two days later, Neuharth, who claims to be "independent," more than justified those suspicions. In a "Plain Talk" item in Friday's paper ("Who shares blame in Tucson tragedy?"), Neuharth blamed a wide range of people for Jared Loughner's actions. "Somehow," he forgot to blame Jared Laughner. It's not a stretch to assert that many readers would be justified in believing that Neuharth may not even want to see Loughner convicted of a crime.
Neuharth took shots at talkers on the right and left. USAT published an absolutely laughable counter-response from MSNBC President Phil Griffin. The other response (from the right? Are you kidding?) was from a psychiatry prof.
Here is Neuharth's piece and its responses (published in their entirety because of their relative brevity; bolds are mine):
It's not too difficult to determine where the sympathy of the Associated Press's Christopher Wills resides in the aftermath of the Democrat-controlled legislature's passage in Illinois of steep, "temporary" four-year income and corporate tax increases.
Wills cited neighboring states as "gleefully plot(ting)" to take business away from Illinois, claimed that the Illinois move "resolve(d)" its budget crisis (that remains to be seen), and asserted that "economic experts scoffed" at the idea that significant out-of-state business migration might occur. Oh, and he found one business threatening to leave not Illinois, but Wisconsin, because the Badger State's governor wouldn't accept deficit-generating light-rail money from Uncle Sam.
Here are the relevant paragraphs from Wills's report ("Neighboring states gleeful over Ill. tax increase"; bolds are mine):
The folks at USA Today really ought to vet their candidates for the "Et Cetera -- Smart insights on the news of the day" section of the print edition of its editorial page a bit more thoroughly.
Wednesday morning's opener in that section (apparently not available online) featured two paragraphs from a New York Times op-ed by former Pennsylvania Congressman Paul Kanjorski, including this final sentence:
Therefore, it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.
As I noted yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog; original HT Mark Hemingway at the Washington Examiner), Kanjorski's entitlement to lecture on civility is more than a little suspect, given what he said about Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott and the health insurance industry last year:
Man, it is getting really deep around here -- and no, I'm not talking about the snow, though there is no shortage of it here in Southwestern Ohio.
What's really deep is the claim by current Government/General Motors Chairman and CEO Daniel Akerson that because of the company's government-engineered, unsecured bondholder-shortchanging trip through bankruptcy, "we lost roughly a year in terms of development."
The Associated Press's Tom Krisher apparently doesn't mind traipsing around in thigh-high boots while he's covering the Detroit Auto Show, as he displayed no skepticism whatsoever at the utter ridiculousness of Akerson's assertion, drily observing near the end of his report that "New products from GM were noticeably absent from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year."
We all lose an element of freedom when security considerations distance public officials from the people. Therefore, it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.
Here's Kanjorski, when he was still a Congressman, discussing Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott last year (HT Mark Hemingway at the Washington Examiner):
"Never let the facts get in the way of a good story" must be the motto at Reuters, or at least of the wire service's Richard Cowan, three other contributors, and Editor Jackie Frank.
Cowan's late Sunday afternoon dispatch (HT to an e-mailer) is caricature-driven collection of cliches, half-truth, outright myths, and totally predictable oversights. There's the racial slurs before the heath care vote fabrication. There's an attempt to declare Sarah Palin unfit for the presidency.
And of course, there's the deliberately avoided recall of rhetoric from President Obama (here and here, for warm-ups) that could certainly be interpreted by unstable people as a call to violence, as well as total omission of the left's anger just days ago over Gabrielle Giffords's refusal to back Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader and the leftist inclinations of deeply troubled accused murderer Jared Lee Loughner.
But that stuff's not important when there are disliked right-wingers to pile onto while the piling-on opportunity is there:
Okay, who slipped truth serum into Evan Thomas's coffee?
On Friday, Newsweek's "Editor at Large" (according to his bio here) appeared on "Inside Washington" (link to entire show is here; transcript not yet available). After being cued up with a softball from host Gordon Peterson about how supposedly great Friday's news about the drop in the national unemployment rate was (uh, not exactly, Gordon), Thomas segued into a somewhat surprising comment about how ObamaCare's implementation is going as it meets the real world. In a word (Thomas's), it's a disaster (HT Daily Caller via Instapundit):
The irresponsible propagandists posing as journalists at the Associated Press are going to a frequently visited well tonight -- the one where any violence committed against a Democrat or liberal must somehow and in some way be due to a climate of hostility created solely by conservatives, Republicans, and more recently, Tea Party activists.
Never mind that the person who allegedly shot Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and murdered several others, Jared Loughner, is reportedly a marijuana-using loner who lists the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf as among his favorite books, or that the most recent items which could bee seen as potential incitements to violence against Giffords have come from the left, in response to her refusal to back Nancy Pelosi for Minority Leader in the House just days ago (roll call vote here).
AP reporters Calvin Woodward and Andrew Taylor answered the bell and came out swinging at the Republican House within hours after John Boehner was sworn in as Speaker, accusing the GOP of supposedly breaking a number of core promises.
As usual when the wire service covers Republicans, there's no shortage of inconsistency bordering on hypocrisy coming from AP's alleged journalists.
Here are selected paragraphs from this morning's report ("PROMISES, PROMISES: GOP drops some out of the gate"):
In his report on the escalating dispute between the State of Texas and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one thing you cannot accuse Ramit Plushnick-Masti of the Associated Press of being is a master of understatement. He claims that "Both sides and conservation groups agree the battle has put the health of Texas residents and the environment at risk."
Really? The only problem is that the AP reporter never found anyone who is currently on the Texas side of the dispute who is saying anything remotely resembling that.
Here are the opening paragraphs of Plushnick-Masti's prose, followed by a much later paragraph representing the closest the writer gets to naming someone on the Texas side to worry about the alleged "risk" (bold is mine):
From the New York Times on Thursday, in an item put together with the help of a half-dozen Times reporters ("Inaction and Delays by New York as Storm Bore Down"; bold is mine):
... Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, said the problems late Sunday (during the initial stages of the Northeast's post-Christmas snowstorm -- Ed.) underscored how the city could not rely on outside contractors to help with snow removal and other jobs in such storms, particularly during a holiday weekend.
“You can never count on the privates, because they don’t have to show up,” he said. “What obligation do they have? The mayor can’t order them out. The commissioner can’t order them out.”
That's quite an interesting assertion, given the following item carried in the New York Post today:
A brief January 1 item from the Associated Press's Barry Massey on the inauguration of Susana Martinez ("Martinez becomes NM gov as new year starts") began as follows:
Republican Susana Martinez has claimed her place in history as New Mexico's first female governor, taking office with the start of the new year.
If it weren't for the "place in history" part, I might have blown right by it without hesitation. But speaking of a "place in history," especially at a wire service that sometimes seems overly obsessed with race and racial milestones, it's more than a little odd that the AP dispatch failed to note what the AP's Jesse Washington reported on Election Night in November:
Minorities ride GOP wave to groundbreaking wins The Republican wave produced groundbreaking results for minority candidates, from Latina and Indian-American governors to a pair of black congressmen from the Deep South.
The dictionary says that a rumor is:
- a story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts.
- gossip; hearsay
The dictionaries in use at the offices of the New York Times must include the following backup definition: "Any set of facts and/or allegations reported by the New York Post."
After yesterday's blockbuster report ("Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest") Reporters at the Post piled on today, so to speak, with additional news relating to the snow removal slowdown in which New York City's unionized sanitation workers allegedly engaged:
Sanitation workers targeted specific neighborhoods
Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest
Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.
Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.
In response to this outrage, the New York Times has swung into frantic action -- by scolding Gotham residents for expecting perfection, portraying the mayor as getting a handle on things, and criticizing private snow removal contractors who didn't drop everything when a late-to-the-problem city called them for help. Meanwhile the Times will only acknowledge that the city will "look into" the slowdown allegations.
Not that it's a big surprise, but it seems that the answer to "How do we spin Christmas shopping season?" at the New York Times depends on which party occupies the Oval Office in Washington.
Monday, The Times's Stephanie Clifford, with the help of two other reporters, blew the holiday sales horn. Here are the first few paragraphs of her report, entitled "Retail Sales Rebound, Beating Forecasts," with a browser window title of "Holiday Sales Return to Prerecession Level":
Americans are splurging as though it’s 2007 again.
When the legislators and good-government people who drafted the law requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit and render an opinion on the financial statements of the federal government as a whole and the major departments within it, they must have known that early-year results would not be very pleasant. But I also suspect that they thought the shame of being exposed as having unauditable records would be lead to constructive action and improvement.
Maybe on the margins, but not on the whole, as this GAO press release addressing its report on Uncle Sam's financial statements last week tells us:
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) cannot render an opinion on the 2010 consolidated financial statements of the federal government, because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations.
To those who have spent time following new reports emanating from the Associated Press, it's not exactly a secret that many of the alleged journalists who work there are having difficulty with the idea that there will be a new Republican majority in the House during the next two years. A further annoyance is that many members of that majority, especially the newer ones, hold sensible, Constitution-based views inspired by Tea Party movement. But as supposed professionals, you would think that the folks at the wire service might try a little harder to avoid blatantly revealing their bias.
If the AP's Julie Pace was really trying to stay within the bounds of the patently obvious, she failed miserably, as the bolded words in the following paragraph from her 2:31 p.m. report (also saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes) on President Obama's decision to delay submitting a budget to Congress until mid-February indicate:
(first listing) "not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring: a bold hero."
(third listing) "necessitating courage and daring; challenging: a bold adventure."
One thus has to take the following sentence, the first in James's report, as a virtually explicit expression of admiration for the latest authoritarian moves by the country's "El Presidente," Hugo Chávez:
In its reports about the U.S. homebuilding industry and new home sales, the Associated Press has gotten lazy and/or deliberately deceptive. In doing so, it is giving readers, listeners and viewers at its subscribing outlets a completely incorrect impression that the industry and market are getting off the mat after recently being in their worst shape, in their words, "in 47 years." After identifying offending examples, I will demonstrate that industry activity and sales during 2010 have been almost undoubtedly at their lowest levels since World War II.
The following items, all from Thursday, demonstrate AP's concerted attempt to limit the damage to "47 years" ago.
2010 will be by far the worst ever in the 48 years records of new home sales have been kept, and there is little if any reason to believe things will get better soon. The news on existing home sales has hardly been better, given the price reductions sellers have had to make to move their homes. Graphics will follow shortly indicating just how bad the market for new and existing homes has been this year.
These on-the-ground realities explains why one's jaw has to almost hit the ground when reading the headline and first few paragraphs of Julie Schmit's December 23 front-pager in USA Today's Money section:
Optimism for home sales adds up Demand for existing houses continues to rise
In the video at the ABC link, George Stephanopoulos's intro at Good Morning America describes Holder as "a pretty circumspect man," but that on the subject of domestic terror threats, "he doesn't seem to be pulling any punches."
Really? If that's the case, Holder must have said a lot of things which got left on ABC's cutting-room floor. That's because in the entire three-page story at ABC (it's easiest to prove the following by looking at the print version, which can only be obtained at the link), the following words never appear:
A funny thing happened on the way to finding yet another year of media emphasis on the use of "holiday" vs. "Christmas" in describing the shopping season.
Google News searches conducted this morning at about 7:30 ET on "Christmas shopping season" and "holiday shopping season" came back with the highest percentage of "Christmas" results I've seen in the six years I've been doing these searches. Not that the result is yet impressive, but at least it's an improvement:
In a Reuters story ("Venezuela assembly gives Chavez decree powers"), reporters Daniel Wallis and Frank Jack Daniel took note of outraged "opponents who accuse him of turning South America's biggest oil producer into a dictatorship," relieving them of the responsibility for stating the obvious themselves.
Romero's item at the Times is particularly galling in its borderline admiration for the tactics employed by the man who is now Venzuela's virtual dictator (bold is mine):