The presidential commission tasked with investigating the BP oil spill is so short on technical expertise and packed with left-leaning politicians and knee-jerk environmentalists that even the Associated Press's resident ClimateGate apologist Seth Borenstein is concerned.
On December 12, 2009, over two weeks after the ClimateGate e-mails first appeared, Borenstein wrote that "the exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions." What part of Kevin Trenberth's famous October 12, 2009 assertion that "The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t" did Seth not understand?
Nonetheless, non-skeptical Seth is somewhat taken aback at the lack of expertise in the spill commission's membership:
Obama spill panel big on policy, not engineering
The panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is short on technical expertise but long on talking publicly about "America's addiction to oil." One member has blogged about it regularly.
When it comes to the performance of the U.S.-headquartered Detroit automakers once known as the Big Three, the real news in the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Initial Quality Study (IQS) is not what the Associated Press's Stephen Manning wrote in his Thursday coverage ("US cars top foreign brands on quality survey") of Power's pronouncement. While barely true and in a sense historic, it's not even in the neighborhood of being the big story.
Because of its timing, Power's IQS is as good a report card as any out there on the job President Barack Obama's car czars and his apparatchik management appointees have done during the past year in improving the quality of the vehicles produced at government-controlled General Motors and Chrysler.
Previous work I did in connection with two other AP reports on perceived quality -- one in April (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), and one in mid-May (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) -- caused me to detect a distinct aroma of propaganda-driven misdirection in Manning's missive. A detailed look at J.D. Power's report reveals the full extent of Stephen's stench.
Succinctly stating AP's inversion of reality with a strange assist from a Power spokeperson, Manning treated us to the following paragraphs:
There several annoying aspects of today's Associated Press report on the plight of newly-hired employees at U.S. auto plants represented by the United Auto Workers.
Mentioned by writers Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher, but not until their eleventh paragraph, is the fact that new workers, whose starting wage (mentioned in Paragraph 2) is "about half what veterans make under their current contract," have to "pay the same union dues as those who have been at the plant for years." But the AP pair didn't tell readers how much those dues payments are, and how harshly they affect entry-level workers. The web site ProCon.org estimates that it's in the neighborhood of $700 at Ford and Chrysler, and as much as $950 at Government/General Motors. When you're making $14 an hour, that's not chump change; it's about 34-46 cents per hour, or about 2.5% - 3.3% of base pay. A union official (not directly quoted) deadpans that "he understands their resentment." Sure.
As bad as that easily rectifiable AP oversight is, it's not the worst reporting error Durbin and Krisher committed. The following excerpted sentence is, in several ways:
It seems that when they saw today's today's disappointing unemployment claims report from Uncle Sam, the Associated Press's Alan Zibel, perhaps with the help of contributors Jeannine Aversa, Martin Crutsinger, and Tali Arbel, decided to start playing the expectations game with June's Employment Situation Report, which isn't due to arrive from the Bureau of Labor Statistics until July 2.
If so, from a propagandist's perspective, it's a pretty slick strategy, given that the BLS's report will probably be the last significant piece of economic news before the July 4 weekend, making it a larger than usual topic of conversation among the American people in the days that follow.
Private sector job growth shrank to a seasonally adjusted 20,000 in May. Maybe if the AP and others make us think that June will go negative and the actual result comes in barely positive, it won't seem so bad. The worse possibility is that they're aware of more information than the rest of us have, and that things really are heading south in this "Rebound? What Rebound?" recovery.
Here are key paragraphs of Zibel's report (link is probably dynamic and subject to revision; bolds are mine):
Gave reporter Jeff Zeleny about 330 words on Page A21 to recycle a Caucus Blog post softly covering the video-recorded arguable assault North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge committed against a questioner on a public street "last week," and which came to public light early Monday morning. The vague print edition headline (per the index): "Congressman Apologizes After Tussle."
Devoted almost 1,000 words on Page A15 to a story about a three year-old alleged shoving incident involving California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman that "no one else appears to have witnessed." Yet the headline gives the impression that the facts are not in dispute: "Settlement Was Paid in Whitman Shoving Incident."
It would appear, based on the graphic tease reproduced at the right and the underlying content, that the folks putting together videos at the Associated Press didn't get the memo that they should go as soft as possible on North Carolina Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge.
Etheridge arguably committed assault "last week" when approached on a public street. The description of what occurred and its aftermath at AP video is quite a bit stronger than what is found in AP Reporter Martha Waggoner's Monday evening text report, as you will see shortly.
Despite having over 400 words with which to work, Waggoner also failed to record a comment -- or even a "no comment" -- from anyone else in the Democratic Party, or to give any indication that she or anyone else at AP tried to contact House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, any other Democrat in a leadership position, or anyone in the Obama administration.
Here's what the video and accompanying description look like in the AP's Raw Video report, which re-runs the original video without the original producer's interspersed words:
Note that the incident took place "last week," according to the linked BigGovernment.com post, which means that Etheridge didn't see the need for an apology until the video went viral.
So ... who does the intrepid Associated Press attempt to go to for comment? The Congressman? Apparently not, as you will see; the AP must see his "apology" as the end of the story. The person whom Etheridge arguably assaulted? Legal experts, who could weigh in on whether the congressman could be arrested and and charged? House or Democratic Party colleagues? No-no-no.
Get a load, in the final paragraph of what will probably end up being a brief initial report, of who the AP believes owes it a comment first and foremost:
Real Clear Politics currently has a video highlighting statements by Democratic Congressman James Clyburn Jr. of South Carolina. It teases the video with a question asked by Candy Crowley of CNN.
Once one sees the entire sequence, it's clear that Clyburn really answered Crowley's question before she even asked it.
Here's the full transcript of the vid, which begins after Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence had apparently made some points about how steps taken by the Obama administration to revive the economy to the point where it generates meaningful job growth aren't working. Clyburn's answer to when his party will stop blaming Bush is in bold:
Clyburn: Uh, Congressman Spence, uh, Pence keeps talkin' about, uh, the fact that, uh, we are, uh, failing in our approach. We all know exactly what this president inherited, and we will stop talkin' about that inheritance, uh, when uh Congressman uh Pence and others stop talkin' about takin' us back uh to those failed policies.
On Friday, Investors Business Daily (IBD) reported on leaked government documents identifying what employer-provided health plans can and cannot do if they wish to retain their "grandfathered" status under the statist health care legislation commonly known as ObamaCare that became law on March 23. One of the items in the government document (83-page PDF) is the following table, which estimates the percentages of large and small employers who will choose to (or be financially forced to) "relinquish" (i.e., give up) their grandfathered status:
In ironic timing, Walecia Konrad at the New York Times, in a personal finance column that appeared in the paper's Saturday print edition and which was probably written shortly before IBD's report, inadvertently revealed that ObamaCare itself may be a reason why employer "relinquishments" over the next three years come in well above the mid-range estimates in the table:
In mid-July of last year, the good folks on the editorial board at Investors Business Daily made the following observations about the version of ObamaCare then under consideration by the House:
... Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.
... the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
So ... Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.
The leaked Treasury draft documents (83-page PDF) referred to in an earlier post this morning about employer coverage (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) go beyond vindicating IBD by applying the same prohibitions to group coverage, as the following language found at Page 14 of the document shows:
Earlier this year, in his "Can we lose health coverage? Yes we can" column, syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock made a point asserted in dozens if not hundreds of columns and reports during the hide-and-seek legistlative process that ultimately led to the passage of what is commonly known as ObamaCare: The President's core promise relating to the statist health care legislation that ultimately became law in March -- namely that "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what" -- could not and would not be kept.
In that column, Murdock quoted Cato Institute analyst Michael Cannon as follows:
"Obama's definition of 'meaningful' coverage could eliminate the health plans that now cover as many as half of the 159 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance, plus more than half of the roughly 18 million Americans in the individual market. ... This could compel close to 90 million Americans to switch to more comprehensive health plans with higher premiums, whether they value the added coverage or not."
In a late Friday afternoon blog post followed by a fuller early evening report, David Hogberg and Sean Higgins at Investors Business Daily confirmed that Obama's never-credible core promise is on the brink of being shattered, and that the employer-related calculations by Cato's Cannon were essentially correct (graphically illustrated by IBD at the top right):
The establishment press is either getting tired of being beaten up over using the U-word ("unexpectedly," or sometimes "unexpected") to the point of excess when economic news disappoints, or has itself wearied of using the word.
Retail sales plunged in May by the largest amount in eight months as consumers slashed spending on everything from cars to clothing. The big drop raises new worries about the durability of the economic recovery.
Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds employed sarcastic irony this morning when he wrote that "Obama’s hate speech is promoting violence against BP." Well, it's at least clear that the blame game out of Washington isn't helping the situation.
Reynolds is referring to a report from TV station WREG in Memphis about an incident involving property damage at a local BP station, and other instances that have occurred in other parts of the country (video is at the link):
Bullets Shatter Glass at BP Gas Station
(Southaven, MS) -- Windows at the BP Gas Station on Highway 51 at Custer Drive were shot out overnight. Folks who work at the store believe the suspects were expressing anger over BP and how it's handling the oil spill.
"I believe that would be the reason," said Alex Saleh. "We don't have any enemies." He said nothing was taken from the store after the windows were destroyed.
In an article published yesterday afternoon, CNBC news associate Joseph Pisani took note of something the rest of the media mostly hasn't, or at least hasn't highlighted: the terrible job market for teenagers. The headline and text indicate that this is the worst such market in 41 years. That's true, based on the stat Pisani presented. But barring a near miracle in the next three months, in terms of the stat that matters most, the unemployment rate, it's the worst ever.
Give the CNBC reporter props for doing something almost no other journalist has done, which is to use the not seasonally adjusted (NSA) employment numbers as his factual source. As I have discussed several times, including here, the reported NSA numbers represent the government's best estimate of what really happened in a given month, while the seasonally adjusted (SA) numbers published (and appropriately labeled) by the government and reported (but usually not labeled) by the press represent the result after smoothing out seasonal fluctuations.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, George Mason University economics professor Daniel Klein today notes that "self-identified liberals and Democrats do badly on questions of basic economics."
It therefore shouldn't be terribly surprising that so many journalists do a poor job of economic and business reporting, because, as the Media Research Center has frequently and consistently documented for over a quarter-century, a significant majority of journalists are, well, self-identified liberals and Democrats.
Sometimes what passes for business reporting in the establishment press isn't the result of conscious bias. Ignorance, as just cited, and a failure to look behind numbers, often because they fit a predetermined outlook, are also factors.
It isn't particularly surprising that the establishment press is for the most part attempting to give Helen Thomas's hateful remarks and her dubious apology a very light once-over -- if they're covering her outrageous statements (that citizens of the Jewish state of Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Germany, Poland, and elsewhere) at all.
That said, the Associated Press has engaged in a few eyebrow-raisers already. The following is the only search result I found at the Associated Press's main web site at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time:
That's a classic "Don't read this, it's boring" headline. It also confirms that the AP hasn't considered the Thomas situation newsworthy until very recently. Yes, as seen in the related video, the question from RabbiLive was about "Israel." But at the barest minimum, Thomas's remarks were "anti-Israel," and at bottom they were anti-Semitic. Any doubt about that characterization goes away when one observes Thomas's sickening sense of self-satisfaction after delivering her opening "get out" answer.
But it got more interesting when I clicked on the AP search result's link.
The Associated Press's Karl Ritter clearly doesn't recognize how close to parody his report ("Rightist group jolts Sweden's tolerant self-image") on the mini-rise of the right-leaning Sweden Democrats Party is (I'll use "SD" as an abbreviation in this post).
Ritter is not afraid to label the SD, but won't label others. He begins by telling us that the SD is "far-right" because it is "preaching sharp cuts in immigration and calling Islam the greatest threat to Swedish society" -- conveniently, I believe, omitting the term "radical" in describing Islam. Other parties, of course, are "mainstream."
The AP reporter describes Sweden as having "a self-image of being more tolerant."
Self-image notwithstanding, a reader who gets as far as the nineteenth paragraph of Ritter's report learns that "tolerance" is a decidedly one-way street (bolds are mine):
Yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute's Enterprise Blog, Steven Hayward had a great post about the history of electric cars, and the press's unrequited love affair with electric vehicles (picture at right is of the $108,000 2010 Zedomax). Yum.
But first I'll start with a bit of my own research. On May 7, 1994, Paul Feldman at the Los Angeles Times led with the following two paragraphs about a company that would begin producing electric vehicles:
Electric Cars Touted as Plant Opens
Environmentalists and businessmen used the dedication Friday of a Carson-area electric vehicle assembly plant to tout the fledgling industry the week before the California Air Resources Board votes on moving forward with its mandate for mass-produced electric cars beginning in 1998.
The opening of the U.S. Electricar plant, which can convert up to 60 cars a month, demonstrates that adequate technology is available for major manufacturers to build the mandated 20,000 to 25,000 emission-free cars yearly.
A visit to this web page at the "U.S. Electricar Store" informs us of U.S. Electricar's status (bolds are mine):
With all the major news stories and developments out there, the editorial board at the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman in Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin's hometown, is bemused, bewildered, and somewhat befuddled at the national media's interest in a privacy fence (HT Michelle Malkin) on residential property.
The just-built fence is on Palin's property. Its purpose is to frustrate the prying eyes of author Joe McGinnis, who has moved into a house next door for what is said to be the next five months.
The Palins are understandably none too pleased at the orchestrated attempt at privacy invasion that appears to either be funded by or will ultimately be reimbursed by publishing giant Random House. Readers here will share that feeling once they see who is expending precious newsroom resources trying to follow the McGinnis v. Palin saga instead of dealing with legitimate news stories.
Here is some of what the Frontiersman had to say on Saturday (bolds are mine):
The federal government saw its tax collections fall by almost 20% in fiscal 2009 compared to fiscal 2008. Through the first seven months of the current fiscal year, year-over-year collections were down by another 4.5%.
New York Senator Charles Schumer (pictured at right; obtained from wbng.com) is desperately searching for another way to fleece taxpayers (because cutting spending is of course out of the question), and has come up with a "brilliant" idea. An unbylined Associated Press story gives Schumer's idea, a foreign call center tax, undeserved cover by going back to seven year-old information about industry job losses that doesn't reflect current conditions.
Here are the first five paragraphs from the AP story, followed by a later paragraph containing the outdated information:
Schumer wants to slow exodus of US call centers
In an effort to slow the exodus of U.S. telephone work to overseas services, Sen. Charles Schumer is introducing legislation that would impose an excise tax on companies that transfer calls with American area codes to foreign call centers.
Parts of the U.S. establishment press have acknowledged "climate science" reality, six months late.
The fallout from ClimateGate (link is to the NewsBusters tag), the name eventually given to the scandal resulting from the unauthorized posting of over 1,000 emails and dozens of documents obtained from University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) in the UK, goes back a full six months to November of last year.
On November 20, Australia's Andrew Bolt crisply described the contents of the aforementioned items as providing substantial evidence of: "Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more."
Over the past two years, yours truly has noted how the economy in Oklahoma has with very little media attention outperformed most of the rest of the nation. The Sooner State's much lower unemployment rate, higher GDP growth, and higher personal income growth have "strangely" coincided with the passage of a strict illegal immigration law-enforcement measure in 2007.
Now there's another significant news item out of Oklahoma that the establishment press has also virtually ignored. In November, voters there are going to decide whether to opt out of the statist health care legislation passed by Congress in March, also known as ObamaCare, by passing a state constitutional amendment.
Oklahoma is not alone. Two larger states will also have state constitutional opt-outs on the November ballot.
Rush Limbaugh brought the Oklahoma news to his listeners' attention yesterday, and linked to this LifeSiteNews.com story. If that seems an odd choice, it's because press coverage in general has been either curt, dismissive, or non-existent.
Here are key paragraphs from Peter J. Smith's LifeSite report:
Doesn't everyone remember in 2005 when George W. Bush's Press Secretary Scott McClellan (bless his back-stabbing heart) called reporters into the West Wing of the White House and scolded them for asking too many questions about Hurricane Katrina? That followed a similar admonishment earlier in the year about the press's obsession with anything and everything to do with the Iraq War.
You don't remember those things? That's because they didn't happen. Oh sure, someone will be able to find examples of McClellan, as well as successors Tony Snow (RIP) and Dana Perino occasionally expressing irritation with reporters for their silly and/or repeat questions on these and other subjects. But summoning them to the West Wing for a beatdown? Hardly.
That's what Obama administration Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is said to have done last Friday with White House reporters. Here's the full text of audio that can be heard at Breitbart; a somewhat expanded text report, along with a the continually updated original graphic screen-grabbed and incorporated into the image at the top right, are at Capitol News Connection:
A protest noticed by the target's next-door neighbor who happened to be home at the time, namely journalist Nina Easton (who also took the photo at right), occurred in a Metro DC suburb in Maryland marked the next round of a national labor union's attempt at persuasion through intimidation.
IBD concisely describes what happens, and why it should cause so much concern:
Mob Rule From SEIU
On May 16, Washington, D.C., police escorted 14 busloads full of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members at least part of the way to storm the Chevy Chase, Md., home of Bank of America's deputy legal counsel, Greg Baer.
The order of just desserts that many of us hoped was on its way to Detroit serendipitously arrived today, in the form of a stiffer-than expected sentence of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for violating the terms of his probation -- so severe that, for perhaps the first time in his life, Kwame and his clan are, to borrow from Elvis, all shook up.
It's too bad that readers of Associated Press dispatches can't hand out sentences dictating that certain journalists be prevented from accessing a computer keyboard or other data entry device to publish anything for public consumption for as least as long (5 years) as Kilpatrick's maximum potential time in jail. If they had that power, the AP's Corey Williams would be guilty as charged for "waiting 8 paragraphs to identify the party affiliation of a major political figure involved in crime and/or corruption." If the sentence seems too harsh, recall that Williams is an at least one-time repeat offender, having co-authored an AP dispatch in April (noted by yours truly at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) that avoided mentioning Kilpatrick's Democratic Party pedigree at all.
Here are the first seven paragraphs of Williams's wimp-out (HT to an e-mailer, who also helpfully points out that Kilpatrick's mom, Carolyn Kilpatrick, is a Michigan congressperson, a relationship that has almost never been mentioned in any story about Kwame's calamities). Note the arrival -- finally -- of the aforementioned just desserts in the final excerpted paragraph:
When I saw the Associated Press's headline ("Disgraced former Ohio congressman dies at 79"), I started thinking about whom the wire service might be referring to.
Of course I knew he would be a Republican, because the establishment media never treats Democrats, even those who leave women who aren't their wives to drown in a submerged car, as "disgraced."
But even I never thought that the AP would reach back 20 years and attempt to give the national spotlight (raw feed proof as of 6:30 p.m. ET is here) to a former Ohio politician whom even most Ohioans -- even most Southwestern Ohioans -- don't remember. I clearly underestimated AP's cravenness. I guess "The Essential Global News Network" needed to find something to offset the hurt coursing through liberal circles today from seeing the GOP gain a seat, however temporarily, in Hawaii.
No "Name That Party" post would be complete without referring to how Democratic politicians in somewhat analogous situations were handled by AP upon their death. That's coming up.
But first, here is most of the wire service's story (for fair use and discussion purposes, of course) about the former congressman's death, complete with multiple party and political philosophy references, as well as guilt by association:
The report tells us that Oklahoma had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.6% last month. That's far lower than the 9.9% reported for the entire USA two weeks ago. No state with a larger population has a lower unemployment rate than the Sooner State (states with lower April unemployment rates were KS - 6.5%; NE at 5.0%; ND - 3.8%; SD - 4.7%; and VT - 6.4%).
As seen in the chart below, Oklahoma's unemployment rate has been significantly lower than the national rate for well over two years, and on average in 2009 was that way across all major ethnic groups (source data for 2006 to 2009 can be accessed here; scroll down to "Annual Average Statewide Data"):
President Barack Obama's statement just before he signed the Freedom of the Press Act on Monday painfully avoided reality to the point of giving offense. If it became widely known, it would likely become very problematic.
And obviously the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.
Two key administration-protecting original news disseminators picked up on the need to keep the bolded words out of their news coverage of the event. The Associated Press, which usually (i.e., almost always) quotes the president in related stories, provided no quotes in its terse five-paragraph report, the first four of which follow (for fair use and discussion purposes, of course):
It would not surprise me if the Associated Press's April Castro has spent the last 10 weeks gritting her teeth non-stop.
In March (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), she was clearly peeved at the Texas State Board of Education. In a supposedly objective news story entitled "Texas ed board vote reflects far-right influences," she decried a "faction" (actually a nearly two-thirds majority) of Board members for "injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons."
I will take that as an admission that such ideals have previously been absent or barely present.
Friday, non-appreciative April was tasked with covering the Board's final adoption vote that ratified proposed curriculum changes. If we are to believe her (I know, that's dangerous), improvements (my word, certainly not hers) in the meantime appear to have been strengthened the reality basis, if you will, of the curriculum.
Here are the first five paragraphs of Ms. Castro's report (link is dynamic and subject to change). There are lots of errors in those paragraphs alone; readers are invited to see if they can catch the big cahuna: