This item will not be filed under "Mother's Day Role-Modeling Behavior."
In this story, it's hard to figure out what's more outrageous: The willful defacement of property -- in this case, a brand-new $5 million pedestrian bridge by an alleged adult in her mid-40s who is the mother of a teenaged son -- or the near non-reaction to wanton vandalism perpetrated in broad daylight by her and others on what is supposed to be a source of pride in Detroit.
That's even before getting to the news that one of the vandals, Oneita Jackson, is a copy editor at the Detroit Free Press who has her own Freep blog called "O Street."
On March 21, Ms. Jackson, from her establishment media perch, admonished readers to "Agree or Disagree, Just Be Civil." You can't make this stuff up.
If a genuine, sustained economic recovery is truly underway, why can't the government show us the money? This would appear to be a question the establishment press has no interest in answering.
As seen in the graphic at the right (HT to an e-mailer), when the government's Monthly Treasury Statement is released next Wednesday, the anticipation is that it will show an April deficit of $85 billion. That estimate comes from the Congressional Budget Office, which released its Monthly Budget Review yesterday.
The government almost always runs an April surplus because it's the biggest month for tax collections. Individual filers have to settle up what's left of their previous year's liabilities with Uncle Sam on April 15, and the first installments of current-year individual and corporate estimated taxes are also due.
But as seen in the chart that follows, April receipts have cratered during the past two years by stunning amounts compared to April 2007 and 2008. The April 2010 plunge continues a nearly unbroken trend of year-over-year declines in monthly receipts going back almost two years:
Columbus Bureau Chief Jim Provance at the Toledo Blade is a one-man "Name That Party" creativity machine:
In March of last year (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in a story about late financial reports from Ohio's state government, Provance identified State Auditor Mary Taylor, who criticized Governor Ted Strickland's administration for being so tardy with the numbers that they could not be audited in time for biennial budget deliberations -- but never identified Strickland or anyone else involved in the snafu as a Democrat. NewsBusters commenter "Hoosierem reported that Provance, in response to a subsequent e-mail, had stated that "I should have taken the next step of noting the governor’s party."
Then in May (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the slow-learning Blade reporter, in a story about the indictment of Anthony Gutierrez, a former aide to disgraced Democrat and former Attorney General Marc Dann (pictured at top right in a Blade photo), never named Guttierez's party -- but did name the party of the county prosecutor who indicted him.
Provance's latest exercise in Name That Party creativity (HT to Maggie Thurber in an e-mail) revolves around Dann's guilty pleas on Thursday to ethics violations. This time, he got in a "clever" dig about Republican scandals going back a half-decade in his opening sentence, but never specifically ID'd Dann as a Democrat, referring only to "a Democratic wave" and "fellow Democrats" -- in Paragraph 11.
Meanwhile, the local Columbus Dispatch, which would be less obligated to reveal Dann's party affiliation because its readership is more likely to already know it, told readers Dann is a Democrat in the second paragraph of its coverage.
The name of Ohio's governor, Ted Strickland, doesn't show up anywhere in either entity's coverage.
Well, it's not the same as saying "the company lied through its teeth and the government let them," but it's as close to that as you'll probably ever see in an establishment media outlet like the New York Times.
In a column that apparently appeared on the web on Friday while appearing Sunday's print edition, Gretchen Morgenson, assistant business and financial editor at the Times, ripped into Government/General Motors, GM Chairman Ed Whitacre, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, while uncharacteristically throwing thanks to a Republican Senator for calling the company out.
The flim-flam has to be pretty bad in a Democratic administration for someone at the Times to even notice it, let alone criticize it. But Whitacre's whoppers were apparently too much for Morgenson to ignore:
... it’s becoming apparent that those seeking the whole truth are still outnumbered by those aiming to obscure it. This is the case not only on Wall Street but also in Washington.
... Truth seekers the nation over, therefore, are indebted to Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who in recent days uncovered what he called a government-enabled “TARP money shuffle.” It relates to General Motors, which on April 21 paid the balance of its $6.7 billion loan under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
The president is repeating a blatant falsehood about the Arizona law that has gained instant currency in the establishment press and leftist circles. It has no basis in fact, or in the legislation Grand Canyon State Governor Jan Brewer recently signed.
A short Associated Press item tonight notes that the Organization for American States is not happy with the state of Arizona for passing an immigration law-enforcement measure:
I don't expect AP to expand on OAS's statement any time soon, because in the process of doing so they might feel compelled to look at how some of the countries criticizing Arizona handle their own illegal immigrants.
Update: The well-publicized announcement that Editor & Publisher was going to "cease operations" last December and that was stated as a given in the original version of this post was apparently premature, as it's still there on the web. E&P is also covering the circulation news (daily; Sunday; HT to a BizzyBlog commenter).
Advertising Age (AA) had the unenviable task (given that it's supposed to stay on its vendors' and customers' good sides) of figuring out a way to cast yet another dreadful newspaper circulation report in a non-negative light. The educated guess here is that most newspaper execs are not going to be wearing the button pictured at the top right very frequently during the foreseeable future.
Here are the figures cited by AA as overall newspaper circulation declines during the past five six-month ABC reporting periods (percentages represent declines from the same six-month period of the previous year) --
March 31, 2010: - 8.7% daily, -6.5% Sunday September 30, 2009: -10.6% daily, -7.5% Sunday March 31, 2009: - 7.1% daily, -5.4% Sunday September 30, 2008: -4.6% daily, -4.9% Sunday March 31, 2008: - 3.6% daily, -4.6% Sunday
Given the results, here is AA's headline, sub-headline, and "hey, it's not really that bad" first sentence:
To fix a problem you must first admit that you have one.
There may be no stronger evidence that the establishment press in the U.S. is miles away from admitting that it has any kind of problem with persistent party and ideological bias than a report filed by Associated Press reporters Raphael G. Satter and Gregory Katz on Friday. In it, the pair observed without even a hint of irony how "many of Britain's most-read papers take sides."
Meanwhile, in the course of discussing the out-of-nowhere rise of Nick Clegg, Satter and Katz noted how the Liberal Democrat's debate performance was "threatening (Conservative leader David) Cameron's lead," while "somehow" forgetting that Clegg & Co. have for the moment relegated Gordon Brown's Labour Party to third place in many polls, including this one from a week ago at the Financial Times. No bias there, eh?
(The latest from the Daily Telegraph is that Clegg won't rule out a LibDem-Labour coalition government as long as Brown isn't Prime Minister.)
Based on what I observed at Mary Taylor's Lieutenant Governor announcement in January, it seems that veteran Columbus Dispatch reporter/columnist Joe Hallett at least occasionally gets to ask the first question at press conferences based on respect for his longevity. This has led me to refer to Hallett as "Ohio's Helen Thomas." (Thomas was allowed to ask the first question at White House press conferences and press briefings for many years.)
Hallett's politics may not be identical to Thomas's far-leftism, but they appear to be in the same neighborhood. More relevant to his journalistic duties, he's wearing a very similar set of blinders. "Clueless Joe" would be an appropriate nickname.
How else can you explain how the supposed dean of Ohio political reporters can display the incredible ignorance shown in the first paragraph of his column today without feeling utterly embarrassed?
Here is that paragraph, followed by the detail served up in Paragraph 7:
In his weekly address today (video only at link; transcript was not present when this post was prepared), President Obama opened with these three sentences:
It was a little more than one year ago that our country faced a potentially devastating crisis in our auto industry.
Over the course of 2008, the industry shed 400,000 jobs. In the midst of a financial crisis and deep recession, both General Motors and Chrysler, two companies that for generations were a symbol of America's manufacturing might, were on the brink of collapse.
Look at what Associated Press reporter Darlene Superville did to those first three sentences in the third paragraph of her report on Obama's presentation:
On Wednesday, the Detroit Free Press published the Mike Thompson cartoon seen at the right. It shows a GM bigwig carrying a briefcase telling a recoiling Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and three other politicians that "We're going to pay off the loan." The cartoon's caption is, "The Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say in Washington."
At his blog, where a full-size version of the cartoon can be found, Thompson writes:
You have to wonder what those who opposed the GM bailout think about the loan repayment. ...
It’s way too early for those who favored government aid for GM to break out in loud chants of “I told you so,” but if the good news out of GM continues, they might want to start thinking about warming up their vocal cords.
In his April 23 "Uncommon Sense" column at Forbes.com (HT Instapundit), Shikha Dalmia tells Thompson what he thinks, and suggests not scheduling the opera any time soon (bold is mine):
On April 13, at a dog-and-pony show with advertisers, CNN's Jim Walton told participants: "We are the only credible, non partisan voice left, and that matters." True comedy gold.
An accurate offer by Walton to the attending advertisers, in a variation on an old Soviet joke about the wonders of their communist system ("We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us"), might have gone likes this: "We can pretend to do journalism, and you can pretend we have an audience."
It's gotten so bad that CNN's supposedly weak sister Headline News is routinely walloping it during prime time. Here's how the latest three available days as reported at Media Bistro (April 20, April 21 and April 22) turned out (all figures in thousands):
Ed Whitacre, Chairman of Government/General Motors, took to the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday to crow about repaying a loan (link may require subscription). Note the deceptive headline and its accompanying end-zone dance:
The GM Bailout: Paid Back in Full The investment of U.S. and Canadian tax dollars worked.
Whitacre can try to make a case that the government's loans have been repaid, but unless and until the government's $43 billion equity investment is recouped, the company (and Uncle Sam) have no right to claim that "the GM bailout" has been "paid back in full."
Further, this particular risible rendering in Whitacre's op-ed would lead many a casual reader (and perhaps most journalists, ha-ha) to believe that GM was able to make the repayment out of cash flow:
Our ability to pay back these loans less than a year after emerging from bankruptcy is a sign that our plan for building a new GM is working.
GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media, working for its project partner the Associated Press, conducted a poll from March 3-8 about Americans' car preferences and perceptions. The poll's results were released earlier this week, and the wire service's Dan Sewell reported on the results yesterday.
Why the 40-day delay? I'll suggest the possibility that the poll was timed in hopes that the detailed results would hurt and humiliate Toyota at the height of its safety recall problems. But just as the poll was completed, Toyota revealed that its sales had rebounded dramatically, while the evidence that the expense of a full recall was necessary had seriously weakened under closer examination (the degree of need is separate from the issue of whether the company notified the government of the possible problem, concerning which the company has apparently agreed to pay a stiff fine).
Further, the poll's detailed results contradict AP reporter Sewell's sunny-side up contention that American carmakers in general have improved their perceived quality. It's really only a certain American carmaker, as the graphic coming later will show.
But first, here are the opening paragraphs from Sewell's sterilized statements:
The Wall Street Journal's headline and reporter Jeff Bennett's opening paragraph concerning Chrysler Corporation's first announcement of financial results since 2007 got right to the key points:
Chrysler Reports $4 Billion Loss Since Exiting Bankruptcy
Chrysler Group LLC lost nearly $4 billion since exiting bankruptcy last year, but the company reported a first-quarter operating profit this year and increased its cash reserves, bolstering Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne's claim that the auto maker will break even by the end of the year.
That $4 billion consists of $3.78 billion in the last 205 days of 2009 and $197 million during the first quarter of 2010. The WSJ and Bennett basically did a nice job, though I have a problem with companies trumpeting "operating profit" when there is an "actual loss."
I wonder if the Associated Press's headline and the opening paragraph from AP reporters Tom Krisher and Colleen Barry presented the situation as well as the WSJ?
One thing you can say about the Associated Press's and most of the rest of the establishment media's treatment of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick during the past two-plus years is that they've been almost totally consistent. They pretend not to know or care what political party Kilpatrick represented throughout his political career, and fail to acknowledge Barack Obama's fondness for him before his legal and criminal troubles began.
The latest episode in this bizarre soap opera/insult to the taxpaying public has Kilpatrick, who now lives with his wife in Dallas, accused of violating his probation by not remitting monies received that he had agreed to pay to the City of Detroit to help take care of an acknowledged $1 million debt to the city. The cliffhanger is: Will he or won't he be sent to jail again?
Today, the AP continued following its two-year pattern (see related March 2008 post at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), this time as written by reporters Ed White and Corey Williams, of avoiding any mention of Kilpatrick's status as a Democratic politician when he was mayor of Detroit. Here are several paragraphs from the pair's prose:
Two weeks ago (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the combined audience for the Big Three Networks' Evening News shows for the week of March 29 fell to just below 20 million.
That audience was about 5% less than what Matt Drudge in the summer of 2006 headlined as "TV's Lowest Week."
The Big Three's combined audience crawled back above 20 million during the week of April 5. But Chris Ariens of Media Bistro noted earlier today that the figures for the week of April 12 were more reflective of "summertime viewing patterns" than what is supposedly peak spring viewing season.
On the surface, it's one of the Associated Press's better dispatches from the real world on the state of the economy as people are experiencing it.
Datelined in Twinsburg, Ohio, Megan Barr's Monday morning report, "Recession is ending? Some Americans don't buy it," does a good job of mixing macro and micro elements, painting a picture of a struggling town, a non-improving state economy (now eighth-worst, according to AP's "economic stress" measurement tool), a somewhat-improving national picture, and a pervasive belief on the part of most Americans that things aren't really getting better. I couldn't help but notice the irony that AP reporter Jeannine Aversa, who wrote that the top economic story of last year was the economy's "fall - and rebound," contributed to Barr's report.
But something was done to Twinsburg a year ago that goes a long way towards explaining why many people there are likely responding as one quoted resident did -- "Who are they trying to kid?" -- when asked for a reaction as to whether the economy is getting better. The AP didn't cover that story last year -- and should have -- so it didn't know that it should have referred it this year.
In one of those "I guess we have to mention it, but we'll get it out of the way quickly" reports, the Associated Press on Monday, April 12 tersely told its readers the following about the failure of an attempt in California to repeal California's Proposition 8 (reproduced in full for fair use and discussion purposes):
What AP chose to avoid telling the rest of the nation is why "more established gay rights groups" were not involved in the 2010 repeal campaign. In a Friday OneNewsNow.com item, Randy Thomasson of SaveCalifornia.com explained why:
On Wednesday, Congressman Henry Waxman cancelled hearings, or what Michelle Malkin referred to as "show trials" in her Friday syndicated column, designed to put the spotlight on companies that dared to do what they legally had to do in response to the passage of ObamaCare: tell the public the estimated impact on their bottom lines relating to a specific tax law chance that was included in the legislation.
Despite the legal requirement, the headline of the Associated Press's coverage on the day of the announcement described the companies' announcements as "gripes." AP Business Writer Matthew Perrone called them "concerns," and acted as if the companies backed down, when the only qualification involved a questionably and largely unrelated item, i.e., what might happen if the law manages to lower overall health care costs.
That journalistically inaccurate narrative gave Waxman an undeserved way out of the heavyhanded mess that he created.
Here are the related paragraphs of Perrone's pathetic piece:
Reporting from Jefferson City, Missouri, David Lieb of the Associated Press understated the number of people expected to attend rallies through the US ("thousands"), misrepresented a previous March 20 incident involving alleged racial slurs at the U.S. Capitol, and waited until his fourteenth paragraph to mention leftist "party crashers" who may be at least as much of a concern to organizers as far-right opportunists.
Here are the relevant paragraphs from Lieb's litter (link is dynamic; 9:13 a.m. version of report saved here at web host for fair use and discussion purposes; bolds are mine):
An unbylined Associated Press item on today's Tea Party Express tour wrap-up in Washington uses a word that the wire service almost never (if not absolutely never) applies to truly violent leftist groups.
The Google page carrying the AP report also has an interesting lead "Related article."
Here's the brief AP item (produced in full for fair use and discussion purposes), whose headline seems to want to twist the event into an act of hypocrisy simply because of where it's being held:
Well, at least the final word in the headlined quote above is correct.
Media Bistro's Chris Ariens has a roundup of other write-ups from CNN's "Newsmakers" upfront meeting with advertisers yesterday (picture at right is from that event).
The network had better hope that no one from the trial bar catches wind of some of what CNN's folks said at the meeting yesterday, because the degree of false advertising that occurred may be the only thing that exceeds the degree of the network's pervasive leftist bias.
Here are three of Ariens's examples, with originals links included:
Last May, I wrote a column called "The Federal Deficit Becomes Nearly Indecipherable," pointing to a mid-fiscal year policy shift in how the government handles the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and other bailout efforts:
What Treasury did in April (2009) was to convert the TARP “investments” it began making in October in the country’s financial institutions, General Motors, Chrysler, and who knows what else to NPV (Net Present Value) accounting.
Mixing hundreds of billions of dollars of NPV into what has essentially been a cash flow report turns the Monthly Treasury Statement, and deficit reporting in general, into an exercise that will become not only become ever more difficult to comprehend, but one that will also be routinely subject to political manipulation.
One such political manipulation occurred in the March 2010 Monthly Treasury Statement that was released on Monday, and it involved NPV accounting (to be explained in a bit). While the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger dutifully noted its existence, he deceptively described its meaning in his report's opening sentence, and in doing so played along with that manipulation (bold is mine):
Investors Business Daily ("What the Government Can't Do"), whose editorials are must-reads for hard news the establishment media will either ignore or downplay, has tipped readers off to the poor reviews General/Government Motors and Chrysler cars are receiving. These would include the latest automaker report cards compiled by Consumer Reports magazine.
Nearly one year into their new lives as wards of the state, it looks like one of those government "can't do's" involves improving car quality, while the car company not owned by Uncle Sam has gotten a bit better. Specifically, CR's April 2010 overview post tells us the following:
Among American manufacturers, only Ford improved over last year. It scored one point better to pass Mitsubishi for 11th place in our rankings. By contrast, Chrysler is again in last place and dropped two points since last year. And General Motors placed right where it did last year—second from the bottom—even though it eliminated half its brands and about one-third of its models.
A look at the magazine's "most and least reliable" narrative shows just how bad things are at GM and Chrysler, and how things are looking up at Ford (bolds are mine; personal commentary is in italics):
The "normal person" definition of a recession is two or more quarters of economic contraction as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This definition was perfectly acceptable to everyone until the 1970s, when the "non-partisan" National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) was tasked with deciding when recessions begin and end.
In December 2008, the NBER declared that a recession had begun in December 2007. As I've noted several times in several places, they did this despite several contrary indicators such as positive economic growth in the second quarter of 2008, and at best inconclusive results relating to income, industrial production, and employment.
Nonetheless, the establishment media has consistently run with the NBER's definition of when the recession began. After all, they're the experts. Who are we peons to dare to point out that using the normal person definition, the recession began in the third quarter of 2008, continued for four quarters, and ended when GDP went positive in the third quarter of 2009?
In a move that one would expect is causing an excess of expletives inside the White House, NBER officials have indicated that they can't yet conclude that the recession as they define it has ended. A New York Times story carried at CNBC tells us the following (internal link added by me):
Associated Press writer John Flesher seems to be one bitter guy.
Flesher, along with whoever (possibly Flesher himself) came up with the headline for his Saturday report on Bart Stupak's decision not to run for re-election in Michigan's 1st Congressional District, tells readers that:
Tea Partiers are poor winners.
The residents of Stupak's district are federal money-grubbers who can be fooled by candidates holding the right position on "hot-button issues."
Based on a poli sci prof's contention, Stupak (pictured at top right with his wife in an AP photo) would "absolutely" have won as all the evidence he needed to "prove" the nine-term congressman's re-electability.
Here are the opening paragraphs from the flailing Flesher:
The establishment press has for decades and almost without exception insisted that FDR's sacrosanct legacy of Social Security can go on and on with only minor tweaks, and that if trouble looms, it's way out there in 2040 or so when the "Trust Fund" is depleted. The problem is that during that time the federal government has raided the annual surpluses generated by "Trust Fund" which now consists almost entirely of IOUs from the rest of the government. Meanwhile, annual surpluses, where tax collections exceed benefits paid and which were well over $100 billion just a couple of years ago, have vanished, and aren't coming back to any significant degree.
Another mythology is under development: That the just-passed ObamaCare legislation has "saved" Medicare. The Social Security/Medicare Trustees report is being delayed until June 30 to incorporate the effects of the recently passed ObamaCare on the health of Medicare. It will supposedly tell us that the life of the Medicare "Trust Fund" has been magically extended by about a decade. (Raise your hand if you think the Trustees are under immense political pressure to issue a favorable verdict regardless of the facts.)
In his Tuesday coverage of a government official's leak to the Associated Press about the report's delay in advance of the official administration announcement, the AP's Martin Crutsinger spun these and other fairy tales in his stout defense for the fiscally destructive programs. But in doing so, he perhaps inadvertently revealed that Congress and the administration had no idea of the true future impact of ObamaCare.
Here are key paragraphs from Crutsinger's report (footnotes are mine, and are explained later):