Can I have permission to utter the S-word ("socialism")?
Ken Thomas's Associated Press report today (link is dynamic, subject to change, and will probably be gone in a week) on auto industry bailout ideas emanating from Washington includes these items, all of which expand soc- ... soc- ... socialism:
Legislation proposed by Barney Frank involves the government taking ownership stakes in the companies.
Lawmakers want to use funds that were meant only for the financial sector bailout.
A note that the current bailout is over and above the $25 billion in government-guaranteed loans that has already been approved for "development of fuel-efficient vehicles."
News that auto industry suppliers want in on the bailout action
The United Auto Workers wants a separate $25 billion "to help cover future health care obligations for retirees and their dependents."
Wednesday evening's dour Associated Press report by Tom Krisher and Ken Thomas on the proposed bailouts of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler acted as if their fates will determine the viability of the entire US auto industry, and waited until the 15th paragraph to name the primary reason why the companies are where they are financially. Beyond that, the AP report did not mention that United Auto Workers has flatly ruled out union contract concessions.
Here is how the AP's report began, followed by selected other paragraphs, including the one (of over 30) that mentioned labor costs (bolds after headline are mine):
The litmus test results are in: If you're against the legalization of same-sex marriage and are discovered, you can't be involved in the performing arts in California, even though the majority of potential patrons in your state agree with you.
Under the pressure of a threatened boycott, the artistic director of a Sacramento theater has stepped down after it was learned that he contributed to Yes side ("yes, same-sex marriage should be prohibited") of the supposedly Golden State's Proposition 8 campaign.
A boycott of the theater was called Tuesday by some in the national arts community when news broke that Eckern contributed $1,000 to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, which supported the ban on gay marriage.
A well-known Lansing-area evangelical church was the target of a raucous demonstration by gay anarchists during Sunday services.
The disruption came from a group that calls itself Bash Back, and involved demonstrations outside the church and inside the sanctuary while services were under way, said Mt. Hope Church communications director David Williams.
Members of the group inside the church shouted pro-gay slogans, threw leaflets, unfurled a banner and pulled a fire alarm, then hastily departed, Williams said. There were no injuries, he said.
Well, they held out as long as the could. But now that the presidential election is over, layoffs in the news business have begun.
Newsosaur predicted as much on the Sunday before the election, and pointed to a major reason:
Public confidence in the mainstream media has been eroding for at least a decade.
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported that only 19% of respondents trusted their local newspapers in 2006, as compared with 29% in 1998. In the same period, trust in national newspapers slid to 21% from 32%, broadcast news fell to 22% from 27% and cable news slipped to 25% from 37%. Confidence in the National Enquirer, however, doubled to 6%.
Job losses announced at Time Inc., which went through a significant shrinkage just two years ago, and Al Gore's Current Media are among the first in what will almost certainly be a long line of similar reports in the coming months.
Here, from Ad Week, is a capsule of what's going down at Time:
Now that Barack Obama has won the presidency, the poll cookers at the Associated Press have dutifully generated a barely-disguised press release for him.
A report this afternoon on the results of an AP GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media Poll is headlined "Most in AP poll confident Obama will fix economy " at Yahoo!, Google (shorter report), and the wire service's home site (all are dynamic links subject to change).
There are "only" two problems:
The underlying sample is heavily skewed towards Democrats, including strong Democrats.
Much more important, in fact crossing into downright dishonesty, the poll question asked had to do with whether respondents thought that Obama would "improve" the economy, not "fix" it.
Here are the first two paragraphs of the relatively short, unbylined report (bolds are mine to note fawning and erroneous reporting):
Showing once again that its opinion pieces serve a dual purpose as a news source, a Monday Wall Street Journal editorial noted that Democrats have quietly dropped a central plank of their successful 2006 effort to gain a congressional majority (HT Hot Air):
Late last week the leader of the House Blue Dog Coalition, Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper, announced that with Barack Obama about to enter the White House, "I'm not sure the old rules are relevant anymore." Why not? Because, Mr. Cooper said, "It would be unfair to the new President to put him in a budget straitjacket."
Democrats ran on "paygo" in 2006, promising to offset any new spending increases or tax cuts with comparable tax increases or spending cuts. Once in charge on Capitol Hill they quickly made exceptions, waiving paygo no fewer than 12 times to accommodate some $398 billion in new deficit spending -- not that the press corps bothered to notice.
The Journal then goes on to explain what Paygo was really all about:
Expatica is an overseas publication for US expatriates in Europe with six country-customized editions. It betrays many of the biases that permeate mainstream US journalism. What follows is a prime example of that.
The publication's Germany version today has an article celebrating the 19th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall that makes it appear as if it, well, y'know, sorta just serendipitously happened because a bunch of people protested for a while.
Yesterday, verbiage at the "Service" Section of Barack Obama's Change.gov site (specifically the URL "http://change.gov/agenda/service/") served as source material for yesterday's post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) entitled "Obama’s 'Service in College' Program at Change.gov Promises $40 an Hour."
The page was entitled "Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan for Universal Voluntary Public Service." It contained "Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan," whose major sections included "Enable All Americans to Serve to Meet the Nation's Challenges," "Integrate Service into Learning," and "Invest in the Nonprofit Sector."
The detail of the second section (saved here at web host yesterday for fair use and discussion purposes) included this requirement (red underlining is mine):
Talk about "change." The latest version of president-elect Barack Obama's ever-evolving ideas for "community service" promises to pass out quite a bit of it to America's college students.
The "America Serves" (link is to Google cache) and "Service" sections of Team Obama's Change.gov site have, uh, changed quite a bit over the past day or so after many, including Kerry Picket of Newsbusters, noted that the "service" proposals require youth conscription, i.e., a non-military draft.
As of 8 AM this morning, Team Obama's cleanup operation is nearly complete, with almost all coercive language purged.
But one item noted last night by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs remains in the "Service" section (a copy for future reference is here if/when the existing link changes), with a stunning quantitative modification:
It's hard to tell whether this is a reaction to "It's about time!" complaints that would tend to come from the center-right, or to "How dare you!" protests from the left (my money is on the latter), but pollster John Zogby took an unprofessional turn in his Saturday report (to be replaced in 24-48 hours) that was released in the wee hours this morning.
The substantive news is that Barack Obama is ahead 5.7% in Zogby's three-day rolling average. Obama came in 10 points ahead in one-day Saturday polling (52-42, after trailing John McCain 48-47 on Friday (weekend polling bias, anyone?).
But it's what Zogby wrote in his third paragraph before showing the daily rolling-average results that was the attention-getter (bold is mine):
Busybody Keith Olbermann couldn't wait to see how Saturday Night Live was going to portray him. So, says Politico.com's Michael Calderone, he apparently breached the show's (I thought) tight security to find out.
And of course, when contacted, the MSNBC host took yet another cheap shot at his personal obsession, Sarah Palin. It was just a few weeks ago on NBC's Sunday Night Football that Olbermann made a Palin Derangement Syndrome-betraying allusion when describing the mental condition of a just-injured NFL quarterback.
Give them credit for noticing. Pass out demerits for incompleteness.
Friday's USA Today carried a slightly inaccurate Page 1A tease ("Iraq is safer for US troops; October is on track to tie July for the month with fewest combat deaths"). It went to a top of Page 7A story ("US Deaths in Iraq on track for record low") that noticed how relatively well the month of October has gone for our troops in Iraq. That still is the case, with hours to go in the calendar month in Iraq. Reporter Charles Levinson even noticed that there have been no hostile US troop deaths in Baghdad during the entire month.
But Levinson missed the opportunity to notice even better longer-term results in Iraq. He also failed to notice that coalition troop deaths in Afghanistan, again with hours to go until the end of the month, are less than half of that seen in previous months. Finally, he didn't catch this remarakable fact, given the gloom that seems to abound over the supposedly intractable situation in Afghanistan -- Combined theater troop deaths in October have been the lowest in over four years. (Straight zeroes everywhere would, of course, be ideal.)
Here are the key paragraphs from Levinson's report:
Neuharth claimed that today's newspapers play the news straight, while in the "olden days" they didn't.
Put down all drinks before reading (bolds are mine):
Fewer newspapers try to dictate votes Plain Talk by Al Neuharth
More newspaper bosses across the USA have wised up to the fact that you readers are smart enough to decide who to vote for in Tuesday's election. Newspapers making presidential editorial endorsements this year likely will be the lowest percentage ever. Editor & Publisher, the trade journal, compiles the numbers.
In a damage control piece Thursday, Associated Press writer Kimberly Helfing attempted to portray Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha's last-minute use of high-profile advisor Tony Podesta as "shoring up" his support, characterized accusations directed at residents of his district as only targeting "some" of them, and failed to mention Murtha's opponent until the fifth paragraph.
The facts are that Murtha is not clearly ahead in the polls (ahead by not much here, behind by more here), that he may very well be behind in reality against challenger William Russell, and that Murtha directed his "racist" characterization at 12th District residents in general, not just "some" of them.
Here are the key paragraphs from Helfing's report:
On Tuesday, Editor & Publisher released daily and Sunday newspaper circulation figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations as of September 30, along with percentage changes from the preceding year. Showing that the press can't even report accurately about itself E&P's accompanying commentary vastly understated the situation:
Most Major Papers Continue Circ Decline
According to ABC for the 507 newspapers reporting in this period, daily circulation slipped 4.6% to 38,165,848 copies. For the 571 papers, Sunday dropped 4.8% to 43,631,646 copies.
For comparison purposes, in September 2007 reporting period, daily circ fell 2.6% and Sunday was down 4.6%.
"Most"? Try "Virtually All." The daily figures show that all but two of the top 25 papers lost circulation during the previous 12 months (USA today and he Wall Street Journal both gained a "whopping" 0.01%). Only the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, at +0.80%, gained on Sundays. E&P's commentary cited precious few tiny increases at non-Top 25 papers.
If you think the one-year news is bad, check out what has happened during the past five:
First it was Barack Obama's encounter with Joe the Plumber. Then there was his 2001 interview at Chicago radio station. Today, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air highlights yet another in what is turning out to be a long line of links and other items proving that Democratic candidate Barack Obama is a longtime dedicated, doctrinnaire soc-, soc-, (yes, we're still allowed to say it) socialist.
I'll cite the relevant verbiage after the jump. But what's more important, I will show just how easy it would have been for a journalist searching Google to find this item. The fact that either no one found this, or that those who might have found it obviously ignored it, shows just how lazy and/or negligent Old Media has been in vetting the Illinois senator's fitness to be president.
Here's what Obama had to say at "A Town Meeting on Economic Insecurity: Employment and Survival in Urban America" on February 25, 1996 in Chicago (bullets added by me for clarity, bold is mine):
But he also has some insight into the source of the audio and some choice words for a media elite that has spent nearly two years failing to do even the most basic digging into the Democratic candidate's background and associations.
Here's what Whittle reveals, and most of his related comments:
Associated Press lead reporter Liz Sidoti, other contributors (AP Director of Surveys Trevor Tompson, AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and AP writer Alan Fram), and the wire service's supposedly vaunted editors apparently don't understand what a polling margin of error is.
In a Wednesday story I found in four different places (CBS News, AP-Google, Breitbart, Yahoo! News), Sidoti et al let a paragraph stand claiming that a 3.5% margin of error in the poll results they were reporting meant that the real results could vary by as many as 14 points.
Here are the key paragraphs found in each story (bold is mine):
Matt Drudge, with some apparent glee, given the black and white picture he used, reported something yours truly has followed for some time: The Big Three networks' evening newscasts continue to lose viewers.
Two recent finds noted by bloggers have put further dents in the Obama campaign's core claim about its candidate's relationship with Bill Ayers, the unapologetic domestic terrorist who has not ruled out recidivism, as seen here at Obama's FightTheSmears.com home page:
The first was discovered by SeeDubya, former weekend blogger at Michelle Malkin's site. SeeDubya came out of retirement for one morning to note a neighborly reference to Obama by Ayers in the former Weather Underground leader's 1998 book on parenting.
The second is the revelation by blogger Verum Serum that Obama and Ayers were located on the same floor of a what I can show was a small building -- for three years.
Story after story on the full-year results for the federal budget refers to the size of the full-year deficit for the fiscal year that just ended on September 30 ($455 billion), and how it compares to last year's deficit ($162 billion).
Almost none of them talk about why the deficit ballooned.
I wonder why?
Could it be because the Democrat-controlled Congress of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid allowed spending to spiral out of control?
Just in time for the final weeks of the presidential election campaign, Gallup has added a nuance to its polling presentations.
Instead of merely presenting "registered" and "likely" voters, the polling firm has decided to present a third category: an "expanded" version of likely voters. This third category is in addition to its "traditional" likely-voter presentation.
My look at Gallup's October 12-14 results indicates that the "expanded" version is indeed likely -- likely to find Obama voters, and that's about it.
Gee, and I thought I might be pushing the envelope on September 28 when I expressed concern that the "bailout" with the made-up $700 billion price tag that turned into the pork-loaded "bailout" with the made-up $850 billion price tag "blackmail" (though "extortion" may be the more appropriate word).
It is clear that this is indeed the case, at least twice over. First, there were the threats made by the Treasury Secretary, the President, and the Fed Chairman warning of a banking Armageddon if Congress didn't pass the bill.
Now there's clear evidence, reported with stunning casualness by CNBC, that Paulson & Co. threatened the big banks in some way to force them to "accept" Uncle Sam's preferred equity investments:
Three weeks out from Election Day, surely more Americans are tuning into the Big 3 networks' evening newscasts, right?
In the past two weeks, Big 3 evening newscast viewership has actually declined by 360,000, or 1.6%. What's more, in percentage terms, viewership among "The Demo" of ages 25-54 has declined even further (220,000, down 3.1%).
Matt Drudge learned long ago that jumping across the pond in the late evening and perusing the British press is a way to get a head start on the news, and in some cases to get news that the American press is ignoring.
The situation with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is an example of the latter.
If it happens, call it The Caracas Crackup -- The UK Telegraph is reporting that the inevitable inefficiences of a state-run enterprise and falling oil prices appear to have the potential to do serious damage to Venezuela's economy:
Venezuela's daily oil production has fallen by a quarter since President Hugo Chavez won power, depriving his "Bolivarian Revolution" of much of the benefit of the global boom in oil prices.
Given that the topic of this post is the Associated Press, I guess I should be pleased to report that one of its two reports tonight about the dive in the stock market last week is correct.
In one article ("Gov't eyes plan to take ownership stakes in banks"), AP's Harry Dunphy and Tom Raum correctly said that "the Dow Jones industrial average just completed its worst week ever, plummeting more than 18 percent." This is sadly true, at least if you "only" go back to 1921 (even I will give AP a pass for not wanting to dig through the muck of 1920, 1907, 1903 and 1901, which the New York Times was using as "hey, it's not that bad" benchmarks as Black Tuesday approached in 1929):
Poor Karl Ritter and Matt Moore of the Associated Press must have a lot of time to kill, a dearth of ideas, and a studied disinterest in accuracy as they await the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Economics in Stockholm, Sweden on Monday. A list of past winners is here.
Besides lamenting that no woman has ever won the Economics Prize (so?), the AP pair felt the need to relate the financial bailout passed by Congress and signed by the President a week ago, and the current steep stock market decline that followed it (or, as yours truly and Investors Business Daily would argue, occurred because of it), to who might win the award.
Along the way, they, as AP reporters are wont to do, erred, and quite seriously.
Here's how their report, weirdly entitled "Amid the meltdown, economics Nobel no easy pick," began (bold is mine):
On August 27, 1996, in the midst of that year's Democratic National Convention in the Windy City, the Chicago Tribune had interesting news (posted in full at my web host for fair use and discussion purposes) about what was then a new Internet initiative.
That Tribune story serves to confirm why the distancing from and supposed ignorance of the past activities of William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn by presidential candidate Barack Obama and other members of the Democratic Party ring very hollow.
James Coates's Tribune piece begins with an all-too-typical whitewash of the pair's violent past. But what's revealing is what Ayers and Dohrn were involved with, and who else was involved with them (bolds are mine):
Bernardine Dohrn and William Ayers took to the streets 28 years ago to protest what they considered the injustices in the world, especially the war in Vietnam.
The former leaders of the Weather Underground still are fighting injustice, but--adapting to the changing landscape of American politics--their current arena is the World Wide Web.
There has been an unreality in the reports on the falling stock markets for at least the past 10 days. Each day's plunge seems to have been exclusively due to the "global economic crisis" and/or the supposed "freeze on credit."
Oddly enough, the admittedly small bank where I have my business accounts is having absolutely no problem funding mortgage, home-equity, and other loan applications from qualified borrowers -- a fact I confirmed just before posting this entry. With all due respect to the global business press, if there's truly a "freeze," how can that be?
I've put forth an alternative explanation to the media meme a couple of times this week myself, but an editorial at IBDeditorials.com yesterday brought out a major element of what I have been saying much more forcefully and articulately. Remarkably, though the possibility seems pretty obvious to me, and I suspect many others, I have seen no one in the business press covering daily market events even mention the obvious and quite likely alternative that follows.
The editorial, "Investors' Real Fear: A Socialist Tsunami," teases with the plaintive question, "What is it about the specter of our first socialist president and the end of capitalism as we know it that they don't understand?"