So when are the Big Three Networks going to do something about their hopelessly outmoded and out-of-touch evening-news dinosaurs?
The 2006 report on The State of the News Media from Journalism.org, which covered 2005 results, showed that the Big 3 Networks' evening news audience that year averaged 27 million (the exact number is not noted, but inferred from reading the graph at the link; if anything, the actual number may have been slightly higher).
Rounding up slightly, that's a total of 24.3 million -- not exactly the disaster yours truly thought might occur this summer after a particularly bad week for evening news viewership, but a pretty steep decline nonetheless. On average during 2006, over 200,000 fewer people each month tuned in to see NBC's Nightly News (currently anchored by Brian Williams), ABC's World News Tonight (currently with Charles Gibson), or the CBS Evening News (with Katie Couric).
Eyeballing the following graph from last year and looking at the 2006 numbers above, it looks like NBC was down about 14%, ABC about 11%, and CBS about 6%:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released what it calls its Usual Weekly Earnings Report for the Fourth Quarter of 2006 on Friday.
This is one of the more important reports the BLS releases because:
It looks at the earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, excluding part-timers, business owners, and the self-employed.
It looks at individuals, not households or families.
Unlike most reports, it tells us median earnings, the point at which half of workers are earning more and half earning less. Other reports covering "average" results may be distorted by the impact of high earners bringing up the reported average while a "typical" person at the median might not be making any progress.
It specifically compares nominal earnings increases at the median (i.e., before inflation) to inflation that occurred during the same time period. It therefore tells us whether the "typical" (as opposed to "average") worker has gotten ahead or has fallen behind during the period covered.
So it was very heartening to read the first paragraph from Friday's Usual Weekly Earnings report:
Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 106.9 million full-time wage and salary workers were $682 in the fourth quarter of 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. This was 3.5 percent higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 1.9 percent in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) over the same period.
In an article (HT Instapundit) decrying the alleged environmental waste in the United Arab Emirates, Associated Press writer Jim Krane gave voice to the environmental strain of Bush Derangement Syndrome when he claimed:
But the oil-rich Emirates is considered a developing country, and even as a signatory to the United Nations Kyoto protocol on global warming, is not required to cut emissions. The United States is no longer bound by Kyoto, which the Bush administration rejected after taking office in 2001.
Decmber's rebound of the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) Manufacturing Index (from contraction in November at 49.5 to expansion in December at 51.4; noted as part of this post; any reading over 50.0 is considered expansion) was unprecedented.
Every long period of manufacturing expansion in the past 60 years has been followed by at least seven months of contraction. But the most recently ended expansion was followed by only one month of contraction before manufacturing moved right back into expansion mode again, as you'll see.
The following is from ISM history going all the way back to 1948; parenthetical values are for the month following the end of each streak, the lowest value it went to during the subsequent contraction, and the number of months of sub-50 performance occurred before the Index went back to 50.0 or higher (previous info carried forward from this previous post):
Economists are hastily upgrading their forecasts for the US economy after a series of surprisingly strong reports suggesting the so-called "soft landing" may be over and growth is accelerating.
Over the past week, surprises have come in stronger-than-expected reports on US job creation, the trade balance and retail sales -- all key contributors to economic activity.
Lehman Brothers chief US economist Ethan Harris on Friday boosted his forecast for fourth quarter 2006 growth to an annualized rate of 3.3 percent, a leap from the firm's prior call for just 2.0 percent growth.
"After slowing in November, the economy seems to have regained its stride," Harris said.
..... The latest data defy predictions that the slump in real estate would filter into other areas of the economy, notably consumer spending.
The latest data showed US employers added a healthy 167,000 new jobs in December (196,000 with revisions to prior months -- Ed.), with unemployment holding at a low 4.5 percent. Average wages were up 4.2 percent annually.
The deficit through the first three months of the current fiscal year is almost $39 billion, or 32.7%, lower than last year's comparable figure. Receipts are up a bit over 8%, as the supply-side tax cuts continue their "magic." The real surprise is that outlays have barely budged, actually going up at a rate that is substantially lower than inflation (Psst -- Don't tell Congress that). Will the media notice?
Fishing around in the now widely-known Samoan exception to the recently passed Minimum Wage bill (where tuna industry workers there are apparently being paid $3.26 an hour), Andy's Angle cast a wide net and hauled in the following:
The interesting thing, however, is that the largest employer in American Samoa is Del Monte Foods' StarKist Tuna, home to over 75% of the island's workforce. Del Monte Foods, as it turns out, is headquartered in the District of the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Smelling a whiff of impropriety, House Republicans have thrown up some serious questions about the exemption and who inserted it into the bill.
NewsBusters points out that few in the Mainstream Media will cover this story given their breathless love for the new Speaker. FoxNews has picked up the story, questioning the potential influence Del Monte may have as a major player in the Speaker's District. Doing my own research, however, I've discovered that the impropriety is much deeper. Speaker Pelosi's husband Paul, it turns out, owns something to the order of $17 million in Del Monte stock!
(Editor's Note -- The previous sentence is noted in Wikipedia and has not otherwise been verified.
Commenter #3 at the related BizzyBlog post, claiming to be Tom Elliott of FunkyPundit, says he was told that no one holds more than $14 mil worth of DLM stock [except Heinz]. BizzyBlog Commenter #4 Kevin says that this item was entered into Wiki at 3:04 PM Jan. 12 [GMT, it is believed]; that link is here. The link claiming $17 mil in Del Monte ownership by Paul Pelosi goes to Nancy Pelosi's Wiki page. The Del Monte ownership interest is not claimed at that page. Thus, there is reason to believe that the claim of such ownership interest on the part of Paul Pelosi is suspect.)
I wonder if he stands to benefit should StarKist avoid an additional $2 hike in hourly wages... (actually, for the Samoans, it would be a $3.99 hike from $3.26 to $7.25 -- Ed.)
Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger reported this morning that retail sales in December came in better than expected:
Retail sales rose in December at the strongest pace in five months, indicating that the all-important holiday shopping season turned out better than original reports indicated.
The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales increased 0.9 percent last month, the strongest showing since a 1.4 percent increase in July.
The increase was better than the 0.7 percent advance that economists had forecast and provided evidence that consumer spending was ending the year on a firmer footing than initially thought.
The government report presented a firmer tone to spending than initial reports from the nation's big chain retail stores. They complained that holiday sales had fallen below expectations as mild winter weather depressed sales of winter clothing.
Crutsinger then downplayed the year's strong retail results, and used it as an opportunity to get in a few licks about how supposedly tough the economy of 2006 was:
For all of 2006, retail sales rose by 6 percent, a solid showing but down from a 6.9 percent increase in 2005.
That slowdown reflected the fact that consumer spending, after a sizzling start to the year, slowed in the spring and remained at lower levels for the rest of the year as Americans were battered by soaring gasoline prices, rising interest rates and a cooling housing market.
Mr. Crutsinger portrayal of the full-year result as a "slowdown," which formed the linchpin of the rest of that sentence's negativity, overlooked one "minor" detail: Reported retail sales figures include inflation.
An unbylined report on unemployment claims by the Associated Press is a classic of the genre (bold is mine):
The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for jobless claims dropped by 26,000 to 299,000 last week on a seasonally adjusted basis. It marked the first time jobless claims have fallen below 300,000 since the week of July 22.
The improvement was much better than the decline of 9,000 that analysts had been expecting and provided further evidence that the slowing U.S. economy has not begun to seriously affect the labor market outside of specific industries such as housing and auto manufacturing.
SLOWING? Did AP ever consider that maybe claims are dropping because the economy may NOT be slowing?
It's not like there is a lack of evidence of continued and probably accelerating growth:
In other words, what follows is from an officially released May 30, 2004 interview of Nancy Pelosi by Tim Russert. At the time, what Pelosi said was blessed by the party, and what she said is that there should be more troops in Iraq (bolds are mine):
In an article Wednesday about organized labor's legislative goals for the 110th Congress, USA Today's Sue Kirchoff mischaracterizes a law that would move the union organizing process away from secret-ballot elections, and makes it sound like an improvement in representative government (bold is mine):
The AFL-CIO ..... is looking ahead to a second bill that sponsors call the "Employee Free Choice Act."
The bill would make it easier for unions to gain representation through an open process in which workers sign cards, in addition to secret ballot elections. Currently, the National Labor Relations Board oversees a secret ballot after a union or employer meets requirements to seek one. An employer can also recognize a union if a majority of workers sign authorizing cards.
In her story today on the resumption of the debate on embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) in the House, Laurie Kellman of the Associated Press reports the following as fact:
Polls show Americans overwhelmingly support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. And scientists aren't sure that stem cells shed by a fetus and extracted from the surrounding fluid carry the same possibility for treatments and cures of diseases as those culled from embryos.
The facts are that:
At least one poll involved asked a misleading question to get a still-not-"overwhelming" result that does not support the characterization of "overwhelming support" she employs.
The poll's sample was skewed to Democrats and strong Democrats.
The "possibility for treatments" for stem cells obtained from amniotic fluid may have MORE disease-eliminating possibilities than those obtained from ESCR will ever have.
No, of course the Democratic Party in Washington doesn't have a problem with the real or perceived masculinity of its male senators and congressmen.
Absolutely not. What in the world are you talking about?
You're all excited just because Maureen Dowd calls Barack Obama "Obambi," had to listen to him complain to her because she wrote that his ears are big (he's sennnnnnsitive about them, y'know), and told him that she's trying to "toughen him up."
Oh, and you still remember Al Gore bringing in Naomi Wolf in to help him during the early stages of his 2000 presidential campaign because:
..... he is a beta male, a subordinate figure, and must learn to become an alpha male, or leader of the pack, before the public can accept him as President .....
Your point is?
And I'll just bet you're going to try to make hay out of that Sunday New York Times Week in Review feature (requires registration) about the new Democratic Alpha Males:
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's law that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls is not too burdensome, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said Thursday in a 2-1 ruling that upholds the 2005 law.
..... The 7th U.S. Circuit Court questioned arguments that Indiana's rule is unfair to poor, elderly, minority and disabled voters, and pointed out that opponents could not find anyone unable to cast a ballot under the new law.
..... Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who pushed for the voter ID law, said the ruling was a victory for election reform.
"The seventh circuit affirmed what we have seen from four successful elections in Indiana under the photo ID law - this is a common-sense way to protect honest voters and to improve voter confidence," he said.
Judge Terence T. Evans dissented with the majority opinion, which affirms an earlier decision of U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Evans said there was no evidence of voter fraud in Indiana that could be avoided with the photo ID law.
"Let's not beat around the bush," Evans wrote. "The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic."
Today's announcement there were 167,000 net new jobs in December (196,000 counting revisions to prior months), and that the unemployment rate held steady at 4.5%, made me wonder how job growth during the Bush prosperity compares to job growth during comparable periods in the 1990s.
The Associated Press released an interesting set of statistics (host link stored for future ref) a couple of days ago that I would suppose were designed to suck away any optimism any fools who still support the mission in Iraq might have (bolds are mine):
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Government officials on Monday reported that 16,273 Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police died violent deaths in 2006, a figure larger than an independent Associated Press count for the year by more than 2,500.
The tabulation by the Iraqi ministries of Health, Defense and Interior, showed that 14,298 civilians, 1,348 police and 627 soldiers were killed in the violence that raged in the country last year.
The Associated Press accounting, gleaned from daily news reports from Baghdad, arrived at a total of 13,738 deaths.
Pretty grim, isn't it? And this is for "violence that raged in the (whole) country."
Man, what a downer. I mean, this is an honest-to-goodness Grade A bona fide quagmire.
Oops -- I started digging into US murder statistics, and what I found made me less depressed about Iraq, and more concerned about the US.
If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it - and that means the Associated Press has a journalistic scandal on its hands that will fester until the AP deals with it properly.
This controversy and the AP's handling of it call into question the credibility, integrity, and smarts of one of the world's biggest, most influential, most respected news organizations, the New York-based Associated Press.
The NY Times (HT Hot Air; scroll down, and look on left; direct link to pic is here; pic below is from my host's hard drive) has in a sense outdone CNN by giving Saddam the look of a charismatic, and from all appearances beloved, leader:
One suspects that this is just a warm-up for Castro when his time comes.
The Times may have taken it too far this time. I would think more than a few in the Manhattan wine-and-cheese set, even those who oppose the war, will be astute enough to substitute the name "Osama bin Laden" and his "orchestration of the 9/11 attacks" for "Saddam Hussein" and his "vile and unforgivable atrocities" in the Times' Friday editorial. Here are a couple of easy examples:
The last paragraph of their Wednesday editorial (my bold) makes the point that the wire service, its defenders, and those who want to see the whole to-do as being about "just one incident," won't see, or won't admit to seeing:
What is clear about all this is that nothing is clear. Maybe there's a Jamil Hussein with the Iraqi police, but he's a sergeant, not a captain. Maybe there's a police captain whose first name is spelled Jamail, not Jamil. Both possibilities have been floated in the blogosphere, but neither has withstood scrutiny.
Editor & Publisher summed it up best when it reported that Jamil Hussein had been lost, then "found," then lost again. Amazing.
Last summer, Reuters, the media outlet that refuses to label terrorists as terrorists, was jolted by the "fauxtography" scandal. Adnan Hajj, a freelance Lebanese photographer, allegedly doctored images of the Israel-Hezbollah war and photographed what appeared to many to be staged scenes of victim rescue and recovery efforts in Qana, a Lebanese village where Israel attacked Hezbollah terrorists. Both were clearly an effort to further inflame a world that had already cast Israel as the villain.
Just as we asked in August if Reuters was "a patsy or collaborator," we wonder the same about the AP. We also wonder if we can trust any AP report from the Middle East. If it can't show us Capt. Jamil Hussein, we're not sure it has anything else we want to see.
This goes to the credibility, and ultimately the business viability, of the entire AP operation.
WorldNetDaily reported yesterday on the discovery of a State Department document released earlier this year (Here it is, converted to an HTML doc by yours truly for easy reference). State acknowledges, apparently for the first time, something that Scott at Powerline (here and here) demonstrated definitively more than three years ago from other available evidence.
The admission is that State has known for decades that the late Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the head of Fatah, plotted and supervised the 1973 murders of three diplomats: two from the United States (Cleo Noel and George Curtis), and one from Belgium (Guy Eid) who was apparently in the wrong place at the wrong time, in Khartoum, The Sudan.
The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasir Arafat ..... Fatah representatives based in Khartoum partcipated in the attack, using a Fatah vehicle to transport the terrorists to the Saudi Arabian Embassy.
New homes sales: Back from the dead? New home sales rise more than expected and prices post gains despite continued rise in completed new homes on the market. December 27 2006: 11:11 AM EST
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- New home sales and prices both showed surprising strength in November, according to a government report Wednesday.
New homes sold at an annual pace of 1.05 million, up from the revised annual rate of 1.01 million in October. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast that home sales would rebound to a 1.02 million pace.
..... On Saturday, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, increasing international pressure on the government to prove that it is not trying to make nuclear weapons.
..... Iran insists its nuclear program is intended to produce energy, but the U.S. and European nations suspect its ultimate goal is the production of weapons.
That's "funny." Here's an AP story from December 11 by Alicia Chang, AP Science writer, about potential global cooling that might occur as the result of a nuclear war that says:
Despite all the proof, Paul Krugman and most of Old Media will probably never let go of the "stagnant wages" meme to describe the Bush 43 prosperity. Their failure to acknowledge the obvious becomes clearer with nearly each passing day.
Tuesday's OpinionJournal.com feature editorial (may require free e-mail registration) doesn't merely show that the favorite meme of Krugman and his economic brothers and sisters is a folk tale. It also reveals a completely unreported item about this prosperity compared to the 1990s that even yours truly was not prepared for -- a truth (in the third excerpted paragraph) that needs to be trotted out on a weekly basis for about the next year -- or ten (bolds are mine):
Last year, I sensed that journalists in general prefer to call this time of the year in commerce that of "holiday shopping" instead of "Christmas shopping," but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to "Christmas."
My instincts were proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December (links to last year's related posts are here, here, and here):
I've decided to track the same items this year to see if there is any noticeable change or trend.
Here are all three sets of Google News searches during this Christmas season, compared to last year (the Dec. 22, 2006 searches were done at about noon; the posts on the previous two searches are here and here):
I know there's only so much space, but today's subscription-only editorial in the Wall Street Journal missed a BIG chance to tell people something that the formerly Mainstream Media never gets around to telling people -- Social Security, contrary to popular belief, is a "progressive" tax system in its own right. Though the payroll tax taken in isolation is "regressive" because it is not assessed above a certain income level (at annual earnings above roughly $90,000), the fact that the more you make, the less you get in retirement benefits (compared to what you earned while you were working) more than offsets any nominal "regressiveness."
You doubt? Though the below from my classroom presentations changes every year, and still needs to be updated for the benefit increase announced in November, it makes the point (Warning: Mood-swing alert for upper-middle and greater income earners -- Ed.):
Maybe our liberal friends are onto something. They keep saying the rich should pay more taxes, and it turns out the rich already are! That's one of the valuable lessons from the IRS's annual study of income tax data, just released for 2004.
Americans who earned more than $1 million in adjusted gross income paid $178 billion, or an average of $740,000 per filer, in income taxes in 2004. That's up about one-third from 2002, the year before the Bush tax cuts in marginal income-tax and dividend and capital gains rates. The wealthiest 1% of tax filers paid a remarkable 35% of all individual income-tax payments that year.
I love the following analogy, but WSJ could have gone further with it:
Yet Another Poser (Mostly) Gets Through the Media 'Filter'
Yesterday, in his story about Rosemarie Jackowski, the "new folk hero" of the antiwar movement, John Curran of the Associated Press quoted a gentlemen who was arrested with Jackowski in a 2003 protest incident in Vermont:
She's not a loony toon by any means," said Andrew Schoerke, 73, a retired U.S. Navy captain who was arrested with her. "She's a very down to earth, sensible, caring person with some very strong convictions."
But what about her "character witness," Mr. Schoerke?
I did a Google Main search on his name in quotes last night. At the time, the very first item (it has moved down since) was A May 19 column by Mr. Schoerke, "Stop Bush's Next War", which he believes to be Iran, and where he is described as follows -- "Andrew Schoerke, United States Naval Reserve Captain (ret.), lives in Shaftsbury, VT and is a member of vermontpeacetrain." At the very least, he's not just another "unlikely peace activist," as Jackowski is described in the headline.
Vermont Peace Train of Bennington is "a 'grassroots' organization formed by residents of Southwest Vermont in order to promote and practicethe non-violent resolution of conflicts." That's career peace activist-speak.
So that made me wonder if Schoerke has been arrested on other occasions. Googling "ex-Navy officer arrested" (not entered in quotes) -- Surprise, surprise (not), at the very first item, this guy's in the "big leagues":