Donna Brazile apparently liked yours truly's NewsBusters post yesterday. That post ripped the Associated Press's Pollyanna-like coverage of the U.S. economy, and carried the following headline which may have caused several spilled drinks and soaked monitors among the genuinely informed — "AP: ‘Humming’ and ‘Rising’ U.S. Economy Is a ‘World-Beater.'"
About five hours after the post's appearance, Brazile tweeted her clear approval (HT Twitchy). While we appreciate any traffic which might have come this way as a result of Brazile's tweet, it's hard to imagine that Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign manager has switched sides. It's far more likely that she didn't bother reading the underlying post. The tweet follows the jump:
Fox News contributor and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer made a very interesting and logical correlation Friday. The press has predictably failed to make the connection or even to relay Krauthammer's point, simply because it leads to the default assumption that conservatives were right on an important economic issue.
To be clear, the point Krauthammer and National Review Online's Robert Stein made on Thursday isn't directly provable. But the fact that an acceleration in job growth and a significant reduction in the unemployment rate have occurred in the six months since extended unemployment benefits expired is hard to explain away as some kind of lucky coincidence — especially given the endless blather of "weather" excuses the press and the administration have made about the economy in general since early this year. Video and a transcript follow the jump.
In the latest White House press release disguised as analysis at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, AP stenographer Paul Wiseman sang the praises of this nation's "humming" job market and its "steadily rising" growth as the economy is "finally showing the vigor that Americans have long awaited." Wow.
Of course, the White House — er, Wiseman — never mentioned the following (to name just a few): two straight months (April and May) of real declines in consumer purchases; the seasonally adjusted decline of 523,000 in full-time employment paired with an increase of 799,000 part-time jobs in June; April’s and May's trade imbalance coming in worse than March’s, which was already very high; shipments of durable goods barely budging in April and May; factory orders falling in May; or May's flat construction spending. It got worse, as Wiseman concocted five reasons why the U.S. economy is a "world beater." Excerpts from Paul's pathetic prose follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
It looks like the "weather" excuse the press went to repeatedly to explain weak economic results in December, and January, and February, and March still has life in April. But this time, warm weather (which most of us would find "good," at least in April) is to blame. An early afternoon report (relevant portion saved here in graphic form) on the Dow's 200-point mid-day dip by the Associated Press's Ken Sweet claims that April's reported decline in industrial production was "possibly due to more bad weather" (while this post was prepared, the AP issued a 2:17 p.m. update which still had the "bad weather" excuse.)
That "bad weather" line is odd, because an earlier AP dispatch by Paul Wiseman exclusively about today's production release from the Federal Reserve didn't mention or allude to the weather at all. After the jump, I'll walk readers through Sweet's possible "warm weather was really bad weather (for the economy)" logic and critique Wiseman's longer coverage.
I guess the Associated Press's business and economics reporters feel they've done their jobs if they mention the relative donominance of new workforce entries by temps and part-timers once, while still denigrating the obvious validity of the latter — and pretend it never has to be mentioned again.
That's how the AP's Christopher Rugaber can produce a writeup, as he did today, telling readers that "The job market is sending signs that it may be strengthening," which contains no reference to part-timers or temps, obviously because that would disrupt the "improvement" meme. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
In a Saturday afternoon dispatch, the Associated Press marred a mostly decent presentation of the August employment situation reported by the government yesterday in three ways.
The first is the story's misleading headline: "The Job Market Fed Faces: Healing But Still Ailing." Whether there's genuine healing going on is highly debatable, given that the labor force participation rate fell to 63.2 percent, its lowest level since 1978, and the clear trend towards part-time work. AP Economics Writer Paul Wiseman's treatment of that trend and another related one represent the report's other three weaknesses, as seen in the following three paragraphs (bolds are mine):
After a two-year hiatus, the Associated Press has apparently decided that Americans need a weekly reminder of how bad weekly layoffs were during the recession.
In June 2011, possibly as a result of some hectoring by yours truly, the wire service totally or almost totally stopped reminding readers that "(unemployment) claims applications peaked at 659,000 during the recession." That tired figure was already over two years old, and isn't even an all-time record (several weeks during the 1980s were higher, even with a much smaller workforce). So who cares? But in each of the past three weeks, AP has resurrected that tired number (since revised slightly upward because of changes to seasonal adjustment factors), as if a one-week stat from almost 4-1/2 years ago means anything to anybody right now:
On Thursday, the Department of Labor announced that initial unemployment claims during the week ended August 3 rose to a seasonally adjusted 333,000, up from a revised 328,000 the previous week.
A "breaking" tweet from the Associated Press issued just a few minutes after the report's 8:30 a.m. (5:30 PT) release read as follows: "U.S. unemployment aid applications up only 5,000 to 333,000 - a level that signals steady job gains." The folks at Twitchy.com properly wondered how rising jobless claims can lead to more jobs. The wire service abandoned the tweet's claim only 19 minutes after its release, and went as far as admitting that "hiring lags" in a longer, late afternoon item.
In this case, the old saying, "Better late than never" really shouldn't apply. In June, when the government's Household Survey used to determine the unemployment rate reported that there were 240,000 fewer full-time workers and 360,000 more part-time workers than there were in May, the establishment press, particularly the Associated Press, largely ignored or downplayed the result.
The AP's Christopher Rugaber broke the ice a bit in early July after June's jobs report, and the wire service has finally gone full-bore into noting the trend towards part-time work in the past two days. But while the press slept for months, center-right bloggers and many others have been chronicling the trend anecdotally since late last year, and gradually with solid numbers from the government's own reports as the year has worn on.
On Sunday, in a report which I contend would surely have been published on a weekday -- and more importantly, published with far greater clarity -- if a Republican or conservative were in the White House, the Associated Press's Paul Wiseman essentially explored the following question: "Why aren't people spending more if they're so much richer?"
The answer he found, which should surprise no one in touch with reality, is that quite a few of us aren't richer. We're poorer. But Wiseman also cryptically revealed some of the dollar amounts involved and enough other information to enable one to back into an estimate of the shocking degree of wealth redistribution which has taken place during the recession and the first term of the Obama administration -- and it's not in the direction you might think.
The disgraceful lengths to which writers in the establishment press will rewrite history to paper over the economy's awful performance during the past five years is perfectly illustrated in one paragraph found in an otherwise decent Associated Press "Big Story" report ("Dropouts: Discouraged Americans leave labor force") Saturday evening by Paul Wiseman and Jesse Washington, with help from Chris "No chance of recession" Rugaber and Scott Mayerowitz.
The statement: "The participation rate peaked at 67.3 percent in 2000, reflecting an influx of women into the work force. It's been falling steadily ever since." The "fall" has not been "steady," nor has been the decline in the employment-population ratio (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics data retrievable here):
After telling the world on Thursday that "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession," it seems that the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber needed some help explaining away Friday's weak jobs report from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The AP had four reporters on Friday evening's coverage, all seemingly in search of a viable excuse for another "unexpectedly" disappointing report: Rugaber, co-author Paul Wiseman, and contributors Jonathan Fahey and Joyce Rosenberg in New York. Several paragraphs from their report follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
A week ago, Associated Press reporters and their articles' headlines described the nation's job market in positive terms. An early a.m. report on Janaury carried this headline: "U.S. job market resilient despite budget fight." Later that same morning, just before the government's release of that day's employment report, there was this: "Jobs report expected to show underlying economic strength." Late that afternoon, reacting to the news that the economy had a December unemployment rate of 7.8 percent while adding 155,000 seasonally adjusted jobs, AP reporters Paul Wiseman and Christopher Rugaber described the performance as "matching the solid but unspectacular monthly pace of the past two years."
Reports from wire services other than the AP, which might as well stand for the Administration's Press, weren't as rosy. At Reuters ("Mediocre job growth points to slow grind for U.S. economy"), Jason Lange observed that December's hiring pace was "short of the levels needed to bring down a still lofty unemployment rate." Fair enough, but what the press continues to virtually ignore -- while obsessing over the same problem early last decade when the problem was nowhere near as severe -- is the plight of the long-term unemployed.
In his Jackson Hole, Wyoming presentation today, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, as reported by Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press, made the following claim in connection with the Fed's programs of "quantitative easing" (QE): "Bernanke argued Friday that collectively, such measures have succeeded. He cited research showing that two rounds of QE (quantitative easing) had created 2 million jobs and accelerated U.S. economic growth."
I'm not inclined to automatically believe Big Ben's word. But if he's right, and if the allegedly positive effects of QE started being felt at about the time the recession ended, that would mean that the fiscal policies of the Obama administration are responsible for the remnant. Of course, Wiseman at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, didn't ask the next logical question, so I will. Guess how big that remnant is?
There are so many holes in Paul Wiseman's Wednesday report at the Associated Press on the weakness of the current "recovery" that it would take a term paper to cover all of them. I'll just concentrate on a repeat error Wiseman made. It is one which AP colleagues Christopher Rugaber (with Wiseman, as demonstrated here) and Martin Crutsinger (as shown here) have also committed. All three gentlemen have been preparing their reports as if "government spending" is the same thing as the government spending and investment component of the nation's economic output. It's not.
In his piece about why the Obama "recovery" (as seen here, by Warren Buffet's requirement that per capita GDP has to return to where it was before the downturn began, we don't even have the beginnings of a recovery yet) is the worst since World War II, Wiseman had the following to say on the "government spending" topic:
A year ago, Standard & Poor's cut its rating of U.S. government debt from AAA to AA+.
Very early Monday morning, in what read more like an Obama administration press release than a wire service news report, Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press claimed that subsequent events and other agencies' decisions not to deliver similar downgrades represent a "decisive repudiation" of S&P's call. Gee, I think an element of other agencies' holdbacks had quite a bit to do with the Obama administration's almost immediate move to launch an investigation into how S&P handled the ratings of mortgage-backed securities leading up to the housing and mortgage lending mess in 2008. The others didn't want to become the Department of Justice's next targets. But of course Wiseman didn't bring up that inconvenient point. Excerpts follow:
The wire services and other establishment press members appear to be getting more selective in what they will allow into their headlines, particularly omitting items which might hurt Dear Leader.
Take the coverage of yesterday's Employment Situation Summary from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The news was a combination of bad and mediocre (though expectations-beating): The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 8.2% to 8.3% (or from 8.217% to 8.254%, if you're Obama administration hack Alan Krueger), while the seasonally adjusted number of jobs added was 163,000. Both results are really unacceptable when there's so much not utilized and underutilized labor. Three establishment press headlines avoided mentioning the rate increase, even though it was a major element of the underlying story:
Todays unemployment claims release from the Department of Labor reported that initial jobless aid applications for the week ended July 14 were 386,000 after seasonal adjustment. Business Insider's email this morning carried a prediction of 364,000. Bloomberg's consensus prediction was 365,000.
At the Associated Press, in his 8:45 a.m. dispatch (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Economics Writer Paul Wiseman was inadvertently correct when he wrote that "the figures may have been distorted by seasonal factors." Well yeah, Paul, but the seasonal distortion isn't the one you cited. As will be seen after the jump. today's number arguably should have come in at over 400,000.
Really, the only surprise is that consumers came before Obama in the headline -- because Obama came before the economy in the underlying article.
A late-day dispatch from Jonathan Fahey and Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press even found someone to say that history will be on Obama's side if gas prices fall to below $3.50 a gallon or so by Labor Day. Excerpts follow (bolds are mine):
As has been so typical in analogous instances for the year or so I have been following the weekly claims numbers closely, the Associated Press (aka the Administration's Press), Reuters, and Bloomberg headlined a "dip," a "fall," and a "drop" in filings for initial claims, even though the dip-fall-drop from 368,000 to 367,000 only occurred because last week's figure was revised up from 365,000. If this week's figure is revised up by 1,000 or more (based on the past 60 weeks, there's at least a 95% chance of that), the dip-fall-drop will be gone-gone-gone. The AP's Paul Wiseman produced the howler of the morning in the last of the five excerpted paragraphs which follow (bolds are mine):
To the extent that it was there at all, there was far too little emphasis in yesterday's wire service reporting on yesterday's OMG-awful jobs report (worse than most believe, as will be shown in a later post) was far less on those who continue to be affected -- like, say, the unemployed, under-employed and discouraged, who should be the object of such news stories -- and far too much concentration on what it might mean for President Obama's reelection prospects.
This was noticeable yesterday at Bloomberg, Reuters, and of course at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine).
Well, we can all stop thinking about the presidential election, because Barack Obama's victory is assured. This morning, Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, virtually celebrated analysts' predictions that the unemployment rate will drop a whole 0.3% between now and Election Day to 7.9%. But in searching desperately for a precedent, he claimed that a public which has historically tended to have a "What have you done for me lately?" mentality has rewarded presidents seeking reelection who have seen the jobless rate decline in "the two years before the election." By this "logic," Obama will be reelected even if the unemployment rate zooms to 9.7% by Election Day, because that rate will still be lower than November 2010 rate of 9.8%. So, as I said, it's over.
What follows in rebuttal isn't a claim that Obama won't get reelected. But if he does, it will be certainly be for reasons other than the economy's (brace yourself) "brighter jobs picture" and its move into a "virtuous cycle." Excerpts from Wiseman's wheezing follow the jump (bold is mine; HT to BizzyBlog commenter "Tony"):
On Friday evening, it was Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman. Today it's Martin Crutsinger. Together with Derek Kravitz (who isn't in on the latest offense -- yet), perhaps the just-named quartet of alleged journalists should be named "The Four Distortsmen."
Today, it was Crutsinger who, in the wake of a mediocre report on consumer spending, again invoked "government budget-cutting as the primary culprit explaining why the economy only grew by an estimated annualized 2.2% during the first quarter:
In the first quarter of 2012, the federal government spent $966 billion. That's 10% more than the $877 billion spent during the previous quarter, and 2% more than the $949 spent during the first quarter of 2011.
Yet the party line Friday evening from Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is that economic growth in the first quarter, which the government preliminarily told us yesterday was an annualized 2.2% (trailing consensus estimates of 2.6%), was so mediocre because of "government budget-cutting." A closer look indicates that if anything, they should have tagged it as defense budget-cutting and never did; the rest of government spending continues to balloon out of control. The pair's opening six paragraphs follow the jump.
It has become clear what the Obama campaign's strategy for trying to win states like Michigan and Ohio is and will continue to be. In three steps, it's as follows: 1) Pretend that the states' Republican governors, John Kasich in Ohio and Rick Snyder in Michigan, who both succeeded free-spending Democrats who presided over stagnant economies, have had nothing to do with their increased employment, lower unemployment rates, and improved business climates (as well as balanced budgets in fiscal 2012 involving no tax increases, though Snyder may ruin that in Michigan this year); 2) Instead give the credit for all of these favorable developments to Obama and the governments' bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors; 3) Don't say anything about how other states run by Dems, particularly Illinois, North Carolina, and Connecticut, are lagging because they have instead tried to apply Washington's tax-and-spend model to their states' fiscal situations.
Of course the AP, aka the Adminisitration's Press, is all too willing to make the administration's laughable claims appear credible. It did so in two separate items this week, one giving basic details about the job-market situations in Ohio, Michigan, and North Carolina, and the other covering Obama allegedly improving chances of winning Ohio, Michigan, and a dozen other "swing" states. There was no mention of the Buckeye State's or Wolverine State's chief executives in either article.
On Friday (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Associated Press's headline at Paul Wiseman's dispatch after the release of the government's March jobs report was: "US job market takes a break after hiring binge." It was as if they just knew that March was an aberration, and that the "binging" would resume in April.
The markets weren't as convinced today: "Investors had a three-day weekend to brood over disappointing job growth in March. When they got back to work Monday and delivered their verdict, it wasn't good." Wiseman and AP regrouped today, identifying "5 reasons the US job market might be weakening":
Did you know that the economy was on a "hiring binge" until February? Gosh, neither did I until the headline to Paul Wiseman's report at the Associated Press yesterday afternoon informed of that.
I also didn't know that economies took breaks, but that's what the AP's headline said the economy did in March. And don't worry -- "few economists expect hiring to fizzle in spring and summer, as it did the past two years." Correct me if I'm wrong, but they weren't expecting to see fizzling in 2011 or 2010, and guess what happened (or maybe they were just extended "breaks")? What follows are the first five paragraphs from Wiseman's dispatch, plus selected others:
It would seem that Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press had his copy prepared in advance for today's jobs report.
The consensus was that today's report from Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics would show that 200,000 seasonally adjusted jobs were added in March. So it was a virtual lock that today's result would mean that the past four months were the best for net hiring in the past two years. Accordingly, after the report's release, Wiseman, despite the disappointing news that March's number was only 120,000, apparently just plugged in the four-month total and ran with it:
Even with recent "improvements" which are still weak when compared to other post-World War II recoveries and which, as shown yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), are less substantive than December's two major reported numbers (unemployment rate of 8.5% and seasonally adjusted job additions of 200,000) would indicate, it seems fairly likely that the nation's unemployment rate will be higher than it has been on the eve of any presidential election since World War II.
Thus, Paul Wiseman of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, felt it necessary to show that what matters isn't the unemployment rate, but instead the rate's trend. In the process, he mischaracterized the state of the economy under Ronald Reagan in 1983 and 1984, ignoring the roaring economic growth which occurred during those two years, and gave only one sentence to a statistic -- number of jobs added or lost -- which has become as important as the jobless rate, if not moreso, in the intervening 28 years: