Some investigative reporters still live up to their job descriptions.
On the July 20 edition of "CBS Evening News," reporter Sharyl Attkisson exposed how government-sponsored entity (GSE) Fannie Mae and mortgage lender Countrywide "scratched each other's backs" while their toxic loans fueled America's mortgage crisis.
Attkisson revealed new documents showing that Countrywide gave "very important person" loans to dozens of Fannie Mae executives while American taxpayers forked over $84 billion to bail out the GSE.
Among the VIP loan recipients were Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson, who received $10 million, former Vice Chair Jamie Gorelick and former CEO Franklin Raines, whose total amounts received remain unknown. Attkisson reported the loans, but did not mention Raines, Gorelick, and Johnson all have ties to Democrats, from Bill Clinton to John Kerry to President Obama.
"Is America in danger of the current debt crisis becoming a sovereign debt crisis as Mort [Zuckerman] mentioned, like the one that is now hitting Greece, yes or no?" McLaughlin asked.
MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan warned it was more "imminent" than many people have forecast. He cited British historian and Harvard professor Niall Ferguson, who has declared the country to be on the brink of a Greek-like collapse.
UPDATE, JULY 18: This post was based in an Associated Press's quote of a statement President Obama made to NBC News that "my policies ... got us out of this mess." Subsequent review of the video and transcript of that interview shows that the President really said "my policies ... are getting us out of this mess." I have prepared a follow-up post dealing with this matter and a separate significant omission in the transcript at BizzyBlog and NewsBusters.
What follows are the first three paragraphs from this short AP report on President Obama's interview with NBC:
Liberal talk radio host Bill Press says President Obama's poll numbers are down because Americans are spoiled, impatient children that want everything solved yesterday.
After describing to his listeners Tuesday all the fabulous accomplishments this president has made since taking office in January 2009, Press admonished the citizenry for giving the White House resident poor grades for his efforts.
"I think this says more about the American people than it does about President Obama," barked Press.
"I think it just shows once again that the American people are spoiled" (audio follows with partial transcript and commentary):
The financial regulations package recently passed by the House of Representatives would create a new diversity overseer at each of the major federal financial regulatory agencies, including the new ones created by the legislation itself.
This new office, called the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, would take over from any existing diversity or civil rights office already working at the agencies in question.
It would also be responsible for making sure that each of the major federal financial regulators is hiring enough minorities and women, and contracting with enough minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
However, each individual diversity czar is responsible for defining exactly how many minorities, women, and minority- and women-owned businesses are satisfactory.
Channeling her inner Nancy Pelosi, Rachel Maddow on Sunday actually said extending unemployment benefits is "the most stimulative thing you can do" to help the ailing economy.
Appearing on the panel discussion of NBC's "Meet the Press," Maddow boldly presented a liberal view of economics that only the current House Speaker would be proud of.
"I think that most Americans also, though, understand the basic arithmetic that when you're talking about pushing tax cuts that do mostly benefit the wealthy and you're simultaneously talking about getting tough on the deficit, you're talking about a world in which math doesn't work the way most people think it works."
Indeed, for moments before she falsely stated that Obama inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.
But Maddow's best remark Sunday had to be, "If you really want a stimulus, do what we -- what's proven to work in stimulus, which is things like extending unemployment benefits...It's the most stimulative thing you can do" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
While some on the left side of the aisle in Congress are getting all starry-eyed about prospects of more federal stimulus spending, the first round of stimulus under President Barack Obama may have done even less to help the ailing economy than supporters claim.
On MSNBC's July 9 broadcast of "The Daily Rundown," co-hosts Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie interviewed CNBC "Closing Bell" anchor Maria Bartiromo from the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colo. And Bartiromo offered her views why the economy didn't spiral out of control any more than it did. She said according to some on Wall Street, it wasn't Obama's $787-billion "stimulus" that included a huge bulk of state government bailout spending, but instead action by the Federal Reserve to put more liquidity in the economy.
"Look, there's no doubt about it - we were close to going off a cliff the weekend at Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, Merrill [Lynch] was sold and AIG acquired by government," Bartiromo said. "You know, I mean I think we were very close and the economy needed stimulus in a big way. It's arguable whether that stimulus that helped the economy was really because of the stimulus plan or really because of the Federal Reserve. I think most people on Wall Street will believe and will tell you that it was really the Fed action in terms of giving greater access to the banks to overnight lending that really, really got us out."
“The side that talks about the need to rein in the federal government” is “not very rational,” yet “is winning” the debate over whether to pass another “stimulus” bill, Al Hunt regretted on Sunday’s This Week on ABC.
The former Washington Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, who’s Washington Editor for Bloomberg where he hosts Bloomberg TV’s Political Capital show, fretted over how “right now, that argument – that we have to rein in because the stimulus didn’t work -- well, I think most economists would say the stimulus did work in the sense it would have been a lot worse if there hadn’t been one.”
Hunt’s assessment came in reaction to an outnumbered Dan Senor, the lone voice on the panel against additional government spending to spur the economy and who warned of a Greece in our future. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman charged the 2009 stimulus bill wasn’t big enough and proposed that in the face of a likely $20 trillion debt in ten years, “whether we borrow another $500 billion now” is “really trivial,” Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Constitution yearned for a new “robust stimulus” and Jorge Ramos of Univision declared: “We need more government intervention.”
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is angry the Senate hasn't once again extended unemployment benefits, and he's blaming "heartless, clueless and confused" Republicans.
"There was a time when everyone took it for granted that unemployment insurance, which normally terminates after 26 weeks, would be extended in times of persistent joblessness. It was, most people agreed, the decent thing to do," the Nobel laureate wrote Monday.
"Yet the Senate went home for the holiday weekend without extending benefits. How was that possible?" asked Krugman.
Unfortunately, his answer will be quite disturbing to most on the right:
Paul Krugman is known for throwing a bomb or two from his platform in the New York Times, but it's really tough to take him for a violent fellow.
In his July 2 blog post, "I'm Gonna Haul Out The Next Guy Who Calls Me ‘Crude' And Punch Him In the Kisser," Krugman lamented criticism of his support for more stimulus spending. A July 1 editorial in The Economist noted that the economy needs more private spending, not more government spending.
"Mr Krugman's crude Keynesianism underplays the link between firms' and households' behaviour and their expectations of future tax and spending policy," the editorial said. "For example, firms across the rich world are hoarding cash. Their reluctance to invest may have more to do with regulatory, financial and fiscal uncertainty than weak consumer demand (see article). If governments address those worries, businesspeople may start spending."
Overall, the news media have been supportive of the Obama's spending requests, a trend some continued in reports about the summit.
An "American Morning" segment painted a flattering picture of Obama at the G-20 summit by ignoring the "rift" between Obama's push for more stimulus and Europe's desire to slash budgets. Christine Romans made it sound as if everyone came to an agreement.
Can anyone think of an angrier group of writers in political punditry than the ones currently published at Salon.com?
Throughout the Elena Kagan hearings, both Joan Walsh and Joe Conason have written anti-Republican screeds accusing GOP lawmakers of all sorts of unsavory things to score political points despite what's likely be a certain confirmation.
However, this disposition goes beyond just the SCOTUS hearings.
Add New York Times columnist Bob Herbert to the growing list of liberal media members realizing that Barack Obama's campaign slogan "Hope and Change" was nothing but a great sales pitch.
"Mr. Obama and the Democrats have wasted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity handed to them in the 2008 election," wrote Herbert Tuesday.
"They did not focus on jobs, jobs, jobs as their primary mission."
No, they sure didn't. Instead, they worked on a stimulus package that has done nothing but add to the debt, a healthcare bill that WILL do nothing but add to the debt, and a cap and trade bill that if ever passed will cost jobs in virtually every industry.
As Herbert continued, he surprisingly noted how disappointed Americans are in the failure of this administration to do what the country needed most:
On Thursday, a new unemployment bill died in Congress as Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) joined Republicans on the grounds that government spending can't go on forever.
Instead of reporting both sides, the media couldn't seem to hide their anger.
The bill was called a "jobless aid" package that "governors were counting on" to help "the poor" across the nation. Almost all news reports began from the Democrat perspective and waited several paragraphs before weakly defending Republicans.
Worse yet, a consensus with far more damaging impact began to grow: the loss will cause the nation's economy to fall into a double dip recession, and it will be entirely the Republicans' fault.
Never mind last year's stimulus bill worth $700 billion, or the bank bailout of 2008, both of which have failed to live up to promises of recovery. No, our economy is suffering because fiscal conservatives won't spend even more.
"Well, you know, it's all about, in my opinion, definition and choice," Santelli said. "Definition, I don't disagree with our guest, Richard [DeKaser, president of Woodley Park Research], about stimulus, but I haven't seen any stimulus. I've seen a lot of spending. And in terms of choice, austerity isn't something people are going to volunteer for. The creditors are going to force it on them. I think these issues are much different than we're selling them. You know, we don't have a new Hoover Dam. We don't have a new electric grid. We paid a bunch of salaries and benefits and extension benefits, unemployment with a lot of that money that you save jobs because you paid teachers because states couldn't afford it I don't think any of that really falls under a definition of stimulus."
Fresh off his Tea Party cover storyin the June 24 Weekly Standard, CNBC's Rick Santelli foresees what could be classified as an economic black hole for the United States of America.
On the network's June 24 broadcast of "Strategy Session," the CME Group reporter explained how the country could be headed down the same path and face the economic calamity the Japanese faced in what is known asthe "lost decade."That period, from 1991-2000, was one which the Asian nation failed to grow economically despite countless efforts by the government to intervene. But as Santelli explained - the U.S. version of Japanese economic policies could result in Greek-style austerity measures.
"The notion that we are turning into Japan has been something talked about on this floor for probably a year and a half," Santelli said. "What changes though, is that it is now a toss up between Japan and Greece and trust me the eventual solutions or recommendations for avoiding the pitfalls of either are completely different strategies. A lot of Japanese say, ‘More Keynesian, more stimulus, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend.' And the other side of the equation says, ‘Well then, you are going turn into Greece.' Where does the truth lie? One thing I can tell you is, is that demographics are a big issue in this story as well. The Japanese have a demographic time bomb similar to the U.S. in terms of underfunded pensions and liabilities."
But on June 21, Associated Press reported the mortgage assistance program is "falling flat."
The broadcast networks supported the mortgage modification and housing bailout when Obama launched it in 2009, after criticizing Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's plan for not doing "enough" to fix the problem. ABC, CBS and NBC haven't mentioned the new figures since AP reported them.
On the June 20th edition of Sunday Morning, CBS reporter Richard Schlesinger conducted a glowing interview with pay czar Kenneth Feinberg, lauding him as someone who speaks with "moral authority" and who has "become an expert assessor of the value of life itself."
Feinberg, who will now be in charge of distributing the $20 billion BP has pledged for the oil spill, previously worked with President Obama to control salaries and bonuses of Wall Street CEOs. Schlesinger could barely contain his disgust for the executives.
He scolded, "How do you avoid looking at these guys on the other side of the table and say, You're just a bunch of greedy so-and-sos?"
That's the theme of author John S. Cohoat's new book "No Thank You, Mr. President," which tells the story of 10 private companies in Elkhart County, Ind., that made their own way to economic recovery without government handouts.
"My hope is that these stories provide some inspiration for you or make you remember why our capitalist economic policies and truly American way of life is the answer," Cohoat wrote in his first chapter, titled ‘Why This Book? Why Now?'
Cohoat characterized Elkhart County, in the northern part of the state near South Bend, as a hard-nosed area able to take care of itself. His portrayal stands in contract to the national media's portrayal of the county as the "poster child for all that is bad with our economy."
When it comes to the performance of the U.S.-headquartered Detroit automakers once known as the Big Three, the real news in the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Initial Quality Study (IQS) is not what the Associated Press's Stephen Manning wrote in his Thursday coverage ("US cars top foreign brands on quality survey") of Power's pronouncement. While barely true and in a sense historic, it's not even in the neighborhood of being the big story.
Because of its timing, Power's IQS is as good a report card as any out there on the job President Barack Obama's car czars and his apparatchik management appointees have done during the past year in improving the quality of the vehicles produced at government-controlled General Motors and Chrysler.
Previous work I did in connection with two other AP reports on perceived quality -- one in April (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), and one in mid-May (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) -- caused me to detect a distinct aroma of propaganda-driven misdirection in Manning's missive. A detailed look at J.D. Power's report reveals the full extent of Stephen's stench.
Succinctly stating AP's inversion of reality with a strange assist from a Power spokeperson, Manning treated us to the following paragraphs:
The news media have recently been struck with World Cup fever, with two broadcast networks sending reporters to South Africa to cover the games. At the same time, a bailout request that could cost taxpayers another $50 billion was ignored by most broadcast news programs.
ABC, CBS and NBC spent a combined 25 minutes 54 seconds talking about World Cup soccer between June 13 and 15. That was more than 38 times what they spend talking about Obama's latest call for further government spending - which was guaranteed to upset taxpayers.
While the World Cup is a worthwhile story, U.S. taxpayers might have ranked a request for $50 billion more of their dollars higher than the networks did.
Obama sent a letter to Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle June 12, urging them to pass a "derailed" $50 billion state bailout bill. But the three broadcast networks' newcasts have all but ignored it. "Good Morning America" was the only network newscast to mention the president's push for more stimulus. Its story was 40 seconds long.
Real Clear Politics currently has a video highlighting statements by Democratic Congressman James Clyburn Jr. of South Carolina. It teases the video with a question asked by Candy Crowley of CNN.
Once one sees the entire sequence, it's clear that Clyburn really answered Crowley's question before she even asked it.
Here's the full transcript of the vid, which begins after Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence had apparently made some points about how steps taken by the Obama administration to revive the economy to the point where it generates meaningful job growth aren't working. Clyburn's answer to when his party will stop blaming Bush is in bold:
Clyburn: Uh, Congressman Spence, uh, Pence keeps talkin' about, uh, the fact that, uh, we are, uh, failing in our approach. We all know exactly what this president inherited, and we will stop talkin' about that inheritance, uh, when uh Congressman uh Pence and others stop talkin' about takin' us back uh to those failed policies.
An overwhelming majority of Americans prefer freedom of the press to outdated models of journalism, according to a new Rasmussen poll. The survey comes in the midst of discussions in the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to intervene on behalf of Old Media.
Eighty-five percent of respondents in the Rasmussen poll said they believe maintaining press freedom is more important than financially supporting the newspaper industry. Only six percent said the latter is more important. Just 14 percent said they would favor a bailout of the newspaper industry.
Respondents worried that government involvement in the industry would compromise press neutrality. Indeed, this sentiment reflects the findings of a number of studies over the past few years. As with any bailout, a bailout of a newspaper would inevitably mean at least some say in that newspaper's content.
On February 19, 2009, Rick Santelli helped create a movement whose political impact has not yet been fully realized. The "Rant Heard 'Round the World," as it has become known, was a profound, if hardly isolated example of the power of conservative pundits to enact political change.
That power has grown as Americans have become more sympathetic to the economic conservative argument--both the moral/spiritual element of it, and the strictly economic one. The American people have by and large come full circle in a short time, and the pundits that retain the most influence in our society have changed accordingly.
Santelli is the perfect example, as he was certainly not the prominent name he is now before he let loose on the floor of the Chicago exchange. Michael Barone explains the essential appeal of the rant. He wrote Wednesday that it "was both an economic and a moral argument."
While appearing before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was asked by newly-elected Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) whether or not the federal government has a plan to tackle the continuing financial crisis. Check out his answer:
On Saturday’s Huckabee show on FNC, as the show was broadcast from Las Vegas, singer Wayne Newton appeared as a guest to discuss the economic situation in the city, and, when asked by host Mike Huckabee his reaction to President Obama’s remarks from last year attacking businesses for indulging in trips to Las Vegas, Newton did not mince words: "I think that it was the most irresponsible, arrogant thing I have ever heard a President of the United States say."
Fellow guest and Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons related that hundreds of conventions were canceled after the President’s words, costing the city a fortune in lost business: "There's no doubt that the people of Las Vegas, the city of Las Vegas were severely hurt by the President's remarks. About 400 conventions, business meetings, and that were canceled because of his remarks; $100 million was lost by the community at that remark. People lost their jobs. This city took a real blow when the President made that remark. He was wrong then, and then he said it again, and I don't understand why he keeps picking on Las Vegas."
Newton jumped in again and suggested that the President has been hypocritical in holding political fundraisers in Las Vegas: "He was not so incensed with Las Vegas, that he then decided to come here and do two fundraisers."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Saturday, May 22, Huckabee on FNC:
A few weeks ago (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Associated Press tried to pass off a poll it had conducted with its partner GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media (inexplicably held for 40 days) as showing that "Americans (are) shifting to US cars."
Actually looking at the poll's detailed results revealed that Americans are "shifting to US cars" made by Ford, and either shifting away or staying away from those made by the two wards of the state known as Government/General Motors and Chrysler.
They're still at it, just not quite as blatantly. A brief AP item yesterday reported that automotive residual data collector Automotive Lease Guide's Spring 2010 Perceived Quality Study (PDF here) had shown a significant decline for Toyota and significant improvements at Ford and Kia.
Guess who AP "forgot" to mention? When you see the graphic results, you will see who, and instinctively understand why.
The comparison of the results contained in the April 2010 Monthly Treasury Statement released this afternoon to April of last year is bad enough. But if the American people knew that April 2010 came in about a quarter-trillion dollars worse than both 2007 and 2008 with almost 40% less in tax collections, most of them would be appalled. Many more than are already doing so would be questioning what in the heck this administration and Congress are up to.
That's why you probably won't see establishment media outlets like the Associated Press go back more than one year in their detailed comparisons, even though during the presidency of George W. Bush, writers like the AP's Martin Crutsinger and others frequently went back to fiscal 2000 and 2001 to remind readers of the surpluses that occurred during those fiscal years. The intent, of course, was to imply that things were just peachy keen under Bill Clinton until the eeeeevil Bush ruined everything. As noted later, that ain't so.
Here is the AP's Crutsinger on today's Treasury Statement, blissfully pretending, with the exception of one cryptic reference, that the two high-collection Bush years neeeeeeeever happened:
It doesn't seem like this exercise should be that tough.
The government issues Daily Treasury Statements telling everybody what went in and out on a given business day. At the end of the month, the last Daily Treasury Statement has a record (admittedly jumbled and larded with lots of bureaucratic excess) of all receipts and disbursements for the month.
The folks at the Congressional Budget Office look over the final Daily Treasury Statement and estimate what the totals for receipts and disbursements (or "outlays") will be. The difference, obviously, is their estimate of the month's reported deficit. The only remaining items should be error corrections (if any), or accounting entries resulting from the government's ill-advised choice to account for "investments" in banks, car companies, and other entities on a "net present value" basis.
On the eighth business day of the following month, the Treasury Department releases its Monthly Treasury Statement.
On Friday, the CBO estimated that the April's deficit would be $85 billion. The press (as covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) virtually ignored its report. That's bad enough, but when reporters went out to economists for deficit estimates, their predictions were significantly lower. For starters, here's what the Associated Press carried this morning: