Once again, a reporter from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, has told a major fib about the situation in the new-home construction industry, thereby vastly exaggerating its degree of improvement -- claiming a 60% surge during the past nearly 3-1/2 years when it has been 15% at most.
Today's figures from the Census Bureau on housing starts weren't terrible, but they surely weren't cause for major optimism -- except at the AP, where Martin Crutsinger cited "steady progress in the housing recovery" and committed the same serious mistake other AP writers have made (examples here, here, and here), namely pretending that the term "housing starts" has the same meaning as "home construction."
It was probably an accident, but the Associated Press's headline writers, in framing the wire service's story about Fedex's quarterly results and economic outlook released earlier today, created a headline that the Obama administration will find completely unhelpful: "FEDEX SAYS ECONOMY IS STALLING, CUTS OUTLOOK."
Most U.S. readers and probably most of AP's subscribing print, online, and broadcast outlets will, if they only see the headline, believe that it primarily refers to the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, AP Business Writer Samantha Bomkamp, with the help of Martin Crutsinger, mimicked Fedex's odd spin on its result, making sure that those who bothered to get to the verbiage understand that the company believes that the world economy is what is really stalling by using the word "global" five times in her first five paragraphs. The trouble is that if one looks at the company's revenue in detail, it's clear that that the bigger slowdown is actually occurring in the U.S (the company's press release, which has a link to the longer PDF release, is here).
Entitled "Fed action a welcome move for small businesses" and appearing very early this morning, it claims that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's third round of quantitative easing, aka QE3, is "confidence-building move" and "a reassuring sign to the financial markets as it signals to investors that U.S. monetary policy will serve as a stabilizing partner as our economy continues to improve. Its author, Sharon Jenkins, described as "is principal and lead strategist at Alexandria-based My Brothers’ Business Enterprises," is not a regular at the blog; unlike all others I saw, her name isn't even hyperlinked at her post. So who is this "Sharon Jenkins"?
Yesterday, Uncle Sam's Monthly Treasury Statement for August officially confirmed the Congressional Budget Office's Monday estimate of how horrid it would be. The August deficit, driven by $369.393 billion in spending, the highest such single-month total in U.S. history, was $190.533 billion, the largest August deficit ever reported.
Naturally, Daniel Wagner at the Associated Press failed to report either record. Additionally, as seen here (saved at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), the wire service's news prioritizers had already removed Wagner's report from its top ten business stories by 5:05 p.m., only 2-1/2 hours after its 2:32 p.m. time stamp (apparently more important: Microsoft's malware problem in China and a second story on the new iPhone 5). Excerpts follow the jump.
Whoever wrote the Associated Press's brief dispatch yesterday on the results of the government's auction of 10-year Treasury notes seemed to be stunned and on the defensive about its result.
The item, entitled "Weak Demand at Auction of 10-Year U.S. Treasury Debt," began as follows: "U.S. Treasury prices dived Wednesday after an auction of 10-year notes drew very weak demand, signaling a lack of appetite for ultra-safe investments." Gee, I wonder why there's a "lack of appetite"?
Completing a two-month full reversal of a tiny decline which began earlier in the year, the USDA reported on Friday that participation in the Food Stamp program, which the government wants everyone to call SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), reached an all-time record high in June. The program's had 46.67 million participants that month, eclipsing the previous record of 46.51 million in December 2011.
Only the business press seems interested in covering the story. What follows are excerpts from the story at Bloomberg Business Week, where the most important story element for reporter Alan Bjerga was the impact on Dear Leader's reelection effort:
In his weekend syndicated column, Deroy Murdock unearthed and relayed information the establishment press hasn't told the nation about how certain public-sector pension funds and university endowments have chosen to invest money entrusted to them in Bain Capital. Yes, Bain Capital.
Until three weeks ago, it would have been somewhat understandable if the business press didn't expect to find a story here. After all, who would expect that the organizations complaining the loudest and longest about the conduct of Bain, the private-equity firm GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney left over a decade ago, would actually have significant funds invested there? These people couldn't possibly be that hypocritical, could they? Oh yes they could.
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?
This afternoon, NB's Kyle Drennen did a great job of runnng down the pathetic contention by establishment press "fact-checkers" that vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan somehow lied or misled viewers during his speech Wednesday night concerning the closure of the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin and what presidential candidate Barack Obama said at the plant in 2008.
No, WaPo, New York Times, and the Associated Press (called out by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air), the plant didn't close before Obama was elected; it closed in April 2009. But since we're on the topic of lies about auto plant shutdowns, let's look at one from late April and early May 2009 told by President Barack Obama himself with the assistance of his car czars and other apparatchiks. I blogged about this in mid-May 2009. My full post, which also appeared at NewsBusters, includes noting non-existent national press coverage (only the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Stephen Koff and other local reporters in the towns affected raised their voices).
Gas prices have risen to a nationwide average of $3.80 per gallon, per gasbuddy.com early this afternoon, and an Ohio average of over $3.90.
Is Asjylyn Loder at Bloomberg worried about the effects on drivers' pocketbooks and travel plans over Labor Day? Don't be silly. Loder is worried about its impact on Dear Leader's presidential reelection prospects, and avoids the implications of the ten-year rule of another Dear Leader, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, on the current situation. Her first three paragraphs in graphic form, plus a few more on Venezuela, follow the jump:
First, the bad news from a media coverage standpoint. All three major wire services covering today's report from the Department of Labor on initial unemployment claims characterized the seasonally adjusted result of 374,000 as "unchanged" from last week, but failed to note the 98%-plus probability based on the last 75 weeks of history (only one exception during that time) that the number will be revised upward by 1,000 or more, changing today's "unchanged" number to an increase.
That's bit ironic, given that all three wires at least told readers that last week's 372,000 claims was revised up to 374,000. Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press had different takes on the meaning of today's results, as will be seen after the jump (bolds are mine):
Today, per Nasdaq.com, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 4.49 points to 13107.48, the S&P 500 went up 1.19 points to 1410.49, and the NASDAQ gained 4.05 points to close at 3081.19. The average of the three gains is less than 0.1%.
That didn't stop the disseminators of CNN Money's email at the close of business from interpreting the result as being due to "signs of stronger U.S.growth." Huh?
The Associated Press's Anne D'Innocenzio is clearly mystified and possibly even upset that consumer confidence as reported by the Conference Board on Wednesday fell sharply to its lowest level since November of last year.
Get a load of the second paragraph's first sentence in the version D'Innocenzio posted late yesterday morning shortly after the report's release, followed by asinine assertions which in effect say that Americans don't understand that things are getting better -- and, as usual, it's all about Dear Leader's reelection (bolds are mine):
Sam Youngman at Reuters, and several others have attempted to pounce on a comment about "big business" GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney made at a Minnesota fundraiser on Thursday as some kind of equivalent to President Obama's out-of-touch assertion that "the private sector is doing fine" back in June.
In fact, what Romney actually said in large part explains why the private sector isn't doing fine. Here is the relevant text from Youngman (bolds are mine):
In his coverage of the Department of Labor's Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report at the Associated Press this morning, economics writer Christopher Rugaber stubbornly referenced a supposedly predictive benchmark the wire service has been using which has consistently failed in recent months.
Rugaber also claimed that today's seasonally adjusted increase from the previous week, which will almost certainly become a bigger one after next week's revision, is "evidence that the job market's recovery remains modest and uneven." Uh, not exactly. Excerpts follow (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
In what has become an all too predictable ritual, an AP reporter has tried to make the situation in the economy look like it's on the upswing when it's not.
Today, the AP's Christopher Rugaber read the press release on existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors. As a trade group, NAR will tend to put a good (or at least not as ugly face) on even a rough situation. So it's hard to blame them for saying that "Sales of existing homes rose in July even with constraints of affordable inventory, and the national median price is showing five consecutive months of year-over-year increases." The first half of NAR's statement is selectively incomplete, but Rugaber compounded the problem in the first sentence of his report this morning:
An unbylined Associated Press item late this morning told us that, according to AAA, "Thirty three million people will travel 50 miles or more during Labor Day weekend," which will be "the highest level of travel for Labor Day since the start of the recession in late 2007."
But it won't be, as will be revealed in the AAA-sourced graphic found at Page 3 of its 36-page report (large PDF) seen after the jump.
About a month ago, I joked in a column published elsewhere that the reason a certain New York Times column didn't resonate with anyone is because no one pays attention to the Old Gray Lady any more.
Unfortunately, that's not true. But the fact that almost no other establishment press outlet has mentioned the paper's disclosure late Wednesday (appearing in Thursday's print edition) that former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine and others at the bankrupt firm likely won't face criminal prosecution in the firm's crack-up, which featured raiding individual customers' accounts to the tune of $1.6 billion, seems to indicate that the Times has become a favored holding cell for stories detrimental to Democrats which will otherwise be ignored. Oh, and contrary to the belief expressed in a very long Vanity Fair item in February, when Corzine was seen to be in "a scandal he can’t survive," and that "his career is likely finished," the man is seriously considering starting up a new hedge fund.
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:
Late this this afternoon, the Associated Press made a correction to Christopher Rugaber's August 10 story on July's federal budget results. His original claim, noted on August 11 by yours truly at NewsBusters and at BizzyBlog, was that Barack Obama's promise to cut the deficit in half was something "he pledged to do during his 2008 campaign."
As noted in my original post and its mirror, the only evidence of a "cut in half" promise I could locate was in February 2009, a month after Obama took office and shortly after the passage of the stimulus package. A February 21, 2009 AP story reported that such a promise was coming, and it became official two days later. After the jump, readers will find the text of the AP's correction language (also found here, and currently listed at the top of its corrections link at its national site) followed by a few paragraphs from the original item up to where the correction has been incorporated:
In her story this aftermoon on the imminent expiration of the company's "lock-up" period during which certain employees and insiders must hold onto their company stock, Associated Press Technology writer Barbara Ortutay reports that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will be locked into his holdings until mid-November -- while omitting out of apparent ignorance the fact that he previously cashed out to the tune of over $1 billion.
In an apparent attempt to pin blame anywhere but on the Obama administration for the rising unemployment rate, a USA Today item currently carried at Newsmax's MoneyNews.com web site opens by claiming that "Companies across the country are cutting training programs for new employees, broadening the divide between workers with skills needed to compete in today's economy and those left out, pushing up unemployment rates in the process."
The incoherence is stunning, and it continues after the jump:
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:
It's as if these people think that we're still in the era of the Pony Express and passenger pigeons.
Both CNN's email alert after the close of the markets today and the Associated Press's post-close report acted as if Monday's stock market gain was due to a positive momentum effect from Friday's splendiforous jobs report, which really wasn't that good at all. CNN's 4:01 p.m. email told recipients that "U.S. stocks end higher on momentum from July jobs report." AP's first paragraph at its news summary page read as follows:
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:
General Motors didn't have a very good second quarter, as the Associated Press's Tom Krisher duly noted on Thursday.
What Krisher didn't note, and what almost no one in the establishment press ever notes, is the fact that the company doesn't have to pay any income taxes on its U.S. profits until it uses up losses carried forward from before its 2009 bankruptcy filing accompanied by at least $50 billion in government capitalization -- something other companies emerging from bankruptcy are almost never allowed to do. Based on the company's reported North American income for the quarter of $2 billion, most of which would have been realized on U.S. business, taxpayers subsidized the company to the tune of several hundred million dollars in just three months.
On his way out to commercial break at 3:24 p.m. Eastern, Studio B host Shep Smith noted that August 1 is "National Badminton Day," and quipped "Forget National Day of Intolerance, let's just stay with badminton."
The Fox News Channel host's comments appear to be referring to Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, which Smith's fellow FNC colleague Mike Huckabee declared August 1 to be recently. Huckabee announced the eat-in demonstration to show support for the national chicken chain which found itself in a liberal firestorm after its president expressed his religious convictions against same-sex marriage. [h/t email tipster Tom Hanks; MP3 audio here; video follows page break]
Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy is in hot water with the LGBT community because he committed the cardinal sin in an age of political correctness: Thou must not speak ill of anything gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgenders wish to do.
In an interview with the Baptist Press and later on a Christian radio program, Cathy, whose father, the philanthropist Truett Cathy, founded the company, defended marriage between a man and a woman and when asked about the company's support of traditional marriage said, "Guilty as charged. We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit." Cathy believes American society is rotting (and where is evidence to the contrary?) because the country has turned away from God.
Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, has said that we are “inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’” How this unremarkable statement, which never mentions homosexuals, can be labeled anti-gay is astounding. But according to the editorial board of the New York Times, it can be. After quoting Cathy, the Times says, “Antigay remarks like these are offensive.”
It won’t work. According to this logic, almost everyone who ever walked the face of the earth has been an anti-homosexual bigot. Such hyperbole relegates real gay bashing to the trash bin, something to be discarded with alacrity.
Start with the item's headline: "US consumers more confident in the economy in July" Uh, no. Given that a value of 90 is what the AP acknowledges in a later paragraph "indicates a healthy economy," today's overall reading of 65.9, up from 62.7 in June, means that consumers are less gloomy or less downbeat. Confident? Hardly. AP even got the report's underlying indicators wrong: