While Associated Press Economics writers like Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman, as seen in a post this morning (at NewBusters; at BizzyBlog), talk of "baffled economists" and a job market that is "defying history," one AP writer, in discussing stocks which have done well in this economy, has revealed what employment prospects really are with quite un-baffling certainty from the point of view of those who have to put their money where their expectations are, i.e., investors.
The wire service's Bernard Condon cited a pawn shop operator, a payday lender, a debt-collection firm, and a rent-to-own outfit as companies which have outperformed the market and are expected to continue doing so. The reason for the expectation is found in the title of this post, which is also seen in the following excerpt from Condon's composition:
If we are believe two late Friday afternoon dispatches from the Associated Press following the government's awful Employment Situation report earlier in the day, you would think that even a cadre of cops with the talent of Sherlock Holmes couldn't solve the mystery of the underperforming job market.
Economics Writers Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman went with themes of "baffled economists" and "defying history," respectively.
On Friday, at its Political Hotsheet, Corbett B. Daly at CBS News, who joined the network in late May after leaving Reuters, appeared to virtually celebrate what he believes was the latest of Mitt Romney's flip-flops.
Though it's clear that Mr. Romney has flip-flopped in the past on a number of matters, it's hard to see how Daly or any of the other flip-flop scorekeepers has a case -- at least before Romney appeared to give in to the media meme.
Here is how Daly characterized it, complete with the presumption that what Romney has been saying on the campaign trail is "factually inaccurate":
The front page of Wednesday’s National section of the New York Times featured the suddenly ubiquitous Ian Urbina advancing the paper’s agenda against the natural gas industry, as he’s been doing all week: “Lawmakers Seek Inquiry Of Natural Gas Industry.”
Luckily for the Times, it found a few liberal Democrats to keep the story going by calling for an investigation into industry practices.
Tina Korbe at Hot Air has a good roundup of the rebuttals to Urbina’s slanted reporting. Korbe summarized Urbina’s Sunday piece:
One might be an accident. Two indicates a bit of a trend.
Yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that an early dispatch from Bloomberg on a disappointing consumer confidence report opened by telling readers that "Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in June to a seven-month low ..." A later version purged the dreaded U-word ("unexpectedly"), opening with "Consumer confidence dropped to a seven-month low in June ..."
It seems that hypersensitivity about use of the U-word -- which during the Obama administration has come to mean "unexpectedly bad" far more often than not -- is also present at the Associated Press. Recently, it seems that the AP has generally avoided the problem by ignoring analysts' predictions when reality reveals that they were far too optimistic. Yesterday, in a more obvious revelation of the wire service's mindset, a pair of Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio's consumer confidence dispatches repeated the U-word purge seen at Bloomberg. What follows are graphic grabs of the early sections of both reports and a related subsequent paragraph within each.
While the vast majority of those in the establishment press doggedly insist on reporting seasonally adjusted numbers in most economic spheres, there is an odd exception: Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.
Not that it's completely the press's fault. S&P emphasizes the raw numbers over the seasonally adjusted ones, and for a pretty good reason: The raw numbers represent what's really happening on the ground with home prices. In the current economy, the seasonal calculations can't really be said to reflect typical seasonal patterns. Of course, this logic should apply to other key areas, particularly employment, but we (or maybe it's the reporters) are apparently not mature enough to understand large monthly swings in jobs added or lost, or able to see them in the context of previous years.
Given that the press usually hangs its hat on seasonal numbers, you'd think they'd be more than a little shy about copying S&P's press release, which today described a very small increase as a a "boost" in home prices, which disppeared after seasonal adjustment, as seen below:
My first reaction to this was, "Well, if this became a common practice, at least we'd hear the word 'unexpectedly' a lot less often."
Over at Mediaite on Friday (some R-rated content is at link; HT Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin's place), Josh Feldman ripped CNN business reporter Felicia Taylor, whose background includes stints at the Financial News Network, CNBC, for devoting nearly three minutes to the economic predictions of psychics.
I watched the segment myself, hoping against hope that it would come off as a spoof. It didn't.
Here's some of what Feldman had to say (internal link, bold and italics are in original):
When the Associated Press's Paul Wiseman and Martin Crutsinger team up for a report on the economy, there's no limit to the comic potential.
Today, in covering what the folks at Zero Hedge described as "Ben Bernanke's 'I Have No Idea Why The Economy Will Get Better But It Will' Speech" (transcript is at link), the AP pair may have set a new world record for most unused words one would expect to be employed in a report on the condition of the economy.
Readers will not find the following words, all of which bear at least somewhat on why the economy is currently failing to live up to expectations and to meaningfully rebound nearly two years after the official end of the recession, in the wire service's report:
The Supreme Court on Monday unequivocally rejected the notion that courts should force power companies to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, but none of the major broadcast networks covered the unanimous decision on their evening newscasts or morning shows.
The New York Times teased the ruling on the front page of Tuesday's paper, directing readers to a thorough analysis of the 8-0 decision, but ABC's "Good Morning America" and "World News," CBS's "Early Show" and "Evening News," and NBC's "Today" and "Nightly News" all skipped a decision that prevents environmentalists from using the courts to impose greenhouse gas regulations on electric utilities.
Investor’s Business Daily is out this morning with an editorial slamming the decision last week to award ABC News with an “Edward R. Murrow Award” for the network’s investigation into the sudden acceleration of Toyota vehicles, despite ABC using astaged shot of a tachometer revving to 6000 rpm (the footage came from a parked car, not one suddenly accelerating).
Months after ABC’s hyped coverage, federal investigators with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and NASA reported no evidence of problems with Toyota’s systems.
Weighed in the balance and found lacking. That biblical admonition could well describe CNN.com's shoddy "breaking news" take on today's Supreme Court ruling in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes.
Simply put, CNN.com gave readers a woefully inaccurate and incomplete story on the case, chalking up the Court's ruling as holding that a "sweeping class-action status that could potentially involve hundreds of thousands of current and former female workers was simply too large."
Thursday morning, initial weekly unemployment claims as reported by Uncle Sam's Department of Labor came in at a seasonally adjusted 414,000. It was 16,000 lower than the previous week's upwardly revised (as usual) number, but certainly no indicator in and of itself of meaningful improvement.
The housing industry data really wasn't any better. True, the seasonally adjusted figures from the Census Bureau for building permits issued and housing units started were somewhat improved, but the raw data still had several examples of record weakness.
Wait until you see the headline the Associated Press applied to a story covering the DOL and Census reports by Derek Kravitz and Christopher Rugaber:
It is no longer a secret that President Obama's administration is willing to allow electricity prices to "necessarily skyrocket," in order to accomplish his green energy agenda.
Although he has so far been unsuccessful at instituting cap-and-trade, Obama's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hard at work running coal companies and consumers into the ground. Not that you'd know it from ABC, NBC and CBS news coverage.
According to Paul Bedard's June 8 Washington Whispers column in US News & World Report, "two new EPA pollution regulations will slam the coal industry so hard that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, and electric rates will skyrocket 11 percent to over 23 percent, according to a new study based on government data."
To say that the statistics concerning new business formation during the past few years haven't been very good would be a major understatement.
USA Today's Scott Patterson deserves some credit for even looking at the topic. It is tailor-made for neglect by the rest of the establishment press. When government policies lean towards lower taxation and regulation, policies left-leaning journalists tend to oppose, net business formations generally grow, and they'd rather not report it. In the high-tax, high-regulation environments they favor, net business formation slows considerably -- and again, they'd rather not report it.
Yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted a reluctance on the part of Associated Press reporters to describe the farm involved in "the world's deadliest known outbreak of E. coli" as "organic."
The wire service issued two additional reports this morning, both of which failed to use the "O-word." The case for the use of the word in these reports is as strong, if not stronger, than it was in the seven items discussed yesterday. Beyond that, AP, along with the rest of the press, has failed to explore the possibility that Germany's 1950s-era outlook towards farming practices may have helped to create the conditions allowing such an outbreak to occur.
On Wednesday evening in Europe (12:31 p.m. Eastern Time), in what it was already describing as "the world's deadliest known outbreak of E. coli," the Associated Press reported that "No cause for the outbreak has yet been found," while farmers on the continent were petitioning the EU for hundreds of million of dollars in compensation.
By midday European time (6:27 a.m. ET) on Friday, June 10, it was known ("Sprouts are cause of E. coli outbreak") that the contaminated food had come from Germany, when investigators "linked separate clusters of patients who had fallen sick to 26 restaurants and cafeterias that had received produce from the organic farm."
It is not my intention to get involved in a debate on farming techniques. But it seems obvious that if the outbreak came from an "organic" farming enterprise, follow-up stories should continue to mention that origin. Failures to mention organic farming have occurred often enough at the AP that one begins to wonder if those omissions are deliberate -- especially when coupled with the wire service's complete lack of coverage identifying skepticism, of which there is plenty, about the safety of organic farming practices.
Early Tuesday morning, David Shepardson and Christina Rogers at the Detroit News ("GM's Akerson pushing for higher gas taxes") reported that General/Multi-Government Motors CEO Dan Akerson "wants the federal gas tax boosted as much as $1 a gallon to nudge consumers toward more fuel-efficient cars."
Later in the interview, Akerson was much more emphatic about what he would like to see done immediately:
"You know what I'd rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas," Akerson said.
The educated guess here is that Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler is currently not the most popular person in the White House.
On Saturday, in a relatively rare rebuke originating from what G. Gordon Liddy has mockingly derided as "Washington's quaint little alternative newspaper" (daily circulation 741,000 in March 2005, 551,000 in March 2011), Kessler ripped into the President's claims about the auto bailout, giving him "Three Pinocchios," which in his ratings system means "Significant factual error(s) and/or obvious contradictions." Kessler found "weasel words," a "misleading figure" (actually, more), and (imagine that) a straw man.
Here are selected paragraphs from Kessler's KO (bolds are mine; internal link was in original):
... What we found is one of the most misleading collections of assertions we have seen in a short presidential speech. Virtually every claim by the president regarding the auto industry needs an asterisk, just like the fine print in that too-good-to-be-true car loan.
For those too young to remember, invoking a "long, hot summer" was a favorite pastime of the establishment press and so-called "civil rights leaders" after the race riots of the 1960s (example here). The message: Get that federal money flowing to us, or there will be violence in the streets.
At CBS News, reporter Bill Whitaker wrapped his coverage of the teen unemployment situation as follows: "For many teens with no jobs and no money, it could be one long, hot summer." Perhaps Whitaker was unaware of how loaded those words once were (and still may be). But he shouldn't get a pass for failing to mention three minimum-wage increases enacted late last decade as potential contributors to the 2007-2010 rise in teen unemployment. Whitaker also mentioned "cuts in federal funding" as affecting summer jobs programs, but "somehow" forgot to tell readers and viewers that the funding consisted of so-called "stimulus" dollars that everyone knew was going to go away (see the reference to "the end of Recovery Act funding that might have helped create some public jobs" at this link). Whitaker's omission leaves an implication that meanies in the current Congress must have done something to reduce funding, which isn't so.
William F. Buckley Jr. once said his job was to "stand athwart history, yelling stop!" If more liberals took this advice, they wouldn't end up looking like two CNN anchors who just don't know when to say no to unsustainable deficit spending.
On the eve of a disappointing jobs report in which the unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent, CNN International's Richard Quest plowed ahead like the helmsman of the Titanic in calling for "classic Keynesian economics" to salvage the foundering economy.
Is AP reporter Christopher Rugaber taking yours truly's admonishments to heart? Either he is, or there were a number of odd coincidences in his reports today (early; later) on the small drop in initial unemployment claims (to 422,000, from an upwardly revised 428,000 the previous week) reported by the Department of Labor this morning.
Last week (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I criticized Rugaber's unemployment claims coverage for repeating for the umpteenth time that weekly claims peaked over two years ago at 659,000 during the recession, and suggested that discussing what has happened in the past three months (drops to under 400,000 in March followed by significant rises to consistently well above 400,000 in April and May) might be a little more relevant.
Lo and behold, check out the first few paragraphs from Rugaber's longer 12:56 p.m. rendition. They appear strangely responsive to last week's critique, but there is one significant factual error (in bold):
Warning: The following cop-out explanation by Associated Press Retail Writer Mae Anderson will make many readers' heads hurt. Knowledge that she found an economist willing to support it may cause migraines.
It would appear, according to the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber, that something unusual had to explain why initial unemployment claims as reported by Uncle Sam's Department of Labor rose to a seasonally adjusted 424,000 during the week ended May 21 when they were expected to decline. In previous weeks, poor performances have been explained by DOL spokespersons as due to the unusually late Easter, the weather, Japanese supply interruptions, and Jupiter not being aligned with Mars (okay, I'm kidding about the last one).
Apparently, one thing is for certain in AP-Land: The troubling 400,000-plus plateau in weekly initial claims can't possibly have anything to do with Obama administration's economic policies (or lack thereof).
Today, as Bloomberg noted, the Department of Labor offered up no excuses: "There were no special factors behind last week’s increase, a Labor Department official said as the figures were released."
Rugaber wasn't satisfied with that answer, and decided he would roll out one of his own without any evidence. The AP reporter has also developed a strange obsession with reminding everyone on a weekly basis when initial claims peaked (bolds are mine):
In a post time-stamped on Saturday at 12:16 p.m., CNNMoney.com has a story (HT Ed Driscoll via the PJ Tatler) headlined "Florida and Texas in jobs p*ssing match" (except that there's an "i" where I typed an asterisk).
Since the story has been up for at least 12 hours (maybe longer, given that the its URL is dated May 20; Update, May 22, 5 p.m.: The comments at a cached CNN Political Ticker tease for the story go back to May 20 at 4:21 p.m.), it's hard not to conclude that CNN and writer Tami Luhby like its title just the way it is.
A screen cap of the top section of the item is after the jump, so you don't have to go there if you're offended by CNN's language:
In their coverage of Herman Cain's official announcement that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, Associated Press reporters Shannon McCaffrey and Greg Bluestein limited their description of Cain's tenure as chief executive of Godfather's Pizza to the following:
He worked at Coca-Cola, Pillsbury and Burger King before taking the helm of the failing Godfather's Pizza franchise, which he rescued by shuttering hundreds of restaurants.
That's all he did, eh? Guys, if that's all you could cobble together about Cain's time at Godfather's, you should have ended the excerpted sentence after "franchise" (for which a better word would have been "chain").
The AP pair also omitted a couple of key elements of Cain's resume, specifically his tenure as head of the National Restaurant Association and his involvement as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where he ultimately was elected chairman.
Here is a description of Cain's tenure at Godfather's found at a site called PizzaDominoes.com:
Normally the announcement that a government official is leaving a post to join a company they had oversight of would invoke cries of crony capitalism from the likes of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, but when that person is joining your company it makes for quite the awkward news brief. Williams, to date, has expressed no outrage at the fact that FCC commissioner Meredith Baker is leaving that job for a gig as senior vice president of governmental affairs at Comcast/NBC Universal, even though just four short months ago she voted to approve the merger of those two companies.
This bit of conflict of interest news was not lost on Fox News' Bret Baier, who reported the story on the May 12 edition of Special Report and Jon Stewart who joked about it on Monday's Daily Show. Since Brian Williams is a self-proclaimed fan of Stewart, going as far to praise him as "indispensable," it has to be asked if he felt a tinge of angst when watching his comedic hero on Monday night.
Shortly after 8:30 this morning, I began thinking that my CNNMoney.com e-mail alerts had stopped arriving. So I went to the Census Bureau's web site and learned that its monthly report on housing starts, building permits, and other construction-related news had indeed been released. The news for the already moribund industry was awful: Building permits in April fell by a seasonally adjusted 4% from March and by 12.0% from April 2010, while the comparable tumbles in housing starts were 10.6% and 23.9%, respectively.
Well, my opening and closing bell e-mails arrived as expected. So unless there was a technical glitch, this means that CNNMoney decided not to issue a post-8:30 alert for the bad housing news.
Let's take a look at the two e-mails which did arrive. First, just after the opening bell: