By the time AP real estate writer Derek Kravitz turned it into a full-blown report, the headline became "US housing starts rise modestly to start new year." The opening sentence now reads: "Construction of single-family homes in the U.S. cooled off slightly in January after surging in the final month last year." The word "weak" is not in the report. It won't surprise anyone that the wire service's initial unfiltered reaction was more correct. What may surprise even those who are used to AP misdirection is that Kravitz made it appear to those who don't know better, which would include a large number of newspaper, TV, and radio journalists, that construction began on almost 1.5 million single-family homes during the past three months. Really.
On February 2, Blake Ellis at CNN Money (HT to a NewsBusters tipster), in an item which treated minor regulatory changes relating to annuities as some kind of "rescue plan" for retirees, gave President Obama credit for "measures ... (he) has put in place to help Americans save for retirement, including automatic enrollment in 401(k)s." There's no word on whether Ms. Ellis also believes that Obama hung the moon, but it wouldn't surprise me if that were the case.
Somebody needs to tell Ms. Ellis that a "History of 401(k) Plans" published by the Employee Benefits Research Institute seven years ago tells us that the critical dates relating to employers' ability to automatically enroll new and eventually existing employees in their 401(k) plans (subject to the employee's ability to proactively decline if he or she chooses) go back to 1998 and 2000, many years before Obama was sworn in as a U.S. Senator (bolds are mine):
Sometimes you read the most interesting things in those supposedly boring trade publications.
One such item of interest comes from an article in Manufacturing News (HT to an emailer) written by Richard A. McCormack which is primarily about the Mainland China's designs on the worldwide auto parts industry, including the U.S. Some of the larger American unions are demanding that the administration and Congress take action on what they see as unfair trade practices. One sentence is indicative of a more pervasive problem, and it directly contradicts what the establishment press has been telling Americans for months. It's of particular concern to all Americans because the U.S. government still owns over 25% of General Motors, and reads as follows: "China has told GM that it will not be able to sell its Volt electric vehicle in China unless GM transfers technology to China and produces the vehicle there."
On Monday (appearing in the print edition on Tuesday, New York Times op-ed columnist Joe Nocera gave President Barack Obama a pass for rejecting the Keystone Pipeline. In the process, he also complained about "the way our poisoned politics damages the country," and, in a revelation which shouldn't but did surprise him, learned that far-left environmentalists want to stop all tar sands development and not just the pipeline. Imagine that.
Here are several paragraphs from Nocera's column (my comments are in italics):
In two items about today's report on economic growth from the federal government's Bureau of Economic Analysis today, Martin Crutsinger claimed that today's lower-than-expected annualized growth of 2.8% during the fourth quarter of 2011 (vs. expectations of 3% or higher) was hurt because of big "cuts" in government spending, especially federal spending -- supposedly the biggest cuts in 40 years. I guess the underlying message is supposed to be that Congress shouldn't try to reduce federal programs any more, because already they're allegedly being cut at historic rates.
Baloney. Crutsinger was either being incredibly ignorant by assuming that all government spending is part of GDP (it's not; only government purchases of goods and services are components of GDP), or he deliberately deceived his readers. At the federal level, purchases of goods and services and "investment" are only about 30% of all government spending. Total spending has hardly gone down at all. Here are the relevant paragraphs from his two reports:
Today's report by Derek Kravitz at the Associated Press (also known to yours truly as the Administration's Press) covering the Census Bureau's December and full-year 2011 new-home sales release put a smiley-face on the "worst ever" year (the AP headline's term) in the category.
I like the adjective used at Sweetness & Light's related blog post to describe Kravitz's crud: "unfazed." The AP reporter follows four paragraphs of facts with three more paragraphs of sunshiny "analysis" which are so wholly unsupported by reality that you would fall off of your chair laughing if you didn't also realize that most readers, listeners and viewers who saw and heard this garbage today didn't know any better than to believe it:
I guess what follows shouldn't be a total surprise, given that the Obama administration was perfectly comfortable ruining hundreds of thousands of perfectly good cars during the Cash For Clunkers program in 2009.
The video which follows from CBS News in San Francisco last Thursday (full transcript here) tells viewers what is happening to valuable parts at the main manufacturing plant of the now-bankrupt Solyndra. At the risk of belaboring what longtime readers here already instinctively know, it's not news based on searches on the company's name at at the Associated Press and the New York Times.
On Friday, the White House engaged in its customary document dump, mostly secure in the knowledge that a lazy establishment press would, as usual, pay it little heed and then declare it to be old news by Monday morning.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air identified the significance of documents relating to now-bankupt Solyndra, the California-based solar panel manufacturer which borrowed $535 million through the Department of Energy. Read the whole thing, of course, but for brevity's sake I'll present the accurate timeline Ed presented:
On Friday, two Deputy Secretaries, one at the Department of Transportation and the other at Defense, in their capacities as co-chairs of the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Executive Committee, released a one page letter concluding that the modified broadband deployment plan of LightSquared could not coexist with current GPS devices and their spectrum. That's because: a) LightSquared's deployment "would cause harmful interference to many GPS receivers"; b) It would not be "compatible with several GPS-dependent aircraft safety-of-flight systems," and c) "there appear to be no practical solutions" to the problems.
Stories about the release, to the extent they exist, are largely avoiding the mention of "Falcone" (that's hedge fund operator and heavy Obama campaign contributor Philip Falcone, "SEC" (which is investigating Falcone and his hedge fund, and "Obama" (as in President Barack Obama, the beneficiary along with the "Democratic Party" -- another unmentioned term in any variation -- of said contributions). Coverage by Daniel Fisher at Forbes at least brings up Falcone, the SEC, and the Obama administration:
UPDATE: James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute's blog has more, including the possibility that the original story misidentified "Bain Consulting," as well as a theory as to the story's original source.
It looks like someone ran with something they thought was too good to check.
A retraction described as a "Correction" currently on CNBC's web site tells readers: "A previous story incorrectly reported that Mitt Romney's former firm, Bain & Co., was part of a team of consulting companies that advised President Barack Obama on a decision to shutter car dealerships during the auto bailout. Bain & Co. said it has no connection to the "Bain Consulting" firm referenced in government documents." Several bloggers excerpted the original report, including Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Some of what he captured follows:
In a report for Thursday's NBC Today, correspondent Peter Alexander promoted attacks on Mitt Romney: "There's been no let-up in the barrage of criticism over Romney's record as the former head of Bain Capital." Alexander pointed out: "This Gordon Gekko impersonator greeted Romney's arrival in South Carolina."
A scene from the movie "Wall Street" was played with actor Michael Douglas depicting the corrupt Gekko and uttering the famous line: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." The impersonator following Romney, dressed in a suit with a name tag reading "Gordon Gekko" and chomping on a cigar, repeated the line for NBC's camera. Alexander failed to note the Gekko look-alike was a stunt cooked up by the left-wing group, South Carolina Forward Progress.
In November 2011 it became public knowledge that the Chevy Volt could possibly catch fire weeks after a serious accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened its investigation into the matter on Nov. 25. Now General Motors is trying to recall all of the Volts for "enhancements," all while attempting to avoid the word recall. ABC and NBC are also avoiding that recent development.
It's more than a little annoying to read a news report containing incomplete information. The irritation level hits the red zone when you realize that the writer is not only concealing important data, but telling you what you're supposed to think about what little he deigned to tell you.
Such was the case with Martin Crutsinger's Associated Press item about the Consumer Credit report issued today by the Federal Reserve. Crutsinger only told us how much debt levels increased without bothering to tell us what those debt levels are -- something a similar AP item in 2004 at the same point in a presidential reelection cycle was eager to disclose. Additionally, Crutsinger framed today's reported expansion as good news while Eileen Alt Powell's January 6, 2004 report framed expanding credit as dangerous. First, several paragraphs from Crutsinger's report (boots-on alert: it gets really, really deep):
A frequent BizzyBlog commenter tweeted about an online article he saw at CNNMoney.com entitled "Doctors going broke" about how many doctors are struggling in the current economy. His tweet: "Welcome to Obamacare."
A frequent BizzyBlog commenter tweeted about am online article he saw at CNNMoney.com entitled "Doctors going broke" about how many doctors are struggling in the current economy. His tweet: "Welcome to Obamacare."
What's interesting is that my tweeting commenter is right that Obamacare is definitely already influencing the viability of medical practices. But Ms. Parija Kavilanz's Friday report acts as if the mind-numbingly lengthy legislation and the torrent of regulations which appear destined to end up being huge multiples of that outrageous length don't exist, and actually blames many docs for their predicaments:
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:
A few readers asked me for my reaction to Derek Kravitz's December 23 report at the Associated Press on new-home sales. I thought that it was reasonably good, but felt that his leaving open in readers' minds the idea that this year's sales could conceivably top last year's was in bad form.
I was too kind. Based on data available elsewhere, Kravitz should have known (and maybe did) that instead of holding out the possibility that "December would have to produce its best monthly sales total in four years for 2011 to finish ahead of last year's total," he should have written something along the lines of: "There is virtually no chance that 2011 will be better than 2010."
This is the seventh year I have looked into how the media treats two Christmas-related topics: The use of “Christmas shopping season” vs. “holiday shopping season” and the relative frequency of "Christmas" and "holiday" layoff references.
Unfortunately, the hints of improvement late last year, when 20% of stories in the late December pre-Christmas search referenced the "Christmas shopping season," largely disappeared this year. Well, at least the combined results of this year's three sets of searches (at Google News, done shortly before Thanksgiving, about two weeks later, and a few days before Christmas) show that last year's overall gains compared to the two previous years held steady. But, as will be seen after the jump, news reports still use the term "holiday shopping season" seven times as often as "Christmas shopping season."
Yesterday at my home blog, in the wake of Uncle Sam's reduction of third-quarter growth in gross domestic product (GDP) from an annualized 2.0% to 1.8%, I predicted that the establishment press's reaction would be the following: “Yeah, but the fourth quarter will be 3% or more. It really, really will be. Please believe us.”
Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press made that easy prediction come true 48 minutes after the report was released. He and the rest of the establishment press also missed something far bigger, namely that yesterday's small GDP reduction brought its private-sector component back to a level below where it was at the beginning of the recession, no matter how you define that beginning. Excerpts follow the jump:
See-no-evil economic reporting during the Obama years has "somehow" missed a number of developments in the makeup of the American workforce which I believe would not have been missed (or deliberately overlooked, take your pick) if a Republican or conservative were in the White House. One of them relates to full-time employment.
Did you know that seasonally adjusted full-time employment in September 2011 was lower than it was when the recession officially ended in June 2009, and that this was the case for 26 of the first 27 post-recession months? What's more, the economy had over 8.7 million fewer full-time workers in November 2011 than it did when full-time employment peaked four years earlier in November 2007. Proof from the Bureau of Labor Statistics follows the jump.
Late Friday afternoon, Todd Shields at Bloomberg News broke a story about some guy, who happens to be an Obama and Democratic Party donor (but not disclosed), against whom the Securities and Exchange Commission is formally considering an enforcement action (also not disclosed, though it was noted at the New York Times's Dealbook Blog five hours before Shields's report), whose "wireless service caused interference to 75 percent of global-positioning system receivers examined in a U.S. government test." Though it generated a fair amount of center-right blog discussion over the weekend, the establishment press largely ignored the stunning result.
Earlier this evening, Shields and Alan Levin reported even more troubling info (as carried at the San Francisco Chronicle; bolds are mine throughout this post):
Today's Advance Monthly Retails Sales Report for November from the Census Bureau came in with a seasonally and shopping-day adjusted 0.2% increase over October. Analysts expected 0.6%, and a whole host of them described the result as "disappointing," as shown here in a Google News Search for the past 24 hours on ["retail sales" disappoint"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets; as of 6:40 p.m. ET, over 1,100 results were returned, but only about 400 are from after the report's release).
That didn't stop the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber and the wire service's headline writers, in separate items at 11:44 a.m. and 3:05 p.m., from getting really close to in essence claiming, as Kevin Bacon's character Chip Diller did in "Animal House," that "all is well."
Each year the Business & Media Institute looks back on the year's news and selects the top 10 worst economic myths. This year the media's myths were wide-ranging: from conspiracy theories about economic sabotage, to overpopulation panic and Occupy Wall Street's mantra "We are the 99 percent."
In the movie, the Muppets are out to save their studio and prevent Richman from destroying it to drill for oil. “Follow the Money” host Bolling said at the end of his segment, “We’re teaching our kids class warfare. What are we, communist China?” Apparently this expression of exasperation caused HuffPo to say he went “McCarthy” on the movie.
For conservatives, one of the bright spots of the Occupy Wall Street protests was when millionaire investor Peter Schiff went down to Zuccotti Park with video camera and a sign reading "I Am The 1% - Let's Talk."
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of speaking with Schiff by telephone in a sweeping interview about his experience at OWS, how the financial media are doing, and ending with his rather frightening view of the economy and the future of our nation (video follows with transcript):
Updated [12:54 ET]: More analysis and full transcript added.
Introducing an interview with CEO Richard Branson about his new book, "Screw Business As Usual," on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: "...Sir Richard Branson argues the driving force behind capitalism should not be about making a profit, it's about caring for people, communities, and the planet." [Audio available here]
After questioning Branson on the practicality of such a business model, Lauer concluded: "So it's a different kind of capitalism. You're not saying that once you become successful you abandon the principles of capitalism, you just adjust those principles." Moments later, Lauer wondered if, "that form of capitalism would calm some of these emotions that we're seeing in the streets right now" in the Occupy Wall Street movement? [View video after the jump]
Muppet fans around the world were excited to see their childhood friends reunite; only to find out it was to save their studio from a rich oil executive. Liberal Hollywood loves an evil oil company - better yet, make it a successful business man that runs an oil company. The movie industry has repeatedly bashed businessmen and gone after gas and oil.
Tex Richman, a wealthy man that plans to demolish the Muppet studio after the National Geological Survey finds oil directly beneath it, has his plans foiled by three Muppet fans. They "discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets' former stomping grounds," as described by "The Muppets" website.
This morning, the Census Bureau told us that 25,000 new homes were sold in October, which, after seasonal adjustment, works out to an annual rate of 307,000. This was up from a seasonally adjusted and downwardly revised (from 313,000) 303,000 in September. According to the first sentence of Derek Kravitz's related report at the Associated Press, this constitutes a "hopeful sign," even though October's number could easily be revised downward, as September's was.
Kravitz went further downhill in his fifth paragraph, descending into flat-out, undeniable falsehood (bold is mine):
The media are treating Thanksgiving like Halloween by whipping up one of their favorite bogeymen. ABC and NBC are now targeting canned food as potentially harmful to humans, because it contains a chemical that the media has long crusaded against: BPA, otherwise known as bisphenol-A, found in many plastics and packaging products.
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that levels of BPA increased greatly in the human body after eating canned food. On Nov 23, ABC's World News and NBC Nightly News both reported on this study - and warned consumers of the potential dangers of eating canned food. NBC's report made sure to include "Hidden Danger" in the background in the beginning of the report.
Assuming he even tried, Brian Williams could not suppress his smirk Tuesday night as he took a shot at a guest who had appeared earlier that day on CNBC. Businessman and Mitt Romney support Ken Langone said that President Obama's anti-business rhetoric and lack of leadership was preventing a true economic recovery from taking hold, exclaiming at one point that "businessmen and fat cats need to feel like they're doing something good, not that they're villains and not that their criminals."
In response, Williams decided to carve out a full minute from from his Nightly News to regale viewers with a sarcastic shot at Langone from the left-wing Gawker.com: "The writer John Cook on the Web site Gawker said, "Why should you make fat cats feel badly about getting fat, while the middle class taxpayers who financed that bailout slide into poverty? They need to be made to feel good about earning record profits!"