So I figure that I need to catch up on the LightSquared saga. This is the company which, as Fox News reported on Thursday (the URL date is September 15, though the time stamp is the next day) is building "a nationwide, next-generation, 4G phone network."
The problem is, as Fox further noted, that there are concerns that "many, including (General William) Shelton, think (the network) would seriously hinder the effectiveness of high-precision GPS receiver systems, a product used most commonly by the United States military." Shelton told a congresspersons "in a classified briefing earlier this month" that he was asked by the Obama administration to change (but apparently didn't) his testimony about said dangers.
So I went to the Associated Press's main page at 9:50 this evening, did a search on the company's name, and got back the following:
President Barack Obama's nicknaming his new tax increases on the wealthy the "Warren Buffett rule" is fitting since the billionaire has spent a decade campaigning for a tax hike, a campaign his friends in the liberal media have been more than willing to join. For over 10 years the media promoted Buffett's complaint that the wealthy in America don't pay enough in taxes, spurred on by a Buffett's anecdote that he pays less in taxes than his receptionist.
But even the AP has pointed out, the idea that secretaries pay more in taxes than their bosses is inaccurate. A review of IRS 2009 tax tables (Link to Excel spreadsheet) shows that those making under $100,000/year pay an average of no more than 12.3% of their income in taxes, while those making above $500,000 pay an average of no less than 26.3% of their income in taxes. However, this fact hasn't stopped the liberal media from happily advancing Buffett's call to soak his fellow rich.
Part 1 on the Associated Press's September 16 evening story ("Obama admin reworked Solyndra loan to favor donor"; saved here at my web host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) by Matthew Daly and Jack Gillum criticized the reporters and the wire service for making it appear as if all the findings in the story were the result of original work.
Two other paragraphs in the report in my opinion represent a blatant but clumsy attempt to give the impression that the bankruptcy of a major beneficiary of Department of Energy stimulus-driven loans was a bipartisan fiasco:
The public learned on September 3 from William McQuillen at Bloomberg (possibly earlier elsewhere) that now-bankrupt Soyndra's private investors restructured the company's finances in January by lending the company "$75 million." As a condition of doing so, they convinced the government to give the new loan senior status over all other creditors. Now taxpayers face a likely loss of hundreds of millions in Department of Energy loans, perhaps over $500 million.
But if you haven't stayed with or are unfamiliar with the story and read the Associated Press report this evening by Matthew Daly and Jack Gillum, you would think that the wire service did all of the dirty work to learn these things (credit-hogging language in bold):
MSNBC ranter extraordinaire Dylan Ratigan is no fan of "crony capitalism" -- when businessmen get government to help them socialize the risk of their ventures through government subsidies or bailouts, leaving taxpayers on the hook for failure while reaping the benefits of government largesse.
The Obama administration's handling of solar energy firm Solyndra is a perfect example of same.
Yet this week, Ratigan's been strangely silent on the Solyndra congressional investigation this week, even as it's been covered in major newspaper outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post.
It's hard to figure out why Tom Krisher at the Associated Press bothered filing a report on the status of contract talks between Detroit's Big 3 automakers and the United Auto Workers. The only reason I can discern is that he wanted to brag about how he and his wire service pals have access to anonymously-sourced info about how the talks are going. Surprise: As has been the case almost always for about the past 30-plus years, It's coming down to the wire with the two sides supposedly far apart at two of the three companies. Knock me over with a feather.
Krisher failed to inform readers of three quite important sets of facts. First (seriously), he never told readers that General Motors and Chrysler workers have no-strike contract clauses prohibiting them from job actions until 2015, i.e., only Ford is financially vulnerable. Second, he failed to note that the government still holds a significant (and probably board-controlling) share of GM, or that a UAW healthcare trust owns 46.5% of Chrysler (down from an original 55%). Finally, because he didn't disclose the ownership stakes, he failed to note the obvious conflict of interest the UAW has in negotiating with Ford, or the possible government-influenced pressure on the union to drive a hard bargain with Ford on GM's behalf.
Today, the White House's Office of Management and Budget published its Mid-Session Review (large PDF), an economic forecast projecting, among other things, that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for calendar 2011 will be 1.7%. That doesn't sound like much (and it isn't), but to get there growth will have to almost triple its most recently reported level during the second half of the year. Second-half growth will also have to exceed the estimates of most economists.
Good luck finding any skepticism in the press over OMB's numbers. What follows is the numerical runthrough, followed by two media coverage examples.
Two weeks ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), yours truly pointed out how establishment press coverage of the bankruptcy of Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar had emphasized its Bay State assistance, and only rarely brought up how it benefitted by being able to sell solar panels it otherwise would probably not have bothered to produce to projects benefitting from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ("stimulus") dollars.
On August 17, Larry Dignan of ZDNet, in an item published at CBSnews.com, tried to convince readers that Evergreen's failure was not indicative of an industry meltdown (bolds are mine):
Poor President Obama. There's only so much he can do to lift the economy. He's tried so much already, yet somehow it just hasn't worked. Now his options are limited by those darned Republican demands for "fiscal austerity" and a "tight debt ceiling" (of "only" $2.4 trillion) which was only raised by enough to get him through his reelection effort (in 14-1/2 months).
This is the utter garbage in a Tuesday morning report ("Obama faces tight restraints in crafting jobs plan") the Associated Press's Jim Kuhnhenn expects his wire service's readers, listeners, and viewers to swallow, and its subscribing media outlets to non-skeptically publish and broadcast.
In an early version of Julie Pace's coverage of President Obama's selection of Alan Krueger to be the next head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the following paragraph appeared (bolds are mine):
There’s some strange respect shown today for one particular multi-billionaire investor in the liberal pages of the New York Times. Friday’s lead story by Nelson Schwartz, “Buffett to Invest $5 Billion In Shaky Bank of America.” introduced Buffett as “Warren E. Buffett, the legendary investor, is sinking $5 billion into Bank of America in a bold show of faith in the country’s biggest, and most beleaguered, financial institution.” Schwartz also called him “the legendary investor” in a March 23, 2008 story.
In all, Times reporters have referred to Buffett as a “legendary investor” at least nine times in its pages over the last five years, not counting several references to him as a “legendary investor” on the paper’s DealBook blog. No other investor has been hailed as “legendary” in print more than once by the Times.
In his coverage of the Department of Labor's weekly report on unemployment claims this morning, the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber, after noting how initial claims filed by Communications Workers of America members who are on strike against Verizon (more on that later) inflated this week's and last week's results, wrote that "excluding the work stoppage, layoffs appear to be stabilizing. That should help ease fears that the economy is on the verge of a recession."
The following chart, which excludes those workers' claims during the past two weeks, doesn't exactly give wholehearted support to Rugaber's key contentions:
In the latest in a series of snipes from reporter Ashley Parker directed at Republican candidate Mitt Romney, a brief “Caucus” item in Thursday’s New York Times, “Romney Stands By Corporations Remarks,” suggested Romney’s remark to a heckler that “corporations are people, my friend” made him look like “an out-of-touch millionaire.” But isn't Romney right? (Parker’s article first appeared in a different form online Wednesday afternoon.) The print version opened:
Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts stirred a bit of a tempest when he said on the campaign trail in Iowa that “corporations are people, my friend.” Some called the remark tone deaf, saying it fed into the perception of him as an out-of-touch millionaire.
While campaigning President Obama promised to create 5 million “green” jobs, and shortly into his term he announced a “task force” to do just that. His stimulus package included tax credits for renewable energy companies, allotted funds for weatherization and more. Now with the economy once again on shaky ground the President may pivot back to jobs in September, specifically of the “green” variety.
More than two years later after those initiatives began, the results are dismal. In fact a number of the very companies the Obama administration touted as future job creators have gone bankrupt or had to lay off employees instead. But you won’t hear about this from ABC, CBS and NBC very often.
On August 15, the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe, and the Associated Press all reported that Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Oddly enough (no, not really), The New York Times, which published a 1,600-word report in January (HT to an NB emailer) on the company's competitive difficulties, did not take note of Evergreen's filing.
Each of the three reports cited gave readers the impression that Bay State agencies were the only ones which had provided the company any form of financial assistance during the past several years during which, according to its latest 10-K annual report (large HTML file), it was losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually (about $950 million in the past three calendar years):
Establishment press reporters will insist from now until the cows come home that they play it straight. Their actions all too often belie their claims.
One such face-hitting example came yesterday in Associated Press reporter Chris Rugaber's coverage of the government's Regional and State Employment and Unemployment report. If it weren't already given away in this post's title, veteran media bias sleuths would have had no trouble detecting the "clever" technique employed in the following two paragraphs on seasonally adjusted state job gains and losses from Rugaber's risible rendition (key sentences bolded):
On Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer teased an upcoming segment on unemployment by fretting: "And just ahead, help not wanted. If you're one of the 14 million Americans looking for work, you may have noticed a growing trend. Employers are posting job ads that say they're seeking only people who are currently employed or just recently laid off. Is that discrimination?"
Later, Lauer asked Today financial editor Jean Chatzky about the practice: "This sounds like discrimination, job discrimination to me. Why isn't it?" Chatzky had to explain the legal definition of discrimination to Lauer: "It isn't because the test for discrimination is that it has to apply to something that you can't change about yourself. So a disability, your age, your gender, your race. Unemployment status is fungible, it's changeable..."
The Christian Science Monitor appears to have a problem monitoring its bloggers. Even though it asserts that its "diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there ... (have) responsibility for the content of their blogs," the largely respected CSM should understand that Jared Bernstein has just embarrassed it bigtime.
To its credit, CSM describes Bernstein, currently a senior fellow at the very liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (Director emeritus: Marian Wright Edelman), as a Biden/Democrat hack: "Jared was chief economist to Vice President Joseph Biden and executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class." But unless CSM wants to be seen as a place like the Huffington Post, where it seems that anyone can throw up anything regardless of its truthfulness (I'm talking to you, Sam Stein), it needs to at least fact-check info with an obvious surface stench -- and I could smell the acrid aroma from Bernstein's item here in Ohio. His woeful Wednesday post goes beyond predictable cherry-picking into the realm of flat-out errors.
At first blush, it might seem hard to imagine how one can contend that a press report describing an industry sector as operating "at depressed levels" and at volumes that are one-half of what "economists consider to be healthy" isn't telling the whole truth. But that's exactly how I would describe Tuesday's writeup by the Associated Press's Derek Kravitz after July's Census Bureau release on housing starts, building permits, homes under construction, and completions.
The problem is, as I separately noted earlier today, that of the sixteen key metrics the Bureau reported, eleven of them were record lows, either for any July on record, or any individual month on record. The other five were either the second-worst or third worst Julys on record. This isn't a depressed market; it's a despondent one. Kravitz only disclosed one of those eleven records, and in a misleading manner.
The next time I plan to escape reality for an extended time, I won't go to the trouble of forwarding the phones to voicemail and swearing off the Internet and TV for a few days. I'll just take whatever the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger must be consuming.
Crutsinger's 11:45 report this morning claims that "The better-than-expected retail sales report is the second strong signal on the economy in as many days." Strike 1: It was far from unanimously considered better than expected. Strike 2: It wasn't that strong regardless, considering that it was likely achieved on borrowed money. Strike 3: The report that he thinks was strong yesterday wasn't strong either. You're out, bud. Oh, and there's Strike 4 in reserve: Though he referred to consumers being "a little more confident," Crutsinger "somehow" ignored (and AP on the whole almost completely ignored) a devastating report showing consumer sentiment at a three-decade low released well before the time stamp of his report.
The recent decision by Standard & Poor's to downgrade the U.S. credit rating to AA+ from AAA upset many on the left, especially those within the Obama administration. The White House lashed out at S&P and some in the news media did too. So Business & Media Institute decided to look back at six years of network (ABC,CBS and NBC) coverage of S&P.
BMI found out that bulk of network criticism of the ratings agency came AFTER the Obama administration went on the attack and that the networks relied on S&P experts three times more than they criticized them.
If we're to believe Associated Press reporter Daniel Wagner, this morning's report from the Department of Labor on unemployment claims revealing that initial claims during the week ended August 6 fell to 395,000, was "good news." Why, according to Wagner, that drop, all by itself, it was "enough to catapult stocks," pushing the Dow up by 423 points in Thursday's trading.
Uh, not exactly, Daniel. First, though the decline in initial claims was in the right direction, it was only 5,000, or 1.25%, less than last week's original number of 400,000 (naturally revised up to 402,000 this week), and an even tinier 3,000 fewer than the initial number two weeks ago. If (more like when, given the track record of previous weeks) it's revised up by 3,000 or so, it will be even less impressive. Huge advances in the Dow do not arise from such tiny improvements.
On August 2 on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed that the economy under George W. Bush lost eight million jobs.
PolitiFact, which occasionally seems to engage in verbal gymnastics to give Democrats and leftists the benefit of the doubt, was more than a little annoyed with Reid's claim, giving it a rating of "Pants on Fire." As will be demonstrated later, virtually no one else in the press has deemed Harry's howler newsworthy.
If we're to believe Paul Wiseman and David K. Randall at the Associated Press in their Wednesday afternoon report on the economy, all of the alleged solutions which might shake the U.S. economy out of its weakness either aren't available or no one has the will to try them: stimulus, infrastructure projects, jobs programs, or another round of quantitative easing. Oh, and governments are damaging the economy by "cutting at all levels."
There's nothing, they tell us -- nothing! -- besides those supposed tried and true prescriptions which could possibly improve things. To them, everything that happened in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan must be a mirage, a fairy tale that never happened. As a result, they note, our economy is starting to resemble Japan's. The fact that Japan has been in its current malaise since the 1990s because of rampant overstimulation just doesn't compute to them.
Did you know that car buyers in July took "worries" over the debt-ceiling debate in Washington into account when they decided to buy -- or apparently decided not to buy?
Neither did I. But Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher rolled out that excuse this evening as one factor explaining why July's car sales were "disappointing," and then appeared to stuff those words into the mouth of the spokesman for General Motors.
Sale were indeed "disappointing," up less than 1% of over July 2010, which was described at the time by CNNMoney.com as "Best Since (Cash for) Clunkers, But Still Weak" (that's the window title; the article title got sanitized later).
Here are several paragraphs from the AP pair's report (the excuse and the word-stuffing are in bold):
The AP's coverage of the U.S. economy late Friday focused on high gas prices as the dominant, uh, driver of this year's anemic growth both visually and in its text.
As will be seen after the jump, the graphic at the AP's national site is of a gas price sign. The final sentence in the caption of the full-size version reads "High gas prices and scant income gains forced Americans to sharply pull back on spending."
The underlying report by Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman predictably mentioned gas prices first and foremost, tagged debt-ceiling negotiations as a suddenly important contributor to economic uncertainty (where have they been while President Obama, his cabinet, his czars, and his hyperactive regulators have been injecting uncertainty in megadoses during the past two years?), and relayed Ben Bernanke's months-old warning that cutting back too much on government spending would hinder economic growth: