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:
Ms. Wolverson's most obvious omission is her failure to mention the government's breathtaking downward revision to first quarter gross domestic product growth from the annualized 1.9% announced in late June to today's revised 0.4%. That's a nearly 80% hit compared to where we thought we were just a month ago, indicating how anemic the so-called recovery has been. It also gives one reason to doubt that today's 1.3% figure for the second quarter will hold up in subsequent revisions.
What follows are excerpted paragraphs containing just some of Ms. Wolverson's errors and political postures:
"Millionaires and billionaires," President Obama says derisively, must make more "sacrifices" and live by the same rules the rest of America lives by. But there are seven little words that will never appear on the White House teleprompter: "And that means you, too, George Soros."
For all his (and his wife's) bashing of greedy Wall Street hedge-fund managers, Obama has shown nothing but love to the world's most famous hedge-fund mogul. The feeling is mutual and deep(-pocketed).
This morning, Christopher Rugaber's coverage of the news from Uncle Sam's Bureau of Economic Analysis about the growth in the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the Associated Press appropriately characterized it as indicative of a "sharp slowdown" and "extremely bad" (via a quoted economist).
Today's report carried an advance estimate of second-quarter growth of an annualized 1.3%. As a result of revisions going all the way back to 2003, the BEA's report also included a steeply reduction to 0.4% for the first quarter (down from the 1.9% reported last month), deeper contractions during the recession's roughest quarters, and net slightly lower growth figures since the recession officially ended in June 2009.
The big story Rugaber missed -- and which I suspect the rest of the media will also miss -- is that two full years after the recession ended, the economy, based on today's numbers, has not yet fully recovered, as seen in the following graphic (Source data: Table 3A at the BEA's full GDP report):
The one I expected came from CNNMoney.com, which read: "Initial unemployment claims fall below 400,000 for the first time in more than 3 months, dropping 24,000 to 398,000 in latest week." The other one came from USAToday.com, which does not ordinarily issue alerts when this report appears, took the opportunity to relay the same message, followed by an assertion that today's report is "a sign the job market may be healing after a recent slump."
I guess at Reuters, when you see that an economy can't meet normal benchmarks for success, you simply lower them, and pretend that success will come anyway.
Over at the Associated Press a few weeks ago, in his write-up in the wake of the government's awful June employment report, Chris Rugaber correctly pegged the kind of economic growth it will take to get millions of currently unemployed Americans back to work again: "The economy would need to grow 5 percent for a whole year to significantly bring down the unemployment rate."
That standard was way too high for whoever wrote an unbylined item at Reuters on Tuesday (bold after title is mine):
In his Friday report covering the June state and local employment report released by Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Associated Press's Derek Kravitz told readers about the three biggest seasonally adjusted job-losing states (Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia), but had nothing to say about states which gained jobs. This was a curious omission indeed, given that BLS told us that "nonfarm payroll employment increased in 26 states and the District of Columbia and decreased in 24 states."
Only Kravitz knows why he neglected to tell us about the job gainers, but the list of the top eight states in that department should make readers wonder if the wire service reporter's omission was motivated by inconvenient (for liberals and leftists) likely explanations for the improvements in most of them (keep in mind that though it's not an apples to apples comparison, the economy as a whole added only 18,000 seasonally adjusted jobs in June):
On Wednesday evening (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted the absurdity of Associated Press coverage characterizing the 5-page document with 3-1/2 whole pages of text issued by the "Gang of Six" as a "plan" -- 12 times, plus in the item's headline. Though I didn't bring it up then, an obvious point to make about any of these items floating around Washington is that if the Congressional Budget Office can't score it, it can't be a plan. A month ago, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told a congressional committee, in response to a question about President Obama's April proposal, that "we can't score speeches." By contrast, there's no reason to believe it can't score Cut, Cap & Balance, because it's actual legislation passed by the House.
Last night at Investors Business Daily, Mark Steyn, the self-described "One-Man Global Content Provider," made more generalized comments about the media coverage of the debt ceiling-tax-spending-amending discussions and its identification of anything stated in a semi-coherent sentence as a "plan" (press-related items in bold):
Green Vehicles is no more. The world will somehow have to get by without the lovely vehicle pictured after the jump populating our streets and highways.
Given that its owner put an "I've giving it up" blog post last Tuesday, and even though Drudge just caught it a few hours ago, it's pretty safe to assume that the Green Vehicles debacle won't be a national establishment press story.
It is, however, a fairly hot story in Salinas, California, a city of about 150,000 fifty or so miles south of San Jose.
Per Reuters blogger James Pethokoukis, Goldman Sachs, demonstrating Democratic-friendly timing similar to that seen at the New York Times a month or so ago, published an extraordinarily gloomy economic forecast last night.
Here are some of the details he quotes:
"Following another week of weak economic data, we have cut our estimates for real GDP growth in the second and third quarter of 2011 to 1.5% and 2.5%, respectively, from 2% and 3.25%. Our forecasts for Q4 and 2012 are under review, but even excluding any further changes we now expect the unemployment rate to come down only modestly to 8¾% at the end of 2012."
I've been trying to resist taking satisfaction in David Cay Johnston's utter humiliation on his first assignment at Reuters. Y'know, there but for the grace of God, etc. I do wish him well, though I question whether the feeling is mutual. More important, I hope he recognizes the need to go into journalistic rehab. My guess is that he doesn't.
The former New York Times journalist/reporter (whatever, David) and yours truly had an extended online dustup four years ago when I demonstrated Johnston's in my view sloppy, foundation-limited, and biased reporting at the Old Gray Lady (graphic of first few paragraphs as originally presented; current link) in an item about what had happened to Americans' incomes between 2000 and 2005 (errors summarized here in "Top Six Errors Committed by David Cay Johnston and/or the New York Times in Their Income Growth Report"; I noted a seventh later).
Let's go through the development and destruction of Johnston's maiden effort at Reuters.
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.