CNBC's "Squawk Box" co-host Joe Kernen took a moment during a panel discussion September 2 to take a shot at the onslaught of coverage over presumptive vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy.
You know as a member of the media I'm just kind of embarrassed with the media. The media says, "Yeah it shouldn't matter, it's not going to matter, we're not going to cover it" and then they put it on the cover of every paper.
Earlier in the broadcast Kernen told chief Washington correspondent John Harwood he did not think the family incidence was as big a deal as the media was making it out to be:
Felt a little bit like the guy in Casablanca, shocked, you know: teen sex in Alaska, John. Probably not that much of a shocker I guess, right? Not a whole lot. I guess bowling, yeah, It's a little lonely probably up there, right, John? ... I don't understand everybody at the same time saying that this is not going to be a big deal ... the press is going to be responsible about this, Barack Obama please don't make anything of this, but then it's the cover of every paper like it, you know, like matters.
Mercantilism [emphasis added]: An economic doctrine that flourished in Europe from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Mercantilists held that a nation's wealth consisted primarily in the amount of gold and silver in its treasury. Accordingly, mercantilist governments imposed extensive restrictions on their economies to ensure a surplus of exports over imports. In the eighteenth century, mercantilism was challenged by the doctrine of laissez-faire.
When Barack Obama talks—and talks—about the future, does he really mean "back to the future"? You have to wonder after reading the column by one of his economic advisors in today's LA Times. In Renewing America's 'contract with the middle class, Leo Hindery Jr. explicitly calls for a return to mercantilism, the discredited theory of economics popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. Hindery [emphasis added]:
It is imperative -- way past time, in fact -- for America to be as mercantilist as are our trading partners.
Sometimes the qualities that make a strong candidate in one pool make them a weak candidate in another pool.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would hurt Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain as a running mate because of "vulnerability" stemming from his successful businesses and support for free trade, according to a reporter for The Washington Post.
"On the whole subject of trade deals and free trade agreements is that a vulnerability, a potential vulnerability on the side of Mitt Romney?" Andrea Mitchell asked Post reporter Chris Cillizza on the August 28 broadcast of "MSNBC Live".
"It absolutely is," said Cillizza, who writes "The Fix" blog at WashingtonPost.com. "And that's a calculation I think the McCain campaign has to make. Yes, Mitt Romney has great business bona fides. Built a business, he used that line many times in the primary: ‘I know why jobs come and I know why they go.'"
"The other side of that, however, is he worked for a company called Bingham Capital that occasionally engaged in leverage buyouts, that means shipping jobs overseas. That's not the kind of thing that's going to go over well in these rust belt states where McCain needs to perform well, most notably Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania," Cillizza said.
That “Made in America” sticker is looking more attractive.
Second-quarter (2Q) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was revised up from 1.9 percent growth to a higher than anticipated 3.3 percent, according to reports on August 28.
Rising exports played a significant role in the expansion. According to the Commerce Department, real exports increased 13.2 percent in the 2Q of 2008, compared with an increase of 5.1 percent in the first. Real imports of goods and services decreased 0.8 percent in the first quarter and 7.6 percent in the second.
In case traditional news outlets "forget" to tell you, Uncle Sam announced this morning that second-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was revised sharply upward to 3.3% from the late July's advance estimate of 1.9%.
Dude, where's my recession?
Y'know, the recession that Barack Obama claimed we "almost certainly in" back in mid-July?
Believe it or not, there are supposedly legitimate economists out there who, despite today's news, still insist that we are in a recession -- right now! -- and have been for some time. And of course, reporters are finding them, and quoting them.
Earlier this week, when it was clear that a significant upward GDP revision was in the works, "journalists" at MarketWatch and CNNMoney.com, with the help of their "experts," did everything they could to downplay its impending significance. One even called it a "mirage."
More bad news for the newspaper industry. Anyone paying attention to the current state of financial distress in the print news industry will realize that saving money is the order of the day industry wide. Yet, not long ago the Associated Press announced that it was to raise its prices to the print news industry causing consternation everywhere. This new rate structure has caused quite a few newspapers to begin the process of dropping AP content giving pause to consider what the future of the AP might become?
Several papers have already announced that they are preparing to drop the AP, the latest of which appears to be the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The Minnesota paper has announced it will cease using AP content by 2010. The Star-Trib joins The Bakersfield Californian, and two papers from Washington State, The Yakima Herald-Republic and Wenatchee World. Also The Post Register of Idaho Falls informed the AP that they were going to drop their service in early August.
Just in time for Barack Obama's Greco-Roman Oration tomorrow night, two significant economic reports have gone or are about to go in a positive direction:
Earlier Wednesday, the Census Bureau reported that durable goods orders increased 1.3% during July, repeating June's performance; shipments of durables were up 2.5%; and unfilled orders were at their highest level since 1992. There are exceptions, but these companies are generally very busy.
Thursday morning, the pundits are predicting that second quarter Gross Domestic Product, originally estimated at an annualized 1.9%, will be significantly revised upward. Predictions that GDP will come in at 2.7% are at Reuters, Briefing.com via CNN, and MarketWatch. If you go to the links, especially the second and third, you will detect the distinct aroma of sour grapes; the headlines found there are "The economic growth mirage" and "Big revision in GDP won't mean much," respectively.
Don't count on these statistics to get much positive traditional media play while the Obama coronation is in progress.
But there's one other number that's even worse for the everyone's-a-victim crowd than those just noted. It is one that I can almost guarantee will remain invisible during tomorrow's festivities.
That's what NBC's "Today" show did August 26 in a segment attacking online dealmakers. Co-host Meredith Vieira warned shoppers could find "mysterious and unwanted charges on their credit cards."
"Kathy Danzer wanted to reconnect with old classmates, so she bought a subscription on a popular high school reunion Web site," correspondent Natalie Morales reported. "But when she got her credit card bill there was another unexpected charge: an additional $12.99 for something called ‘GREATFN.'"
With all the complaining - not to mention the foreboding soundtrack the segment featured - a viewer might think Danzer and others like her had trouble getting refunds for the money they mistakenly spent. But that wasn't the case, as the company refunds money to unsatisfied customers, Morales admitted at the end of the segment.
So if a government program has been failing for decades, should you A) Privatize it, B) Get rid of it altogether, or C) Throw millions of dollars at it and hope that Americas somehow feel compelled to reenact scenes from "Some Like it Hot."
The answer is C if you were watching CNN this morning.
"American Morning" pointed out that high gas prices were the reason ridership on Amtrak was up 14 percent and then pushed for more funding for the government-sponsored program through a recent Senate proposal.
"The problem for Amtrak of course though is that they haven't had a single new passenger car since 1990," said personal finance editor Gerri Willis on the August 21 broadcast. "Their cars, even the locomotives are old and aging; they're asking Congress for help. Dick Durbin has introduced legislation into the Senate to try and do something about that. Interestingly he says that Thanksgiving is going to be a wake up call for Americans as we all try to go visit relatives for the holidays."
"What they need is new track, because every Sunday it's like this all the way up," said co-host John Roberts simulating a bumpy train ride with his anchor chair.
When is an increase in consumer confidence bad news? When ABC reports it.
Network anchor George Stephanopoulos led off the news cast with this gloom-and-doom teaser: "Terrible Tuesday. Inflation surges. Stocks dive. And consumer confidence nears a record low."
But Stephanopoulos left out a key detail: consumer confidence increased according to the network's own measure. "U.S. overall consumer confidence rose last week, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday," the August 19 Dow Jones Newswires reported. ABC never mentioned that in its report.
So, here is a curious thing. I have been reviewing books at Amazon for a few years now and never had the occasion to have been censored by Amazon.com. But, I just had two reviews in a row deleted by Amazon and it has caused me to wonder how often other conservatives have their reviews summarily eliminated from the Amazon site?
I have noticed, of course, that leftists use Amazon quite well to give conservative books a bad Amazon rating. In the past, whenever I wrote a positive review of a conservative book, for instance, I would be loaded up with negative votes on the review by Amazon visitors. But whenever I wrote a review of a non-political book, I got favorable votes on my review.
But, up until now, I’ve never had a review completely deleted by Amazon.
CBS's "The Early Show," reported August 7 that a new stronger strain of the West Nile virus could spread across the country with help from the neglected pools found in foreclosed homes in California.
"Apparently ... as more and more homes are passing into foreclosure and there are many, and many of those homes have backdoor pools, these are being neglected," Dr. Alton Baron of Roosevelt Hospital Center told co-host Maggie Rodriguez. "They're not being maintained and this can become a ripe feeding ground and breeding ground for these mosquito populations."
Baron added that the new strain of the virus "invades the brain and spinal cord" and listed other horrific symptoms including nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, rashes, disorientation, severe muscle weakness, fatigue or even paralysis.
Mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant water, pass on West Nile to animals and humans when they feed off fowl that have the virus in their blood.
Foreclosures in the state of California may have hit a record high, but there are signs of a change-signs "The Early Show" ignored.
Maybe it is because NBC has the broadcast rights for the Summer Olympics being held in China, but big gas-guzzling, greenhouse gas-emitting automobiles made by General Motors are seen as a plus for the communist nation's embrace of capitalism.
The August 6 "NBC Nightly News" featured the Chinese people's love of troubled U.S. automaker General Motors (NYSE:GM) - an indicator interpreted as an acceptance of capitalism.
"What would Chairman Mao think?" CNBC correspondent Phil LeBeau asked. "Six decades after the Communist Revolution, China has become the hottest capitalist engine on earth. And ironically, some of the most revered symbols of success in today's China are Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet."
Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, on Friday contended “it is not the protectionists of the AFL-CIO or CNN who are primarily to blame for the erosion of public support” for free trade, instead:
The blame lies squarely with a business community that continues to support Republican politicians who refuse to raise the taxes and spend the money necessary to provide the economic safety net for American workers that a free-market economy has not, and will not, provide.
In his column bannered across the top Friday's “Business” section, “Wave Goodbye to the Invisible Hand” Pearlstein argued that “just as the Gilded Age gave way to the Progressive Era and the New Deal gave way to the post-war era of big government, big business and big labor, the current era of free-market capitalism seems to be giving way to something else” as “the larger truth may be that the social and economic costs of the next increment of globalization probably outweigh the benefits for many people, and that reality has now been reflected in the political marketplace.”
The broadcast networks exhibited gross mismanagement in their coverage of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage powerhouses now in need of a $25-billion government rescue.
"It's partially a bias and partially just sort of gross mismanagement on their part," Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor said on CBN's "Newswatch" July 30. "All they had to do was pick up a Wall Street Journal. You know people at the network news shows read the Wall Street Journal at least sometimes. The Journal's been on this case since February 2002 when they had a piece headline, ‘Fannie Mae Enron?'"
The networks - ABC, CBS and NBC - ignored six years of concerns about the two companies' management, Gainor wrote July 28.
"The combination of stock losses, government fines and proposed bailout comes close to $150 billion," he wrote. "It's a huge story largely ignored by network news until a taxpayer bailout was almost guaranteed."
But the networks were more interested in attacking private companies with Enron comparisons than likening Fannie and Freddie to the infamous corporate debacle.
In a bizarre rant against President Bush at the end of Sunday’s "Face the Nation," CBS host Bob Schieffer made an odd analogy between the president and the fairy tale villain in reaction to the Bush Administration’s opposition to providing the Food and Drug Administration with more regulatory power over the tobacco industry: "The administration, incredibly, in my opinion, opposes it for a reason that would make the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland proud."
Schieffer began his commentary by declaring: "I'm delighted the House will vote this week on legislation that for the first time will give the Food and Drug Administration real power to regulate tobacco products. I hope it passes." He then decried the Bush Administration’s reason for opposing the measure:
Their reason: That the FDA already has such a huge job monitoring food safety, that it just doesn't have the resources to take on the additional job of regulating tobacco. If it did, the administration argues, regulating food and drugs might suffer. I couldn't be more serious. That really is their main reason. By that logic, we shouldn't have asked the military or our intelligence agencies to get involved in fighting terrorism after 9/11. For sure, they already had plenty to do before Osama Bin Laden came along.
Considering how long it has taken for the FDA to find the source of a recent nationwide salmonella outbreak, it seems the administration’s concerns are well-grounded.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "several" as "being of a number more than two or three but not many." Nevertheless, the Times used the term instead of the more accurate "two," subtly exaggerating the image of restaurant closure.
Two chains - Bennigan's and Steak & Ale - owned by the Metromedia Restaurant Group were closed across the country July 29 after the company filed for bankruptcy. The Times blamed the economy for the shutdowns.
The media were quick to jump on the story of an emergency airplane landing in Manila, Philippines due to a hole in the fuselage of a Qantas flight. And they were quick to sensationalize the story without mentioning Qantas' impressive safety record.
"Well, nobody's saying that we should be covering up a huge hole in the side of an airplane. But it's important for the media to not sensationalize cases like this, which they are already doing," Business & Media Institute Assistant Editor Nathan Burchfiel told Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney on the July 25 "Fox Business."
Burchfiel noted that British tabloids have already speculated that a bomb in the cargo hold may have blown a hole in the fuselage, even though there was no indication that's the case.
"This morning in the American media on ABC, David Muir said that the plane ‘instantly plummeted' 20,000 feet, which is not true," Burchfiel said. "The pilot descended 20,000 feet, rather sharply, but that was his decision, he did it under full control to normalize cabin pressure."
Co-host Harry Smith warned viewers about what might be "lurking inside" granite countertops - radioactivity.
"There's granite all over the place in modern kitchens, sometimes you have a little breakfast nook. You sit there; you may sit there hours and hours and hours in a day ... I mean some people have gone so far as to tear their kitchen counters out because of the concern," said Smith to Stanley Liebert, the quality assurance director at CMT Laboratories.
Liebert said radon gas, a "carcinogen gas that we inhale [that] causes lung cancer," is emitted from certain types of granite and could be harmful.
Smith showed some skepticism saying, "I'm having a difficult time getting my head around the idea that the countertops in your home might literally be dangerous." But he didn't include any representatives of the industry in the story.
The massive housing bailout bill, meant to prop up beleaguered government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) and help homeowners refinance adjustable rate mortgages, was praised in a segment on the CBS broadcast. It passed in the House July 23 and won't face resistance from President Bush.
"This afternoon, the House passed a bill that throws an estimated $25-billion lifeline to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae - the backbone of the home mortgage industry," CBS chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod said. "The bill makes it easier for both to raise unlimited capital from the government if needed and would allow hundreds of thousands of homeowners to refinance rather than face foreclosure."
The Biz Flog, the video blog over at the Business and Media Institute, takes at look at the effect the high cost of oil has had on the airline industry, and the effect that has had on passengers seeing higher ticket prices and fees.
Instead of focusing on and explaining the real causes of higher ticket prices, the media have accused the airline industry of trying to “nickel-and-dime” passengers.
On “MSNBC Live” July 9 host Tamron Hall gave a report on the quality of commercial airline travel, calling price increases “nickel-and-dime fees.”
“Passengers think they’re getting nickel-and-dimed,” host of the Today show, Matt Lauer said July 9 on the morning program. “All the things that were free on planes are now costing us.”
To CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" host, we live in a world of absolutes - because the potential of a government bailout of two publicly traded government-sponsored enterprises condemns the entire concept of free market capitalism.
On the July 22 broadcast of Dobbs' show, he attacked proponents of free-market capitalism because of the potential trouble of the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE).
"Well the - it's a, it's quite a mess, quite a mess indeed," Dobbs said. "And I love the idea that all these free traders, free marketeers now got to have the government to, to bail them out. If I hear one of these ignorant, hypocritical, sanctimonious free traders ever talk about free markets again, they should be pilloried. I mean they are absolutely - this is an administration of jerks and cowards and fools. I mean it's unbelievable."
Brian Wesbury, whose writings I have quoted often, is at it again, puncturing the economic gloom with reality-based analysis. Since his job is to provide useful info for the investor-clients at First Trust, creating unrealized hype is not in his best interest.
Washington Post's Marc Fisher devoted his July 22 column, "Law Reinforces Montgomery as a Nanny State" to pooh-poohing a recently-passed bill by the affluent, liberal Maryland county that borders the District of Columbia on its northwest side. Fisher leveled a charge that free-market advocates and conservative Marylanders would cheer regarding the new ordinance mandating that employers of nannies provide a written contract.
"This is a classic MoCo decision to make law as a political statement rather than as a remedy to a burning social need," Fisher complained, noting that "conditions for domestic workers in Montgomery are considerably better than in many other places."
What's more, if nannies don't like their work environment, "the proper remedy" would be "to quit and find other work," Fisher argued.
Sounds pretty conservative for a WaPo columnist, so what's the catch? Well, one of Fisher's qualms with the law's development was how it might make Montgomery County seem hostile to illegal immigrants:
Free market capitalism is a much-despised bogeyman to the mainstream media, as our friends at MRC's Business & Media Institute can attest.
So it's somewhat refreshing to find one article in a major media publication -- okay, it's actually Newsweek -- that seems to lament the entrepreneur-choking nature of government regulation.
Of course, the regulatory state in question happens to be the highly undemocratic Communist China, but in the July 28 edition article, "Taking Away Olympic Fun," Mary Hennock and Manuela Zoninsein lament that "Visitors to the Games will find the newly spruced-up Beijing cleaner -- and blander.":
“[T]he 1.5-million-acre tip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is critical for the health of an ancient caribou herd,” weatherman Sam Champion said on the May 6 “Good Morning America.”
“It’s a safe haven for calving every spring. The same area is valuable for another reason. Underneath it lies billions of barrels of crude oil, as of yet untapped. Oil companies say drilling can be done without danger, but environmentalists disagree. They think drilling would devastate the land and its wildlife,” said Champion.
The Biz Flog, the video blog of the Business & Media Institute, for July 16 focused on what it would take to drill in ANWR and how long it would take the financial benefits to get back to consumers.
Specifically, Cheney's 2000 statement was that "we may well be on the front edge of a recession here," while Bush's 2001 claim was a milder "You know better than me that our economy is slowing down."
So what will be the reaction be to the Sunday assertion by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that there's "little doubt" the country is in a recession, when no negative growth has occurred?