You would think that economic forecasters, who have been obsessing over the impact on economic growth of October's 17 percent partial government shutdown might have noticed that a lot of people have all of a sudden learned that they're about to experience a major cut in their take-home pay. You would be wrong.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans had received health insurance cancellation notices by September 30, and had also learned that they will be on the hook starting next year for hundreds of dollars in premium increases on the Obamacare exchanges. It should be obvious that most affected people would have started spending less on other items virtually immediately, and that they will continue to be in major cutback mode indefinitely. But I didn't find anyone in the establishment press who mentioned it. Nor did I find anyone who noted that the millions of Americans facing higher health insurance premiums are also going to materially impact fourth quarter growth and Christmas shopping season results.
The Associated Press has published a great but disturbing story. Given the frequent and deserved grief yours truly administers when the wire service lets its readers, listeners, viewers, and subscribing news organizations down, it seems only fair to acknowledge fine work when it does occur. The real question is, in the politically charged U.S. health care environment, whether the AP's subscribers and other media outlets aware of Frank Bajak's Wednesday morning report will acknowledge its existence, and adequately relay the horrors contained therein.
The story is about what's left of Venezuela's "free" healthcare system. It's in shambles. The headline reads like it might be "only" doctors who say so, but Bajak's content says otherwise. Readers here need to go to the full report, because the excerpts which follow of necessity convey only a small portion of how awful things are, including indications that the country is moving ever closer to becoming another Cuba:
After NBC warned viewers that the partial government shutdown that ended weeks ago may be "the Grinch that stole Christmas," on Tuesday's Today, correspondent Stephanie Gosk fretted that Thanksgiving would be ruined as well: "Macy's, the company that sponsors the Thanksgiving Day Parade, will open its doors on the holiday for the first time in 155 years....But there is a risk, the identity of one of the country's most cherished holidays may be in jeopardy." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Despite co-host Matt Lauer noting moments earlier that the trend of Black Friday creeping into Thanksgiving had been happening "for years," Gosk laid blame on October's temporary shutdown: "Retailers are facing a tough reality. The government shutdown slowed down the economy and took a serious toll on consumer confidence. A recent poll showed that just over half of shoppers say they will spend less than last year this Christmas season."
During the 2008 banking crisis, then-Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel famously said, “Never allow a crisis to go to waste.” The broadcast networks certainly followed his advice when reporting on Hurricane Sandy since the storm became a hurricane one year ago, hitting the New Jersey coast on Oct. 29.
Network reporters and experts have repeatedly claimed that the storm was either caused or worsened because of climate change. In fact, 100 percent of the 32 news stories and briefs in the past year that mentioned climate change and Hurricane Sandy claimed global warming directly impacted the storm – even though “no single weather event can be linked directly to a long-term driver, such as global warming,” according to climate change activists.
Green energy is supposedly the future. Why, solar energy will break out and become a major energy source any year now, or any decade now. Or maybe never. It has been the subject of national attention ever since President Obama made it a cornerstone of his 2008 presidential campaign. Of course, what Obama claims is in energy policy has worked out to be more a of a growth-constraining, government money-wasting endeavor than anything else.
The Denver Post carried the original story on Thursday of how the federal government's first attempt at a solar auction went. The headline was accurate: "1st auction of solar rights on public lands in Colorado draws no bids." That's right. Zero. Post reporter Mark Jaffe's first sentence was charitable but acceptable: "The plan to auction rights to federal land across the West for solar-power plants got off to a rocky start Thursday when no bidders showed up for the first auction in Colorado." Too bad that two establishment press outlets which were in a position to communicate this news to the nation failed to adequately do so.
The left has been ridiculing supposedly wildly overstated estimates of the costs of building the calamitous HealthCare.gov website.
Based on a look at one contractor, CGI, which he must have assumed was the general contractor (i.e., the lead entity through which amounts paid to subcontracting firms would be funneled), Andrew Couts at Digital Trends originally estimated a total cost of $634 million. Couts later backed it down to "over $500 million" after identifying non-Affordable Care Act-related work with which CGI was associated. The New York Times has until recently been working with a figure of "over $400 million." All figures just noted are almost certainly miles too low, for two reasons.
At the Associated Press Friday morning, economics writer Christopher Rugaber's story had a predictably sunny and incomplete headline ("LONG-LASTING US FACTORY GOODS ORDERS RISE 3.7 PCT.") followed by an opening paragraph which told readers that "orders for most other goods fell" and which speculated without basis that the substantively bad news was "a possible sign of concern about the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1."
That's a great reporting strategy if your goal is to keep busy news consumers inadequately informed. Those who only read the headline will believe that this economic element was unequivocally positive. Those who only get through the first paragraph will see the bad news and blame congressional Republicans, on whom the establishment media has successfully pinned the blame for the 17 percent shutdown — even though it objectively doesn't belong there. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
In 2003, Halliburton Company received a great deal of scrutiny from the establishment press over certain no-bid contracts obtained in connection with the Iraq War. Examples, two of which are from the Associated Press, are here, here, and here. A Google News Archive Search on "Halliburton no-bid" not in quotes allegedly returns 1,760 items (Google's counter is suspect, but the list extends to at least 19 pages, or well over 190 items, including multiple items in some listings).
In 2010, the Washington Times was virtually alone among media outlets in reporting that the Obama administration, despite presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign promise never to entertain such deals, had entered into a no-bid contract with KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, "worth as much as $568 million." It turns out that CGI, the Canadian company which is the lead firm in the design and rollout of HealtCare.gov, also has a no-bid contract with the federal government. But an AP search on "CGI no-bid" (not in quotes) comes up empty. A Google News search on the same string (not in quotes) returns only four times, none of which are establishment press outlets (as would be expected, the Washington Times is one of the four).
Pepsi and pop stars don’t mix, according to one food police group.
The D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) ran a full page “open letter” in Variety, telling pop singer Katy Perry to stop her work with Pepsi, on account of her influencing young fans. CSPI warned Perry that, “Soda companies are using you and other celebrities.” The letter then bashed her for not caring about her fans. ‘‘Drink Pepsi and you can be cool like Katy Perry’ is the takeaway message for your young fans. ‘Live for now’ – and worry about the health consequences later.” The letter ended by urging her not to “exploit that popularity by marketing a product that causes disease in your fans.”
Apparently desperate to claim that 17 percent government shutdown is causing pain, Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, decided that the Empire State Manufacturing Index's decline from brisk expansion to modest expansion was "a sign that the partial government shutdown may be weighing on the economy." Rugaber wrote what he did despite the actual report's emphasis that both business and labor market conditions "held steady," and its accompanying observation that manufacturers' borrowing costs have increased.
Though the headline at the AP's national site is a neutral "NY FACTORY ACTIVITY GROWS MORE SLOWLY IN OCTOBER," the one accompanying the story at some outlets (e.g., here and here — "Survey shows NY factory activity grows more slowly in October, signaling shutdown impact") is not. The four-paragraph story, presented in full for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes, follows the jump:
Kathleen Pender at the San Francisco Chronicle (HT Zombie at PJ Media) had some Obamacare-related financial advice for her readers on Saturday: "Consider reducing your 2014 income by working just a bit less," because doing so could get you a "huge health care subsidy."
This is not news to anyone who has studied Obamacare in detail, and shouldn't be a revelation to anyone in the business press, especially a financial advice columnist like Pender. Among several others, Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation and yours truly sounded the alarm about Obamacare's work-demotivating impact — as well as how it will encourage marital breakups and discourage couples from getting married — in early 2010. I also wrote related columns here and here in late September. Excerpts from Pender's prose follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Three New York Times reporters' coverage of HealthCare.gov's systemic failures is inadvertently funny. Its opening paragraph quotes Henry Chao, described as "the chief digital architect for the Obama administration’s new online insurance marketplace," as "deeply worried about the web site's debut" way back in March, and hoping that "it’s not a third-world experience." The Third World, many of whose developers have shown that they can design functional interactive web sites, should feel insulted.
For someone whose job title is global business editor, Daniel Gross seems far more concerned with bashing businessmen for not toeing the liberal line than reporting business news. Then again, perhaps we shouldn't expect that much from The Daily Beast.
Gross, who has slammed Apple's penchant for legal tax avoidance as being "too greedy for its own good" turned his attention today to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, lambasting him for daring to blame both Republicans and Democrats for the government shutdown, rather than use the work stoppage as an occasion to spout liberal talking points demonizing the Tea Party. The Yahoo! Finance alum seems particularly miffed because of Schultz's push for socially liberal stands in the past:
Andrew Couts at Digital Trends is apparently the one who has broken the story (link is in original) that "The exact cost to build Healthcare.gov, according to U.S. government records, appears to have been $634,320,919, which we paid to a company you probably never heard of: CGI Federal." Without getting into minutiae, some of that amount may not be directly related to HealthCare.gov, but Kathleen Sebelius's HHS is obviously nowhere near done spending development money yet.
The bio for Couts says that he "covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on the intersection of technology, law, politics, and policy." His represented background would seem to indicate that he should know that the pin-the-blame-on-Congress game he plays in his writeup is misleading and irresponsible. Excerpts follow the jump (links are in original; bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Google News really needs to work on its results counter. The first page of its 10:15 p.m. search listings on [Obama "widespread evidence"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets) tells us that there are "about 90 results," but moving to the second page of listed results shows there are only 11 (technically 13, because the first listing on the first page has three items).
Those sparse results, none of which except for Fox News would be considered an establishment press outlet, show that the press, including Darlene Superville at the Associated Press in an onsite report, has ignored the following howler delivered by President Barack Obama in Largo, Maryland on Thursday: "There's no widespread evidence that the Affordable Care Act is hurting jobs."
Whether the ice caps are melting and by how much may be debatable, but the debate is over as to whether former Wall Street Journal weatherman Eric Holthaus, who now works at Quartz (qz.com), has had a meltdown.
In a series of tweets on Friday afternoon (scroll down at link; HT Twitchy), Holthaus told the world of his reaction to the latest wave of hot air emanating from the Intergovernmental Governmental Panel on Climate Change, and actions he plans to take to respond to it (most recent tweet is first; underlines are mine):
Joshua Freed's Friday afternoon report on the week's results in the stock market at the Associated Press spent nine paragraphs telling readers how the current budget battle in Washington and possible government shutdown are causing stocks to retreat.
Though he obviously didn't admit it, Freed's narrative fell apart in later paragraphs as he discussed "mixed economic signals" which aren't mixed at all. They range from "pretty bad" to "really bad." Excerpts, mostly about the "mixed signals," follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
I guess the Associated Press's business and economics reporters feel they've done their jobs if they mention the relative donominance of new workforce entries by temps and part-timers once, while still denigrating the obvious validity of the latter — and pretend it never has to be mentioned again.
That's how the AP's Christopher Rugaber can produce a writeup, as he did today, telling readers that "The job market is sending signs that it may be strengthening," which contains no reference to part-timers or temps, obviously because that would disrupt the "improvement" meme. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
One thing which is almost as reliable as the sun rising in the east is the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, putting a better face on the federal government's fiscal situation than it deserves when a Democrat is in the White House. Almost as reliable is the arrival in a related report of some kind of statement about spending cuts which describes them as "deep," "steep," or some other awful adjective.
Summer is almost over, but Politico is still ready to throw lean, finely-textured beef back on the fire to cook some more, following ABC’s 2012 roasting of the product and the company that makes it.
The Sept. 9 Politico story referred to the beef as “controversial” twice, “scraps” twice, and “the product” six times. It even referred to it as “remnant scraps of cattle carcasses.”
The description that Politico gave for lean finely-textured beef was repulsive – and completely misleading. “[L]ean finely textured beef is made from the remnant scraps of cattle carcasses that were once deemed too fatty to go into human food. The scraps are heated and centrifuged to reclaim bits of muscle and then the product is treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli before being mixed into ground beef.”
Catholic News Agency is ahead of the curve on a likely major development affecting a U.S. household name.
The Coca-Cola Company's sponsorship of a "controversial Spanish reality (TV) show" ("disgusting" would appear to be a better word) in Spain is blowing up in its face, and not only because of the content of the program itself. The caustic reaction of a Coke executive to those who have criticized his company's support of the program has sparked calls for a boycott of the company's products which seems to have the potential to cut into the company's sales volume. Excerpts from CNA's Friday coverage follow the jump (bolds are mine):
If we're to believe Tom Raum's Friday afternoon report at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, the economy is humming along smoothly enough that we really shouldn't think about it that much any more, especially as something to consider when voting. And besides, it's being "eclipsed" by "other pressing events."
I'll stay away from those other "events" in the interest of concentrating on the 3-1/2 paragraphs Raum employed to convince readers that things really are okay, followed by a quote from a reliable leftist apparatchik (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Illinois Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky added her ignorant voice to the cacophony of economic confusion Thursday on the low-rated MSNBC show hosted by Chris Hayes. If a Republican congressperson made a statement as breathtakingly ignorant as the one you're about to see, it would get wider media play. Schakowsky's "brilliant" suggestion almost certainly won't.
Why has nobody thought of this fantastic idea? Here it is as "articulated" by Schakowsky in response to a question from Hayes (HT Bridget Johnson at PJ Tatler; bolds are mine; click on the "transcript" tab at the link to see the full text of the discussion; the original transcript has no caps and is missing some punctuation, but yours truly has added them where needed):
It must be nice to blithely talk about how you would spend somebody else's money without thinking through the consequences.
Kendall Fells, the organizing director of Fast Food Forward in New York, told Yahoo Finance's Bernice Napatch at its Daily Ticker site that "McDonald’s made $5.5 billion in profits and there’s plenty of money to pay the workers who work there and new hires without firing anyone.” As was the case with a Detroit protester's claim that "McDonald’s made like $500 billion last year" noted earlier today, Napatch did not challenge Fells's fallacy. After the jump, we'll come up with a better estimate showing that the company and its franchisees couldn't pay their employees $15 an hour even if they burned through all of their current restaurant operating income in trying.
Vickie Thomas and the news department at Detroit TV station WWJ really ought to be ashamed of themselves. The open question is whether they even know enough to be ashamed.
In reporting on a Motor City McDonald's store which was forced to close — whether it was for a few hours or all day and night isn't disclosed — Thomas quoted a "protester" claiming that "McDonald’s made like $500 billion last year." Most readers would interpret "made" as the company's annual profit. The company's worldwide net income in 2012 was $5.5 billion, barely 1 percent of the protester's completely unchallenged figure. The "like $500 billion" cited and allowed to stand is also 14 times larger than the $35.6 billion in gross sales at all of McDonald's U.S. franchised and company-owned stores.
At Slate, Mark Lynas tells the story of activist-orchestrated media deception — although one sometimes wonders whether the press even minds being deceived in these instances, and in certain cases whether some journalists are in on the scam.
The deception involves activists who are against any form of biotechnology advances laying waste to a field of genetically modified "golden rice" in the Philippines (bolds are mine; links are in original):
There are two key words missing from the report Bloomberg's Kasia Klimasinska & Shobhana Chandra published Tuesday morning — a writeup that is so incredibly sunny and over-the-top that is probably would have embarrassed the Old Soviet Union's Pravda in its heyday.
One is "income." The reason is obvious. Real median household income is still way below where it was when the recession ended four long years ago. The other absent word is "deficit." This enables Bloomberg's pathetic pair to glide though a discussion of the national debt-ceiling situation and make Republicans look like the heavies. The final problem is that they act as if we're in the fifth year of unbroken expansion, when we're not. Excerpts follow the jump.
Two such instances occurred in one speech on Friday in Binghamton, New York, where Obama told the audience at a "town hall" meeting that "we don't have an urgent deficit crisis," and that the deficit has "now dropped at the fastest rate in 60 years." Neither statement made it into Julie Pace's onsite coverage of Obama's visit. Later that day back in Washington, the AP's Jim Kuhnhenn was still running cover for Obama (bolds are mine):
Anyone remember all the huffing and puffing from the establishment press about how third-quarter economic growth was going to be great — so please stop worrying about how weak the past three quarters (annualized rates of 0.1%, 1.1%, and 1.7%, respectively) have been?
Oops. On Friday, the Census Bureau reported that new-home sales dropped over 20% in July to an annual rate of 394,000 from June's original reading of 497,000, which was itself revised down to 455,000. Today, the bureau revealed that durable goods orders fell sharply in July, bringing about yet another appearance at Bloomberg News of its favorite word during the past five years about the economy, and yet another instance of the stock market's apparent pleasure with bad news for the rest of us: