During a story suggesting that Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of the mortgage company Countrywide, is unworthy of his millions of dollars and perhaps enjoys too much time lying in the sun, ABC's Dan Harris, possibly not picking up on the former CEO's Italian ethnicity which could be the source of his skin's dark complexion, remarked that Mozilo's "deeply tanned face" could become the "face of the mortgage mess." The story ran on Friday's World News with Charles Gibson, substitute hosted by George Stephanopoulos, with Harris beginning his report: "This may well become the deeply tanned face of the mortgage mess. The face belongs to Angelo Mozilo, the once-celebrated CEO of Countrywide, now facing allegations of predatory lending and rapacious greed." Harris also ended the report seeming to lament that Mozilo is not facing foreclosure on any of his homes: "If the sale [of Countrywide] goes through, Mozilo will walk away with about $40 million. And with not one of his homes in foreclosure." (Transcript follows)
For years, NewsBusters and the Business & Media Institute have regularly complained about the abysmal financial coverage offered by the mainstream press while accusing media of consistently painting a negative -- and oftentimes fallacious! -- picture of the economy.
On Friday, a perfect example of such was illustrated by the Associated Press whose article about the February unemployment data just released by the Labor Department grossly misrepresented what was announced.
In fact, the AP's Jeannine Aversa actually fabricated data that went completely contrary to what was reported. Take a close look at paragraph two of Aversa's article published at Yahoo at 9:39AM (emphasis added):
Here's is the core information the Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa had to work with today in the Employment Situation Report released by the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
The "Dec.-Feb. change" column was added by me, but is easily calculated from the data in the BLS report. What Aversa did with this info, and my comments, are after the jump. (see also Noel Sheppard's post here)
Here's how her report began (scare words in bold; the headline is also from AP):
When January's retail sales failed to meet expectations, Old Media made sure we knew about how "disappointing" the result was. But today, February's result, which beat expectations by about as much or more than January's trailed them, was described as a mere "reprieve."
Associated Press reporter Anne D'Innocenzio's January coverage began as follows:
Stores Post Disappointing January Sales
Here's a sign of how shaky the economy has become: Wal-Mart says its shoppers are redeeming their holiday gift cards for basic items — pasta sauce, diapers, laundry detergent — instead of iPods or DVDs.
Looks like Pinch Sulzberger is facing some stiff carping from the NYT's shareholders and there are rumors of the dynastic family being pushed to move the paper's Internet migration at a faster pace. The Telegraph reports "outside investors" are also trying to loosen the iron grip the long time owners have had on the Gray Lady. The feelings of these outsiders is that the Times will fail if it doesn't realize that the times they are a changin'.
The Sulzberger-Ochs family has controlled what is arguably America’s most influential newspaper since 1896. Next month outside investors will try to make the family loosen its grip. It is shaping up to be a spectacular battle.
Of course the reason is that the NYT is lagging too far behind in their attention to the Internet. Some of you may recall the abject failure the paper's premium content program was, this being an example of its failed Internet ideas. As the Telegraph reports: "Dissident shareholders and other critics say Sulzberger is moving too slowly into the digital age and putting one of the world’s great news brands in jeopardy."
It certainly is no surprise the stock market's big decline on Friday would be the lead story for evening news programs.
But, citing an economic study from an organization with direct and verifiable ties to Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as simply a "consumer group" while not even mentioning the liberal leaning of the think-tank seemed pretty absurd even for NBC.
Yet, that's what occurred Friday evening as the NBC "Nightly News" began its broadcast:
If you haven't gotten to check out the Business & Media Institute's new weekly video blog, The Biz Flog, this week's topic is the media's shift from reporting on "recession" to all-out "depression."
Complete with old-timey piano music and grainy film, this week BMI gives you our take on the many instances when reporters have compared the current economy to a time when soup lines and the Dust Bowl carried headlines.
What follows is coverage of the February 28 presidential news conference. I focused mostly on the questions posited by the media. Video of the most biased questions should be posted shortly thereafter. [Update: White House transcript available here.]
Bottom line: Most of the really biased questions came down on the economy, particularly with regard to gas prices. Other than that and a question by Bill Plante about FISA immunity for telecom companies, most of the questions were fine, although the reporters often tried to draw Bush into handicapping the 2008 presidential contest or commenting on how his policies affect Sen. John McCain's chances:
For years, NewsBusters and the Business and Media Institute have informed readers about how the press, since George W. Bush was first elected, have tried to create a self-fulfilling prophecy by misrepresenting economic data in as negative a way as possible.
This is likely the cause of the public's continued pessimism about economic conditions even as the economy has expanded for 25 consecutive quarters.
On Tuesday, in an interview on CNBC, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune owner Sam Zell took this thinking a little further when he suggested to "Squawk Box" anchor Becky Quick that many of the economic problems facing the country today are caused by fear-mongering and politicking by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
It's an extraordinarily clever claim. It gets your attention. It's misleading. And of course, Old Media isn't questioning it.
I am referring to the following statement made by Barack Obama in radio ads currently running in Ohio and Texas:
Some CEOs make more in 10 minutes than some American workers make in a year.
In the full context of the ad, I believe that what Obama wants listeners to take away is that "Quite a few CEOs typically, year after year, make more in 10 minutes than some American workers make in a year."
But let's limit things to the literal wording. Start with a full-time minimum-wage worker who earns (rounded) $12,000 annually ($5.85 per hour times 2,080 hours is a bit more than that). How much would a CEO have to make in a year to be earning over $12,000 every 10 minutes?
During the four weeks preceding February 20, New York Times Company stock had been staging a nice comeback.
Lord only knows that the company's long-suffering shareholders, who before then had seen the share price drop more than 70% since June 2002, a point in time that roughly coincides with the onset of the Old Gray Lady's seemingly intractable case of Bush Derangement Syndrome, welcomed any kind of reversal of fortune.
For a while, they had it. From a intra-day low of $14.01 on January 23, the stock rose over 50%, closing at $21.07 last Wednesday.
But on Thursday and Friday, that climb was halted abruptly, and partially reversed. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.4% in those two days, and the S&P 500 dipped 0.5%, NYT stock dove almost 9.7%, closing Friday at $19.03.
Steven Pearlstein, a one-time reporter for the Post who now pens a column for the newspaper, wrote February 20 that “the best thing that could happen to our economy is for a dozen high-profile hedge funds to collapse; for investment banking to enter a long, deep freeze; for a major bank to fail; and for the price of a typical Park Avenue duplex to fall by 30 percent.”
“For only then,” Pearlstein wrote, “might we finally stop genuflecting before the altar of unregulated financial markets and insist that Wall Street serve the interest of Main Street, rather than the other way around.”
He didn’t explain how hedge funds collapsing or banks failing would help Americans. Instead, he opted to cheer for a situation that would see millions of people suffer, admitting his was a “harsh and vengeful solution, and there will be lots of collateral damage.”
"But airline mergers have traditionally meant job losses, especially in the airlines' hub cities, as well as fewer flight options for passengers in smaller cities and higher ticket prices," NBC correspondent Tom Costello said. "In Atlanta, we found frequent travelers fearing that's exactly what could happen."
Yesterday, the Associated Press, in its ongoing campaign to make sure that readers get and stay downbeat about the economy, made sure that its story on January's retail sales had can't-miss gloom and doom in it:
Retail sales posted a surprising rebound in January following a dismal December, although much of the strength reflected rising gasoline prices. Economists saw the increase as a temporary blip rather than a sustained recovery.
..... The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that retail sales rose by 0.3 percent last month after having fallen by 0.4 percent in December.
What does Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and the February 12 "Potomac Primary" have to do with a BlackBerry outage? Beats me, but apparently Reuters writer Wojtek Dabrowski found a way to work the presidential candidate's campaign staff into his Toronto-datelined February 12 story, "RIM reports 'critical' BlackBerry outage.'
RIM's worldwide subscriber base reached about 12 million people by late last year, mainly executives, politicians, lawyers and other professionals who rely on the BlackBerry to send secure e-mails. Sleeker new models are also catching on with students and others outside professional circles.
Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, said, "While the outage did confirm our widespread addiction to BlackBerry service, fortunately it did not cause more than a temporary inconvenience."
In an appearance on the Fox Business Network February 8, Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor criticized the media's refusal to fully report the costs associated with campaign promises being made by presidential candidates.
"You would actually think the media had talked about how much it's going to cost," Gainor said of the hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending promised by the candidates. "And in fact it's quite the opposite."
Aside from some coverage of Sen. Hillary Clinton's massive universal health care coverage proposal, much of her $217 billion in promises has gone unreported. The same goes for Sen. Barack Obama, who leads all candidates with $287 billion in new proposals, according to estimates from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
"[T]here's a system out there where basically what happens is the government makes some assumptions about how many jobs are created or lost every month," Burnett explained. "How many businesses are created - they can't check it every single month, so they have to make some assumptions. It turns out if you look out over history they always do the ‘businesses dying estimate' in the month of January - as a matter of fact, always in the month of January."
♪♫ ♪ Say, say, one, nine, three, zero, party over, oops, out of time! So tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1929! ♪♫ ♪
It's the kind of rhetoric legislators in Congress were probably hearing following the economic downturn that occurred in 1929, which instigated the infamous Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 that sent U.S. tariff rates sky high. That is, the February 11 issue of BusinessWeek, showing all the disadvantages of free trade for the United States and ignoring the advantages.
An article, "Economists Rethink Free Trade," by BusinessWeek Washington Bureau Chief Jane Sasseen ignored the benefits of free trade and the consequences of enacting anti-free trade policies.
Business & Media Institute Director Dan Gainor appeared on the Fox Business Network January 31 to discuss reasons why The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) revenue numbers decreased recently - saying that its product is the problem.
"People have lost confidence in the media according to most studies...Most Americans understand that the...mainstream media are overwhelmingly liberal, overwhelming out of touch with a lot of their issues," Gainor said.
Gainor cited an instance where the Times was ran a story about veterans being more violent when they come back to the United States - turning "anecdotes into a loosely connected story and when you do that you alienate readers. They're the people that the Times work for. Journalists forget that."
On January 18, Cramer appeared on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" and warned if the government didn't intervene and prevent the failure of two large insurance companies, Ambac and MBIA, the Dow Jones Industrial Average would drop 2,000 points in the upcoming weeks. Cramer isn't talking about that sort of collapse anymore.
"For months I was worried about [MBIA CFO] Chuck Chaplin and MBIA (NYSE:MBI) and ABK [Ambac Financial Group, Inc.] (NYSE:ABK)," Cramer said on the January 31 "Street Signs." "Everyone's worried about it now? Why should I be worried about it? When you have a problem on your hands and everyone's worried knows about it, [New York State Superintendent of Insurance] Eric Dinallo to [President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York] Tim Geithner, it's done. It's done."
It was supposed to be a bad day in the American stock markets according to CBS's "The Early Show." Guess what - they were wrong.
"Hong Kong's Hang Seng market was down more than 4 percent," Julie Chen said on the January 28 "The Early Show." "Tokyo's Nikkei index off about 4 percent. Wall Street may have a rough morning in advance of President Bush's final State of the Union address tonight. We'll be watching the markets throughout the morning."
Assuming American markets will follow the lead of any other international markets is an iffy proposition, as indicated by the performance on Wall Street today. After the gloomy forecast from "The Early Show" for the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) finished in positive territory on January 28 - at the highs of the day, up more than 176 points. The NASDAQ and S&P 500 also finished in positive territory, both up more than 23 points.
In a class-warfare driven media, where the "haves" are often pitted against "have-nots," you would think an outgoing CEO giving up $37.5 million in pay would be celebrated.
Not quite. CNN's "American Morning" didn't think it was quite good enough when Countrywide Financial's Angelo Mozilo forfeited $37.5 million in severance pay because he said he felt it was the "right thing to do."
I have referred to Mr. Wesbury's work frequently. That's because he has been, as he is today, a sober voice standing up to Old Media-driven economic hysteria with those stubborn things known as facts.
Wesbury first caught my attention when he expressed alarm in late 2005 that 43% of the country thought we were in a recession -- not about to go into one, actually in one. That same poll metric reads 35% today.
Here are some snips from his Wall Street Journal column today, making a number of points about the current economy, and reminding us that inflation has not been relegated to irrelevancy. He doesn't extensively call out Old Media's gloomy economic coverage, but I don't doubt for a minute that he considers it a major negative factor (bolds are mine):
It is hard to imagine any time in history when such rampant pessimism about the economy has existed with so little evidence of serious trouble.
For personal and professional reasons, it gives me absolutely no pleasure to say that I saw this coming, and that it came sooner than I thought it would.
Here's the news, assembled from wire reports by the Cincinnati Enquirer, in an article that should be entitled "Ford to Workers: Go Away" (bolds are mine throughout) --
Ford Motor Co. will offer buyout and early retirement packages to 54,000 U.S. hourly workers, or 93 percent of its hourly work force, in an effort to cut costs and replace those leaving with lower-paid workers. Thursday's announcement came as Ford said it narrowed its losses in 2007 but warned that the outlook for U.S. sales in 2008 remains grim.
When The Washington Post puts a business closing on the front page, the reader might assume it’s a long-running D.C. chain. But on the front page Thursday, black reporters Hamil Harris and Lonnae O’Neal Parker lamented the demise of the small black bookstore chain Karibu Books, founded in Maryland with a pushcart...in 1993. (The story was headlined "Black Readers Are Jolted By A Chain's Demise.") But the Post reporters didn’t go beyond the black reader reaction. Apparently, the first store to close was in Pentagon City right after Christmas. I wandered into that store out of curiosity during Christmas shopping – and was a little bit shocked. Karibu was stocking anti-white hate.