If ever a story had the earmarks of being agenda-driven from the get-go, Mackenzie Weinger's writeup at the Politico on Glenn Beck published Saturday morning fits the bill.
Weinger's premise is that Beck will never be as influential as he once was as long as he doesn't have a cable news program and continues to branch into entertainment-related ventures consistent with his beliefs. Excerpts, evidence which easily refutes Weinger's wishful thinking, and further commentary from yours truly follow the jump.
In this case, the old saying, "Better late than never" really shouldn't apply. In June, when the government's Household Survey used to determine the unemployment rate reported that there were 240,000 fewer full-time workers and 360,000 more part-time workers than there were in May, the establishment press, particularly the Associated Press, largely ignored or downplayed the result.
The AP's Christopher Rugaber broke the ice a bit in early July after June's jobs report, and the wire service has finally gone full-bore into noting the trend towards part-time work in the past two days. But while the press slept for months, center-right bloggers and many others have been chronicling the trend anecdotally since late last year, and gradually with solid numbers from the government's own reports as the year has worn on.
During the Obama administration's 4-1/2 year track record of economic underachievement, establishment press business reporters have usually waited until the bad news actually comes out before working on convincing readers that future news will be better.
Not this time, at least at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. Christopher "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into a recession" Rugaber didn't bother to wait for tomorrow's report on Gross Domestic Product to tell readers that the rest of the year will be fine. The fact that these rosy forecasts have rarely come to pass during the past 17 quarters didn't seem to faze him a bit.
Organizing For Action claims that its mission is to "support President Obama in achieving enactment of the national agenda Americans voted for on Election Day 2012." Presumably, on a day-to-day and month-to-month basis, that means it's able to divine the President's priorities and follow them (you see, OFA is "independent," so there can't pooooossibly be any communication between its officials and the White House, cough, cough).
Well, if OFA really is following the President's priorities, one of those priorities is decidedly not the economy, despite Obama's promise in his weekly address on Saturday to "spend every minute of every day doing everything in my power to make this economy work for working Americans again." And yes, I would expect a vigilant establishment press, which we definitely don't have, to notice, and of course they haven't. Edward-Isaac Dovere at the Politico has a list of OFA's "Action August" key event days, which follows the jump:
If the employment numbers seem better than one might have expected during the next few months, it may have nothing to do with private companies hiring people to provide goods and services people actually want. It may instead relate to the army of paper-pushers who are being hired to help individuals and families apply for ObamaCare subsidies starting on October 1.
If California's situation is typical of what will be happening nationwide, the total number of "enrollment counselors," also known as "navigators," hired for this supposedly short-term task will be huge. In the tarnished Golden State alone, according to Judy Lin at the Associated Press, 21,000 counselors will be hired from among "an estimated 3,600 community organizations ranging from Native American tribes and chambers of commerce to labor unions and faith-based organizations that will be authorized to help people buy insurance." Project that to the entire country, and we're talking about roughly 175,000 counselors.
I was going to leave this alone because the original item involved goes back to last week. But Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press brought it up again in his report today on existing home sales, so it's fair game again.
The final sentence of his dispatch refers to last week's Census Bureau data in the new home market, and claims that "In June, they (builders) applied for permits to build single-family homes at the fastest pace in five years." Not really -- in fact, not at all -- as will be seen after the jump.
Earlier today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry blamed Detroit's bankruptcy on "government (that) is small enough to drown in your bathtub," and claimed that it reflects “exactly the kind of thing that many Republicans would impose on us.”
Nothing can top that, right? Wrong. MSNBC's Ed Schultz did, by more directly blaming Republicans. With an accompanying graphic containing photos of current Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, former President Ronald Reagan, and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney above the words "Conservative Utopia," Schultz claimed that the city's failure is "thanks to a lot of Republican policies" and "is exactly what the Republicans want." The relevant transcript follows the jump (video is at RealClearPolitics; HT Hot Air; bolds are mine):
Melissa Harris-Perry, one of the panel guests on MSNBC's "Now" program on Friday, managed to tie Detroit's bankruptcy to small government, i.e., "when government is small enough to drown in your bathtub," and to analogize it to "exactly the kind of thing that many Republicans would impose on us." Really.
Today, as the wire service AFP reported in a story carried at Yahoo.com, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in the question and answer exchange after his prepared testimony, told the House Financial Services Committee that "If we were to tighten (monetary) policy, the economy would tank."
That assessment of the economy's fragility qualifies as news, especially given the Obama administration's continued claim that the economy is "continuing to recover at a promising rate." Outlets besides AFP virtually ignored Bernanke's soundbite, which should be considered scary to anyone who realizes that Big Ben can't go on "stimulating" at his current rate forever.
Director and provocateur Josh Fox is confident “There is no safe drilling” and has made two of what The New York Times called “muckraking documentaries” crusading against the practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” His movies are powerful propaganda rife with misleading or inaccurate claims and leave little to no room for the other side.
“Gasland Part II” barely acknowledged there is another side. Even the Times TV review of the movie (aired on HBO July 9) said, “Would it have been a bad idea to include at least one interview with a homeowner who professes to support drilling?” In the film, Josh Fox ridiculously said that he had traveled all over this country and to others and “nobody” wanted gas drilling. If “nobody” wanted it, there wouldn’t be gas wells on private property throughout Pennsylvania. Perhaps he should have checked out “FrackNation,” a competing documentary.
The flaming water faucet shown in the anti-natural gas drilling film “Gasland,” has become the first thing many people think of when they hear of gas drilling, or “fracking.” But that claim turned out to be completely wrong. Investigators determined that Colorado water well had been drilled into a pocket of methane and had nothing to do with fracking. Josh Fox’s follow up, “GasLand II” debuted at Tribeca Film Festival and aired on HBO July 8, 2013.
In spite of that inaccuracy and others, Hollywood movies and agenda-driven documentaries that have portrayed natural gas drilling as a major threat have been used in network news reports. Celebrity anti-fracking activists have also been interviewed on the subject. Between Jan. 1, 2010, and April 30, 2013, fully half (18 of 36) of broadcast network news reports discussing fracking have mentioned or cited one of those films, or included a famous opponent of fracking.
In a Sunday morning story which will likely have limited reach, and will then probably be considered old news by the time the business week resumes tomorrow, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, finally got around to recognizing a trend on which yours truly and others have been commenting for at least 2-1/2 years: the surge in employment at temporary help services.
That the item's author is Christopher "Gone Are the Fears That the Economy Could Fall Into Another Recession" Rugaber makes it especially rich, once he explains to his readers some of the reasons why temp services is one of the few sectors employing more people now than it did at its pre-recession peak (bolds are mine):
It wasn't a tough prediction, but late Friday morning Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters noted the seemingly "metaphysical certitude the Obama-loving media will be falling over themselves in the next 48 hours to report the better than expected jobs numbers in June." Well, of course.
Noel also wondered how much attention the press would pay to less than desirable aspects of yesterday's jobs report from Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The answer at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, which carried at least eight reports relating to the news and its effects on the financial markets, was "hardly," as will be seen in excerpts after the jump. Additionally, the AP reversed its initial take that yesterday's non-change in the unemployment rate would keep the Federal Reserve's stimulus flowing, later deciding that the jobs report was so good that the Fed can let the tapering begin.
I suspect that a number of people are tired of the establishment press telling us how so many economic reports have "best in" or best since (specific month in) 2008 (or 2007)" figures, especially the ones that still don't reflect what anyone would consider acceptable in normal economic times. Just a few examples include housing starts, housing permits, new home sales, existing home sales, initial unemployment claim, and the unemployment rate.
That doesn't bother me too much, though the press missed quite a few "best since" figures during the Bush 43 presidency. What's intensely annoying is when "worst since" figures, which the press studiously identified during the Bush era, hit them in the face in today's economy and are downplayed or ignored. A pretty good example was today's Non Manufacturing Index from the Institute for Supply Management, which, at 52.2%, hit its lowest point since February 2010, and had two key components which were the worst in almost four years.
On Sunday, in a report which I contend would surely have been published on a weekday -- and more importantly, published with far greater clarity -- if a Republican or conservative were in the White House, the Associated Press's Paul Wiseman essentially explored the following question: "Why aren't people spending more if they're so much richer?"
The answer he found, which should surprise no one in touch with reality, is that quite a few of us aren't richer. We're poorer. But Wiseman also cryptically revealed some of the dollar amounts involved and enough other information to enable one to back into an estimate of the shocking degree of wealth redistribution which has taken place during the recession and the first term of the Obama administration -- and it's not in the direction you might think.
Before the government released its first estimate of first-quarter economic growth in late April, the establishment press, particularly Bloomberg News and the Associated Press, salivated at the chance to report the then-predicted "robust" annualized growth of 3 percent and to describe how the economy had "accelerated" from the previous quarter's pathetic 0.4 percent. When that first estimate came in at only 2.5 percent, most news organizations at least had the integrity to pronounce the news disappointing. But not Martin Crutsinger and Christopher Rugaber at the AP, aka the Administration's Press, who opened their coverage by saying that "the American economy quickened its pace early this year despite deep government cutbacks."
The government's second estimate in May was little changed at 2.4 percent. But Wednesday's third and final estimate (pending annual revisions going back several years, the next of which will appear in July) came in at 1.8 percent, a 40 percent drop from so-called experts' original predictions (1.2-point difference divided by the original 3.0 percent). The AP's reaction was to produce a terse three-paragraph blurb which was gone from its national web site within 24 hours, followed by a late afternoon report which blamed higher Social Security taxes and "federal spending cuts":
Continuing the business press's slavish devotion to seasonally adjusted figures in government reports to the exclusion of looking at what actually happened, Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, began his Tuesday dispatch on May's new-home sales report from the Census Bureau as follows: "Sales of new homes rose in May to the fastest pace in five years, a solid gain that added to signs of a steadily improving housing market."
Except for two "little" things: Fewer homes were actually sold in May than were sold in April, and May's reported increase in seasonally adjusted annualized sales only came about because of a tax break which ended in April 2010:
When last seen at NewsBusters in February, the Associated Press's Liz Sidoti was talking down to the public about its "collective obsession with the trivial" less than a week after AP reporter Ken Thomas wasted 500 words of print and bandwidth on how Florida Sen. Marco Rubio took a sip of water during a speech.
Now Sidoti, who is the AP's National Political Editor, is quite worried -- actually, obsessed -- that the public might waking up and contrasting what President Barack Obama is delivering compared to what he has promised at a most inopportune time, and that "controversies" might overtake Dear Leader's second-term agenda (bolds are mine):
The most interesting thing (to me, at least) about Wednesday's report in the Los Angeles Times by Ricardo Lopez on how the author of an economic report out of UCLA has said that the U.S. economy's performance since the recession officially ended in June 2009 stinks -- "It's not a recovery. It's not even normal growth. It's bad" -- is how the Associated Press relayed it to its readers and subscribers. I don't recall ever seeing a 15-plus paragraph report go unbylined, but this one did.
Maybe whoever wrote the AP item didn't want to incur the wrath of his or her colleague Tom Raum, who early last week wrote that the economy is "clearly, if slowly" recovering. It's also somewhat likely that Christopher Rugaber, who wrote "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession" in early April, might be a bit miffed. Choice nuggets from Lopez's LAT lament follow the jump:
One particular sentence has recently become a virtual meme at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press.
Its latest appearance is at Christopher Rugaber's report this afternoon on April's seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent drop in consumer spending. Rugaber, who infamously wrote "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession" in early April, perhaps betraying a bit of nervousness, called today's news "a sign that economic growth may be slowing." Deeper into his dispatch, he rolled out the meme:
David Koenig's Wednesday coverage at the Associated Press of Exxon Mobil's annual meeting contained a predictable headline and related content telling us that the company wouldn't "explicitly ban discrimination against gays because the company already banned discrimination of any type and didn't need to add language regarding gays." Koenig's report apparently couldn't be considered complete without a contribution of misleading climate statistics and statements from the wire service's Seth Borenstein.
Borenstein's apparent input consisted of the following four paragraphs (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
“We are The East ... We want all those who are guilty to experience the terror of their crimes,” begins the trailer for a new Sundance Film Festival movie, set for limited release on May 31. One of the stars has said she thinks “there is an element of wish fulfillment” in the film, which depicts the group targeting businesspeople.
“The East” is a fictitious film that depicts the efforts of an anarchist environmentalist terrorist group that targets corporations and CEOs. Those terrorists appear to be the protagonists of the movie. In the minute and thirteen second trailer, there are depictions of the CEOs that this group will target with their eyes scratched out, and others with “GUILTY” stamped on their faces.
In "Go Ahead, Invade Their Phone Records: AP Reports Obama Has 'Alleged Scandals' and 'Alleged Misbehavior,'" Tim Graham at NewsBusters noted how Tom Raum at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, claimed that "Alleged misbehavior by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies gives the GOP something else to talk about and investigate as the economy clearly, if slowly, recovers on President Barack Obama's watch, robbing Republicans of a central argument against Democrats."
That this is an exercise in sheer fantasy on Raum's part can be quickly demonstrated in two graphics.
Usually movie makers strive to stay ahead of the cultural curve. It makes them “visionaries,” who are “cutting edge,” because they “push the envelope.” Two years ago, “Occupy Wall Street” was the hot fad, stoking the usual left-wing outrage at bankers and the finance industry, who were portrayed as greedheads never held accountable for their crimes. Businessmen just twirl their mustaches and laugh evil laughs.
But that was two years ago. Time for something fresh – and edgy. A new movie suggests that movement was for sissies. It’s time for someone to start a new campaign: Assassinate Wall Street.
It says something about the seriousness of the rest of the news during the past several days when a story about unethical spying by reporters working for a company founded and built by the current mayor of New York City barely makes a ripple.
It has been alleged, and now admitted, that Bloomberg reporters monitored terminal login activity to develop stories about possible Wall Street executive departures before anyone else outside the entities involved knew and for other news-gathering purposes. The practice appears to go back to when Gotham Mayor Michael Bloomberg was still at the helm of Bloomberg LP, as seen in the bolded sections in the excerpt from a Saturday CNBC news story which follows the jump:
Give Nancy Cook at NationalJournal.com credit for a generally well-written though somewhat naive report ("Forget the Unemployment Rate: The Alarming Stat Is the Number of 'Missing Workers'") on the unprecedented plight of the millions of adults who have dropped out of the labor force.
But in discussing the "glaring caveat" in Friday's employment report from the government, namely that "the 'labor force participation rate' held steady in April at 63.3 percent—the lowest level since 1979," she missed a major source of the rise in the rate to a record level in the late-1990s. She also left readers otherwise unaware of the actual history with the impression that the rate has been "on a gradual decline" since then, which is simply not the case.
Jan Crawford touted how ObamaCare going into full effect in early 2014 is "causing all kinds of concern and anxiety, especially with...small business owners" on Friday's CBS This Morning. Crawford also pointed out Senator Max Baucus' April 17, 2013 "train wreck" label of the upcoming implementation of the health care law. This was the first time that a Big Three morning or evening newscast mentioned Baucus' blunt remark.
The correspondent zeroed in on a California bakery whose owner asserted that he "can't make any decisions, because the federal government is giving no guidance" with regard to ObamaCare.
Previewing an upcoming story for NBC's Rock Center on Friday's Today, correspondent Ann Curry warned that tribes of the Amazon rain forest "are sharpening their spears and preparing their blow guns to fight Ecuador's new plan to auction as much as 8 million acres of the rain forest for oil drilling." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
She then cited Boston University biology professor Kelly Swing arguing that "America, a top importer of oil from Ecuador, shares responsibility for this coming conflict....And the toxic legacy of past oil drilling in other parts of the rain forest." A sound bite played of Swing declaring: "We're definitely guilty in this story."