In 2012, with a Democrat in the White House, union membership declined, not only as a percentage of the workforce, but in absolute numbers. Even though the related report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the number of employed wage and salaried workers increased by almost 2.4 million, union membership fell by just under 400,000. Union membership is down by over 1.7 million since 2008, and fell by 961,000 during the past three years of supposed economic recovery. These results aren't sitting well with Sam Hananel at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, whose reporters are represented by the Occupy movement-supporting News Media Guild. Excerpts from the AP reporter's Wednesday report follow the jump.
For the second week in a row, actual (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) unemployment claims as reported by the Department of Labor came in greater than the analogous week in 2012.
At the same time, and also for the second week in a row, the department's seasonally adjusted claims number -- the only one the business wire services ever specifically identify in their reports -- came in lower. In today's instance, raw year-over-year claims were almost 5 percent higher than the same week a year ago, but the year-over-year seasonally adjusted figure came in 11 percent lower. That's bad enough, but then the wires compounded the problem by running with indefensible conclusions based on DOL's contradictory data.
CBSNews.com promoted a restaurant attack by the pro-regulatory food police group the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Jan. 16, without noting the agenda of the group or providing other points of view.
The online story that regurgitated CSPI’s annual “Xtreme Eating” report released that day, favorably called the group a “watchdog” and essentially ran the group’s entire report with no industry response. The CBS article included a slideshow (with CSPI’s own images) depicting each food item that CSPI criticized, with its nutritional content. Both the article and the slideshow linked back to the original CSPI report.
CSPI’s director Michael F. Jacobson accused the chains of intentionally making people obese or diabetic. "It's as if IHOP, The Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano's Little Italy, and other major restaurant chains are scientifically engineering these extreme meals with the express purpose of promoting obesity, diabetes, and heart disease," said Jacobson. (Emphasis added)
None of the three major wire services covering today's report from the Department of Labor on initial unemployment claims is reporting the major news: For the first time in a long while, actual claims filed during the most recent week ended January 12 were almost 6 percent higher than the number filed during last year's comparable week, an indication that the current employment market may be worse than it was a year ago. Instead, all three are headlining how today's questionably created seasonally adjusted claims number is the lowest in five years.
Both weeks had five business days. Both weeks represented the first such week in the new year. So how did higher raw claims result in the lowest seasonally adjusted claims number in five years, a number which is 8 percent lower than last year's comparable week? The answer, as will be seen after the jump, is that the seasonal adjustment factor used this year is sharply higher than the one used last year.
On Wednesday, as President Obama signed -- er, auto-penned -- the legislation preventing the onset of the "fiscal cliff" passed by Congress the previous day, the establishment press was busy understating its impact. A Friday evening Wall Street Journal editorial (note: not a regular news report) in today's print edition lays out the gory details.
But first, I will cite four examples of coverage which pretended that 99 percent of Americans won't see their income taxes increase in 2013.
This is the eighth year I have done shopping and layoff-related searches on how often the words "Christmas" and "holiday" are used.
As has been the case since the enterprise began in 2005, news reports are far more likely to refer to the commercial time frame between Thanksgiving and Christmas as the "holiday shopping season." Meanwhile, compared to shopping references, news reports are several times more likely to refer to Christmas in connection with layoffs. This years raw results -- originally gathered here, here, and here at my home blog, along with comparisons to previous years -- follow the jump:
A post-Black Friday weekend dispatch at the Associated Press on November 26 reported that "The holiday shopping season got off to a strong start on Black Friday, with retail sales up 7 percent over last year, according to one survey. Now stores just have to keep buyers coming back without the promise of door-buster savings."
It turns out that the originally reported number was far too rosy. Nevertheless, in both late Sunday and early Monday reports, AP retail writers Mae Anderson and Anne D'Innocenzio treated the actual result, which came in 60 percent lower, as "strong." Each report contained the following paragraph (bolds are mine throughout this post):
CNBC host Maria Bartiromo went after Maryland Senator Ben Cardin on the air on Thursday (HT PJ Tatler; original here) after it became clear that Cardin and his fellow Democrats won't support any measure to prevent the fiscal cliff from arriving as currently scheduled on Janaury 1 which does not include increases in the highest marginal income-tax rates. At the end of her tirade, she got applause and cheers from those around her.
I'll give her one cheer for clearly exposing Democrats' "my way of the highway" approach. She missed the opportunity to get to three cheers because it seems that she's just now recognizing after all these months that Democrats, including President Obama, won't accept any kind of a solution that doesn't involve raising the top rates -- even though they've been saying that very thing all along. Far more important: Even if you believe that the tax hikes discussed will actually increase government collections by $1.2 trillion over ten years, that amount is a tiny percentage of the trillion-dollar deficits the government will continue to run as long as the economy putters along at its current mediocre to poor pace.
For many Americans, ABC, NBC and CBS are the major source of news on business and the economy. Unfortunately, this is like depending on the middle school student newspaper for information about important local school board deliberations.
Network reporters are either ill-prepared to discuss complex issues of economics, finance and business or choose to be advocates for viewpoints rather than objective reporters who strive for balance. Liberal preferences for government solutions and interventionism as well as hostility toward wealth and profit dominate network coverage.
“FrackNation,” a film by investigative journalist Phelim McAleer, will be broadcast on Jan. 22, 2012 at 9 p.m. ET according to The Hollywood Reporter. AXS TV is a cable network owned by Mark Cuban, Ryan Seacrest and entertainment companies AEG and CAA.
Today's news from the Department of Labor on initial weekly unemployment claims was supposedly good -- as long as one doesn't scratch beneath the surface. Journalists used to do that. Today they didn't.
All one had to do is reach the third paragraph of DOL's release to realize that today's seasonally adjusted claims number of 343,000, touted as the lowest in two months in several news reports, was suspect. That paragraph told us that the 428,814 actual claims filed during the week ended December 8 were barely lower than the 435,863 claims seen in the week ended December 10, 2011, last year's comparable week; today's result only occurred because this year's seasonal adjustment factor was significantly different from last year's. I believe that this year-over-year drop of less than 2% in raw claims is the smallest weekly difference in a week not affect by storms or holidays this year. In other words, it really is news -- but not in the business press, which runs with the government's seasonally adjusted data and almost never looks any further. Examples follow the jump.
Back in the days when journalists practiced journalism, they would be on the alert for record-breaking news, whether positive or negative. These days, at least when it comes to the economy, it seems that they struggle to find positive records and ignore obvious negative ones right in front of their faces.
A case in point is today's Associated Press report on November's Monthly Treasury Statement. The government's report came in with a deficit of $172.1 billion, the highest November shortfall ever (the runner-up: last year's $137.3 billion). The AP's Christopher Rugaber either failed to recognize the reported amount as a record -- doubtful in my view given its size -- or didn't think its recordbreaking status was newsworthy. To be fair, unlike colleague Martin Crutsinger's typical monthly attempts, Rugaber got to almost all of the requisite monthly and year-to-date facts on receipts, spending, and the deficit itself, including comparisons to last year. Excerpts, including the all too familiar historical revisionism on how we got to where we are, follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Perhaps hoping that readers wouldn't scroll down to peruse what followed, a Tuesday evening Detroit Free Press report by David Jesse and Lori Higgins carried at USA Today featured a video taking up my entire computer screen which consisted entirely of union protesters chanting slogans for 49 seconds.
The pair's actual report carries a misleading headline ("Mich. governor signs anti-union bills after protests") directly contradicted in their dispatch's content ("The right-to-work legislation ... makes it illegal to require financial support of a labor union as a condition of employment"). But it's their description of Tuesday's incident involving Steven Crowder and Americans for Prosperity which is the report's biggest flaw (HT Instapundit):
There will be plenty of time later to look at how the Associated Press and other wires more than likely fail to report the violence that took place in connection with right-to-work legislative actions in Michigan's legislature today. For now, let's look at the reactions of Associated Press reporters John Flesher and Jeff Karoub on Friday in an item which is no longer at the AP's main national site.
Their dispatch's headline ("Michigan Republicans end part of union tradition") was from all appearances an attempt to make it seem uninteresting. The story itself didn't describe the law involved as "right to work" until its fourth paragraph. Both before and after that, the pair, who are more than likely members of the Occupy Movement-supporting News Media Guild, got bitter (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The first entirely post-election reading from the University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer confidence survey came out on Friday. It was awful. As reported at MarketWatch, the overall index "fell to 74.5 from 82.7 in November," far below expectations of 82.0, representing "the biggest one-month drop since March 2011." Zero Hedge noted that it's the "biggest miss on record" compared to expectations.
Of course, in Establishment Medialand and with the analysts they chose to consult, the plunge has everything to do with the "fiscal cliff," and nothing to do with the reelection of President Obama to a second four-year term or his intensely partisan conduct since then. Sure, guys.
Michigan may very well become the 24th state to adopt right-to-work legislation on Tuesday, and liberal media outlets have given its opponents ample opportunity to state their case. While proponents have not been allowed to defend the law at all, MSNBC's Chris Jansing was more than happy to briefly play "devil's advocate" with her guest on Monday -- newly elected state representative Tim Greimel who called right-to-work "too divisive and too extreme for the state."
Following his lengthy diatribe on the subject, in which he also called right-to-work the "surest path to poverty that anybody could pursue here in Michigan," Jansing invited the Washington Post's Dana Milbank and Jackie Kucinich -- daughter of retiring liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) -- of USA Today back on the program to reinforce the argument Greimel made. Hardly a balanced analysis of legislation designed to safeguard an individual's right not be coerced into a union or into financially supporting a union in which he/she is not a member [ video and transcript below ]
In an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook for Thursday's NBC Rock Center, host Brian Williams wondered why the tech giant couldn't be a "made-in-America company" and outlined a political scenario in which President Obama was all-powerful: "Let's say our Constitution was a little different and Barack Obama called you in tomorrow and said, 'Get everybody out of China and do whatever you have to do, make these, make everything you make in the United States.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
While it's not fair to criticize the press's coverage of November's vehicle sales as unfair or not balanced, it would be more than fair to say that the press is either ignoring or minimizing the impact of two important influences which have been at work all year. The first is the continued loss of combined market share at the industry's two US-headquartered makers, General Motors and Ford (Chrysler, the other member of Detroit's "Big 3," is owned by Fiat).
The second is that 2009 government bailout beneficiary GM continues to "channel-stuff" its dealers with vehicles they won't sell for four months or longer -- and that's if the economy doesn't slow down or go into a recession. Dealer inventories are now twice as high as they were three years ago -- and no, GM's sales haven't doubled in the meantime -- which makes one wonder, especially this fall, if it was being done solely to make the government and President Obama look good.
Tonight's fun facts relate to the strike by the group a Reuters report describes as "500 clerical workers at the ports, members of the relatively small Office of Clerical Union Workers" at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The strikers' picket lines have been honored by "some 10,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union."
These fun facts are rarely mentioned, but readers will want to learn them, and the rest of the country also should be quite interested. Though they could conceivably be elsewhere, I only found them mentioned in one Associated Press item from two days ago currently carried at Google News. It's a good thing it's there, because it appears to be gone from the AP's national web site. In fact, a search there at 11 p.m. ET on "Los Angeles ports" (not in quotes) came up empty. The fun fact is not in the aforementioned Reuters story, a very long AP story from November 28 found at the San Jose Mercury News, or a related November 30 New York Times story. The fun facts, and a link to the AP story, are after the jump:
Dan Gainor, MRC's vice president of business and culture, appeared on "Stossel" with John Stossel on Fox Business Nov. 29, to discuss ABC's crusade against a product called lean finely textured beef (LFTB), which they referred to over and over again by the perjorative: "pink slime."
Gainor said that the company that made LFTB, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) has received awards for how well they do with "consumer safety."
Today, the Congressional Budget Office released a report informing readers that extending unemployment benefits for a year, an outlay which would cost the federal government $30 billion, would, because of its allegedly stimulative impact, generate 300,000 jobs.
Even if true, neither the CBO, nor the Associated Press in covering the report, noted that this result works out to a cost $100,000 per job. Bravely assuming that each new job created pays $40,000 per year, that's a $60,000 loss in value received compared to money spent. The government's tax take at all levels on that amount of earnings is likely about $10,000 or so. All of this is apparently considered pretty smart by the AP's Sam Hananel and a quoted leading Democrat:
The New York Times has aggressively covered lurid scandals involving its perceived ideological opponents, from questioning what Pope Benedict XVI knew about the sex abuse and coverup in the Catholic Church, to the phone-hacking committed in Rupert Murdoch's tabloid empire. But when it comes to a pedophilia scandal and coverup that has been brought into the New York Times Co.'s own backyard, the coverage is muted and tamed.
Mark Thompson, new chief executive for the NYT Co., was director general of the BBC from 2004 until 2011, and was in charge when the decision was made by higherups in 2011 to abandon a 'Newsnight' story investigating accusations of pedophilia against long-time BBC star Jimmy Savile.
A search at the Associated Press's national website on Warren Buffett's last name at about 5 p.m. ET returned two recent items which are still present there. Each item (here and here) mentions the Obama Fan of Omaha's idea to "impose a minimum tax of 30 percent on income between $1 million and $10 million, and a 35 percent rate for income above that." Neither mentions the pathetically small amount such a tax would raise while seriously impacting the ability of high income earners who own or run businesses to expand them -- or in some cases causing them to shrink.
It's the same at other establishment press outlets. Two recent New York Times items found in a search on Buffett's full name (here and here, the latter item being Buffett's own op-ed on Sunday) fail to note how little money Buffett's proposed tax hikes would raise. So how little is "little"?
The real news in today's new-home sales information published by the Census Bureau is that September's previously reported 389,000 in seasonally adjusted annual sales was written down by over 5 percent to 369,000. Hmm -- The higher figure, aggressively touted as the highest in 2-1/2 years by the Associated Press and other establishment media outlets, was reported on October 24, just 13 days before Election Day on November 6. Now we learn that it was a mirage, and that the revised figure was merely the same as the number turned in four months earlier and barely above February. In fact, the new home market, portrayed throughout the summer and early fall as recovering somewhat nicely, merely treaded water. That trend continued in October, as annualized sales came in at 368,000. Imagine that.
To his credit, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger at least acknowledged the major prior-month revision in each of his first two paragraphs; however, the AP's headline writers ignored it. To Crutsinger's detriment, it's clear that he tried very hard to find someone who would pin a major portion of the blame for October's 0.3 percent drop on Superstorm Sandy. When he couldn't, he decided to take it on himself to make the point (bolds are mine):
The third page of an unbylined report with an early Saturday time stamp credited to "USA Today" carried at the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion Ledger (like USAT, a Gannett Company) claimed that "Walmart heiress Alice Walton expressed solidarity with Walmart's striking workers."
Putting aside whether or not an action taken by what the company estimated may have been fifty associates is a "strike" or a "temper tantrum," the claim was not true. USA Today fell for a hoax. Following the jump are several paragraphs from the Clarion Ledger report and an LA Times writeup identifying the hoax. Additionally, I learned that Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum was the object of Occupy and union movement protests when it opened a year ago.
This is the eighth year I have looked into how the media treats these two topics: The use of "Christmas shopping season" vs. "holiday shopping season," and the frequency of Christmas and holiday layoff references.
I have done three sets of simple Google News searches each year -- the first in late November, followed by identical searches roughly two and four weeks later. I will wait until just after Christmas to relay the full results, but feel compelled to note the following relating to today's "shopping season" searches, namely that the proportion containing "Christmas" came in at the lowest I've ever seen.
Here's a which-is-better question for you. Suppose a New Jersey motel room rented for $125 a night prior to Hurricane Sandy's devastation. When the hurricane hits, a husband, wife and their two youngsters might seek the comfort of renting two adjoining rooms. However, when they arrive at the motel, they find that rooms now rent for $250. At that price, they might decide to make do with one room. In my book, that would be wonderful. That decision would make a room available for another family who had to evacuate Sandy's wrath. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and others condemn this as price gouging, but I ask you: Which is preferable for a family seeking shelter — a room available at $250 or a room unavailable at the pre-hurricane price of $125?
It's not the intention of the motel owner to make a room available for another family. He just sees an opportunity to earn more money. It was not the intention of the family of four who made do with just one room to make a room available for another evacuating family. They are just trying to save money. Even though it was no one's intention to make that room available, the room was made available as if intended. That's the unappreciated benefit of freely fluctuating prices. They get people to do voluntarily what's in the social interest — conserve on goods and services that have become scarce.
In a Friday report at the Associated Press on Friday with a celebratory headline ("2 YEARS AFTER IPO, GM IS PILING UP CASH"), Auto Writer Tom Krisher described bailed-out General Motors as "thriving," but didn't identify one of the important reasons for that characterization.
In paragraphs about the company's profitability and cash stockpile, Krisher failed to note that the company still hasn't paid any U.S. income taxes since emerging from bankruptcy, or why that's the case (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Yesterday, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka may have broken a modern record for chutzpah exhibited by a labor leader Friday in criticizing management's decision at bankrupt snack maker Hostess Brands to liquidate in the wake of irreconcilable issues with its unions. In a Friday afternoon report at Politico, Kevin Cirilli not only let Trumka get away with it; he also lent the labor leader's contentions additional misleading support.
Trumka blamed the company's apparently imminent demise on "Bain-style Wall Street vultures." He wants everyone to believe that it's greedy, eeeevil Republican private-equity types who are on the brink of putting yet another company out of business. The "clever" framing of that quoted phrase appears to indicate that Trumka already knew better. It seems very likely that Cirilli also knew better. Three hours before the initial time stamp of Cirilli's report, Zero Hedge re-exposed the heavy involvement of D-D-D-Democrats in Hostess's management and advisors originally documented way back in july at CNNMoney by David Kaplan (additional paragraph breaks added by me; bolds are mine throughout this post):
Someone needs to tell Emily Jane Fox that for workers refusing to do scheduled work assigned by their employers to be engaging in a "strike" ("a concerted stopping of work or withdrawal of workers' services, as to compel an employer to accede to workers' demands or in protest against terms or conditions imposed by an employer") there needs needs to be enough of them to matter. If there aren't, it's pretty much a small group of people conducting a (conceivably justified) protest.
As Fox described it in her Thursday report at CNNMoney.com about a group of Wal-Mart employees workers planning a Black Friday walkout -- which, if large enough, may qualify for "strike" status -- what happened in October appears to have been little more than a tiny temper tantrum: