In their third Presidential debate analysis, the Jurassic Press Media last night and thus far this morning have failed utterly in their role as fact checker and record-corrector - at least when it comes to what President Barack Obama had to say.
As but one glaring example, there were the President’s absurd assertions regarding the auto bailout and China.
Let's get the easy part out of the way first. The New York Times and the Associated Press are only covering the outrages emerging in Solyndra's bankruptcy in the vaguest of terms. The only related Times item I could find was a sentence at the end of an October 11 Green blog post indicating that "the I.R.S. and the Energy Department argue in court papers" against the company's bankruptcy plan. The AP's Randall Chase was a bit more specific that day, writing that "The plan allows for two private equity funds that control Solyndra to potentially reap hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks after Solyndra emerges from bankruptcy, using net operating losses." Beyond that, the details are news only in the business press, and even then not to a great extent.
Are the private equity funds (you mean they're sort of like the eeeevil Bain Capital?) getting hundreds of millions in "tax breaks" as in tax deductions or tax reductions? Unbelievably, it's the latter (the former is almost $1 billion), as an October 15 Wall Street Journal editorial and an October 17 Bloomberg News item which seemed to be simultaneously trying to catch up to but then cover up what the Journal revealed.
Electric vehicle battery maker A123 filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday. Part of the caption at an Associated Press photo found at a National Geographic report about the "hurdles for clean tech" on Wednesday stated that the company "received a $6 million grant from the Bush administration in 2007 and a $249 million grant from the Obama administration in 2008."
That's pretty funny (actually pathetic), given that Obama didn't take office until January 2009. What's not funny is which of the two presidents cited in the AP photo's caption is actually in the photo:
(See Updates re President Obama's statement in 2010 and money the State of Michigan flushed down the drain.)
Eric Savitz at Forbes relays news this morning that "A123 Systems has filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court ... Late yesterday, the battery company had warned that it was about to default on several loan issues, noting that a bankruptcy filing was a possibility; but it still seems startling to see them file just hours later."
What does (or did) A123 do? It "makes rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for electric cars." Savitz can't resist casting the bankruptcy in political terms in his third paragraph:
UPDATE: Henry Blodget at Business Insider reports that a "source, who is an analyst at the Department, " has told him that "the number of California claims that were not processed totalled about 15,000-25,000."
Today's release of the Department of Labor's weekly unemployment claims report showed 339,000 initial claims filed during the previous week -- a sharp decline of 30,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised 369,000. Shortly after that, the Wall Street Journal reported that "one large state didn't report additional quarterly figures as expected, accounting for a substantial part of the decrease." The Associated Press's framing: "... spokesman said one large state accounted for much of the decline." At Reuters: "one state ... reported a decline in claims last week when an increase was expected."
So you would expect caution in assessing the meaning of the report, right? Wrong -- At the AP and Reuters, they apparently just can't help themselves.
In a Friday interview where the primary purpose was to give her an opportunity to defend her Bureau of Labor Statistics, Obama administration Department of Labor head Hilda Solis gave CNBC viewers the false impression that prior-month upward revisions to reported job additions were in the private sector (they were all government jobs), and falsely claimed, despite her boss's refusal to do anything until after Election Day, that "Congress needs to work with us."
The video can be found at CNBC, where Solis tells the network's reporter that "I am insulted" that people would believe that BLS's books are cooked. Here is her specific quote on job growth (Solis's comments below are not in the text of the post; HT Breitbart's Big Government; bolds are mine):
The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, has been running a series of "Why It Matters" items in the run-up to the presidential election purporting to educate readers about important issues.
Reporter Stephen Ohlemacher's contribution to the series concerning Social Security opens with a bald-faced fib, omits the fact that the system's benefit payments and costs have exceed payroll tax collections for several years, and doubles down on the fib at the end. His opening sentence and other excerpts follow the jump:
At the Associated Press on Saturday, Gosia Wosniacka did something one rarely sees any more in wire service coverage, actually blaming a government policy for an industry's financial problems -- in this case, state-imposed price controls on the California dairy industry.
But price controls in the highly tarnished Golden State, while very relevant, have been around for decades. Ms. Wosniacka ignored the most recent cause of farmers' difficulties, namely the government-mandated diversion of much of the corn crop towards ethanol production. Several paragraphs from her report (also carried at CNS News) follow the jump:
From the "I thought Social Security was supposed to have solved this decades ago" Dept.: The State of California has just passed a law mandating opt-out pension plan contributions of 3% of earnings for six million workers in the private sector, or roughly half of its private sector workforce.
The targeted population is the cadre of those working at employers of five or more who do not offer a retirement plan. It has the distinct aroma of a bailout, because of who gets to manage the money. Excerpts from a predictably dreadful Associated Press report by Judy Lin follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Apart from bias, which is obviously the bigger problem, the establishment press's tendency towards unforced errors in business news reporting has grown over the past several years.
So when I received the following email from USA Today this morning (available here without subject line), I thought it surely must be mistaken. Well, the item I thought was a mistake wasn't one, while the one I thought was probably okay understated the underlying catastrophic news. Clarity follows the jump:
One really wonders if there is any adult supervision in the department where CNNMoney's business headline emails originate.
There certainly isn't much knowledge of the general business environment or of the recent history of the housing market present, because if there were, the following email would almost certainly never have been published -- or if the message had somehow escaped by accident, it wouldn't have taken more than a half-hour to "correct" it. The original and the "correction" follow the jump:
Both the headline and opening sentence at Christopher Rugaber's Associated Press report on today's unemployment claims release from the Department of Labor tell readers that initial unemployment claims fell by 3,000 during the most recent week. Though Rugaber acknowledged that last week's initial figure was revised up, he didn't say by how much (3,000, from 382K to 385K), and of course didn't note that based on the track record of the past year, there's a 98% chance that this week's figure will also be revised up.
A graph posted at Zero Hedge compares headlined changes in weekly claims to actual weekly changes after revisions. The differences are significant.
Once again, a reporter from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, has told a major fib about the situation in the new-home construction industry, thereby vastly exaggerating its degree of improvement -- claiming a 60% surge during the past nearly 3-1/2 years when it has been 15% at most.
Today's figures from the Census Bureau on housing starts weren't terrible, but they surely weren't cause for major optimism -- except at the AP, where Martin Crutsinger cited "steady progress in the housing recovery" and committed the same serious mistake other AP writers have made (examples here, here, and here), namely pretending that the term "housing starts" has the same meaning as "home construction."
It was probably an accident, but the Associated Press's headline writers, in framing the wire service's story about Fedex's quarterly results and economic outlook released earlier today, created a headline that the Obama administration will find completely unhelpful: "FEDEX SAYS ECONOMY IS STALLING, CUTS OUTLOOK."
Most U.S. readers and probably most of AP's subscribing print, online, and broadcast outlets will, if they only see the headline, believe that it primarily refers to the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, AP Business Writer Samantha Bomkamp, with the help of Martin Crutsinger, mimicked Fedex's odd spin on its result, making sure that those who bothered to get to the verbiage understand that the company believes that the world economy is what is really stalling by using the word "global" five times in her first five paragraphs. The trouble is that if one looks at the company's revenue in detail, it's clear that that the bigger slowdown is actually occurring in the U.S (the company's press release, which has a link to the longer PDF release, is here).
Entitled "Fed action a welcome move for small businesses" and appearing very early this morning, it claims that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's third round of quantitative easing, aka QE3, is "confidence-building move" and "a reassuring sign to the financial markets as it signals to investors that U.S. monetary policy will serve as a stabilizing partner as our economy continues to improve. Its author, Sharon Jenkins, described as "is principal and lead strategist at Alexandria-based My Brothers’ Business Enterprises," is not a regular at the blog; unlike all others I saw, her name isn't even hyperlinked at her post. So who is this "Sharon Jenkins"?
Yesterday, Uncle Sam's Monthly Treasury Statement for August officially confirmed the Congressional Budget Office's Monday estimate of how horrid it would be. The August deficit, driven by $369.393 billion in spending, the highest such single-month total in U.S. history, was $190.533 billion, the largest August deficit ever reported.
Naturally, Daniel Wagner at the Associated Press failed to report either record. Additionally, as seen here (saved at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), the wire service's news prioritizers had already removed Wagner's report from its top ten business stories by 5:05 p.m., only 2-1/2 hours after its 2:32 p.m. time stamp (apparently more important: Microsoft's malware problem in China and a second story on the new iPhone 5). Excerpts follow the jump.
Whoever wrote the Associated Press's brief dispatch yesterday on the results of the government's auction of 10-year Treasury notes seemed to be stunned and on the defensive about its result.
The item, entitled "Weak Demand at Auction of 10-Year U.S. Treasury Debt," began as follows: "U.S. Treasury prices dived Wednesday after an auction of 10-year notes drew very weak demand, signaling a lack of appetite for ultra-safe investments." Gee, I wonder why there's a "lack of appetite"?
Completing a two-month full reversal of a tiny decline which began earlier in the year, the USDA reported on Friday that participation in the Food Stamp program, which the government wants everyone to call SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), reached an all-time record high in June. The program's had 46.67 million participants that month, eclipsing the previous record of 46.51 million in December 2011.
Only the business press seems interested in covering the story. What follows are excerpts from the story at Bloomberg Business Week, where the most important story element for reporter Alan Bjerga was the impact on Dear Leader's reelection effort:
In his weekend syndicated column, Deroy Murdock unearthed and relayed information the establishment press hasn't told the nation about how certain public-sector pension funds and university endowments have chosen to invest money entrusted to them in Bain Capital. Yes, Bain Capital.
Until three weeks ago, it would have been somewhat understandable if the business press didn't expect to find a story here. After all, who would expect that the organizations complaining the loudest and longest about the conduct of Bain, the private-equity firm GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney left over a decade ago, would actually have significant funds invested there? These people couldn't possibly be that hypocritical, could they? Oh yes they could.
In his Jackson Hole, Wyoming presentation today, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, as reported by Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press, made the following claim in connection with the Fed's programs of "quantitative easing" (QE): "Bernanke argued Friday that collectively, such measures have succeeded. He cited research showing that two rounds of QE (quantitative easing) had created 2 million jobs and accelerated U.S. economic growth."
I'm not inclined to automatically believe Big Ben's word. But if he's right, and if the allegedly positive effects of QE started being felt at about the time the recession ended, that would mean that the fiscal policies of the Obama administration are responsible for the remnant. Of course, Wiseman at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, didn't ask the next logical question, so I will. Guess how big that remnant is?
This afternoon, NB's Kyle Drennen did a great job of runnng down the pathetic contention by establishment press "fact-checkers" that vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan somehow lied or misled viewers during his speech Wednesday night concerning the closure of the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin and what presidential candidate Barack Obama said at the plant in 2008.
No, WaPo, New York Times, and the Associated Press (called out by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air), the plant didn't close before Obama was elected; it closed in April 2009. But since we're on the topic of lies about auto plant shutdowns, let's look at one from late April and early May 2009 told by President Barack Obama himself with the assistance of his car czars and other apparatchiks. I blogged about this in mid-May 2009. My full post, which also appeared at NewsBusters, includes noting non-existent national press coverage (only the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Stephen Koff and other local reporters in the towns affected raised their voices).
Gas prices have risen to a nationwide average of $3.80 per gallon, per gasbuddy.com early this afternoon, and an Ohio average of over $3.90.
Is Asjylyn Loder at Bloomberg worried about the effects on drivers' pocketbooks and travel plans over Labor Day? Don't be silly. Loder is worried about its impact on Dear Leader's presidential reelection prospects, and avoids the implications of the ten-year rule of another Dear Leader, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, on the current situation. Her first three paragraphs in graphic form, plus a few more on Venezuela, follow the jump:
First, the bad news from a media coverage standpoint. All three major wire services covering today's report from the Department of Labor on initial unemployment claims characterized the seasonally adjusted result of 374,000 as "unchanged" from last week, but failed to note the 98%-plus probability based on the last 75 weeks of history (only one exception during that time) that the number will be revised upward by 1,000 or more, changing today's "unchanged" number to an increase.
That's bit ironic, given that all three wires at least told readers that last week's 372,000 claims was revised up to 374,000. Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press had different takes on the meaning of today's results, as will be seen after the jump (bolds are mine):
Today, per Nasdaq.com, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 4.49 points to 13107.48, the S&P 500 went up 1.19 points to 1410.49, and the NASDAQ gained 4.05 points to close at 3081.19. The average of the three gains is less than 0.1%.
That didn't stop the disseminators of CNN Money's email at the close of business from interpreting the result as being due to "signs of stronger U.S.growth." Huh?
The Associated Press's Anne D'Innocenzio is clearly mystified and possibly even upset that consumer confidence as reported by the Conference Board on Wednesday fell sharply to its lowest level since November of last year.
Get a load of the second paragraph's first sentence in the version D'Innocenzio posted late yesterday morning shortly after the report's release, followed by asinine assertions which in effect say that Americans don't understand that things are getting better -- and, as usual, it's all about Dear Leader's reelection (bolds are mine):
Sam Youngman at Reuters, and several others have attempted to pounce on a comment about "big business" GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney made at a Minnesota fundraiser on Thursday as some kind of equivalent to President Obama's out-of-touch assertion that "the private sector is doing fine" back in June.
In fact, what Romney actually said in large part explains why the private sector isn't doing fine. Here is the relevant text from Youngman (bolds are mine):
In his coverage of the Department of Labor's Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report at the Associated Press this morning, economics writer Christopher Rugaber stubbornly referenced a supposedly predictive benchmark the wire service has been using which has consistently failed in recent months.
Rugaber also claimed that today's seasonally adjusted increase from the previous week, which will almost certainly become a bigger one after next week's revision, is "evidence that the job market's recovery remains modest and uneven." Uh, not exactly. Excerpts follow (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
In what has become an all too predictable ritual, an AP reporter has tried to make the situation in the economy look like it's on the upswing when it's not.
Today, the AP's Christopher Rugaber read the press release on existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors. As a trade group, NAR will tend to put a good (or at least not as ugly face) on even a rough situation. So it's hard to blame them for saying that "Sales of existing homes rose in July even with constraints of affordable inventory, and the national median price is showing five consecutive months of year-over-year increases." The first half of NAR's statement is selectively incomplete, but Rugaber compounded the problem in the first sentence of his report this morning:
An unbylined Associated Press item late this morning told us that, according to AAA, "Thirty three million people will travel 50 miles or more during Labor Day weekend," which will be "the highest level of travel for Labor Day since the start of the recession in late 2007."
But it won't be, as will be revealed in the AAA-sourced graphic found at Page 3 of its 36-page report (large PDF) seen after the jump.
About a month ago, I joked in a column published elsewhere that the reason a certain New York Times column didn't resonate with anyone is because no one pays attention to the Old Gray Lady any more.
Unfortunately, that's not true. But the fact that almost no other establishment press outlet has mentioned the paper's disclosure late Wednesday (appearing in Thursday's print edition) that former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine and others at the bankrupt firm likely won't face criminal prosecution in the firm's crack-up, which featured raiding individual customers' accounts to the tune of $1.6 billion, seems to indicate that the Times has become a favored holding cell for stories detrimental to Democrats which will otherwise be ignored. Oh, and contrary to the belief expressed in a very long Vanity Fair item in February, when Corzine was seen to be in "a scandal he can’t survive," and that "his career is likely finished," the man is seriously considering starting up a new hedge fund.