Donna Brazile apparently liked yours truly's NewsBusters post yesterday. That post ripped the Associated Press's Pollyanna-like coverage of the U.S. economy, and carried the following headline which may have caused several spilled drinks and soaked monitors among the genuinely informed — "AP: ‘Humming’ and ‘Rising’ U.S. Economy Is a ‘World-Beater.'"
About five hours after the post's appearance, Brazile tweeted her clear approval (HT Twitchy). While we appreciate any traffic which might have come this way as a result of Brazile's tweet, it's hard to imagine that Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign manager has switched sides. It's far more likely that she didn't bother reading the underlying post. The tweet follows the jump:
In the latest White House press release disguised as analysis at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, AP stenographer Paul Wiseman sang the praises of this nation's "humming" job market and its "steadily rising" growth as the economy is "finally showing the vigor that Americans have long awaited." Wow.
Of course, the White House — er, Wiseman — never mentioned the following (to name just a few): two straight months (April and May) of real declines in consumer purchases; the seasonally adjusted decline of 523,000 in full-time employment paired with an increase of 799,000 part-time jobs in June; April’s and May's trade imbalance coming in worse than March’s, which was already very high; shipments of durable goods barely budging in April and May; factory orders falling in May; or May's flat construction spending. It got worse, as Wiseman concocted five reasons why the U.S. economy is a "world beater." Excerpts from Paul's pathetic prose follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
A prominent exhibit explaining why the nation's trust in its media establishment has dropped to precipitous lows would likely include Tom Cohen's Thursday afternoon column at CNN expressing befuddlement over President Barack Obama's unpopularity.
After all, Cohen's headline crows that under Obama we have "more jobs" and "less war" (!), so there's a "disconnect" which must be explained. To give you an idea of how pathetic his attempt is, he managed not to mention any form of the words "immigration," "scandal," or "contraction" (as in, the first-quarter decline in GDP) while pretending to present a complete analysis. Meanwhile, one of CNN's embedded headline links to another story ("Obama to Republicans: 'So sue me'") openly mocks Cohen, doing a better job of explaining the "disconnect" in six words than anything he wrote in his first 37 paragraphs. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post; numbered tags are mine):
Math is hard over at the Department of Labor these days, pretty much from top to bottom. Last Friday, the DOL listed what it says were the 31 states which showed "statistically significant" job growth in the 12 months ended in May. It turns out that six other states should have been on that list, dropping Ohio, which was the slowest-growing among those originally listed, from number 31 to 37.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and apparently the rest of the country, has a really big problem. He claims that his department has trained 84 million workers during the past six years, yet millions and millions of Americans are somehow still unemployed. The opening portions of a speech Perez made on July 19 at the National Fund for Workforce Solutions Annual Meeting follow the jump (HT to a frequent emailer; bolds are mine throughout this post):
Slowly but surely, the confident assurances of a fantabulous second quarter for the U.S. economy — one which is supposed to make the serious first-quarter contraction reported on Wednesday a distant memory — are crumbling.
Yesterday at the Associated Press, Martin Crutsinger, who just a couple of weeks ago had been relaying confident second-quarter predictions of annualized 3.5 percent and even 4 percent growth, quoted a still-optimistic economist who, in Crutsinger's words, "said strength in other areas (besides yesterday's weak consumer spending report — Ed.) should still lift economic growth to around a 3 percent annual rate in the current quarter." Today, in covering the University of Michigan's consumer confidence report, Christopher Rugaber, Crutsinger's dynamic duo buddy at the AP, brought the growth figure down to a level which won't even offset the dreadful first quarter:
My, those "this quarter's really, really going to be great" predictions can disappear so quickly these days.
Yesterday, in the wake of the government's third revision to gross domestic product showing that the economy shrunk by an annualized 2.9 percent during the first quarter instead of the previously reported 1.0 percent, commentators, analysts, and economists fell all over themselves insisting that the second quarter and the rest of the year will be fine. The reaction at Goldman Sachs was — get this — to raise their estimate for second-quarter growth from an annualized 3.8 percent to 4.0 percent. Today, in the wake of a particularly weak consumer spending report for May, the backpedaling — well, partial backpedaling — is under way, particularly at the Associated Press (bolds are mine):
The press, even in the wake of yesterday's awful reported 2.9 percent annualized first-quarter contraction, continues to regale us with noise about the economy's "recovery" during the past five years.
As P.J. Gladnick at NewsBusters noted yesterday, CNNMoney.com's Annalyn Kurtz, in giving readers "3 reasons not to freak out about -2.9% GDP," concluded her report by telling readers that "This recovery is underway, but it's choppy and still very slow." Actually, it may have resumed this quarter. At the Associated Press yesterday, Martin Crutsinger all too predictably wrote that"the setback is widely thought to be temporary, with growth rebounding solidly since spring." After almost five years of this nonsense, it's long past time that they start telling readers, listeners, and viewers that this economy bears more resemblance to the 1930s economy under Franklin Delano Roosevelt than it does any post-downturn economy we've seen since the end of World War II. Hard proof follows the jump.
In July 2013, the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber finally noticed the meteoric rise in the number of temporary help service and other non-payroll personnel working at U.S. employers — a trend which at the time was about 2-1/2 years old. Rugaber noted that "temps and to a much larger universe of freelancers, contract workers and consultants ... number nearly 17 million people who have only tenuous ties to the companies that pay them – about 12 percent of everyone with a job." He also cited two likely contributors to that growth. First, "Some employers have also sought to sidestep the new health care law’s rule that they provide medical coverage for permanent workers. Second, "companies want to avoid having too many employees during a downturn."
This morning, the AP's Tom Raum did another report on the situation, and proceeded to blow the numbers, ignore Obamacare, and downplay the influence of the mediocre economy.
AP's tallest tale is in ascribing the four annual deficits of over $1 trillion incurred from fiscal 2009 through 2012 entirely to the "deep recession" and the need to "stabilize the financial system," when the truth is that huge increases in government spending not related to those matters are primarily what shot the annual deficits upward — and are still keeping them at historical highs. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
If I didn't know any better, I might have thought, based on an Associated Press report tonight by business writer Bernard Condon prepared with the help of four others, that governments everywhere had reinstituted child labor for those as young as six years old.
That's the only way to support the claims Condon made about how the birth dearth in the developed world driven by the 2008 financial crisis is responsible for the current worldwide economic malaise. This desperate grasping at straws is apparently necessarily because the press will never blame the ineffectiveness of Keynesian fiscal policies and national banks' interventions in the developed world's economies, which are really the culprits. Excerpts from Condon's calamity follow the jump (bolds are mine):
The National Employment Law Project claims that it is dedicated to "working to restore the promise of economic opportunity in the 21st century economy." That sounds promising, but one look at NELP's directors and the supposed "solutions" the group and its friends advocate — e.g., higher minimum wage, "uphold the freedom to join a union." etc. It's clear that NELP is just another lefty advocacy group pushing the kinds of policies which have led to six years of economic weakness.
That said, NELP recently released research showing that jobs gained since the recession ended have skewed far more heavily towards low-wage industries than the jobs which were lost during the recession. Press coverage has been skimpy. The one major writeup at the New York Times on Sunday for Monday's print edition appeared on Page B4. The nature of Annie Lowrey's coverage at the Times led Fox News to accuratey tease it as a story about the "Fast-Food Recovery." Excerpts from the Times story follow the jump (bolds are mine):
If there's a prize for most words spent in Obamacare avoidance, NBC News's Martha C. White is definitely in the running.
White managed to burn through almost 40 paragraphs and nearly 1,600 words in a report carried at CNBC on the all-time record number of workers employed by temporary help services. But she somehow managed to completely avoid mentioning Obamacare, which used to be known as the Affordable Care Act until President Obama and his Health and Human Services regulators made 40 changes to the law originally passed by Congress, some of which directly contradict the original law's language. The closest she came was noting that using temps "lets companies avoid the cost of providing benefits like health insurance" — which has always been the case, except that health insurance is and will continue to be a lot more expensive, giving companies even more incentive to avoid adding to their own payrolls. Excerpts follow the jump.
In a Friday morning dispatch which comes off more as a set of election instructions from "Democratic strategists" than as a real news report, David Espo at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, wanted to make sure that political operatives who don't read boring pollster reports still get the message: Don't use the word "recovery" during your fall campaign.
In the course of his missive, Espo falsely claimed that economic growth since the recession officially ended has continued unbroken, and failed to remind his audience that the party has trotted out "recovery" themes several times, only to see historically weak economic and employment results each time. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
One of the more annoying aspects of business press reporting is its participants' singular focus on seasonally adjusted data to the exclusion of the underlying figures.
Many reports on the economy at least tag the figures reported as seasonally adjusted; but there seems to be a trend away from doing even that. For example, the Associated Press has routinely labeled weekly initial jobless claims as seasonally adjusted (examples from about a year ago are here, here, and here), but Thursday's adjusted claims figure of 331,000 and the 348,000 from a week earlier went unlabeled (as seen here and here, respectively). Additionally, none of the three main wire services (AP, Bloomberg, Reuters) described yesterday's reported increase in employment as "seasonally adjusted" (though the AP's Christopher Rugaber did report that the unemployment rate of 6.6 percent was seasonally adjusted). In failing to do so, they all were in essence telling readers that the economy really added 113,000 jobs in January. The truth is that it lost over 2.8 million of them:
Today, President Obama is going to ask a group of private-sector companies to help him try to solve a problem his administration's policies have seriously worsened, namely long-term unemployment.
Of course, that's not how Josh Lederman at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, framed the situation. All he would concede is that "long-term joblessness in the U.S. remains a major problem." After the jump, in two graphs from the St. Louis Federal Reserve, we'll see the frightening level of long-term unemployment Obama's economic policies have created – and how the horrid numbers have failed to come down significantly in the 4-1/2 years since the recession officially ended.
In May 2009, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, announced that it would be "launching an index that will provide monthly, multi-format updates on the economic stress of the United States down to the county level." Not a bad idea, especially if you were concerned that evidence of an economic recovery under Barack Obama would not otherwise be convincing.
The AP likely believed that since an overwhelming percentage of U.S. counties lean conservative (remember those Bush v. Gore county maps?), a large majority of U.S. counties would likely recover in time for the 2010 congressional elections, or in the worst-case scenario, the 2012 presidential election — even if the nation as a whole did not. A statement that "most counties in the U.S. have recovered from the recession" would have been quite useful in defending congressional Democrats and Barack Obama's incumbency. But a recently released report from the National Association of Counties (NACo), which was covered poorly by the Wall Street Journal and virtually ignored by almost everyone else, shows that it hasn't happened.
On the Monday, December 23, PoliticsNation on MSNBC, host Al Sharpton led the show by accusing Republicans of "stinginess" and of being "grinches" because of GOP opposition to a further extension of unemployment benefits. With the words "GOP Grinches Steal Christmas" on screen, Sharpton opened the show:
On Thursday's All In show, MSNBC's Chris Hayes repeatedly used words like "screwing over" to describe Republican policies toward the poor, and claimed that Tea Partiers in Congress believe in "poverty as punishment" as he fretted over a delay in the extension of unemployment benefits and then hyped Georgia Republican Rep. Jack Kingston's suggestion that school children do chores in exchange for subsidized lunches.
After characterizing recent statements by congressional Republicans as being like immaturely declaring, "Yeah, and your mother," the MSNBC host a bit later whined:
On the Wednesday, December 18, All In with Chris Hayes show on MSNBC, host Chris Hayes fretted that uninsured Americans are not a "potent constituency" during a discussion of the debate over extending unemployment benefits.
He did not mention a CBS News/New York Timespoll which ironically was released earlier in the day finding that ObamaCare is as unpopular among uninsured Americans as with the general population.
Speaking with MSNBC analyst Ezra Klein, Hayes posed:
On Tuesday's All In on MSNBC, during a discussion of the federal budget and spending on poverty programs, host Chris Hayes suggesting reducing unemployment by having the government hire workers as he jokingly suggested having another census because unemployment dropped the last time census workers were hired.
After guest Tom Colocchio of Food Policy Action called for more "job training programs so they can actually get back to work," Hayes jumped in:
A recurring theme at the Los Angeles Times during the past several days has been that the nation's economic and fiscal circumstances really aren't all that bad, and they're getting better under Dear Leader Obama. (Oh, and throw in a healthy dose of "It's Bush's fault" for good measure.)
Lisa Mascaro, with the help of Brian Bennett, David Lauter and Michael A. Memoli, added to that effort late Saturday afternoon. In an item primarily about the politics of the Washington's next scheduled fiscal standoff in mid-December, she did the usual spin on this year's budget deficit (writing that it has "declined rapidly," while conveniently forgetting that this year's shortfall will be higher than any non-Obama deficit in U.S. history). She also gave undue credence based on poor historical accuracy to Congressional Budget Office projections which claim that "the national debt ... is projected to be stable or even declining as a share of the economy well into the next decade." But she ventured beyond the careful but misleading realm of the previous two statements into flat-out falsehood when she wrote: "The country is on a budget trajectory that, while substantially improved from the recent recession ..."
I guess we should acknowledge a tiny improvement when an ordinarily in-the-tank apparatchik like Jim Kuhnhenn at the Associated Press expresses even the slightest bit of skepticism about a White House claim.
But let's not take it too far. Kuhnhenn is reporting in a brief "Big Story" item this morning that President Obama "is laying claim to an economic turnaround and warning Republicans not to risk a backslide by threatening a government shutdown or a debt default." Kuhnhenn's skeptical points are that "The economic scorecard is mixed. ... Growth has been tepid and unemployment remains high." His five-paragraph report, reproduced in full for fair use and discussion purposes, follows the jump.
At the Associated Press, economics writer Christopher Rugaber used not seasonally adjusted data published by the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics on metro area employment and unemployment to crow about "widespread improvement in the job market." The predominance of part-time jobs among the new ones created and fact that houshold incomes have yet to recover from the recession apparently had no impact on his assessment.
The opening sentence of the government's report reads: "Unemployment rates were lower in July than a year earlier in 320 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 38 areas, and unchanged in 14 area, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today." But the second paragraph of Rugaber's AP report, headlined "Unemployment Rates Fall in Two-thirds of U.S. Cities," tells readers that "[U]nemployment rates fell in 239 of the nation's 372 largest cities in July from June."
On Thursday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, liberal talk radio host Joe Madison referred to Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh as "Jim Crow's grandson" and "Jim Crow Esquire" during a discussion of the absence of Republican figures at the Martin Luther King, Jr., 50-year commemoration.
After a couple of clips of O'Reilly critiquing the social problems of some poor Americans, MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor accused the FNC host of "wholesale maligning of an entire race and class of people" that is "simply unconscionable," even though O'Reilly specified no racial group as he responded to a clip of President Obama in which the President complained that some Americans, "regardless of color," are still having economic difficulties.
After host Al Sharpton asked if O'Reilly is "somebody we ought to be taking seriously," Taylor began her response:
In the world of Jesse Jackson and the people over whom he has undue influence, if you oppose President Obama's agenda in any way, on any issue, you're a racist. No debate, no allowance for principled objection, discussion over. Apparently now, in Jackson's view, if you in any way oppose the frightening and financially reckless expansion of government we've seen during the past five years or the government's impending de facto takeover of healthcare — the two core issues which drove the grass-roots movement which became known as the Tea Party — you're not only a racist, you're automatically a secessionist.
In a starry-eyed, mostly incoherent item at the Politico ("Obama, race and class") which is so bad it could be the topic of three additional posts, Glenn Thrush completely misidentified Jackson's position in the civil-rights pantheon, while Jackson, once again, showed how utterly devoid of substantive arguments he is:
Potentially the most dishonest aspect of the Obama-loving media's reporting since January 20, 2009, pertains to how they've almost totally ignored how poorly the economy is performing.
On Tuesday, Michael T. Snyder, author of the gloom and doom book "The Beginning of the End," wrote a fabulous piece titled "33 Shocking Facts Which Show How Badly The Economy Has Tanked Since Obama Became President":
After a two-year hiatus, the Associated Press has apparently decided that Americans need a weekly reminder of how bad weekly layoffs were during the recession.
In June 2011, possibly as a result of some hectoring by yours truly, the wire service totally or almost totally stopped reminding readers that "(unemployment) claims applications peaked at 659,000 during the recession." That tired figure was already over two years old, and isn't even an all-time record (several weeks during the 1980s were higher, even with a much smaller workforce). So who cares? But in each of the past three weeks, AP has resurrected that tired number (since revised slightly upward because of changes to seasonal adjustment factors), as if a one-week stat from almost 4-1/2 years ago means anything to anybody right now:
An August 6 opinion column at the Politico labeled co-authors Jared Bernstein and Paul Van de Water as "senior fellows at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities." CBPP, that oxymoron known as a "leftist think tank," went unlabeled. The Politico also must have thought that Bernstein's background as the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden from 2009 to 2011 was irrelevant.
That's okay. Any reader could tell from the piece's headline and content that it was a shameless, reality-avoiding propaganda piece (bolds and numbered tags are mine):