What kind of shameless shill do you have to be to claim the President is on a winning streak as his poll numbers plummet, the economy teeters on a double-dip recession, and his Party is facing historic losses in both chambers of Congress?
A Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and former managing editor of the Washington Post, that's who.
Consider that just days after numerous polls were released showing America's confidence in Barack Obama at an all-time low, and stallwart supporters such as CNN and the New York Times' Maureen Dowd claimed that even George W. Bush was better at delivering a coherent message to the American people, Eugene Robinson wrote the following Friday:
Are even the most liberal media members starting to realize the administration's "Recovery Summer" campaign was a complete joke?
Such appears to be the case for New York Times columnist Bob Herbert who on Saturday published a piece absolutely excoriating President Obama for not exclusively focusing on jobs after his inauguration last year:
The Obama administration seems to be feeling sorry for itself. Robert Gibbs, the president's press secretary, is perturbed that Mr. Obama is not getting more hosannas from liberals. Spare me. The country is a mess. The economy is horrendous, and millions of American families are running out of ammunition in their fight against destitution. Steadily increasing numbers of middle-class families, who never thought they'd be seeking charity, have been showing up at food pantries.
In late 2009, when high rates of unemployment began looking like a sad fact of life for the foreseeable future, the media started looking for ways to put a positive spin on the situation.
Sure, many had predicted the next great depression when unemployment stood at around 6 percent in 2008, but with Democrats in control of the White House and Congress, a number of reporters suddenly found the recession's many silver linings.
"All I Want for Christmas Is a Layoff" read the headline of one ABCNews.com column following employees who would rather get a nice severance package than continue in their dull vocations. Newsweek cheerily noted that since men had been hit harder by the recession than women, they would now be able to help out around the house. The Los Angeles Times coined possibly the most absurd term of the recession to date in "funemployment," and discussed jobless Americans who prefer "hitting the beach" to "punching the clock."
Now the New York Times is celebrating the fact that the 90.5 percent of those who are employed are seeing a pleasant rise in their wages. See, the recession's not that bad.
Keith Olbermann on Thursday cherry-picked an article by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to make a pathetic case that Republicans are targeting and blaming unemployed Americans for the country's economic woes.
In his opening "Countdown" segment on MSNBC, the host began, "When it came time to invade, Republicans used cherry-picked intelligence to make the case for war in Iraq. Now, they`re using cherry-picked intelligence to wage war on the middle class."
Particularly in Olbermann's crosshairs was Gingrich who the "Countdown" host claimed "targeted one individual American who`s struggling to make ends meet and held him up as part of the problem."
Ironically, it was Olbermann that was guilty of cherry-picking as he quoted a very tiny portion of a Human Events article the former Speaker wrote Wednesday (video follows with commentary and full transcript at conclusion):
Ed Schultz on Thursday blamed Republicans for all the unemployed people living in America today.
As he began the most recent installment of the "Ed Show" on MSNBC, the host said, "The Republican Party has been on a crusade against the middle class and the poor for the last 30 years. We're now seeing the wreckage of that race to the bottom line culture."
He disgracefully continued, "Today a government report showed weekly jobless claims at a five-month high. 484,000 new unemployment claims were filed in the week ending August 7th. And you know what folks, you can lay this right at the feet, right at the altar of the Republican Party."
Sadly, he wasn't close to done, claiming, "The people you see flooding the streets begging for help, begging for an opportunity are victims of the Republican agenda just to make sure that President Obama fails" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has struck back at Paul Krugman calling the New York Times columnist "intellectually lazy."
As NewsBusters reported Saturday, Krugman wrote an article the previous day castigating Ryan as "The Flimflam Man" calling the Congressman a "charlatan" and a "fraud" while claiming his "Roadmap" to balance the nation's budget was "drenched in flimflam sauce."
Krugman's criticisms of the Republican rising star were of course praised by all manner of media member from the shills at MSNBC to the sycophants in the liberal blogosphere.
Liberal publisher Arianna Huffington on Monday displayed an absolutely staggering ignorance of business, taxes, and economics.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Countdown" to discuss Republican plans to stimulate the economy and curb the exploding budget deficits, Huffington was sarcastically asked by Keith Olbermann, "Does Huffington Post hire more people when your personal tax rate changes?"
Realizing the host was mocking the GOP's desire to extend the Bush tax cuts to all wage earners including those making over $250,000 a year, Huffington replied, "Huffington Post operates like most American businesses which is that our hiring practices have nothing to do with the income or the tax rate of the people who are running the business."
Ironically, the liberal publisher contradicted herself in the very next breath (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As media make their case to the American people that the Bush tax cuts should expire, one of the strategies being employed is to claim that Republicans are refusing to "pay for" their extension.
A perfect example of this tactic was seen on Sunday's "Meet the Press" when host David Gregory badgered House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Oh.) on this subject for over three minutes.
After playing a clip from the previous week's program when former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said that he's against tax cuts "with borrowed money," Gregory proceeded to hammer his guest on this issue (video follows with transcript and commentary):
For the media, "Mission Accomplished" represents everything that was wrong with the George W. Bush administration and its war policy. The image of Bush declaring unequivocal victory mere weeks after the invasion of Iraq has been ballyhooed as a visual representation of Bush's arrogance, naivete, even dishonesty (the media contrived most of this meme - more on that below).
Will Barack Obama have a "Mission Accomplished" moment? That is, will the media seize on something he or his administration has said as evidence of the large gap between his rhetoric and the effects of his policies and tout it for years to come as indicative of his flawed style of governing?
The gap already exists. The White House's "Recovery Summer" initiative and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's statement, "welcome to the recovery" are completely divorced from economic reality. The only question is whether the media will seize on the catchy and baseless slogans (the two criteria of the "Mission Accomplished" media standard) coming from the White House to illustrate the sizable gap between this administration's rhetoric, and the facts on ground, so to speak.
As media predictably pound the table for Congress to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, an interesting analysis by Washington Post contributor Robert J. Samuelson should raise a caution flag.
Higher taxes inhibit couples from having children which in other developed nations has led to longterm economic paralysis.
In a western civilization that got drunk on entitlement programs in the previous century, population growth is essential as all of these schemes have a Ponzi component to them: they only work if you continually have new people entering the system to pay for those collecting benefits.
As Samuelson outlined in the Post Monday, our federal income tax structure is quite at odds with our best interests as a nation:
Despite unemployment sitting at 9.5 percent and over 3 million jobs lost since this President was inaugurated, Newsweek's Howard Fineman says the economic policies enacted by Barack Obama "were good ones and smart ones and saved the day."
Chatting with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Friday's "Countdown," Fineman was nicely set up by the shill asking the questions.
"Does anyone -- can anyone actually believe that the Democrats had then done nothing and had maintained that status quo that the current economic situation would be better instead of worse?"
With the ball positioned nicely on the tee, Fineman chunked a drive into the water on the left (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Initial requests for jobless benefits rose last week to their highest level since April, a sign that hiring remains weak and some companies are still cutting workers.
The Labor Department said Thursday that new claims for unemployment insurance rose by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 479,000. Analysts had expected a small drop. Claims have risen twice in the past three weeks.
George Will and Paul Krugman had another showdown about fiscal policy on Sunday, and the ABC contributor made it crystal clear to viewers that he doesn't agree with the perilously liberal New York Times columnist.
As the Roundtable segment of "This Week" moved to a discussion of whether more economic stimulus is needed versus deficit reduction, Krugman made his predictable request for the former.
After Will made a strong point about the economy being "unusually weak for a recovery after a severe downturn," he said one of the reasons is "the consumer in his native perversity has begun to save" rather than spend.
Krugman responded, "Just wanted to say, George, it's exactly what I would have done in describing it."
Will smartly countered, "Lest it be thought that Paul and I agree on something," and this is where the fun began (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
During the past week, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz had trouble acknowledging that allowing a tax cut to expire, in effect, is a tax increase, as he debated on the Ed Show the issue of whether the tax cuts passed during the Bush administration – due to expire at the end of this year – should be extended beyond 2010. On Tuesday’s show, even while noting that the top marginal rates would increase from 35 to 39 percent, Schultz absurdly claimed: "The bottom line is they want you to believe that letting the Bush tax cuts expire is a tax increase. ... The Republicans are saying that, hey, this is all about a tax increase. No, it`s not. It`s the law they put into effect. It`s the law that they signed. It`s the law that they pushed under President Bush. It had an expiration date. Now they’re coming back saying, well, it`s a tax increase. No, it`s not. People in the top two percent are going to go from 35 percent to 39 percent. Ninety-eight percent of Americans are not going to be affected."
The MSNBC host also insisted on the semantics of calling an extension of the tax cuts "cutting taxes," even though such an extension would, in effect, leave rates the same and merely stop rates from increasing in 2011. Schultz went on to deceptively claim that the Heritage Foundation’s Curtis Dubay, appearing as a guest on Tuesday, had agreed with him that "cutting taxes" does not create jobs. On Wednesday’s show, during a discussion of financial reform, after guest Stephen Sprueill of the National Review spoke in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts, Schultz misleadingly shot back: "No, it doesn`t work. And it`s not a job creator, and the Heritage Foundation guy was here last night admitting that cutting taxes is not a job creator."
On June 24, 2010, I had a post on BigHollywood that examined Robert Redford’s asinine statements about the Gulf Oil Spill. From his support of a drilling moratorium to the fact that he literally blamed the spill on Dick Cheney to the way he expected George W. Bush to respond instantly to Katrina, while making excuses for President Obama’s slow response to the BP disaster, his words were just another proof that many actors in Hollywood are out of touch with reality.
And although I hoped Redford would rethink his pomposity before speaking again on topics that he seems unable to comprehend, except through the prism of politics, it appears my hopes were misplaced. On Tuesday, the Huffington Post carried a statement by Redford wherein the actor lambasted Republicans for sinking Obama’s energy bill and with it “our moment to create two million clean energy jobs here in the United States.”
Where did Redford get such precise information about “two million” jobs? It seems like something that was conveniently snatched out of thin air, unless this number is a reference to jobs that the government would supposedly create in a faux clean energy market. But since when when has the government been successful in creating jobs?
Free enterprise and the American marketplace– not the guiding hand of government – have revitalized the beleaguered automaker General Motors, which expects to announce another profitable quarter, according to GM officials.
President Barack Obama plans to visit a GM plant in Hamtramk, Michigan on July 30, and his administration is linking GM’s return to profitability with the bailout of the old GM the administration orchestrated last summer.
“Just over a year after President Obama made tough decisions to save Chrysler and GM, these companies are returning to profitability, hiring workers, and keeping plants open,” the White House said in a July 23 press release. “And because of the steps the Administration and Congress have taken with Cash for Clunkers and the Recovery Act, the industry overall is strengthening.”
Chris Matthews on Monday got a much-needed lesson from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) on how tax hikes impact the budget as well as the economy.
"Congressman Ryan, is there any tax role for reducing our $1.4 trillion to $1.7 trillion debt this year -- deficit this year?" Matthews asked during the 5PM installment of MSNBC's "Hardball." "Is there any role in tax increasing to help do that job?"
When Ryan gave an answer Matthews didn't like, the host arrogantly responded, "So, you won`t cut -- you won`t raise taxes and you won`t cut spending...All this bitching about the deficit doesn`t mean squat, because you won`t do either, raise taxes or reduce spending."
With the ball nicely teed up, Ryan unleashed a drive down the middle of the fairway that would make Tiger Woods proud (video follows with transcript and commentary, h/t Twitter's @LFRGary):
ABC's "World News" on Sunday caught up to CBS and NBC in fretting about the potential problems caused by illegal immigrants who may be leaving Arizona before the state's new law takes effect on Thursday. Correspondent Barbara Pinto devoted her entire piece to lamenting the possible damage to small businesses whose customers are presumably now leaving the state, but offered less than a sentence to the idea that illegal immigrants are already an expensive burden on state social services.
"The loud and bitter battle over Arizona's immigration law has reached fever-pitch," claimed Pinto. "But Rosario Peralta worries about the quiet exodus – immigrant families already leaving the state in droves. In the past few months, she's seen business and customers at her family grocery store disappear."
If it worked for Germany, it should work for the United States, right?
In a July 21 story, AP writer Geir Moulson praised government stimulus for helping Germany "bounce back" from the recession. Moulson highlighted two government stimulus packages totaling $104 billion and a government-sponsored program that cut back workers' hours instead of laying them off as reasons for Germany's endurance:
"The various government measures are all part of the upswing."
However, nowhere in Moulsion's 25-paragraph story did he acknowledge tax cuts over the past decade as a reason for Germany's success. As reported in Deutsche Welle, a German media outlet, the European Union's statistical office indicated Germany's corporate tax rate was cut to 29.8 percent in 2010, a 42-percent decrease from the 51.6-percent rate in 2000. Germany has also cut income taxes by 3.6 percent over the past ten years.
"Is America in danger of the current debt crisis becoming a sovereign debt crisis as Mort [Zuckerman] mentioned, like the one that is now hitting Greece, yes or no?" McLaughlin asked.
MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan warned it was more "imminent" than many people have forecast. He cited British historian and Harvard professor Niall Ferguson, who has declared the country to be on the brink of a Greek-like collapse.
During his visit to Holland, Michigan on Thursday, President Obama spoke with NBC's Chuck Todd. NBC aired the interview on the NBC Nightly News and The Today Show. (On Friday morning, NB's Geoffrey Dickens covered a separate aspect of that interview relating to the recess-appointed Donald Berwick.)
In reporting on that interview, the Associated Press quoted the President as telling "NBC" (i.e., Todd) that midterm congressional election results could come down to "a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and my policies that got us out of this mess." I prepared a post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) that relied on the AP's quote. It turns out that the AP misquoted the President. I'll get to what Obama really said shortly.
But there is a also a significant omission in the transcript of the interview carried at the Page, Mark Halperin's blog at Time/CNN. I wouldn't know whether NBC, its transcription service, or the White House is responsible for it, but portions of Todd's questions relating to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's acknowledgment that Democrats could lose control of the House in this fall's congressional elections are missing.
Both errors are visible in revisions I have a made to the relevant portion of the transcript that follows (the original video is here for those who wish to hear it for themselves; excerpted portion begins at about the 7:55 mark):
There are two different ways of defining a recession. The Associated Press is using one of them to define its beginning, and the other to define its end. Using the former makes George Bush look bad; using the latter makes Barack Obama look good. Imagine that.
The traditional definition of "recession," which is used as the official metric in the vast majority of countries around the world, is that it is "a decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for two or more consecutive quarters." Using that metric, the U.S. recession began in July 2008, the first month of the first quarter during which economy contracted, and ended in June 2009, the last month of the final of four consecutive quarters of contraction. Positive economic growth resumed during the third quarter of 2009.
The other definition of "recession" is "a period of economic contraction as defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)." For reasons I'll never understand, but which I believe have their origins in political considerations, the government ceded the "official" definition of "recession" to the NBER several decades ago, moving this metric from the purely objective realm to the clearly subjective.
UPDATE, JULY 18: This post was based in an Associated Press's quote of a statement President Obama made to NBC News that "my policies ... got us out of this mess." Subsequent review of the video and transcript of that interview shows that the President really said "my policies ... are getting us out of this mess." I have prepared a follow-up post dealing with this matter and a separate significant omission in the transcript at BizzyBlog and NewsBusters.
What follows are the first three paragraphs from this short AP report on President Obama's interview with NBC:
Liberal talk radio host Bill Press says President Obama's poll numbers are down because Americans are spoiled, impatient children that want everything solved yesterday.
After describing to his listeners Tuesday all the fabulous accomplishments this president has made since taking office in January 2009, Press admonished the citizenry for giving the White House resident poor grades for his efforts.
"I think this says more about the American people than it does about President Obama," barked Press.
"I think it just shows once again that the American people are spoiled" (audio follows with partial transcript and commentary):
Channeling her inner Nancy Pelosi, Rachel Maddow on Sunday actually said extending unemployment benefits is "the most stimulative thing you can do" to help the ailing economy.
Appearing on the panel discussion of NBC's "Meet the Press," Maddow boldly presented a liberal view of economics that only the current House Speaker would be proud of.
"I think that most Americans also, though, understand the basic arithmetic that when you're talking about pushing tax cuts that do mostly benefit the wealthy and you're simultaneously talking about getting tough on the deficit, you're talking about a world in which math doesn't work the way most people think it works."
Indeed, for moments before she falsely stated that Obama inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.
But Maddow's best remark Sunday had to be, "If you really want a stimulus, do what we -- what's proven to work in stimulus, which is things like extending unemployment benefits...It's the most stimulative thing you can do" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
George Will on Sunday accused Barack Obama of being an expert at selling snake oil.
As the Roundtable segment of ABC's "This Week" began, host Jake Tapper asked Will if the President's claim Republicans "are peddling that same snake oil that they've been peddling now for years" will resonate with voters this November.
Will marvelously responded, "No, because he is an expert on snake oil."
"This is the man who said, if we pass the $767 billion stimulus bill, which it turns out costs $862 billion, a $95 million oops, we would have unemployment at 8 percent and no higher, and it went higher," continued Will.
"This is the man who last week was out saying, 'I'm going to give $2 billion, about $2 billion, to two companies to create about 1,600 jobs.' That's $1.5 million per job. That is snake oil" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary:
While some on the left side of the aisle in Congress are getting all starry-eyed about prospects of more federal stimulus spending, the first round of stimulus under President Barack Obama may have done even less to help the ailing economy than supporters claim.
On MSNBC's July 9 broadcast of "The Daily Rundown," co-hosts Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie interviewed CNBC "Closing Bell" anchor Maria Bartiromo from the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colo. And Bartiromo offered her views why the economy didn't spiral out of control any more than it did. She said according to some on Wall Street, it wasn't Obama's $787-billion "stimulus" that included a huge bulk of state government bailout spending, but instead action by the Federal Reserve to put more liquidity in the economy.
"Look, there's no doubt about it - we were close to going off a cliff the weekend at Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, Merrill [Lynch] was sold and AIG acquired by government," Bartiromo said. "You know, I mean I think we were very close and the economy needed stimulus in a big way. It's arguable whether that stimulus that helped the economy was really because of the stimulus plan or really because of the Federal Reserve. I think most people on Wall Street will believe and will tell you that it was really the Fed action in terms of giving greater access to the banks to overnight lending that really, really got us out."
This morning CNNMoney.com reports "Jobless claims slide in latest week." The article starts:
The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell last week, according to a government report released Thursday.
There were 454,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended July 3, down 21,000 from an upwardly revised 475,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said.
A problem with the story is the numbers are, according to the Department of Labor, "seasonally adjusted" with a statistical technique designed to accommodate fluctuations in the job market. DOL's release paints a more sobering picture:
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 463,560 in the week ending July 3, an increase of 22,560 from the previous week.