Barack Obama appears to no longer be giving Chris Matthews a tingle up his leg, for the MSNBC host thinks Tuesday's special election in Massachusetts might end up being a reflection of how people are very averse to the new President's program.
With a visible frown on his face, Matthews told "Daily Rundown" co-host Chuck Todd Monday that recent polling data "has to do with reality of a terrible economy, of this new burden that people feel being put on their shoulders of bigger debt, perhaps taxes coming down the road."
Matthews continued, "And the fear that the burden of healthcare is going to be much heavier than the benefit."
The "Hardball" host cautioned, "I think it's going to show up in Massachusetts tomorrow with the results there" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Story Balloon):
The charts definitely show how utterly wrong reporters like the Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa are when they claim that there has been anything resembling a "rebound" since the economy hit bottom from a growth standpoint in the second quarter of 2009 (the economy has yet to see an employment bottom). They also explain why AP reporter Martin Crutsinger seems to have tired of trying to put a "getting better" face on things in the past couple of days (as seen here and here at NewsBusters; here and here at BizzyBlog).
Here, after screen captures by Morrissey, are the two mind-numbing creations in question, the first showing changes in output (GDP) and the second showing changes in employment:
Okay, who administered the truth serum to the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger? And will the person who did this kindly inform us when it will wear off?
On Thursday, for the second day in a row following a mostly fact-based report the previous day on Uncle Sam's horrid fiscal situation, Crutsinger ran down a troubling economic report. This time it was December's disappointing retail sales results. The AP writer even took readers on a walk through the historical archives to let them know just how bad December and all of 2009 really were. Pinch me to make sure I'm not dreaming.
In his coverage of yesterday's Monthly Treasury Statement from Uncle Sam, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger, who I have criticized frequently for cruddy reporting, especially on federal finances, did a pretty good job reporting key facts and conveying very real concerns that are brewing over the country's current fiscal path.
In the process, he made a stunning admission about the economy's situation that has to be seen to be believed.
I find myself concerned that the previous paragraphs might cause Mr. Crutsinger to get called into a closed-door meeting where he gets asked what in the world is going on. If that happens, I have an agenda item he can bring up. I'll get to that later.
Crutsinger's only serious error was his final paragraph's mischaracterization of deficit trends during the Bush administration.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took to the WhiteHouse.gov blog today to try to refute a devastating AP report showing that the the stimulus's highway and road funding has done next to nothing to improve the unemployment situation. Though he offered a couple of valid points, LaHood, pictured right in a file photo, actually did very little refuting.
The AP asserts in its report that "there was nearly no connection between stimulus money and the number of construction workers hired or fired since Congress passed the recovery program. The effect was so small, one economist compared it to trying to move the Empire State Building by pushing against it."
LaHood points out--fairly--that the AP examines the construction industry as a whole while the seven percent of the $787 billion that went towards funding highway and road construction (roughly $55 billion) only affects the transportation construction industry, not the industry as a whole.
CNN's efforts to spin the current economy have gotten to the point of being ridiculous.
For three days in a row, a series of reports all showed persistent layoffs above expectations, and in each case CNN.com inexplicably reported optimism.
First up was an ADP report released Wednesday which tracked the economy from the side of business owners and how many workers they laid off. Instead of showing the complete picture, CNN chose to present a decidedly upbeat angle.
CNN Money writers Jessica Dickler and Hibah Yousuf set the tone as they worked hard to spin unexpected layoffs as a positive sign in their rosy-headlined "Job Picture Gets a Little Bit Brighter":
In a Friday news analysis piece that appeared in the paper's print edition today (teased at its web site as seen on the right), Jackie Calmes at the New York Times began with a pathetic headline, and opened with pity on our poor overwhelmed, stressed-out, stretched-in-all-directions President:
Obama Tries to Turn Focus to Jobs, if Other Events Allow
President Obama keeps trying to turn attention to “jobs, jobs, jobs,” as his chief of staff has put it. But he is finding that it can be hard to focus on any one issue when so many demand attention, often unexpectedly.
This is simply another variation on the "distracted" President theme I noted last year (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). You know, if those terrorists and other messy realities wouldn't intervene, Barack Obama could do his job sooooo much better.
Calmes resumed the pity party in her seventh paragraph:
First of all, let me wish you a happy and prosperous New Year, and I want to thank you all for reading this column and letting your thoughts be known by responding.
Whether your reaction to what I write be pro or con, it's always good to know what's on your mind, and I sincerely hope that you will continue to do so.
There is a great frustration abroad in America these days and goodness knows we have enough to be frustrated about; the economy, the two wars we are fighting, people walking unimpeded across our border from Mexico, a country that for all practical purposes is being controlled by a ruthless drug cartel.
The closing of businesses, the loss of jobs and the relentless cruelty of Islamic terrorists around the world all add up to a myriad of serious problems facing America today.
Although you will not hear it articulated in the mainstream media, I think what's bothering Americans more than any other single subject is the fact that we've lost control of our government.
The economy shed far more jobs in December than economists had expected.
The Labor Department announced moments ago that nonfarm payrolls declined by a surprising 85,000 workers last month. Economists had been expecting no change or maybe a small decline.
One bright spot was healthcare which added another 22,000 jobs. Despite efforts by Democrats to "reform" this industry, it remains one of the few that continues to hire having added a staggering 631,000 employees since the recession began in December 2007.
It will be very interesting to see how this announcement gets covered by the Obama-loving media in the coming days:
Speaking to Virginia Governor Democratic Party Chairman Tim Kaine on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez pointed out a potential dire situation for Democrats in the 2010 midterm election: “Your party stands to lose a lot in the fall. Its 60 vote majority in the Senate, dozens of seats in the House, as well as Governor seats across the country.”
An on-screen headline posed the question: “Democrats in Trouble?” Rodriguez summed up the circumstances under which Democrats could do well in the fall: “...two things have to happen. One, the economy has to improve, and, two, health care has to not only pass, but show that it’s working.” She assumed that health care passing would be a good thing for Democrats and failed to ask Kaine about the lack of openness in the legislative process.
Rodriguez asked for Kaine’s assessment of the situation. Unsurprisingly, the DNC chair was optimistic about his party’s chances: “I think both are going to happen....I think the passage of historic health care and continued improvement of the economy is going to actually surprise some people in November in terms of how Democrats do.”
In the eyes of many in the liberal media, President Obama can do no wrong. If he does, it's not his fault; he is simply a victim of circumstance, or he made the best decision he could given the options. One can tell news items portraying Obama in this light by their descriptions of problems in the passive voice.
Take yesterday's New York Times article by Jackie Calmes, for instance. The piece displays a conspicuous use of the passive voice in the headline: "Promise to Trim Deficit Is Growing Harder to Keep", instead of, say, "Obama's Policies Make Deficit Reduction Unlikely".
The refrain is getting old. When Obama's economic policies caused the debt to skyrocket, and didn't lead to recovery but rather to more federal spending aimed at shoring up the economy, it was because the recession was worse than the administration had planned. Obama's brilliant plans to raise taxes on businesses failed because Congress succumbed to political pressure. Anticipated savings in Iraq were nullified when it turned out winning a war in Afghanistan might actually require significant funding. And Medicare is already being cut to pay for the health care overhaul, so those cuts can't go towards drawing down the deficit. You see, it's never actually Obama's fault.
This is the fifth year I have looked into how the media treats these two topics:
The use of “Christmas shopping season” vs. “holiday shopping season” (note how the AP photo at right uses “holiday” and not “shopping,” even though there is a C-C-, Chr-Chr-Christmas tree in the picture).
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. The results of this year's first two sets of searches are here (NewsBusters; BizzyBlog) and here (NewsBusters; BizzyBlog).
A table showing the results from this year, plus key comparisons to prior years, follows:
The Associated Press's business writers and many others in the establishment press spent just over a year reminding readers at seemingly every conceivable opportunity that the recession began in December 2007, simply because the supposedly apolitical collection of academics at the National Bureau for Economic Research said so.
Lo and behold, in her year-end roundup of 2009's top business stories, an article so biased and error-prone that I am devoting my next weekly column to deconstructing it, the Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa writes that:
After four quarters of decline, the economy returns to growth during the July-to-September period, signaling the end of the deepest and longest recession since the 1930s.
Ever since President Obama took office with his merry band of Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress, the media began reporting high unemployment in the most positive light they could find.
NewsBusters exposed one such trick by Newsweek on December 10 that found a silver lining for unemployed dads to reconnect with their children. ABC News posted a column on their website Thursday that advanced the cause even further: now people who still have jobs are hoping to get laid off.
Such was the case made by one Michelle Goodman in a piece cutely titled "All I Want For Christmas is a Layoff." The premise for this bizarre headline was that many Americans began to realize they were working for "slave wages" in jobs that were far too stressful, so perhaps the recession offered a chance to start over.
According to Goodman, the mental effects of remaining on a difficult job could make the unemployment line look a bit more attractive:
In keeping with the tradition of the holidays - the minds at MSNBC, the place for politics if you're of the lefty persuasion, decided rate the top 10 political stories of the decade.
And leading this gang of masters of the political journalism universe was "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, who on the broadcast of his Dec. 24 program, announced that conservative activism, mainly the tea party movement was the eighth biggest story of the decade - but labeled "angry white voters" (emphasis added).
"Welcome back to ‘Hardball' - our number eight political story of the decade, angry whites at town hall meetings across the country," Matthews said. "Lawmakers heard the wrath of angry voters."
Not to worry, Aversa said, because the fourth quarter is going to be really good ("[possibly] the strongest showing since 5.4 percent growth in the first quarter of 2006"), and the first quarter of 2010 will be okay ("growth will slow to a pace of around 2 or 3 percent in the first three months"). To be fair, she did entertain the possibility of a double-dip recession in 2011 in her 18th of 21 paragraphs. But of course most readers won't get that far, and most editors trimming her piece down will leave it on the cutting room floor.
Uncle Sam's Bureau of Economic Analysis today revised economic growth in the third quarter downward a second time. After originally estimating annualized growth of 3.5% in October and then reducing it to 2.8% in November, the bureau's "third estimate" issued today came in at 2.2%.
If that "third estimate" term seems odd, it's because this is only the second quarter the BEA has labeled its reports "first estimate," "second estimate," and "third estimate." Previously, the respective terms for the three monthly reports were "advance," "preliminary," and "final."
If you're thinking that today's BEA figure is bad news, you obviously haven't gotten the word from Associated Press reporter Jeannine Aversa, who after a brief "not to worry," seemed to wax almost rhapsodically over how great the current quarter and next year will be (a partial screen cap of Aversa's first six paragraphs is saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; bold is mine):
If you believe polls, current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke favorability has been slipping. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll indicates that only 21 percent of Americans favor his reappointment as the Fed chair.
And this hasn't gone unnoticed by some members of the Senate, where Bernanke's fate lies. Bernanke's reconfirmation passed through the Senate Banking Committee by a 16-to-7 vote on Dec. 17. But that margin calls into question how his reconfirmation vote on the Senate floor could go. And as CNBC "The Kudlow Report" host Larry Kudlow warned, that puts his reconfirmation in question.
"Look, ‘Helicopter' Ben passed the Senate Banking Committee vote on his reconfirmation," Kudlow said on his Dec. 17 program. "He got 16-to-7, but he lost seven votes. I think all the Republicans except Sen. Bob Corker voted against Bernanke, and they were joined by one Democrat, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Now the reconfirmation goes to the floor of the Senate. So, I think Bernanke's reconfirmation could be in some trouble when that Senate vote occurs. I'm going to bet that most, if not all, of the 40 Republicans are going to vote against Bernanke and that they are going to be joined by a number of Democrats."
In a Washington Post opinion piece published on December 6, longtime expansionary entitlement program apologists Peter Edelman and Barbara Ehrenreich ripped into the 1996 welfare reform law and its alleged effect on the poor during the struggling economy of the past two years.
In the course of their rant, Edelman and Ehrenreich told readers something that the rest of the press has largely ignored since Barack Obama took office in January: Homelessness is up, as in way, way up:
According to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP), the number of homeless Americans is up by 61 percent since the recession began in December 2007.
In fact, a new report from a source normally favored by the press tells us that new "tent cities" have sprung up, and that others in existence a year ago have grown. Does anyone think these facts would remain so well-hidden if Bush 43 were still in office?
Interestingly, it seems that Edeleman and Ehrenreich appear to have serendipitously misinterpreted their information source.
In his coverage of Uncle Sam's November Monthly Treasury Statement released yesterday, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger reached the wire service's usual quota of errors and misstatements. But what's remarkable is that the AP reporter's article seems to betray a belief that the country is still in a recession. Fascinating.
Along the way, Crutsinger omitted the fact that November's deficit came in a bit higher than the Congressional Budget Office estimated several days ago, failed to report that receipts from corporate income taxes went negative for the second month in a row (i.e., refund checks issued exceeded cash collections), and betrayed more than a little lack of understanding of how the government has chosen to account for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Newsweek writer Kathleen Deveny found a strange way to spin the current economic recession as a blessing in disguise.
In a column published Friday called "Unemployed Families Need to Man Up," Deveny visited the topic of working mothers and the difficulties of raising children while juggling a career.
Conservatives who broach this subject are usually met with disdain from the liberal media for being anti-feminist. But when mitigating a recession under a Democrat president, it was suddenly okay to discuss reasons why a career would be a burden.
Yet Deveny didn't see a troublesome schedule as an obstacle for women - rather, it was a chance to complain that mothers could handle the workload just fine if not for Archie Bunker living at home:
This is the fifth year I have looked into how the establishment media treats these two topics:
The use of "Christmas shopping season" vs. "holiday shopping season" (the AP photo at right uses "holiday" and not "shopping," even though there is a C-C-, Chr-Chr-Christmas tree in the picture).
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. The cumulative results of all three search sets during the past four years are in this graphic.
On November 24 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that references to this year's shopping season came up with just over 6% of references to the "Christmas shopping season," while the rest referred to the "holiday shopping season." That's a 9-point, roughly 60% drop from just four years ago.
Here are the results of the relevant Google News searches done late last night compared to roughly the same date in 2005 --
Each year the Business & Media Institute looks back on the year's news and selects the top 10 worst economic myths. Here is our 2009 list:
10. CBS, NY Times Support Ecuadorian Shakedown of U.S. oil company 9. Media Fail to Scrutinize Obama's Job Claims 8. Government Stimulus is the Answer to Our Economic Problems 7. No Tax Increases for the Middle Class 6. The Recession was Over ... by July. 5. Cash for Clunkers was a ‘Success' 4. Reagan vs. Obama on Jobs: Same Rate, Different Story 3. Health Care Reform will be ‘Deficit Neutral' 2. Tea Parties aren't made up of grassroots protestors; they're just ‘Astroturf.' 1. ClimateGate
10. CBS, NY Times Support Ecuadorian Shakedown of U.S. oil company.
Media myth: Chevron is responsible for abandoned oil wells across Ecuador.
A South American country is trying to squeeze $27 billion out of Chevron for environmental cleanup from discarded oil wells - all with the help of the U.S. news media.
CBS "60 Minutes" and The New York Times took the side of "eco-radicals" at the Amazon Defense Coalition who have filed suit against Chevron, even though the government of Ecuador signed off on the company's cleanup actions more than 10 years ago.
Here we go again. We've already seen how ineffective the previous $787-billion stimulus Congress and the President forced through earlier this year has been with curbing unemployment, as it has raced into double-digits over the previous months. But will there be an effort to force through another one?
"John, what would you say, I don't know, the chances of some sort of an additional jobs stimulus - however you'd like to characterize that, or whatever form it would take or price tag it might have ?" Burnett asked.
A "new consensus" has emerged on the success of the economic stimulus package, according to a New York Times headline. In touting the supposed success of the legislation, and hinting at support for another round of spending, the Times neglected to mention the widespread fraud that characterizes the administration's attempt at shoring up the economy.
As reported by P.J. Gladnick on Saturday, the Times made sure to attribute its claims to "dispassionate analysts," and asserted that the stimulus is "helping an economy in free fall a year ago to grow again and shed fewer jobs than it otherwise would." Gladnick thoroughly debunked this claim, and others, in his NB post.
In a further show of bias, the Times article makes no mention of the 76,779 jobs that were not actually "saved or created" by the package, but were added to the number touted by the administration (interactive map embedded below the fold - h/t Examiner's Freddoso, Spiering, and Hemingway). Given that this number is roughly 12 percent of the 640,000 jobs the administration claims to have "saved or created," it might merit a mention in the Times's story.
Citing a Democratic congressman who recently proposed a no whining day, on Friday’s Morning Meeting on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan asked: “...unemployment, health care, a couple of wars, Americans got plenty to be frustrated about these days...But some people say stop the whining....Is ‘shut up and deal’ the new American mantra?”
Ratigan made that question the topic of discussion for the ‘Trend or Talker’ segment near the end of 9:00AM ET hour of the show with correspondent Contessa Brewer and Financial Times U.S. managing editor Chrystia Freeland. Ratigan explained: “...the congressman, by the name of Emmanuel Cleaver, wants to declare the day before Thanksgiving complaint-free Wednesday.” He wondered: “Worthy proposition?”
Brewer replied: “Yeah, absolutely. Here you get a two-fer. No complaints on Wednesday and Thursday gives you something to be grateful for.” Freeland enthusiastically agreed with the idea: “I think the no whining day is a fabulous idea....What they say in preschools, you get what you get and don’t get upset.”
After all, AP business writers Martin Crutsinger and Daniel Wagner did give us the facts about Uncle Sam's October Monthly Treasury Statement, put them into historical context, and told us that we face $1 trillion-plus shortfalls in fiscal 2010 and 2011.
But the pair missed a couple of receipts-related items that would have hit readers right between the eyes if noted, and would have indicated just how dire the government's financial situation has become.
The first omission: Collections of corporate income taxes were negative, as the government paid out an astonishing $4.5 billion more in refunds to corporations than it collected. The second: In a month mostly unaffected by individual estimated payments (these are normally paid in April, June, September, and January), year-over-year collections of individual income taxes were down by 29%.
Here are the key paragraphs from Crutsinger's and Wagner's coverage:
On her segment of CNN Newsroom this morning, anchor Heidi Collins asked business correspondent Christine Romans about Senate action on extending yet again unemployment benefits:
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You're right. And Heidi, all of those things that you mentioned are incredibly important to your money and all of them could affect you very, very near-term here. This extension of the unemployment benefits, it would be the third.
The Senate has passed it. It goes to the House. It's expected to be voted on and passed very, very quickly here. Because, remember, your Congress member and your senator, they are being inundated in their offices with questions from people saying, wait, how am I going to survive when this check runs out? Seven thousand checks running out every week.
It would be a 14-week extension nationwide, 20 weeks of unemployment. More unemployment benefits for the states with 8.5 percent unemployment or more. And this would be paid by a two-year extension of an existing -- existing tax on employers. So this would be paid for by a tax on employers.
It would not come out of your pocket and my pocket. But it would be the third extension here, Heidi. And it's critically important. Like I said, so many people are losing their unemployment benefits right now. Some 200,000 have lost their jobless benefits just as the Senate has been negotiating this.
Laurie Kellman, call your office, check your e-mail, and tap in to your Twitter.
The Associated Press reporter didn't get the memo that recession is supposedly over, and that at a minimum you shouldn't be writing as if it will be with us for a while. She also erred in citing the weak economy as a bad thing for Democrats. The New York Times told us about a week ago that a bad economy is a good thing for Democrats who want to pass state-controlled health care and other freedom-restricting agenda items, because a bad economy increases personal insecurity. They're such pals of the little guy, you see.
Both busts against the conventional media wisdom are in Kellman's brief item from late this morning (bolds are mine):
Health care issues: Hold off for a better economy?