Government Agencies

By Tom Blumer | May 21, 2014 | 9:27 AM EDT

During the Obama administration, the Associated Press has annually gone through the motions of noting its lack of transparency in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. In March, its coverage of 2013 FOIA results led with the following sentence: "The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data." Then everyone went back to work defending the administration against the information seekers.

Part of that defense includes mischaracterizing the legal hurdles those who file FOIA requests must overcome to get the administration to do what it is legally required to do right off the bat. Three sentences from recent coverage of Judicial Watch's attempts to pry information out of the State Department will make my point.

By Tom Blumer | May 20, 2014 | 3:09 PM EDT

If there was ever drop-dead obvious proof that it's more than fair to call the Associated Press the Administration's Press, it's in the opening phrase of the first sentence of the wire service's Monday morning report on the House's select committee on Benghazi: "Republicans hoping to ride their Benghazi investigation to a November election sweep ..." As far as reporters Donna Cassata and Bradley Klapper are concerned, there can't possibly be any other motivation for holding the hearings.

Cassata and Klapper's agenda-driven drivel makes several trips into the land of "Republicans say," when the correct words should be: "The facts are." More crucially, Klapper completely ignored two reports he filed on October 10, 2012 which showed that the State Department "never believed" that the murder of Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in the Benghazi attack was inspired by an anti-Muslim video (bolds numbered tags are mine throughout this post):

By Jeffrey Meyer | May 19, 2014 | 8:05 PM EDT

Documents obtained by the Washington Times revealed that the Bush Administration warned the Obama Administration about problems within the Veterans Administration as early as 2008, yet both the ABC and NBC evening news broadcasts ignored the story on Monday, May 19. 

Of the big three networks, only the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley covered the new revelations in the VA scandal. CBS News host Scott Pelley noted that “The Bush White House was so concerned about this back in 2008 that it warned the incoming Obama Administration.” [See video below.]

By Seton Motley | May 19, 2014 | 8:44 AM EDT

What at times is worse than the Jurassic Press not covering something?  The Jurassic Press covering something.

The all-encompassing government-Internet-power-grab that is Network Neutrality rarely gets outside-the-Tech-World media attention.  But Thursday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in Democrat Party-line fashion to begin its process of imposing it.  This was a big enough deal that it garnered over-the-weekend Big Media coverage from ABC (with a Bloomberg assist) and PBS (with a Washington Post assist). 

By Tom Blumer | May 18, 2014 | 12:05 AM EDT

A search at 11:00 p.m. ET tonight at the Associated Press's national web site on "Serco," the company with a five-year, $1.25 billion contract to process paper Obamacare enrollment applications, returned no results. That's absolutely pathetic, given that St. Louis TV station KMOV, based on multiple accounts from several current and former employees and contractors, has reported that the company has well over 1,000 people doing almost nothing all day simply because there are very few paper applications to process. KMOV, which carried five consecutive reports this week (here, here, here, here, and here), even noted in its later segments that its work had drawn national attention.

What's worse than AP not covering the story nationally? How about the wire service treating it as a local and regional story, even though Serco and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are wasting roughly $20 million per month of U.S. taxpayers' money, and even though calls for investigation have come from U.S. senators in at least two states? It would have been just as absurd if AP had treated bankrupt Solyndra, which failed to repay an Energy Department loan of over $500 million several years ago, as a California-only story because that's where its plant was. Excerpts from the AP's story, including a "This story is boring, so don't read it" headline, follow the jump (bolds are mine):

By Tom Blumer | May 14, 2014 | 10:39 AM EDT

The government is paying private contractor Serco $1.2 billion over five years — and likely more, as will be seen later — to process paper Obamacare applications. In turn, according to a report by television station KMOV, Serco has hired and continues to pay a reported 1,800 workers who have virtually no work to do.

Massive waste like this should develop into a national story and create a journalistic swarm. If it does, it will be unusual, because the press has been avoiding stories which make President Barack Obama's "signature accomplishment" of state-controlled health care look bad like the plague. We'll see if it's different this time. The KMOV report follows the jump (HT Gateway Pundit's Progressives Today blog):

By Tom Blumer | May 14, 2014 | 12:20 AM EDT

According to a Government Accountability Office report released in March but inexplicably only getting attention just now, the pain resulting from last year's sequestration "cuts," which were mostly reductions in the growth of spending in comparison to the previous year, bore no resemblance to the Armageddon-like warnings which preceded their imposition. Only one federal employee was laid off. You read that right — one. Only seven agencies out of 22 furloughed any employees, and they were ultimately given $2 billion in back pay.

What the results exposed by the GAO demonstrate, in addition to the fact that the government had plenty of places to cut and funds to access to keep its operations going without meaningfully affecting the federal workforce, is either that almost nobody in the establishment press cared about what the GAO had to say, or that if they did, they didn't believe that they should tell the nation that the Obama administration's scare tactics had no basis. Excerpts from one of the establishment press reports I found via CBS News's Stephanie Condon predictably turned the whole thing into a "Republicans attack" exercise:

By Tom Blumer | May 12, 2014 | 9:30 PM EDT

Early this morning, award-winning author and bioethicist Wesley Smith posted at National Review on a Sunday Medical Futility blog entry. That entry previewed a presentation scheduled to occur on morning of Sunday, May 18, the third day of the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego.

The topic: "Unilateral Do-Not-Attempt Resuscitation Orders In A Large Academic Hospital." These are situations where "clinicians withhold advanced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of cardiopulmonary arrest despite objections of patients or their surrogates." The presenters indicate that "The ethics committee at Massachusetts General Hospital has had a unilateral DNR policy since 2006." Patients allowed to die against their or their surrogates' will is news, right? Let's see if anyone in the press cares. (So far: No.) A full description of the presentation, relevant background, and Smith's reaction follow the jump.

By Tom Blumer | May 12, 2014 | 4:59 PM EDT

The Associated Press's unbylined 2:25 p.m. report on the government's April Monthly Treasury Statement contained an unhealthy dose of the historical revisionism we've come to expect from the outfit which really should be called in the Administration's Press.

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):

By Tom Blumer | May 12, 2014 | 2:44 PM EDT

In what many may see as a "pigs fly" moment, actor Richard Dreyfuss, long known for his involvement in leftist causes up to and including efforts to impeach George W. Bush, appeared on Mike Huckabee's weekend Fox News program to promote the importance of U.S. citizens knowing "our constitution or our history."

He went further, noting that "the constitution is the most single greatest step toward humans improving civilization since the beginning of man's sojourn on earth." Those aren't exactly the typical messages we  see delivered by the Hollywood or media elites these days. Instead, those groups seem to be doing all they can to ignore very significant encroachments on our fundamental freedoms originating in Washington. [See video below.]

By Tom Blumer | May 11, 2014 | 10:33 AM EDT

The estimated cost of the initial segment of California's bullet train, Golden State Governor Jerry Brown's pet project, has (excuse the pun) just shot up from $6.19 billion to $7.13 billion. If this is the only overrun encountered in this opening phase, which would be atypical, and if the California High Speed Rail Authority has similar experiences during the remainder of the project, assuming it's ever completed, its cost will rise from a currently estimated $68 billion to about $78 billion.

Obviously a big cost overrun is news. But normally, evidence of an attempted government coverup of such an overrun is even bigger news. But not at the Los Angeles Times. The paper's Ralph Vartabedian kept it out of his headline and waited until his story's ninth paragraph to note it. Even then, his description was needlessly vague. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):

By Tom Blumer | May 8, 2014 | 2:07 PM EDT

Once again, as it did a month ago in two separate stories, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, left the name of Lois Lerner, the former IRS official who ran its section on tax-exempt organizations, out of its headline and opening paragraph. This time, for good measure, AP reporter Stephen Ohlemacher didn't reveal Lerner's name until Paragraph 3.

Before getting to Ohlemacher's journalistic malpractice, let's take a look at the how the Politico handled the same story of Congress holding Ms. Lerner in contempt yesterday, and at one example of how the AP itself covered the story of another controversial figure's anticipated congressional appearance in the 1980s.