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:
In a dispatch today, an unbylined AP report headlined "Romney: Benghazi a 'Terrorist Attack'" seems to act as if this is some kind of revelation to the GOP nominee even though everyone except Obama administration insiders desperately trying to bring life to the corpse formerly known as the Arab Spring have been saying that for well over a week. It gets much worse than that in the report's third paragraph:
Let's see. The supposed consensus at Real Clear Politics shows Mitt Romney trailing Barack Obama by less than three points. As shown yesterday, one of the most recent five polls used in RCP's calculations from CBS and the New York Times is so cooked that it weighted registered Democrats over registered Republicans by 35%-22% -- so you can easily knock more than a point from Obama's lead for that item alone. Rasmussen has Romney up by two, and Gallup has gone from Obama +6 to Obama +1 in just a week.
So naturally, according to John Whitesides at Reuters, it's Romney's campaign which is "reeling" (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
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"?
The Daily Caller published two troubling stories by Matthew Boyle yesterday. The first, referring to email evidence, contends that senior Obama reelection campaign adviser David Axelrod has attempted "to subtly intimidate the respected polling firm when its numbers were unfavorable to the president," and that in August, "After Gallup declined to change its polling methodology, Obama’s Department of Justice hit it with an unrelated lawsuit" alleging that it has been overcharging the federal government on various contracts.
The second notes that DOJ has not yet formally served that lawsuit on Gallup, leading an unnamed "senior Gallup official" to theorize that "that Holder’s DOJ may be aware that serving the complaint before November’s election would appear politically charged." I'll note two other "little" things and excerpt relevant reports after the jump.
I really can't do much with this one beyond relaying the absurd particulars involved in PolitiFact's incredible conclusion that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made a statement which was only "Half True" about unemployment in the various states in his speech last week at the Republican National Convention.
On August 17, the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics opened its monthly Regional and State Employment and Unemployment report as follows: "Regional and state unemployment rates were generally little changed or slightly higher in July. Forty-four states recorded unemployment rate increases, two states and the District of Columbia posted rate decreases, and four states had no change ..." The Associated Press's opening sentence in its coverage of the report's contents was: "Unemployment rates rose in 44 U.S. states in July, the most states to show a monthly increase in more than three years and a reflection of weak hiring nationwide." After the jump, readers will see the awful statement Walker made in Tampa:
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).
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):
An Associated Press report by Helen O'Neill time-stamped Saturday afternoon claims that "a record number of deportations means record numbers of American children being left without a parent — despite President Barack Obama's promise that his administration would focus on removing only criminals."
Perhaps the assertion about more parents being forced to leave their kids behind is true. But the "record number of deportations" meme -- a recurring Obama administration claim frequently parroted by the press, despite Obama's other unilateral moves towards de facto amnesty -- is apparently a load of rubbish, based on a review of detailed records by the House Judiciary Committee noted by the Daily Caller's Caroline May on Saturday morning (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 an apparent attempt to set the record for the most words expended on a multi-part non-story, Politico's Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan have supplemented their useless, 1,400-word August 19 item (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) about how a one Republican congressman swam naked in Israel's Sea of Galilee with a 1,000-worder which asks a question no one cares about, and no one else is asking: "Who paid the GOP bar tab in Galilee?"
The bottom line on the first story was that the FBI investigated the trip by a Republican congressional delegation to see "whether any inappropriate behavior occurred" but has made no "formal allegations of wrongdoing." In other words, there was no reason to publish the story. Excerpts from the second story, for those who can stay awake (I'm having trouble with that), follow the jump (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):
If we're to believe a report by Heidi Przybyla at Bloomberg News on August 13, the country might be operating under bipartisan deficit-reduction framework instead of being without a budget for over three years if it weren't for Wisconsin Congressman and GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Her lead: "Representative Paul Ryan was a pivotal figure in killing the 2010 Bowles-Simpson agreement, which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney now holds out as a model for putting America’s fiscal house in order."
There are many deceptions and unsupported assertions in Przybyla's report, but before getting to some of the others, many of which relate to her inability to recognize objective truth, the two most important related to her treatment of President Obama's role in the rejection of Simpson-Bowles:
There are so many holes in Paul Wiseman's Wednesday report at the Associated Press on the weakness of the current "recovery" that it would take a term paper to cover all of them. I'll just concentrate on a repeat error Wiseman made. It is one which AP colleagues Christopher Rugaber (with Wiseman, as demonstrated here) and Martin Crutsinger (as shown here) have also committed. All three gentlemen have been preparing their reports as if "government spending" is the same thing as the government spending and investment component of the nation's economic output. It's not.
In his piece about why the Obama "recovery" (as seen here, by Warren Buffet's requirement that per capita GDP has to return to where it was before the downturn began, we don't even have the beginnings of a recovery yet) is the worst since World War II, Wiseman had the following to say on the "government spending" topic:
Friday afternoon, the Associated Press's Jonathan Fahey couldn't get four paragraphs into his report on higher gas prices nationwide without starting to fret about their impact on President Obama's re-election effort.
He also wanted readers to understand without any doubt that President Obama and the by inference his government bear absolutely no responsibility for the recent run-up to a national average of $3.67 a gallon nationwide with statewide averages in California and Illinois topping $4, and conveniently used one interviewed driver as a prop to begin making his quite transparent political point. Later in the report, he inadvertently cited a reason why the government is contributing to higher prices at the pump. I'll cite yet another among many additional government-induced factors later in the post.
A year ago, Standard & Poor's cut its rating of U.S. government debt from AAA to AA+.
Very early Monday morning, in what read more like an Obama administration press release than a wire service news report, Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press claimed that subsequent events and other agencies' decisions not to deliver similar downgrades represent a "decisive repudiation" of S&P's call. Gee, I think an element of other agencies' holdbacks had quite a bit to do with the Obama administration's almost immediate move to launch an investigation into how S&P handled the ratings of mortgage-backed securities leading up to the housing and mortgage lending mess in 2008. The others didn't want to become the Department of Justice's next targets. But of course Wiseman didn't bring up that inconvenient point. Excerpts follow:
Since Mitt Romney is supposedly responsible for the death from cancer of a woman who died in 2006, seven years after the presumptive GOP nominee left Bain Capital, it seems more than fair to talk about what has resulted from the Obama administration's blatant favoritism towards UAW members while shafting former Delphi salaried workers.
Tonight, the Associated Press's Adwatch entry by Stephen Braun actually calls out the Obama super-PAC Priorities USA, specifically saying that the assertion by Joe Soptic, the woman's widower, "that Romney bears some blame in his wife's death is not backed up factually in the ad." Fair enough, but, especially because it was in the news today, let's look at the Delphi situation.
The modern equivalent of a broken record, which used to be a common saying about someone who says the same thing over and over, is the "infinite loop" -- "a sequence of instructions in a computer program which loops (i.e., repeats) endlessly."
On Social Security, the establishment press has played a false infinite loop for decades, namely that its "trust fund" contains lots of real assets. Here is Stephen Ohlemacher's replay of the loop found in his coverage at the Associated Press on early Monday:
The wire services and other establishment press members appear to be getting more selective in what they will allow into their headlines, particularly omitting items which might hurt Dear Leader.
Take the coverage of yesterday's Employment Situation Summary from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The news was a combination of bad and mediocre (though expectations-beating): The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 8.2% to 8.3% (or from 8.217% to 8.254%, if you're Obama administration hack Alan Krueger), while the seasonally adjusted number of jobs added was 163,000. Both results are really unacceptable when there's so much not utilized and underutilized labor. Three establishment press headlines avoided mentioning the rate increase, even though it was a major element of the underlying story:
General Motors didn't have a very good second quarter, as the Associated Press's Tom Krisher duly noted on Thursday.
What Krisher didn't note, and what almost no one in the establishment press ever notes, is the fact that the company doesn't have to pay any income taxes on its U.S. profits until it uses up losses carried forward from before its 2009 bankruptcy filing accompanied by at least $50 billion in government capitalization -- something other companies emerging from bankruptcy are almost never allowed to do. Based on the company's reported North American income for the quarter of $2 billion, most of which would have been realized on U.S. business, taxpayers subsidized the company to the tune of several hundred million dollars in just three months.
Give credit to CNN Money's Annalyn Chensky for intuitively recognizing the ridiculousness of the economic projections included in the White House's Mid-Session Review released today. That especially goes for the assumption that full-year economic growth in 2012, with the first and second quarters coming in at an annualized 2.0% and 1.5%, respectively (the latter subject to revisions which probably won't be significant), will somehow still come in at 2.6%.
Chensky gets demerits, however, for understating how fast growth will really have to be during the second half of the year to get that 2.6% (bolds are mine):
Today's report on the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) during the second quarter didn't impress anyone -- except, apparently those who send out email alerts to CNN Money subscribers.
For several years, it has seemed like the primary goal of these alerts has been to create the illusion of pervasive prosperity when the economic news is even remotely tolerable, and to ignore or downplay news that is really bad -- all so that the relatively disengaged can be convinced that the economy isn't performing as poorly as it really is. The email alert received shortly after the government released its report showing that the economy grew at an annualized 1.5% rate during the second quarter arguably fits both categories:
No matter how inane or damning his comments and answers to inquiries, it appears that Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can continue to count on favorable coverage from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, aka the Administration's Protection.
The AP's Marcy Gordon, with the help of her story's headline writer, made Geither's appearance before the House Committee on Financial Services all about partisanship until near the very end. Incredibly, she also relayed a very important question committee members asked about Geithner's use of an interest rate he knew was being lowballed by British banks as the basis for determining the interest rate on Treasury bailout loans while he was still head of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve Bank -- but didn't tell readers what his answer was. Excerpts follow (bolds are mine):
While it's nice that the 2000 election cycle made a fool out of Al Gore for his outrageous claim that "I took the initiative in creating the Internet" -- which was in due course shortened by critics to a claim that he invented the Internet -- it's more than a little annoying that an accompanying myth emerged and has long persisted that the Internet was created by the government.
President Obama repeated this supposedly established wisdom during his infamous "You didn't build that" speech" on July 13 in Roanoke, Virginia: "The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet." Geez, even I know that the original purpose of the Internet had nothing to do with companies making money. But at the Wall Street Journal on Sunday evening, L. Gordon Crovitz took a deep dive into the actual history, and -- Surprise! (not) -- the government wasn't the Internet's creator, or its enabler, but was instead a barrier:
Gosh, if Apple would only send the money it has parked overseas back to the United States and pay income taxes on it, the federal government's situation would be so much better, the budget would would balance, and ... no, not really. According to Peter Svensson at the Associated Press, the company has $74 billion in cash parked overseas, meaning that it would owe federal income taxes of about $26 billion at the maximum statutory rate of 35% if it brought it all back at once. That amount would cover the average daily deficit incurred during the past three and now going on four years for about a week.
In September 2010, the Associated Press prepared an advance report on the expected surge in the Census Bureau's official poverty rate, which rose from 13.2% to a 15-year high of 14.3%. Their stated preoccupation was not with the associated pain, but with "the unfortunate timing for Obama and his party just seven weeks before important elections when Congress is at stake."
Well, this year's official poverty rate will very likely be the highest seen since the mid-1960s, and there's a presidential election coming up. What's the AP, aka the Administration's Press, to do? It looks like the strategy is to get a comprehensive report out on how bad things are in July when few are paying attention, and then to give the official report short shrift when it arrives in mid-September. Here are excerpts from Hope Yen's nearly 1,500-word writeup:
The Jurassic Press is missing much in their reporting on the $50 billion bailout of General Motors (GM). The Press is open channeling for President Barack Obama - allowing him to frame the bailout exactly as he wishes in the 2012 Presidential election.
The President is running in large part on the bailout’s $30+ billion loss, uber-failed “success.” And the Press is acting as his stenographers. An epitome of this bailout nightmare mess is the electric absurdity that is the Chevrolet Volt. The Press is at every turn covering up - rather than covering - the serial failures of President Obama’s signature vehicle.