Government Agencies

By Tom Blumer | January 29, 2014 | 9:45 PM EST

In his Tuesday night State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama made the following pledge: "In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour – because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty."

One would have every reason to believe from Obama's statement that the change will take effect quickly once the EO is issued — but it won't. Additionally, one would have every reason to believe that when it does take effect, it will increase the pay of anyone currently employed on federal contract work at a pay rate of under $10.10 per hour — but it won't do that either. Somehow, those "little" problems escaped "fact checkers" Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn at the Politico, who, while they did catch other problems with the President's statement, swallowed a clearly false claim about its long-term impact:

By Tom Blumer | January 29, 2014 | 11:00 AM EST

Though this is a local story, I believe it deserves wider attention. That's because it likely reflects an attitude frequently found in local media around the nation.

A January 21 story at the Cincinnati Enquirer worried that fiscally conservative candidates who have begun winning local school board elections "may be philosophically opposed to the way public schools have been traditionally operated and funded" – as if that's automatically a bad thing. Here's some context the Enquirer's Michael D. Clark "somehow" forgot to include: "40% of Ohioans need remedial math or English in college." Gee, maybe "the way public schools have been traditionally operated and funded" isn't working. Clark also let a former local school board president engage in an unhinged rant about "those that have a goal to destroy public education." Excerpts follow the jump (a related video called "Radical School Boards" — how objective — is here; bolds are mine):

By Tom Blumer | January 27, 2014 | 4:43 PM EST

We have a new word in the seemingly never-ending saga of "quirks," "oddities" and other sanitizing language the press is using when it identifies serious problems with Obamacare and Medicaid.

The word is "tricky." In describing a bureuacratic nightmare which is leaving some children without insurance (they aren't allowed onto their parents' Obamacare plan, but they also aren't eligible for Medicaid, so they have no coverage anywhere), the Associated Press headlined the situation as follows: "HEALTH LAW TRICKY FOR PARENTS OF MEDICAID KIDS." Those who go to the same article at the DC cbslocal.com web site will at least begin to get an idea of what's really going on thanks to their replacement headline: "Many Children Unable To Be Included In Parents’ Obamacare Family Plans." Content excerpts from Holly Ramer's otherwise fine report, including an unbelievable response from government officials — scratch that, it was unbelievable until Obamacare came along; but now anything's possible — follow the jump (HT to frequent commenter Gary Hall; bolds are mine):

By Tom Blumer | January 26, 2014 | 11:56 PM EST

When it comes to reporting on aspects of Obamacare, the press is really good at pretending to speculate about outcomes which have already happened in the real world, and at contradicting Obama administration assertions without telling readers that's what they've just done.

Case in point: Last Tuesday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Carla K. Johnson and Tom Murphy told readers that Obamacare "could touch ... people who have insurance through work," and that "The law may prompt some companies to drop coverage for their part-time workers" and to "start excluding spouses." The law has already "prompted" all of these things. Excerpts follow the jump.

By Tom Blumer | January 24, 2014 | 11:49 PM EST

On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a one-paragraph order in Little Sisters of the Poor et al v. Sebeluis et al. It told the Sisters that for the case to continue with no enforcement of the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, they need only to inform the government in writing "that they are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services." That's easy, because that's what they are, and that's their position.

As a result, the government has been "enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition." In other words, the Sisters will get their way until the case is decided. After the jump, I'll present a bit of the sane coverage by the Washington Post's Robert Barnes, followed by portions of the reality-avoiding writeup of Jesse Holland found at the Associated Press.

By Tom Blumer | January 19, 2014 | 10:04 PM EST

Much will be written, and should be, about President Barack Obama's whining that racism partially explains the year-long plunge in his popularity since his reelection in 2012. What's also worth noting about the ponderous and painfully long (18 web pages) January 27 writeup in The New Yorker ("Going the Distance; On and off the road with Barack Obama") is David Remnick's apparent obsessions with rewriting history and recasting reality.

But first, here's the paragraph where Obama, apparently feeling that the "it's Bush's fault I inherited all these messes" card may finally have worn itself out, goes for the race card (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

By Tom Blumer | January 19, 2014 | 4:43 PM EST

On Thursday, Stephanie Condon at CBS News reported ("Security chief: HealthCare.gov has passed security testing") that Teresa Fryer, who had recommended against allowing HealthCare.gov going live before its October launch but was overruled, "told Congress ... that the Obamacare website passed security testing in December, and she would recommend that its official Authority to Operate (ATO) be extended when the current ATO expires in March."

On Friday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, in an otherwise keister-covering dispatch apparently designed to show that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was really, really unaware of the web site's prelaunch security problems, claimed without qualification that "There have been no successful attacks on the site" — even though by law the government "need never notify customers that their personal information has been hacked or possibly compromised."

By Tom Blumer | January 17, 2014 | 7:36 AM EST

It's hard to imagine how the Politico's Kyle Cheney could have written up his Thursday story about the government's dissatisfaction with soon to be (but not yet) former prime HealthCare.gov contractor CGI with a straight face. But it appears that he did.

The opening sentence of Cheney's report is an absolute howler. When you read it after the jump, keep in mind that the firm worked on HealthCare.gov for well over a year before its October 1 debut, and that it was obvious to everyone within hours of its launch that the web site's construction had been horribly botched. So guess when the government wants us to believe it finally figured out that CGI wasn't up to its assigned tasks?

By Tom Blumer | January 14, 2014 | 12:45 PM EST

Let's see. We know, to name just a few of many impositions, that much of the enrollee information that HealthCare.gov and other exchanges have communicated to insurers has been erroneous, that insurers have had to deal with signing up hundreds of thousands of policyholders they originally cancelled, that deadlines for premium payments have been serially revised, and that there is no computerized subsidy payment system in place.

Yet Chad Terhune at the Los Angeles Times is irresponsibly steering gullible readers into believing that insurers are responsible for the Obamacare-related chaos and poor customer service, when it's a virtual miracle that anyone is being served at all (HT Patterico; bolds and numbered tags are mine):

By Tom Blumer | January 11, 2014 | 6:46 PM EST

Bullying by staffers of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has denied knowledge of their actions when they were taken, is a national news obsession. Bullying by staffers of Colorado Senator Mark Udall — which the Senator has acknowledged and is defending — is barely a blip.

The story, first reported in the Colorado blogosphere at Complete Colorado, is that Udall staffers "worked assiduously to revise press accounts that 249,000 Coloradans received health care cancellation notices" by pressuring the state's Department of Insurance to change the definition of "cancellation." There is no dispute that the cancellations as normal people understand the word occurred (links are in original; bolds are mine):

By Tom Blumer | January 9, 2014 | 1:55 PM EST

In the competition for most obvious Obama administration apparatchik at the Los Angeles Times (i.e., the biggest tool in the toolbox), Doyle McManus has to be considered a front-runner.

As I noted on Tuesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), McManus, in a Sunday column, contended that "President Obama has run into his share of controversies, but none that quite reached scandalhood." He even petulantly asked, "Does anyone even remember the IRS flap?" McManus was apparently so unconcerned about being seen as inconsistent that he didn't bother telling readers that he held exactly opposite positions on at least two Obama administration "scandals" — that's what he called them – just eight months ago (HT to frequent commenter Gary Hall).

By Tom Blumer | January 8, 2014 | 12:35 AM EST

I kept looking for any sign that Ta-Nehisi Coates, described as "a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues," was kidding in his Monday afternoon column about Melissa Harris-Perry when he called her "The Smartest Nerd in the Room." He wasn't.

When last seen here at NewsBusters, Coates was pretending that the wealth gap between blacks and whites has consistently widened during the past 20 years, when the reality is that almost all of the widening has occurred during the past five years for which data is available. That delusion is nothing compared to his assessment of Harris-Perry, excerpted after the jump (bold is mine):