It was the best of coverage - it was the worst of coverage.
Today, the Census Bureau reported that retail sales in March increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent. While that was the first such positive figure in four months, it was less than the 1.1 percent increase analysts expected, and did little to calm fears that the economy contracted during the first quarter of 2015.
An unbylined report at Bloomberg News and a dispatch from Josh Boak at the Associated Press had sharply differing takes on what the result meant. Longtime readers probably won't have a difficult time guessing who had the bigger set of blinders on.
On Saturday evening (published in print on Sunday), the editorial board at the New York Times had an epic meltdown over the Republican Party's allegedly shabby treatment of President Barack Obama.
Although its title claimed that the GOP had entered "A New Phase in Anti-Obama Attacks," nothing truly new seemed to prompt this rant. Its primary focus was the letter 47 GOP Senators led by Tom Cotton of Arkansas sent to Iran's leaders. But that was a month ago, on March 9. The Times's take on that letter was so embarrassing that it tried to keep curious readers from actually seeing it, forcing them to click through to two other items before deigning to expose them to its almost bland but legally and constitutionally accurate text.
On Saturday, CNN hyped actress and self-appointed "lifestyle guru" Gwyneth Paltrow's participation in the "Food Stamp Challenge." This is the fundamentally dishonest campaign which has been working for at least eight years to convince Americans that benefits provided under the federal government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are inadequate.
As usual, Paltrow has taken up the challenge to get by for a week on a drastically understated amount which does not reflect the program's real provisions. As has almost always been the case with journalists covering politicians, celebrities and others who have taken up the "challenge," CNN's Jareen Imam didn't question the correctness of the weekly amount involved:
Imagine if a Republican or conservative U.S. president told an audience — on foreign soil, no less — that he didn't properly warn Americans about how long it would take for the economy to recover from a recession. "So-and-so Admits He Lied About the Economy" would be headlined everywhere.
At the University of the West Indies in Jamaica on Thursday, President Barack Obama essentially admitted that the he knew that the economic recovery would take far longer than advertised, but chose not to tell us. There's no other way to interpret the following answer to a student's question seen in the video following the jump. But somehow, this isn't news.
A Reuters report published late Saturday evening ("Obama meets Venezuela's Maduro at time of high tensions") is astonishing for what it ignores.
The unbylined report from Panama City opens by referring to how "the United States recently placed sanctions on Venezuela." Indeed, President Barack Obama did just that in an executive order on March 9, stating that he was "declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela." But Reuters completely ignored the fact that Obama told the world this week that he didn't mean it.
It took the Associated Press barely 2-1/2 hours to bury the bad news in the Census Bureau's 10 a.m. release on February wholesale sales and inventories.
As of 12:32 Eastern Time, Martin Crutsinger's 10:21 a.m. time-stamped story was not present at the AP's Top 10 Business stories page (saved at my host for future reference), making it quite likely that the news won't get much prominence at the wire service's subscribing print, online and broadcast outlets. But the four hours-old ho-hum news that seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims remained below the 300,000 level commonly seen as potentially troublesome was still on display.
Earlier this evening, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism issued its report on Rolling Stone Magazine's November "A Rape on Campus" story. The report follows up on the magazine's request of Columbia to conduct an independent review of how the disastrously false 9,000-word story made it through to publication.
USA Today is reporting that for all the harsh criticism the piece's author and the others at the magazine received, and despite the fact that RS has now formally and fully retracted the story, no one is losing their job or suffering any other visible consequences. In fact, the magazine considers the whole affair "an isolated and unusual episode" (bolds are mine):
Chickens came home to roost yesterday at the Associated Press.
The AP, the economy's most consistent cheerleader when a Democrat is in office, has not only been ignoring and downplaying the significance of disappointing and negative reports for several months, pinning its claim that all is well on the streak of seasonally adjusted 200,000-plus job gains seen during the past 12 months. It has also been pretending that all is really well. Just a week ago, the wire service's Marin Crutsinger falsely touted how the economy's "growth spurt" since the recession ended 5-1/2 years ago, while "sluggish," has been "one of the most durable since World War II."
On Monday, as has been their habit going back at least to the Clinton administration, Investor's Business Daily's editorialists once again broke a story the establishment press likely could have reported years ago.
IBD revealed that the Obama administration "was secretly negotiating the Taliban Five's release without (Bowe) Bergdahl." IBD reasonably believes that coming up with any reason to get the five out of Guantanamo Bay was important to the administration, as it would set a precedent for releasing others from the facility, and eventually emptying and closing it against the will of the majority of Congress, the U.S. military, intelligence officials, and the American people.
The press won't roast New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for this, but it should — at a very high temperature.
Today, Mr. Self-Righteous, who in the past has suggested that anyone who is pro-life, against same-sex marriage, or for the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment as written and adjudicated should leave his state, banned all "non-essential" state travel to Indiana, home of a recently enacted religious freedom law similar to that found in roughly 19 states — make that soon to be 20, with Arkansas imminently getting on board:
Bush Derangement Syndrome is alive, well, and living in the head of Nancy A. Youssef at the Daily Beast.
In a March 26 item tagged "Fallen Hero" (?!) about the Army charging Bowe Bergdahl with "desertion and misbehaving before the enemy," the web site's Senior National Security Correspondent wrote that "the administration celebrated negotiating his release after years of failed bids by both the current and former administration." But Bergdahl walked away from his post in June 2009, five months after Barack Obama's inauguration. Youssef's report actually had worse components than that.