UPDATE, Jan. 1, 2010:This post at BizzyBlog shows that the there was recognition of likely Al Qaeda involvement in two separate press reports based on sources in a position to know on Christmas evening. Thus, the administration's delay in acknowledging that reality was actually three full days.
In their initial December 26 report ("Passengers’ Quick Action Halted Attack") on the attempted terrorist attack on Flight 253, New York Times reporters Scott Shane and Eric Lipton told readers that the "episode .... riveted the attention of President Obama on vacation in Hawaii."
In an article later that day ("Officials Point to Suspect’s Claim of Qaeda Ties in Yemen"), Lipton and Eric Schmitt reported that:
.... officials said the suspect (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab) told them he had obtained explosive chemicals and a syringe that were sewn into his underwear from a bomb expert in Yemen associated with Al Qaeda.
The authorities have not independently corroborated the Yemen connection .... But a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said on Saturday that the suspect’s account was “plausible,” and that he saw “no reason to discount it.”
Any reasonable person would say that this second report establishes "reason to believe that there is some linkage" between the suspect and Al Qaeda, and that a "riveted" president would have known that there was "some linkage" by Saturday night. That's why the following opener to a Washington Post item by Anne E. Kornblut dated yesterday is especially hard to take:
While much of the national media was focused on a Christmas Eve Senate vote to pass health care reform legislation, the Obama administration's Treasury Department was tending to other business that will have serious implications for the U.S. economy. But did anyone notice?
As Zachary Goldfarb reported for The Washington Post on Christmas Day, the Obama Treasury said it would lift the limits on what the federal government could provide in "emergency aid" to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - without seeking permission from Congress. That led CNBC CME Group floor reporter Rick Santelli to ask if anyone noticed and/or realized what was really at stake with this move during the Dec. 29 broadcast of "Squawk Box."
On Thursday, the Treasury Department issued a press release, called "Update on Status of Support for Housing Programs." Its fourth paragraph reads as follows:
At the time the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship in September 2008, Treasury established Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements (PSPAs) to ensure that each firm maintained a positive net worth. Treasury is now amending the PSPAs to allow the cap on Treasury's funding commitment under these agreements to increase as necessary to accommodate any cumulative reduction in net worth over the next three years. At the conclusion of the three year period, the remaining commitment will then be fully available to be drawn per the terms of the agreements.
Translation: No matter how badly things further deteriorate at these former government sponsored enterprises, both of which since last year in essence have become government-controlled enterprises, Uncle Sam (i.e., current and future generations of taxpayers) will cover their losses.
Here is how three different news outlets headlined this Treasury/Obama administration move:
On December 8, Susan Gustafson at MLive.com proclaimed that "GM's announcement of no more layoffs is good news after years of hemorrhaging jobs":
General Motors' announcement this morning that it plans no further layoffs in the immediate future is huge news for both the automaker and Michigan as a whole after years of steady erosion in the ranks of hourly and salaried workers.
.... the company doesn't expect the numbers of hourly workers on indefinite layoff to increase.
If there's a Ground Zero for America's foreclosure mess outside of much of California and metro Las Vegas, it's probably Cleveland, the Northeast Ohio city known in most of the rest of the state as the Mistake on the Lake.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mark Gillespie got out from behind his desk, committed some good old-fashioned journalism, and went looking for the mistakes that exacerbated the town's breathtaking home foreclosure rate. Lo and behold, he found that city government itself contributed mightily and extraordinarily negligently to the debacle. Go far enough into Gillespie's report, and you will also find an implicit admission that the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) also played a pivotal role (bold is mine):
How Cleveland aggravated its foreclosure crisis
The city of Cleveland has aggravated its vexing foreclosure problems and has lost millions in tax dollars by helping people buy homes they could not afford, a Plain Dealer investigation has found.
"In today's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer takes great pains to paint a bleak picture of health care reform as ‘monstrous,' ‘overregulated,' and rife with ‘arbitrary bureaucratic inventions,'" Pfeiffer wrote. "The columnist's argument may be cogent and well-written, but it is wholly inaccurate."
NBC’s Meredith Vieira used a liberal talking point against the Bush administration on the Today show on Tuesday. Vieira asked Inez Tenenbaum, the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Under President Bush, the Consumer Products Safety Commission was criticized for being too cozy with business- essentially, toothless. How do you assure the American public...that that’s no longer the case?”
The NBC morning anchor interviewed Commisioner Tenenbaum just after the beginning of the 7 am Eastern hour on the CPSC’s recall of 2.1 million drop-side baby cribs on November 23. Vieira tied-in the concerns of new parents about the safety of the cribs as she included the left-wing criticism of the government agency during the Bush era in her last question to the Obama appointee: “Under President Bush, the Consumer Products Safety Commission was criticized for being too cozy with business- essentially, toothless. How do you assure the American public, particularly parents out there that are worried, that that’s no longer the case?”
In the alternative universe known as Government/General Motors Land, you can:
Talk about how your financial results are going to be better than last year's and in the next breath caution that the numbers won't be comparable.
Inform the public that the financial information to be released on Monday isn't going to be prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and is going to simply skip about 3-1/2 months of activity that will apparently never be reported, even though your majority-owning government forces your publicly-held competitors and every other publicly-held company to prepare full-blown financial statements under those same GAAP rules.
Tell the world that you're a private company, even though the federal government owns a majority of your stock (in effect making you more of a public company than any other public company around), and thereby insist that you're doing the world a favor by releasing any financial information at all.
In the alternative reporting universe known as the Associated Press, you parrot these points without questioning whether they are correct, proper, or even less than fully transparent.
Taking to his Twitter account to take a swipe at flyover country, the New York-based editor of a print journalism trade publication all but stuck his tongue out at middle America while chanting "nya nya nya nya boo boo."
Tweeted Greg Mitchell of "Editor & Publisher" around 10:40 a.m. EST (h/t Dan Gainor):
New Yorkers happy to host trial of 9/11 mastermind: Unlike wimps in heartland who tremble at thought of any minor Gitmo-ite coming to town.
While Lou Dobbs has always been an independent populist with some conservative bearings on certain issues -- illegal immigration chief among them -- conservatives should heed the old Reagan maxim when it comes to the former CNNer's populist conservatism: Trust, but verify.
After all, back in December 2006, fresh after the election which saw the return of Democratic control to the House of Representatives, Dobbs voiced support for Democratic universal health care proposals on a CNN special entitled "War on the Middle Class":
[T]his country has a responsibility to all the people in this room and Americans, all but the very poor and the very rich, are the ones being hammered because there is no program for the middle-class.
Imagine if you will, that during the prior presidential administration two EPA employees put up a video on YouTube that criticized environmental and energy policies supported by Republicans in Congress and President Bush, only to be told by EPA officials that they need to take down the video.
Given the media's consternation about the Bush administration's alleged efforts to squelch proponents of the theory of manmade global warming, such a story would likely be front page news in many newspapers, including the Washington Post.
But in this instance, the administration in question is Obama's, and the EPA employees are going at the president from his left flank, arguing the so called "cap-and-trade" plan would "lock in climate degradation."
A New York Times article by Nick Bunkley on Friday targeted for print on Saturday about the status of contract talks between Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers piqued my interest in a previously neglected but important matter.
Ford and the UAW are apparently close to an agreement. In describing what Ford workers are being asked to give up, Bunkley wrote the following (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Ford executives have said the company needs more concessions to keep G.M. and Chrysler from having an advantage.
.... The deal that U.A.W. workers at Ford approved in March got rid of cost-of-living pay increases and performance bonuses through 2010 and eliminated the jobs bank program, which allows laid-off workers to continue receiving most of their pay. In addition to those concessions, G.M. and Chrysler workers agreed to work-rule changes and a provision that bars them from striking.
What? From press coverage at the time, you would have thought that unionized GM and Chrysler workers made ginormous, humungous, unprecedented sacrifices to enable their companies to get through bankruptcy and to emerge as lean, mean vehicle-making machines.
And, on Fox News Channel's Oct. 5 "Glenn Beck" program, Beck addressed that and some of the gripes he had about the media for not doing their job.
"I tell you all the time, I'm not a journalist," Beck said "I'm not. I joked that I'm a rodeo clown, but you know what - I take that back. I no longer am a rodeo clown. I am a dad, and quite frankly, I'm a little pissed off right now. You can call me names. You can make fun of me, whatever. I'm doing what I believe is right. I am doing a job as a private citizen right now."
Reviewing September's detailed sales results in the car business carried at the Wall Street Journal, three things stick out immediately:
The awful performance at General Motors -- down 45% from September 2008.
Chrysler's even worse performance -- down "only" 42% from September 2008, but a mind-boggling 61% from September 2007 (62,197 in 2009, 156,799 in 2007)
Ford's tiny decline of only 6% from a year ago, despite the end of the Cash For Clunkers program in August.
No other major maker had a year-over-year September decline that was even half of that seen at GM or Chrysler.
Yet the press, while beginning to acknowledge serious problems at the companies, both of which were first bailed out by the government and then taken through government-orchestrated, contract law-violating, UAW-favoring bankruptcies (GM discussed here, Chrysler here), still will not entertain the possibility, despite the evidence, that consumers are shunning them because of their bailed-out status and their heavy-handed tactics in bankruptcy.
What follows are excerpts from three reports that covered September's industry results.
It's not too often where both a prominent conservative and a prominent liberal would deviate from their ideological consensus on a particular issue.
However, the news of the day - Chicago being beaten out by Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games is one such instance. MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough, who identifies himself as a conservative, said he was glad President Barack Obama gave it shot in an Oct. 2 post on the Huffington Post.
Ironically, the editor of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, who is identified as a progressive, said on NBC's Oct. 2 "The Jay Leno Show" that Obama shouldn't have gone to Copenhagen - but not for the reason a lot of critics are suggesting.
Scary times ahead? Perhaps, if you take credence in what Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, says.
Paul, who had a strong grassroots following during the 2008 presidential election, explained on Glenn Beck's Sept. 30 radio program that perilous times lie ahead due to the Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy. Host Glenn Beck asked if voices on the left, including the left-wing media, were right - would there be violence and is this an effort to pin it on the conservative movement.
Beck began by asking how an Israeli strike against Iran might trigger problems with the American financial system.
As climate extremists, Democrats, and President Barack Obama (but I repeat myself) push for nonsensical cap-and-trade legislation and prosperity-killing, sovereignty-threatening treaties, at least some of the data undergirding the supposed science backing their efforts seems to no longer exist. I'm not kidding.
.... the data needed to verify the gloom-and-doom warming forecasts have disappeared.
Or so it seems. Apparently, they were either lost or purged from some discarded computer. Only a very few people know what really happened, and they aren’t talking much. And what little they are saying makes no sense.
There have been many questions about the integrity of the science behind global warming, but what Michaels describes may be the most troubling example yet cited.
CNN’s Kitty Pilgrim followed the lead of ABC News in reporting the Obama administration’s attempt to use regulatory power to suppress criticism of its health care proposal on Wednesday’s Lou Dobbs Tonight. Pilgrim noted how “[health] insurers are angry because...the government Medicaid office instructed them to cease sending what it called misleading...information about the bill to clients.”
Anchor Lou Dobbs introduced the correspondent’s report 19 minutes in the 7 pm Eastern hour: “Lawmakers and some of this country’s insurers today [are] incensed about what they see as a White House attempt to control information about possible Medicare cuts. The White House yesterday, in fact, warned insurers and health care companies they could face legal action if they spread what the White House calls misinformation about the health care bill.”
"The liberal media claim to champion free speech, but if they continue to turn a blind eye to this offense, we can only assume they approve of government censorship," Media Research Center President Brent Bozell argued in a statement released today.
Mr. Bozell was reacting to news of the federal Department of Health and Human Services placing a gag order on private health insurance companies communicating to their Medicare Advantage customers their concerns about Democratic health care reform proposals. The gag order is backed by a threat of federal prosecution.
Even so, this flagrant abuse of power by the Obama administration has been underreported in the mainstream media. The Washington Post has not printed one word about the violation, and while ABC News aired a segment on its September 22 broadcast, their rivals at the CBS "Evening News" and NBC "Nightly News" have ignored the transgression.
Mr. Bozell's full statement appears below the page break:
The progressive mindset is a curious one, as evidenced by New York Times columnist and Nobel Economics Prize recipient Paul Krugman.
Krugman appeared on MSNBC's Sept. 23 "The Rachel Maddow Show" and lamented that the Obama Administration missed the opportunity the recent financial crisis offered to fundamentally change how the American economy operates. Host Rachel Maddow asked Krugman what the Great Depression taught economists when it comes to avoiding a repeat.
"It taught us a lot about how to avoid one, which is that you really have to, have to put some constraints. I mean, it sort of roughly, banking is very useful but extremely dangerous and banks have to have all kinds of - you know, fencing put around them as a protection. They have to have some guarantees so that we don't have bank runs, so people know their money is safe. But then, we also have some regulation so that bankers don't take huge risks with other people's money on a ‘heads I win, tails you lose' basis."
This morning, co-host Don Wade of 890 WLS radio's Wade and Roma show in Chicago threw a question at ABC World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson that I suspect was on many listeners' minds:
Don: Okay, here’s my news question. A Senate bill yesterday passes, cutting off funds to this group called ACORN. Now, we got that bill passed and we have the embarrassing video of ACORN staffers giving tax advice on how to set up a brothel with 13-year-old hookers. It has everything you could want – corruption and sleazy action at tax-funded organizations and it’s got government ties. But nobody’s covering that story. Why?
Keep in mind that James O'Keefe's and Hannah Giles's first pair of videos at BigGovernment.com showing an ACORN office engaged in the activity described appeared in the early morning on September 10. That was five days ago.
But until that moment, the topic apparently wasn't on Gibson's mind. Here's Gibson's jaw-dropping answer, with additional follow-up banter (HT to Rush on the air; transcribed by Michelle Malkin, who also has audio):
If your blood pressure can stand it, you can learn a lot about how the Apparatachik Press -- er, the Associated Press -- operates as you watch a news story evolve, or I should say devolve. The wire service often reworks adequately-written stories with no new developments for no apparent reason other than to add bias and/or remove inconvenient truths.
A classic example of this occurred in the situation involving Barack Obama, Henry Louis Gates, and Cambridge, Massachusetts police in late July (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). AP reporter Nancy Benac's headline went from "Obama Rushes to Quell Racial Uproar He Helped Fire" on a Friday evening to "Obama Moves to Dampen Uproar on Comment Over Race" on a Saturday morning, even though there had been no new developments in the story. The later story's text was heavily revised, totally deleting an accurate opening paragraph about the president being "knocked off stride" and trying to "tamp down the controversy," leaving readers of that version with the impression that Obama had become the conciliator in the controversy instead of the being its fueler.
Another AP devolution took place between Thursday afternoon and early this morning. An already pretty weak story that bordered on being a PR piece about a two-month new vehicle refund offer by Government Motors -- er, General Motors -- only got worse in subsequent revisions.
Once again, one of the masters of the universe trotted out on MSNBC has discovered the cure to one of society's ills - more Obama.
Daily Voice editor and CNBC contributor Keith Boykin waved off the reservations of some parents about President Barack Obama addressing their children in the classroom. Boykin appeared on MSNBC on Sept. 3 in a segment about the classroom controversy and added his insightful commentary on the matter.
"So much of the debate about President Obama has been politicized in an effort by some to delegitimize his presidency," Boykin said. "This is clearly much ado about nothing. We're talking about the President of the United States speaking to school kids. Why wouldn't schools want this to happen? That's why our kids are so dumb today, because they don't want to have basic common sense in the classroom."
A well-known newspaper had this to say about writer Nat Hentoff upon his departure from the Villiage Voice at the end of 2008 after a 50-year run:
Across his 83 years, his three dozen books and his countless newspaper columns and magazine articles, Mr. Hentoff has championed free speech and opposed censorship of any kind, whether by liberals or conservatives. Few have more assiduously and consistently defended the right of people to express their views, no matter how objectionable.
The thing is that, agree with him or not, Nat Hentoff offers no opinion that isn’t supported by facts, diligently gathered.
Mr. Hentoff may not hear as well as he once did, or stand quite as straight. But he will not fade to silence.
If you were a reporter trying to gauge the credibility of Obama administration protests that it is really serious when it says that it will honor patient, doctor, and family treatment wishes in serious illness situations if the government takes an exponentially greater role in health care, you might look into how areas of health care already controlled by the government are dealing with these sensitive matters.
Apparently either no journalist has cared to look, or if anyone has looked, they haven't found anything they believe is worth reporting.
In today's Wall Street Journal, Jim Towey, a former director of the Bush White House's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and founder of the nonprofit Aging with Dignity, found a troubling, newsworthy, death-encouraging decision that has already been made during Barack Obama's short term in office.
It's one of the few times one can wish the reporting by NBC News was right and CNBC was wrong.
A segment on the July 21 "NBC Nightly News" pointed out some of the key points of a budget deal reached between California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and leaders of the state legislature. The deal means some service cuts - but also includes the possibility of exploration and drilling for oil off the California coast.
"California is our biggest state in terms of population and it long ago ran out of money," "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said. "They got nothing to pay the vendors they owe and now they have struck a deal for more cuts, and these are going to hurt. They're going to allow offshore drilling for the money it will bring in. The LA Times reports tens of thousands of seniors and children would lose access to health care. Prisoners will spend less time in prison. And the governor is going to sell cars and furniture and office supplies and autograph some of it, he says, to raise more money. It's an unbelievable turn of events."
Sooner or later, liberals will learn to not provoke Liz Cheney on issues of national security.
Those who watch the news for information other than the tragic death (and subsequent funeral circus) of Michael Jackson have most likely heard of the most recent round of accusations made by congressional liberals against the Central Intelligence Agency. On the July 14 “Morning Joe,” the former vice president's daughter issued a thrashing of Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, who (one would guess) did not adequately prepare to argue about the laws concerning when the CIA is required to brief Congress.
Robinson first submits the following:
EUGENE ROBINSON, Washington Post columnist: Hi, Liz, how are you? I have a question. I actually have a question for Liz in a minute, but you know, look, it's inconvenient that there is a law, there is a 1947 law that requires that Congress be briefed on significant intelligence operations or activities or anticipated significant intelligent activity, so it seems to be clear that they should have been briefed. And if the Vice President told the CIA not to brief Congress then that was wrong.
That certainly sounds correct, at least on the surface – if that’s the law, that’s the law.
If you listened to any top-of-the-hour radio newscast yesterday, you probably heard that General Motors has exited from bankruptcy, with the company promising to really, really do better this time around.
You more than likely didn't hear anything about how much government money it has taken to enable GM to survive and reemerge. That's because original story sources like the Associated Press put off such troublesome disclosures until later in their reports.
In the AP's case, even when writers Tom Krisher and Ken Thomas, assisted by three other contributors, finally got around to discussing taxpayer funding in the 25th paragraph of their 29-paragraph report, they understated the amount of government money expended. The pair also seemed to imply that creditors of the "old GM," consisting of the parts the emerging company left behind, would be made whole, which is of course far from the case.
Here are the paragraphs from the story that relate to my observations: