Most readers here aren't aware that Associated Press reporters began withholding their bylines this week in support of their union's "quality journalism proposals." Participating reporters are refusing to have their name placed on AP stories. It appears to apply to stories datelined in the U.S. and not overseas (as seen here).
It is truly a wonder that the world has gone on while AP reporters refuse to tell us who wrote the wire service's U.S. stories (/sarc).
The byline strike springs from the wire service's refusal, among other things, according to the News Media Guild, the union which represents AP newsroom personnel, to accept a "fixed-cost pension plan." The AP wants a defined-contribution plan (i.e., something similar or identical to a 401(k)).
Here are some economy, business, and political "gems" appearing at AP during the past few days which can't be traced to a specific reporter:
NPR's Scott Horsley favored Democrats over Republicans by a five-to-two margin on Thursday's Morning Edition. Horsley played sound bites or quoted from Obama administration officials or congressional liberals more often than from GOP representatives.
During his report, the correspondent highlighted congressional concerns over the safety of nuclear energy during the Tuesday hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Energy Secretary Chu and Nuclear Regulatory Chairman Gregory Jaczko were the main witnesses during the hearing. Horsley first noted that "Chu was cautious in talking about Japan's nuclear crisis and its meaning for the U.S. Damage to the Fukushima reactors seems more serious than Three Mile Island. But Chu confessed we don't really know what's happening, and the situation is unfolding hour by hour."
On Tuesday's Morning Edition, NPR's Carrie Johnson highlighted critiques of the Obama White House from the left on their promise to be "the most transparent administration in history," but downplayed questions over the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Unit's use of non-disclosure agreements with companies under investigation.
Host Renee Montagne introduced Johnson's report, noting that "in Washington, D.C., some people are calling this 'Sunshine Week.' It's a time of year when government watchdog groups evaluate the administration's commitment to openness. Two years ago, President Obama promised to run the most transparent administration in history."
You begin to get an idea of how poorly served the news-consuming public is by the Associated Press when you compare its "reporting" on Obama czar Elizabeth Warren's appearance tomorrow before the House Financial Services Committee to an information-packed editorial -- yes, an editorial -- in the Wall Street Journal this morning.
You can read all of the over 750 words in the unbylined AP report without learning that Ms. Warren and various state attorneys general are attempting to shake down the banking system for $20 billion. You would think from the wire service's selective content that it's only Republicans who have opposed and continue to oppose the broad, unchecked authority her brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will have over U.S. banking policy and practices. It ain't so.
Yesterday, Washington Post syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer performed an act of journalism that anyone in the establishment press could have done -- and didn't -- for 17 days.
Krauthammer did a masterful job of taking apart Obama White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob ("Jack") Lew's ridiculous February 21 defense of Social Security and its alleged irrelevance to the deficit in USA Today.
But he went further. He caught Lew saying the exact opposite thing 11 years ago when he was -- wait for it -- Bill Clinton's White House Office of Management and Budget Director.
Here are key excerpts from Krauthammer's column on the fundamental truths about Social Security and the fundamental fib foisted on McPaper by Jack Lew (bolds are mine):
On Monday, in a story I will link after the jump, the Associated Press reported that on March 1 the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) dropped a lawsuit it initiated last year over the school district's refusal five years earlier to cover a prescription drug the union described as "an issue of discrimination, of equal rights for all our members” (that link will also appear after the jump).
So the questions submitted for our readers to ponder are these:
1) What drug was involved?
2) How much has the district spent defending itself against the lawsuit?
Democratic Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia caused a bit of a stir last week when he said on CSPAN's Washington Journal program that, as paraphrased by Daniel Strauss at The Hill, "lawmakers are getting around the new ban on earmarks by convincing Obama administration officials to fund their pet projects."
Those who have followed Moran's less than illustrious career recall something he said in 2006 that makes his determination to make earmarks happen by any means necessary not at all unexpected.
In June of that year, Scott McAffrey at Northern Virginia's Sun Gazette reported on Moran's intentions if the Demcrats were to win a Congressional majority the following November (one example of R-rated language follows):
Is Rush Limbaugh’s fear of a state-run media coming to fruition?
Hillary Clinton spent the morning on C-Span defending the State Department’s need for funding, because she feels private media in the U.S. has fallen woefully behind the likes of Al-Jazeera, the Chinese, and Russia.
"Al Jazeera is winning. The Chinese have opened up a global English language and multi-language television network, the Russians have opened up an English language network. I've seen it in a couple of countries and it's quite instructive."
Has she watched MSNBC or CNN lately? The coupon book in the local newspaper is far more informative than the American media.
More perplexing is that Clinton seems to be blurring the line between popular media and the need to disseminate information via her State Department. Essentially, because the Republicans want to slash the State Department budget in half, efforts to spread U.S. propaganda through new media will suffer. Without money, her department cannot spread information to Arabic and Farsi language audiences. This apparently, is the fault of Republicans cutting spending, and a private American media that can no longer compete. Enter the state-run media.
Coming on the heels of an election in which the people clearly rejected the concept of government intrusion, one New York State Assemblyman has decided to introduce legislation calling for… well … more government intrusion.
Meet Michael DenDekker, Democrat from Queens, who recently revealed two measures that would require all bicycles in the state to be registered, inspected, and carry a license plate costing a minimum of $25.
It’s like your car’s license plate, but for your bike.
Two bills recently introduced in the state Assembly would require that all bikes in the state be registered each year and sport a license plate.
The first applies to personal bicycles. The license plate would cost $25 for the first year and $5 each year after.
The second bill would require a $50 license plate fee for commercial bikes. It would also require casualty insurance.
All bikes would have to pass a safety inspection -- including lamp and equipment requirements -- to get the license.
In an interview with Gothamist, DenDekker explained that the two bills were a result of constituent complaints on the difficulty of reporting cyclists who don’t obey traffic laws. He expanded upon his vision, expressing a desire to one day see cameras monitoring bike lanes, holding cyclists accountable for their actions.
Thursday, the Associated Press's Matt Gouras "reported" ("Tea party vision for Mont. raising concerns") on legislative proposals in Montana. It got the attention of Rush Limbaugh, who skewered it as only Rush can.
Gouras's opening paragraphs read like a press release from an opposition party:
With each bill, newly elected tea party lawmakers are offering Montanans a vision of the future.
Their state would be a place where officials can ignore U.S. laws, force FBI agents to get a sheriff's OK before arresting anyone, ban abortions, limit sex education in schools and create armed citizen militias.
His third paragraph uses the "some people" tactic, which more often than not is AP code for "people I found who agree with me":
It's going to be a long year for those of us who review Associated Press reports Uncle Sam's finances for evidence of bias and ignorance. Sometimes it seems that it would be easier to highlight the rare examples of fairness and balance.
Take the first sentence of Andrew Taylor's report on President Obama's 2012 budget (please; that goes for his report and the budget). It, in combination with the oh-so-predictable headline, makes you want to stop reading on in disgust (for the purposes of this post, I did endure the whole thing; bold is mine):
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Michelle Miller reported on planned closures of 2,000 U.S. Post Office locations: "...in this age of digital communications, online bill paying, and Federal Express, are physical post offices still relevant?" She seemed to answer her own question: "Folks are not going to let this go down without a fight...It's what makes their community whole."
During her report, Miller explained how the government subsidized organization had "a record deficit this year of $8.5 billion, the Postal Service loses a staggering $23 million a day and is facing a growing number of problems." Even so, she played on the emotions of viewers, interviewing an elderly New Jersey man named Harold Schutzman, who explained: "[I] got a friend there at the desk, Gary. I can't get into the paying by e-mail."
The search for ways to rehabilitate the Obama administration in the eyes of the public is seemingly a never-ending enterprise at the Associated Press.
Oh, they slip up occasionally. Late last week (covered yesterday at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in an item primarily about how Congress really, really can't stop planned stimulus spending (uh-huh), the wire service's Brett J. Blackledge let slip that President Obama's stimulus program is "politically unpopular." In noting that the government wasn't able to spend the funds as fast as intended, Blackledge also indirectly confirmed an obvious truth the President admitted to the New York Times that he needed almost two years to learn: "there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects."
So what do you do if you're "The Essential Global News Network" and need to recover? Why, you find something that appears to be working (sort of), and rename it "stimulus." Voila! See how easy that is?
According to Brett J. Blackledge at the Associated Press, when it comes to unspent stimulus money, cue the MC Hammer ("U Can't Touch This") and go away.
In a Friday "analysis" in the wire service's "Spin Meter" category (HT Sweetness & Light), Blackledge, using words which clearly communicate which side he's on, in essence tells those whose goal it is to reduce federal spending to a more sustainable level that they're going to have to go somewhere else to find money that can't be spent.
There are a couple of silver linings in Blackledge's otherwise leaden analysis. First, he admits in his very first sentence that the stimulus program is "politically unpopular." Second, he notes that the government wasn't able to spend the money as quickly as promised in the heady days of February 2009, when passage of the stimulus bill that no one had time to read was supposedly the only thing preventing economic Armageddon:
April 1984 was the U.S. economy's 19th post-recession month while Ronald Reagan was President. It was a month during which the government initially reported that the unemployment rate remained at 7.7%, while the number of jobs added was 269,000. By the time the government made all its subsequent revisions over the next few years, the final jobs-added figure was 363,000.
On May 5, 1984, in an example of what Tim Graham at NewsBusters cited on Wednesday of the press's poor economic reporting during the Reagan era, the New York Times's Robert D. Hershey Jr. (link is to Proquest Database article copy, presented for fair use and discussion purposes) did what he could to downplay the good news, highlight the bad news, and create an impression that the good times might not last long, The report doesn't have the intense negativity found in many press reports during the George W. Bush era, but there is definitely an undercurrent of surprise and disappointment that things were going so swimmingly:
Someone needs to tell the Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa and Christopher Rugaber that just because the number of unemployed people declines, it doesn't mean that they "found work."
That must be what the pair believes. Their error-riddled and suspect supposition-driven Friday afternoon report, whose title predictably focused on the unemployment-rate drop while ignoring the pathetic increase in seasonally adjusted jobs, actually made that claim (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
On Wednesday, the inarguably correct Mark Levin, aided by flashbacks to monologues earlier in the week, laid out in detail the rule of law standoff the Obama administration has created in choosing to defy Monday's federal court decision declaring Obamacare null and void and continuing its implementation as if the ruling doesn't exist.
In the process, he also ripped in to the clear establishment press double standard at work.
Choice excerpts follow (internal links added by me; bolds refer to media-related comments; the rest is important for grasping just how serious this is):
Ten days ago, on the eve of the House vote to repeal ObamaCare, Kathleen Sebelius's Department or Health and Human Services issued a fearmongering press release saying that "129 million Americans with a pre-existing condition could be denied coverage without new health reform law."
Ten days later, on a Friday afternoon (naturally), the Associated Press's Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar finally got around to skeptically evaluating HHS's claim. Way to be there at crunch time, Ricardo (/sarc).
Here are selected paragraphs from Ricardo's rendition:
In a Monday Associated Press dispatch, reporter Tom Krisher virtually celebrated the idea that Government/General Motors "may be Number 1 again," with happy talk of "dethroning" and "overtaking" Toyota.
Nowhere did Krisher mention the inconvenient fact that Toyota's revenues dwarf GM's to the point where comparing unit sales is an absurd waste of time. Specifically:
In an Associated Press report by Patrick Walters yesterday afternoon, the following two reasons were offered as to why the Philadelphia abortion "clinic" operated by Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who was arrested and charged earlier this week "with murdering seven babies and one woman who went to him for an abortion," had not been inspected since 1993:
Democratic former Governor Ed Rendell, who left office on Tuesday after eight years as Keystone State chief executive, claimed that officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), in the AP's words, "didn't think its authority extended to abortion clinics."
The grand jury indictment of Dr. Gosnell says that DOH "decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all."
According to the indictment handed down against Gosnell, the hard-to-handle first explanation (If DOH doesn't have jurisdiction, who does? No one?) is a subset of the second, i.e., the opinion on lack of jurisdiction was part of a longer-term effort to come up with reasons to avoid inspections. Walters never told readers that, and in doing so largely let Rendell off the hook for the fact that almost half of 17-years involved -- the longest time period of any Keystone State governor contemporaneous with the non-inspection regime of non-inspection occurred on his watch (the others: Bob Casey, prolife Democrat, somewhere between 13 months and two years; Tom Ridge, prochoice Republican, 6-3/4 years; Mark Schweiker, prolife Republican, 15 months). Walters also saved the grand jury's overall "political reasons" assessment for Paragraphs 9-12 after giving Rendell's explanation paragraphs 1-4.
Bob Casey? Yes, though the grand jury for some reason didn't recognize it.
On Friday, a Reuters report at CNBC noted the Federal Reserve's journey into the accounting and reporting twilight zone earlier this month. In doing so, it conducted a clinic in how to make unreality look acceptable and make a dangerous situation appear palatable.
In the el bizzarro world at Reuters and those the wire service interviewed for its article:
A change in how one accounts for things can magically make a functionally insolvent entity solvent again.
Such a change can also mean that an entity which has run out of cash and has to beg for funds no longer has to.
Calling a genuine erosion of capital something other than an erosion of capital means that it's no longer an erosion of capital.
Gee, why didn't they just do this at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Lehman Brothers 2-1/2 years ago and let things go on as usual?
Here's most of the Reuters report (bolds supporting the bullet points above are mine):
I was reading Associated Press reporter Sam Hananel's coverage ("Unions see sharp membership declines again") of Uncle Sam's latest report on union membership, and I came to this paragraph about what happened with private-sector union representation in 2010:
Union membership in the private sector fell from 7.2 percent to 6.9 percent, a low point not seen since the infancy of the labor movement in the 1930s. The steepest decline was seen in the construction industry, where unemployment remains around 20 percent.
Naturally, I expected to see Hananel's reportage next address what happened in the public sector. As you'll see, readers only got half of what they should have been told:
Man, it is getting really deep around here -- and no, I'm not talking about the snow, though there is no shortage of it here in Southwestern Ohio.
What's really deep is the claim by current Government/General Motors Chairman and CEO Daniel Akerson that because of the company's government-engineered, unsecured bondholder-shortchanging trip through bankruptcy, "we lost roughly a year in terms of development."
The Associated Press's Tom Krisher apparently doesn't mind traipsing around in thigh-high boots while he's covering the Detroit Auto Show, as he displayed no skepticism whatsoever at the utter ridiculousness of Akerson's assertion, drily observing near the end of his report that "New products from GM were noticeably absent from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year."
AP reporters Calvin Woodward and Andrew Taylor answered the bell and came out swinging at the Republican House within hours after John Boehner was sworn in as Speaker, accusing the GOP of supposedly breaking a number of core promises.
As usual when the wire service covers Republicans, there's no shortage of inconsistency bordering on hypocrisy coming from AP's alleged journalists.
Here are selected paragraphs from this morning's report ("PROMISES, PROMISES: GOP drops some out of the gate"):
In his report on the escalating dispute between the State of Texas and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one thing you cannot accuse Ramit Plushnick-Masti of the Associated Press of being is a master of understatement. He claims that "Both sides and conservation groups agree the battle has put the health of Texas residents and the environment at risk."
Really? The only problem is that the AP reporter never found anyone who is currently on the Texas side of the dispute who is saying anything remotely resembling that.
Here are the opening paragraphs of Plushnick-Masti's prose, followed by a much later paragraph representing the closest the writer gets to naming someone on the Texas side to worry about the alleged "risk" (bold is mine):
From the New York Times on Thursday, in an item put together with the help of a half-dozen Times reporters ("Inaction and Delays by New York as Storm Bore Down"; bold is mine):
... Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, said the problems late Sunday (during the initial stages of the Northeast's post-Christmas snowstorm -- Ed.) underscored how the city could not rely on outside contractors to help with snow removal and other jobs in such storms, particularly during a holiday weekend.
“You can never count on the privates, because they don’t have to show up,” he said. “What obligation do they have? The mayor can’t order them out. The commissioner can’t order them out.”
That's quite an interesting assertion, given the following item carried in the New York Post today:
The dictionary says that a rumor is:
- a story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts.
- gossip; hearsay
The dictionaries in use at the offices of the New York Times must include the following backup definition: "Any set of facts and/or allegations reported by the New York Post."
After yesterday's blockbuster report ("Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest") Reporters at the Post piled on today, so to speak, with additional news relating to the snow removal slowdown in which New York City's unionized sanitation workers allegedly engaged:
Sanitation workers targeted specific neighborhoods
Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest
Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.
Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.
In response to this outrage, the New York Times has swung into frantic action -- by scolding Gotham residents for expecting perfection, portraying the mayor as getting a handle on things, and criticizing private snow removal contractors who didn't drop everything when a late-to-the-problem city called them for help. Meanwhile the Times will only acknowledge that the city will "look into" the slowdown allegations.