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:
At several points in 2010 (just one example: at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog; graphic), I pointed out that despite the federal government's continued insistence that its budget deficit for fiscal 2010 was on track to come in lower than fiscal 2009, the deficit based on real spending would be, and turned out to be, higher in fiscal 2010. That's important to know, as clever year-crossing accounting entries can't change the fact that Uncle Sam's financial situation continues to worsen at an accelerating rate. Don't expect the establishment press to acknowledge this; the illusion of improvement is important to getting their propped-up president another four years.
Similarly, it may be futile to expect that establishment media outlets, especially the Associated Press, will ever report that 2010 was the worst yearby far in new home construction since World War II. That this is indeed the case was shown last month (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). This post will use December 2010 data, most of which is now in, to add an exclamation point.
Yesterday, the AP's Winston Smith-like headline writers tried to pass off 2010 as bad, but not as bad as 2009. As is the case with the government's annual budget deficit, the AP's persistent prevarication in the face of drop-dead obvious facts is an attempt to make readers, listeners and viewers believe that as bad as things are, they're at least improving (with implication, of course, that our poor, put-upon president is making progress cleaning up what was supposedly George Bush's mess). Things are not getting better, and Martin Crutsinger's narrative in the related article stops just short of saying so.
NBC's failure to cover the Democratic congressman who compared Republicans to Nazis on the House floor trickled down to MSNBC yesterday, as anchor Lawrence O'Donnell neglected the story in favor of smearing House Speaker John Boehner and syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh.
After spending more than six minutes railing against House Republicans for repealing Obama's health care overhaul in a segment dubbed "Repeal & Misplaced," O'Donnell, a self-described socialist, omitted Rep. Steve Cohen's (D-Tenn.) remarks likening Republicans to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
At the top of his prime time program, O'Donnell took a partisan pot shot at Boehner (R-Ohio) for skipping the lavish state dinner for Chinese President Hu to fulfill his campaign promise to repeal the unpopular health care law.
"My comprehension of the English language can't adequately describe the barbaric nature of Dr. [Kermit] Gosnell."
That's how a horrified District Attorney Seth Williams (D) described the abortionist arrested yesterday for murdering newborn babies in his squalid Philadelphia clinic. It appears Gosnell's clinic had been ignored by medical regulators for years as the abortionist performed illegal late-term abortions as well as killed newborn babies by snipping their spinal cords with scissors.
As my colleague Brad Wilmouth noted, CBS "Evening News" ran a story by correspondent Elaine Quijano on the arrest and grand jury investigation into Gosnell's clinic last night. Yet this morning, neither CBS's "Early Show" nor its higher-rated competitors ABC's "Good Morning America" or NBC's "Today" aired so much as an anchor briefing on their January 20 editions.
Producers for network early morning show newscasts apparently weren't as squeamish. ABC's "World News Now" ran a story shortly after 3 a.m. EST and CBS "Morning News" aired the Quijano report shortly after 4 a.m.
The folks in the establishment press are looking for any sign of upward movement in the housing market, especially in new home construction, that they can portray positively as the beginning of a general recovery.
That desperate search explains the content of the following e-mail alert from CNN which arrived in my inbox this morning:
Carrying his sermonizing from his MSNBC morning show to Politico, Joe Scarborough railed against inflammatory political rhetoric in his latest Politico column – but hit conservative talk while ignoring leftist vitriol.
Calling them out by name, as he did recently on his show "Morning Joe," Scarborough pleaded with conservatives that if they can't be civil out of righteousness, they could at least practice civility for the sake of the Republican Party. "It's time to grow up," he lectured the Right, specifically pundits Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.
Of course, Scarborough made no criticism whatsoever of inflammatory rhetoric from the Left – such as his MSNBC colleague Ed Schultz, who in 2009 joked about ripping Dick Cheney's heart out and playing political football with it, nor from vicious left-wing dilettante Randi Rhodes, nor from Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida who called his 2010 Republican opponent "Taliban Dan."
Especially on Martin Luther King Day, it seems worth asking whether or not the assassinated civil rights leaders would have cared more about:
Whether a talk radio host told his audience, in reference to the No Child Left Behind Act causing many school districts, including the Toledo Public Schools (TPS), to believe they must "teach to the test" to avoid serious sanctions: "teaching little monkeys to peel bananas and so on and then doing it correctly on cue, does not mean that they’ve learned everything except a funny parlor trick."
The fact that TPS is rated dead-last in its metro area, and failed to meet state test-result requirements in 21 of 24 testing categories in the 2009-2010 academic year. The worst examples: In the eighth grade, only 39.0% and 34.3% of TPS students tested as proficient in math and science, respectively. According to Toledo-area blogger and sometime WSPD host Maggie Thurber, the District is also "facing a $38 million deficit and ... 58% of voters said no to their last levy request."
I think it's safe to say that King would have preferred that attention stay focused on dealing with Toledo's schools, and for that matter Ohio's schools in general, as according to the just referenced Ohio Department of Education (ODE) report card, TPS actually outperformed (actually, "less underperformed") "similar districts" in the Buckeye State in 15 of those 24 categories.
But that must not be how the Toledo Blade sees it. The far left Blade, which in distant-past editorials regaled readers with its indispensable importance as a Glass City civic institution and has been in a figurative war with local talk station WSPD for years, clearly thought it saw an opening when host Brian Wilson said the following on January 7:
Yesterday (covered here at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in his report on the arrest of Eric Fuller at an ABC "This Week" taping in Tucson, Arizona, the Associated Press's Bob Christie either failed to perform a basic web search that would have revealed Fuller's Friday "Democracy Now!" rant, or failed to report what he found.
This evening's AP report from Christie and Amanda Lee Myers at least recognizes Fuller's appearance on the far-left program. But that acknowledgment appears at Paragraph 14 of a report that is primarily about Gabrielle Giffords's recovery (headlined "Rep. Gabrielle Giffords condition improves"), instead of in a different AP dispatch this evening ("With shock subsiding, pain sets in for AZ victims") where addressing Fuller's outburst would have made more sense (what would have made the most sense is a separate report on Fuller alone).
The submission by Christie and Myers also fails to go into much of the substance of Fuller's "Democracy Now!" appearance. Readers get the impression that Fuller was fulminating against conservatives in general, when in fact he called out several by name -- including, bizarrely, new House Majority Leader John Boehner.
Here's the opening paragraph of the Associated Press's 8:16 p.m. ET report on the arrest of Eric Fuller:
One of the Arizona shooting victims was arrested Saturday and then taken for a psychiatric evaluation after authorities said he took a picture of a tea party leader at televised town hall meeting and yelled: "you're dead."
The rest of Bob Christie's dispatch reflects either a failure by "The Essential Global News Network" to do a simple Google search on the guy, or, if such a search was attempted, a failure to report what was found.
It's not too difficult to determine where the sympathy of the Associated Press's Christopher Wills resides in the aftermath of the Democrat-controlled legislature's passage in Illinois of steep, "temporary" four-year income and corporate tax increases.
Wills cited neighboring states as "gleefully plot(ting)" to take business away from Illinois, claimed that the Illinois move "resolve(d)" its budget crisis (that remains to be seen), and asserted that "economic experts scoffed" at the idea that significant out-of-state business migration might occur. Oh, and he found one business threatening to leave not Illinois, but Wisconsin, because the Badger State's governor wouldn't accept deficit-generating light-rail money from Uncle Sam.
Here are the relevant paragraphs from Wills's report ("Neighboring states gleeful over Ill. tax increase"; bolds are mine):
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."
We all lose an element of freedom when security considerations distance public officials from the people. Therefore, it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.
Here's Kanjorski, when he was still a Congressman, discussing Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott last year (HT Mark Hemingway at the Washington Examiner):
Managing Editor's Note: Media Research Center President Brent Bozell issued the following statement after a thorough, two-day review of how the media have covered the tragic shooting in Arizona.
Implicating a conservative tie to this heinous act of violence or to Jared Lee Loughner, who is no conservative, is nothing short of a naked campaign to criminalize conservative thought.
Sadly, those who point their finger are at the nexus of hypocrisy. Take the unidentified “veteran Democratic strategist” who told Politico that, ‘they need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers … Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.’
"Never let the facts get in the way of a good story" must be the motto at Reuters, or at least of the wire service's Richard Cowan, three other contributors, and Editor Jackie Frank.
Cowan's late Sunday afternoon dispatch (HT to an e-mailer) is caricature-driven collection of cliches, half-truth, outright myths, and totally predictable oversights. There's the racial slurs before the heath care vote fabrication. There's an attempt to declare Sarah Palin unfit for the presidency.
And of course, there's the deliberately avoided recall of rhetoric from President Obama (here and here, for warm-ups) that could certainly be interpreted by unstable people as a call to violence, as well as total omission of the left's anger just days ago over Gabrielle Giffords's refusal to back Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader and the leftist inclinations of deeply troubled accused murderer Jared Lee Loughner.
But that stuff's not important when there are disliked right-wingers to pile onto while the piling-on opportunity is there:
Okay, who slipped truth serum into Evan Thomas's coffee?
On Friday, Newsweek's "Editor at Large" (according to his bio here) appeared on "Inside Washington" (link to entire show is here; transcript not yet available). After being cued up with a softball from host Gordon Peterson about how supposedly great Friday's news about the drop in the national unemployment rate was (uh, not exactly, Gordon), Thomas segued into a somewhat surprising comment about how ObamaCare's implementation is going as it meets the real world. In a word (Thomas's), it's a disaster (HT Daily Caller via Instapundit):
Capitalizing on the shooting in Tucson this afternoon, CBS furthered the lunatic left rhetoric that Sarah Palin was somehow responsible for this heinous crime. The theory being that the shooter was inspired by Palin’s midterm election map, which featured Gabrielle Giffords as a potential target.
“…critics of Sarah Palin have already drawn a link between the shooting and the fact that the former Alaska governor put Giffords on a "target list" of lawmakers Palin wanted to see unseated in the midterm elections.”
It’s a little concerning that CBS would fall for such a disgusting attempt to point the finger at Sarah Palin, a theory being perpetrated by liberal bloggers. But more concerning are the critics being cited in the article – commenters on Palin’s Facebook page. Impressive bit of journalism.
The first comment reads:
"What a hypocrite you are. You targeted this woman - literally with a target on her district - one of your freaky Fox followers hunted her down - and now you try to distance yourself from blame."
The irresponsible propagandists posing as journalists at the Associated Press are going to a frequently visited well tonight -- the one where any violence committed against a Democrat or liberal must somehow and in some way be due to a climate of hostility created solely by conservatives, Republicans, and more recently, Tea Party activists.
Never mind that the person who allegedly shot Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and murdered several others, Jared Loughner, is reportedly a marijuana-using loner who lists the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf as among his favorite books, or that the most recent items which could bee seen as potential incitements to violence against Giffords have come from the left, in response to her refusal to back Nancy Pelosi for Minority Leader in the House just days ago (roll call vote here).
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:
A brief January 1 item from the Associated Press's Barry Massey on the inauguration of Susana Martinez ("Martinez becomes NM gov as new year starts") began as follows:
Republican Susana Martinez has claimed her place in history as New Mexico's first female governor, taking office with the start of the new year.
If it weren't for the "place in history" part, I might have blown right by it without hesitation. But speaking of a "place in history," especially at a wire service that sometimes seems overly obsessed with race and racial milestones, it's more than a little odd that the AP dispatch failed to note what the AP's Jesse Washington reported on Election Night in November:
Minorities ride GOP wave to groundbreaking wins The Republican wave produced groundbreaking results for minority candidates, from Latina and Indian-American governors to a pair of black congressmen from the Deep South.
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.
When the legislators and good-government people who drafted the law requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit and render an opinion on the financial statements of the federal government as a whole and the major departments within it, they must have known that early-year results would not be very pleasant. But I also suspect that they thought the shame of being exposed as having unauditable records would be lead to constructive action and improvement.
Maybe on the margins, but not on the whole, as this GAO press release addressing its report on Uncle Sam's financial statements last week tells us:
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) cannot render an opinion on the 2010 consolidated financial statements of the federal government, because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations.
In its reports about the U.S. homebuilding industry and new home sales, the Associated Press has gotten lazy and/or deliberately deceptive. In doing so, it is giving readers, listeners and viewers at its subscribing outlets a completely incorrect impression that the industry and market are getting off the mat after recently being in their worst shape, in their words, "in 47 years." After identifying offending examples, I will demonstrate that industry activity and sales during 2010 have been almost undoubtedly at their lowest levels since World War II.
The following items, all from Thursday, demonstrate AP's concerted attempt to limit the damage to "47 years" ago.
A man is arrested and detained for months without any charges being brought against him. He is being held in deplorable conditions, forced to endure extreme physical and mental distress. He is exposed to the same ‘torture’ tactics that other enemies of the United States have allegedly suffered through.
So why isn’t the Commander-in-Chief taking heat for this travesty of justice?
Because this isn’t the Bush administration.
Firedoglake blogger, David House, has been detailing a recent visit with Bradley Manning, accused of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, at a military prison at the Quantico Marine base in Virginia (h/t Weasel Zippers). Of course, House bemoaned the ‘inhumane’ treatment of Manning, describing the toll that months of solitary confinement have taken on his physical and mental well-being.
AFP ran with the story and made it clear that they had no intention of offering a balanced report. In fact, viewing the headline, one would never know that the story came from an extremely liberal website, reading more as fact than a slanted accusation.