You would think that someone going to the trouble of reporting on something would at least provide the most basic of relevant numbers so that readers could understand what they're telling us.
That isn't the case with the 11:51 a.m. version of Uncle Sam's report on unemployment claims by the Associated Press's Stephen Bernard and Tim Paradis. Their report failed to specifically state what analysts predicted, and waited until a much later paragraph to tell us what their predictions are for tomorrow's jobs report.
The first three paragraphs of that version of the story are in the graphic capture that follows:
For much of the liberal media, President Obama operates in a vacuum. In their minds, if he says he will do something, he will most likely do it, even if he has a blatant record of not following through on similar promises.
Take Obama's lobbyist rhetoric, for instance. When the President claimed the White House has "excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs" he was telling the truth, sort of. He did not mean, and his staff has confirmed this, that they've excluded all lobbyists from the process, as, you know, a reasonable person would gather. He just meant that some lobbyists that applied for jobs in his administration didn't get them.
As it turns out, there are over 40 former lobbyists working in the White House or some branch of the executive (see chart below the fold).
The New York Times today ran a glowing story on President Obama's upcoming crackdown on lobbyists, never once mentioning his duplicitous statement during the State of the Union.
The gubernatorial race in Illinois is heating up. Conservative Republican candidate Adam Andrzejewski has, according to some reports, surged from relative obscurity to within 2 points of the lead for the GOP nomination. And last week Andrzejewski was endorsed by Lech Walesa, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and former President of Poland.
If you live in the Chicago area, however, may be unaware that such an important historical and political figure was just in your town, endorsing a candidate for governor of your state. The only local television coverage the endorsement event received was from Chicago's ABC News station, which showed Walesa and Andrzejewski on stage while covering a Tea Party rally at the event, but never even mentioned the former president by name (see video below the fold).
The only print coverage in local newspapers the event garnered was from the Tribune, which ran a 113-word AP story, and the Sun-Times, which mentioned Walesa in a 2-sentence caption, right below a blurb headlined "Family of boy found hanged sues schools" and above one headlined "New Schools Expo today". So the latter paper decided the death of a child in a local suburb was more important than a political endorsement from a man at least partially responsible for the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. The former decided it couldn't spare a reporter for such a monumental figure (h/t Founding Bloggers and Race 4 2012).
Is Barack Obama just too complex for voters to figure out? That was the premise behind the New York Times's Sunday Week in Review lead story by Richard Stevenson,“The Muddled Selling of the President.”
Stevenson denied Obama was a liberal (despite his push for government-supervised health care and $787 billion in “economic stimulus” spending), suggesting he was too “complex” for such a label. Further, he wondered if Obama's recent political struggles means it's no longer “possible to embrace complexity in a political and media culture that demands simple themes and promotes conflict?”
On this much, President Obama’s friends and foes could agree: He eludes simple labels.
Yes, he’s a liberal, except when he’s not. He’s antiwar, except for the one he’s escalating. He’s for bailouts, but wants to rein in the banks. He’s concentrating ever-more power in the West Wing, except when he’s being overly deferential to Congress. He’s cool, except when he’s fighting-hot.
In a world that presents so many fast-moving and intractable problems, nuance, flexibility, pragmatism -- even a full range of human emotions -- are no doubt good things. But as Mr. Obama wrapped up his State of the Union address on Wednesday night with an appeal to transcend partisan gamesmanship, he was plaintively testing a broader proposition: Is it possible to embrace complexity in a political and media culture that demands simple themes and promotes conflict?
If Christians in the military were emblematic of George W. Bush, would the media suggest that this great Pagan Opening is symbolic of the Obama era?
From an offical Academy press release:
The Air Force Academy chapel will add a worship area for followers of Earth-centered religions during a dedication ceremony, which is tentatively scheduled to be held at the circle March 10....
Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, NCO in charge of the Academy's Astronautics laboratories, worked with the chapel to create the official worship area for both cadets and other servicemembers in the Colorado Springs area who practice Earth-centered spirituality...
Well if you can't win the propaganda war by twisting the content of something you don't like, you can at least plant a presumptive seed in the heads of those who will only see a story's headline.
That seems to be the logic behind an unbylined Associated Press report this morning. Its headline ("Report: No sanctions for lawyers who OK'd torture") would tend cause anyone not reading further to believe that what was under review is indisputably considered "torture." But that is not the case, and the underlying article itself proves it.
What follows is a graphic capture of the first few paragraphs of the AP report:
Watching the media's inability to find relevant investigative news during the Obama era is like watching a bald-headed fellow named Fudd hunting for ‘wabbit'.
Such is the case of the main stream media's complete and utter ignorance involving the administration recently steering a $25 million no-bid contract to a Democratic campaign contributor.
While Fox News reporter James Rosen did an in-depth investigative report (and follow up) on the deal with Checchi & Company - despite working for what the administration considers a non-news network - the entire media establishment had ignored a significant reneging of campaign promises, right up until that deal was canceled.
Doing his best impersonation of a crystal ball, NewsBuster Tom Blumer correctly foretold the future when he questioned the media response to the story:
"Will the rest of the establishment press risk the tattered remnants of its credibility, follow the White House's suggestion, and ignore the story because it's coming from Fox?"
Based on the two pictures seen at the right, it doesn't exactly take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the people at the Associated Press who decide on what pictures to use to tease the wire service's assorted video clips are not all favorably inclined towards Tony Blair.
Rather than show a picture of the former UK Prime Minister, the AP chose pics of a demonstrator outside where the inquiry was held.
As of about 8 PM ET, the "Raw Video" feed was still in the rotation and easily accessible at many hosted.ap.org pages carrying an international story. An accessible link to that vid is here at YouTube.
Robert Reich must have nightmares about Fox News. Shoot, he must have triple locks on his doors and sleep under his bed out of fear that Roger Ailes will come and take him away.
In a Monday column at Salon.com ("Is the President Panicking?"), Reich excoriated President Obama's proposed discretionary spending "freeze" -- a "freeze" that NewsBuster Julia Seymour noted fails to offset the spending proposals Obama brought up in his State of the Union speech -- for "invok(ing) memories of (Bill) Clinton's shift to the right in 1994," especially because "it could doom the recovery."
That was absurd enough, but in the process of recounting his fevered view of 1990s history, Bill Clinton's former Secretary of Labor threw in this whopper, revealing that for Reich, as Buffalo Springfield told us so many years ago in their 1960s hit song "For What It's Worth," paranoia really does strike deep:
In December 1994, Bill Clinton proposed a so-called middle-class bill of rights including more tax credits for families with children, expanded retirement accounts, and tax-deductible college tuition. Clinton had lost his battle for healthcare reform. Even worse, by that time the Dems had lost the House and Senate. Washington was riding a huge anti-incumbent wave. Right-wing populists were the ascendancy, with Newt Gingrich and Fox News leading the charge. Bill Clinton thought it desperately important to assure Americans he was on their side.
The Washington Post launched an interactive page this week to profile President Obama's record on his campaign promises after one year in office. The Post put promises into three categories: "To Do," "In Progress" and "Completed."
Based on the president's record, most people would be surprised to learn the Post put most of the promises in the "In Progress" category -- and didn't even include a "Broken Promises" category. Many recent promises made as president would belong in that category.
"In Progress" according to the Post includes "reversing" the Bush tax cuts, while the "To Do" list includes "enact a windfall profits tax" on oil companies.
James Valvo, government affairs manager for Americans for Prosperity, offers the following additions to the Post's analysis:
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.
Brad Smith at National Review Online has already delivered the definitive debunking of the president's statement, while offering two choices as to what that statement represents. Whichever it is (I pick "demagoguery"), the fact that Obama could even have the nerve to make such a statement exemplifies how establishment media-enabled negligence enables over-the-top political chutzpah.
When the ACORN scandal broke, the New York Times dragged its feet for six days before issuing a story on the devastating footage from conservative activist and guerilla film-maker James O'Keefe, who caught on video the left-wing housing group giving advice to a "prostitute" and "pimp" on how to shelter illegal income from taxes.
But following Tuesday afternoon reports of the Monday arrest of O'Keefe for attempting to tamper with the phones of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, the Times wasted no time issuing a story for Wednesday's print edition.
BigGovernment.com caused a web sensation September 10 posting hidden camera footage from conservative activist and guerilla film-maker O'Keefe, who along with "prostitute" Hannah Giles visited several branches of the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now and received advice on how to shelter their illegal income from taxes.
But the first story from a Times reporter on ACORN to see print came six days later, with Scott Shane portraying the scandal in purely political terms, with no outrage over a tax-funded leftist organization with connections to the Census Bureau and IRS encouraging tax evasion and child prostitution.
The Associated Press on Wednesday insinuated there might be a wider conservative plot behind James O’Keefe’s alleged misdeeds at Senator Mary Landrieu’s office, and invoked the Watergate scandal in their lede: “Was it an attempt at political espionage? Or just a third-rate prank? How high did it go? And what did the right wing know and when did they know it?”
In what some Democrats are calling the “Louisiana Watergate,” four young conservative activists — one of them a known political prankster — were arrested this week and accused of trying to tamper with the telephones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office.
But two days after their arrest, neither the FBI nor federal prosecutors would say what the defendants were up to or whether they were part of some larger conspiracy....
On the eve of President Obama's first State of the Union address, the lead story in Wednesday's New York Times by Jackie Calmes focused on Obama's abrupt transformation into a born-again deficit hawk: "Obama, On Own, To Set Up Panel On Nation's Debt."
In a related video, Calmes played along with Obama's sudden about-face, claiming "the president wants to make deficit reduction a big part of his second-year agenda." Obama can apparently do no wrong: After spending months defending Obama's costly stimulus package, Calmes is now giving Obama credit for the opposite: cutting spending!
Obama's pre-State of the Union political woes were barely mentioned, a far cry from how the Times treated George W. Bush's political misfortunes before his last two addresses.
The survey-related quote comes from a post at PPP's blog. Tom Jensen, its author, pecked in quite a presumptuous final paragraph there (italics are Jensen's):
These numbers suggest quite a shift in what Americans want from their news. A generation ago Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in the country because of his neutrality. Now people trust Fox the most precisely because of its lack of neutrality. It says a lot about where journalism is headed.
Huh? Surely this must be simply a rogue PPP staffer's uninformed rant. Uh, no. At Politico's coverage of the poll, reporter Andy Barr quoted PPP's President making this putrid pronouncement about what the poll results putatively personify:
Yesterday, Media Research Center (MRC) President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell sat down in the MRC studio for a Skype interview with Breitbart.tv's "B-cast." [see video embed below the page break]
The topic: the latest MRC special report, "Omitting for Obama," which is a study of four stories --- Van Jones, Anita Dunn, ACORN, and ClimateGate -- "highlighted by the New Media in 2009 that were damaging to the Obama 'brand'" but were avoided like the plague by the old guard mainstream media.
Sometimes getting hung up on percentage increases causes one to miss what's going on with the actual numbers.
Such is the case in a January 26 front page story by USA Today's Richard Wolf. USAT's is the only recent original coverage I have found thus far relating to increases in the national welfare rolls during the recession. (An unbylined story at UPI merely reports on what USAT's Wolf wrote.)
USAT's Wolf let himself get distracted by double-digit caseload increases in certain states, but missed the big story: California, with roughly 12% of the country's population, was responsible for over half of the increase in both families and recipients receiving benefits. The reason the state's percentage increase was smaller than several others was because its caseload is already scandalously out of control.
Wolf also made a point of comparing the relatively small increase in the national welfare caseload to steep rises in the number of Americans receiving food stamp and unemployment insurance benefits.
Here are the first five and final paragraphs from Wolf, followed by a closer look at the numbers:
The story behind Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow's arrival into this world is remarkable.
So-called "women's groups" would seem to prefer that as many Americans as possible not know the story about the courageous and faith-based decision Tebow's mother made to carry her pregnancy to term. That's the only plausible reason why they are opposing a 30-second Focus on the Family (FOTF) ad scheduled to air during the Super Bowl. So far, it seems that CBS, which will air the Super Bowl on February 7, seems disinclined to buckle.
David Crary's coverage of the story at the Associated Press (from which the photo at the top right was obtained) labels FOTF "conservative," but does not apply any descriptive label to the "women's groups" objecting to the ad.
As you'll see in the final excerpted paragraph, Crary's coverage included an over-the-top statement from the objectors:
On his segment of CNN Newroom today, anchor Ali Velshi cited a CNN/Opinion Research poll showing that only a quarter of Americans believe Obama's stimulus program has wasted little or no money. He then set up an interview with a pro-stimulus academic:
Let's talk about this with Kenneth Rogoff, professor of public policy and economics at Harvard University. Ken, you have looked at this very, very carefully. I have to say, back when the stimulus bill was being discussed, most economists fell into the camp of timing and how much to spend. Very few said there is no need for an economic stimulus bill at all. Do you think this was a necessary thing to do a year ago?
The conservative Cato Institute plans to buy full-page ads in The Washington Post and New York Times over the next several days urging President Obama to avoid what it considers excessive government spending as a way to get the U.S. out of recession.
In the form of a letter to Obama, the ad is signed by some 200 economists, including three Nobel laureates -- Edward Prescott and George Mason's Vernon Smith and James Buchanan -- listed prominently at the top.
Building on Brad Wilmouth's critique at NewsBusters of Keith Olbermann's disgraceful treatment of Scott Brown's U.S. Senate victory in Massachusetts, Johnny Dollar (HT Taxman Blog) measured the coverage of the victory/concession speeches of Brown and his opponent Martha (or is it Marcia?) Coakley.
Imagine my non-surprise when I saw the results (graph follows the jump):
During Tuesday night's coverage of the Massachusetts special election, CNN and MSNBC aired only a fraction of the Republican candidate's speech. Fox News Channel aired both candidates' speeches in their entirety.
.... CNN only ran 26% of Brown's speech, while MSNBC aired 37%. Fox News Channel carried 100% of both speeches:
If Ellie Light is indeed a Democratic operative, she is only the proverbial tip of the party's astroturfing iceberg. Patterico's investigative work, which was also at the forefront of the blogosphere's efforts to expose Light, have revealed an even greater effort at manufacturing the appearance of public support for Democratic policies.
Organizing for America and the Democratic Party each have forms on their websites for supporters to write letters to the editors of their local papers. Both have suggested "talking points" next to the submission form. Both advise supporters to use their own words, but talking points from both of the sites have appeared in letters to the editor in a multitude of newspapers nationwide.
But on the off chance that what follows might actually mean something, here is an excerpt from a lengthy piece of investigative journalism from Fox News's James Rosen (HT to an e-mailer):
Obama Administration Steers Lucrative No-Bid Contract for Afghan Work to Dem Donor
Despite President Obama's long history of criticizing the Bush administration for "sweetheart deals" with favored contractors, the Obama administration this month awarded a $25 million federal contract for work in Afghanistan to a company owned by a Democratic campaign contributor without entertaining competitive bids, Fox News has learned.
At NewsBusters last night, Noel Sheppard posted about a UK Daily Mail report that "A scientist responsible for a key 2007 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warning Himalayan glaciers would be completely melted by 2035 has admitted that the claim was made to put political pressure on world leaders." Noel also noted that U.S. media coverage of this damning admission has been sparse.
The basis for the now-discredited claim was "a 2005 report by the environmental campaign group WWF (World Wildlife Fund)." Further, the WWF report contained a basic math error causing it to assert that "one glacier was retreating at the alarming rate of 134 metres a year should in fact have said 23 metres."
The Daily Mail reported that "Friday, the WWF website posted a humiliating statement recognising the claim as ‘unsound’, and saying it ‘regrets any confusion caused’."
The statement must be humiliating, because if its text is anywhere on a WWF web site, it seems to be well-hidden, and perhaps deliberately so (see Update at the end of this post).
A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the recovery this week: The U.S. Department of Labor reported on Thursday that initial claims for unemployment benefits jumped "unexpectedly" by 36,000 to 482,000, when analysts had predicted a slight drop.
What's more, it turns out that data reported in previous weeks was understated because of "administrative issues" relating to paperwork processing during the holidays. In other words, things have been a bit worse than originally portrayed during the past several weeks.
Not unexpectedly, Reuters seized on the "administrative issues" excuse in an attempt to minimize the damage. Reuters' primary headline ("Jobless claims rise on administrative issues") seemed specifically designed to tell readers that "Hey, it's really no big deal."
The headlines and excuse-making are all the more galling because the same administrative problems occurred at the same time last year -- and almost no one in the press headlined it.
Let's start with Reuters' report from January 22, 2009 (i.e., a year ago), starting with its excuse-free headline (bold is mine):
Krista Gesaman of Newsweek.com's Gaggle blog could have saved herself from the indignity of making the absurd claim that young women were "missing" from protests marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade by merely searching through the past coverage of the March for Life by the Washington Post, Newsweek's sister publication. In past years, the Post has highlighted the "youthful throng," the "large turnout of young people," and has quoted from teenagers participating at the annual pro-life March.
My colleague Ken Shepherd noted Gesaman's beyond faulty conclusion on Friday, and highlighted a recent Marist poll that indicated that "58 percent of persons aged 18-29 view abortion as 'morally wrong.'" Members of this age were all born after the 1973 Roe decision by the Supreme Court, so it's not that surprising of a statistic. He also underlined how "hundreds if not thousands of busloads teeming with teenagers and college students, many of them young women, descend on the nation's capital for the annual March for Life."
In a Page C1 column in Friday's Washington Post about the National Enquirer's plans to apply for a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter affair and love child, Howard Kurtz delivers a completely inexcusable pass to his fellow alleged journalists in the establishment media (bold is mine, internal link is in original):
When the Enquirer first reported in 2007 that Edwards had had an affair with Hunter, the former North Carolina senator dismissed the account as tabloid trash. The rest of the media, having no independent proof, steered clear of the story, even as Edwards, aided by his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth, was mounting an aggressive campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Howard's "no independent proof" statement is a howler on one of two possible levels. It's either false on its face (i.e., one or more establishment media reporters had the proof and suppressed it), or it reflects a complete and journalistically negligent lack of interest in a story about a man who, if things had broken differently, could conceivably have become his party's presidential nominee or even the country's chief executive. Either way, Kurtz is unforgivably easy on his fellow "professionals," especially because I have learned that one of his fellow "professionals" had plenty of clues that something was amiss even before the Enquirer's October 2007 story broke.
If you're totally reliant upon print media, some of the major newspapers that is, you might not have noticed the news about former Democratic Senator and 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards' admission that he was indeed the father of his campaign mistress's daughter.
That story couldn't so much as garner a single front-page story from any of the nation's top five major newspapers - USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times or The Washington Post. And only The Wall Street Journal, found the story worthy to print on its second page, not to mention the fact that it is a business journal.
Edwards admitted in a statement on Jan 21 that he was indeed the father of Frances Quinn Hunter, saying, "It was wrong for me to ever deny she was my daughter." The story of his affair with campaign staffer and videographer Rielle Hunter broke last summer when the National Enquirer busted Edwards in a Los Angeles hotel for cheating on his cancer-stricken wife.
When the liberal radio network Air America debuted on March 31, 2004, NBC trumpeted it as the “counterweight” to the "right-wing bent" of talk radio. Katie Couric enthused that Al Franken and his colleagues hoped “to break into what has been a conservative lock on the radio.” However, when the beleaguered Air America announced bankruptcy on Thursday, both the Nightly News and Friday's Today skipped the story. [Video of Today's promotion can be found above. Audio can be found here.]
Back in 2004, Today co-host Matt Lauer enthused, “If you're a talk radio fan, chances are you're a conservative, too. But, a liberal talk radio network hits the airwaves today. We're gonna ask new talk show host Al Franken if people will rush to listen to him?” Couric touted, “Also a new voice is launching on talk radio today hoping to be a counterweight to the right-wing bent on the airwaves.”
Couric’s interview that day with Franken amounted to a big promotional push for the left-wing comedian who was debuting as the host of The O’Franken Factor. He was already an alumnus of NBC, having starred in the network’s Saturday Night Live show.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Americans were treated to a number of populist sermons on the "special interests" who would oppose "reform" at any cost to maintain the "status quo" from which they "profit financially or politically." The drug companies, the energy companies, the Wall Street bankers, and the health insurers were the corporate enemies of a just and harmonious America, or so one might have gathered.
Obama was at the vanguard of this populist charge. But since his election, he has proposed health care legislation that would subsidize Pfizer and PhRMA, a cap and trade plan that would drive profits to General Electric, and Wall Street bailouts that lined the pockets of the same Goldman Sachs bankers he so reviled during the campaign. What happened?
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney exposes and investigates this monumental disconnect in his new book "Obamanomics: How Barack Obama is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses." Carney explores the "political strategy of partnering with the biggest businesses in order to create new regulations, taxes, and subsidies." Those measures, he argues, actually benefit the biggest businesses by crowding out competition, consolidating market share, or giving billions in subsidies directly to those companies.
Last week, in his "analysis" of Barack Obama's proposed "bank responsibility fee," the Associated Press's Jim Kuhnhenn got one important thing right and two others very wrong.
The part he got right was describing the proposed fee as a "tax." The first thing he got wrong was identifying the proposed move as a legitimate form of "populism." The second is his claim that the idea is "straight out of 'It's a Wonderful Life,'" the classic Christmas movie.
Here are Kuhnhenn's first five paragraphs:
It's not just about bad banking.
President Barack Obama's biting criticism of big banks frames the problem as a struggle between jobless, suffering Americans and banks making big profits and paying "obscene" bonuses.
It's populism straight out of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," and it aims to score political points in the midst of a weak economic recovery that is fueling public doubts about the president's own economic policies.