It is truly remarkable to observe how press outlets continue to misreport and misinform the public in the area of stem cell research.
One of the latest examples came yesterday at the Associated Press. In a report covering a court ruling on government funding of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), the AP's Nedra Pickler completely failed to acknowledge that there are any other kinds of stem cells. Every single use by Pickler of the terms "stem cell" or "stem cells" has no modifying adjective, except the very first, whose modifier is "embryonic."
It's as if there are no other avenues besides ESCR for "scientific progress toward potentially lifesaving medical treatment." In fact, Pickler's less-informed readers would have no reason to believe that there is any form of stem cell research besides ESCR. The reality, which will be shown later for the umpteenth time, is that non-embryonic stem cells, often referred to as adult stem cells, have already shown that they can do virtually everything embryonic cells can with far less potential for side effects and, of course, no loss of human life. The word "adult" does not appear in the AP report.
Here are several paragraphs from Pickler's pathetic piece, which also includes a deeply deceptive quote (is there any other kind?) from Obama White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (bold is mine):
Here's one way to convince the public that ObamaCare is increasing in popularity: only tout the polls that support that contention. Ignore ones that don't.
That's what many in the media are doing this week, as they hype a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation showing that only 26 percent of the nation wants ObamaCare repealed. Poll results released by Rasmussen on the same day, however, show that 57 percent favor repeal.
A number of media outlets have touted Kaiser's poll - which used a sample skewed 15 points in favor of self-identified Democrats - while ignoring Rasmussen's findings. Both polls' findings were released on Monday.
Today's report from The Conference Board shows that consumer confidence fell steeply in September:
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had improved in August, retreated in September. The Index now stands at 48.5 (1985=100), down from 53.2 in August.
In a report issued in the run-up to the Board's release (go to the text which follows the "Breaking News Update" here; saved at my web host for future reference), the Associated Press's Stephen Bernard revealed economists' consensus prediction (52.5) and helpfully told readers the level of result (90) that would represent "a strong, healthy economy."
In his 10:36 report consolidating the breaking news with info presented before its release (saved here), that useful information disappeared. In fact, even though it was in the "Breaking News Update" of the earlier report, Bernard omitted the Board's specific reading from his revision. Amazing.
You would think someone in the U.S. establishment press would be following Uncle Sam's progress or lack thereof in getting out from under its investment in Citigroup, especially since the government promised that it would be fully divested from the bank holding company by the end of this year. From all appearances, you would be wrong.
It looks like the government may not be able to keep that year-end divestiture promise. For a fair number of news followers to learn that, the UK's Financial Times had to take an interest (link may require registration), and Drudge had to link to it:
US Treasury stumbles selling Citi shares
The US government is in danger of missing its deadline of divesting all of its Citigroup shares by the year-end after a fall in stock market trading volumes prompted authorities to slow down sales in July and August.
The lull could prompt the US Treasury, which has a stake of about 17 per cent in Citi, to consider a share offering instead of selling the stock in small quantities in the market, according to bankers and analysts.
In the earlier paragraphs of a Friday report on the recently passed small business lending bill at the Associated Press, reporter Pallavi Gogoi gave readers the impression that Congress's allegedly noble intentions might be thwarted because banks and businesses who should apparently be grateful for the "help" don't want it.
Gogoi gives no direct indication that the bill involves government "investment" in (i.e., partial state ownership of) participating financial institutions.
The AP reporter didn't have to look very far to see what's really involved. The defined purpose of the bill, which weighs in at over 40,000 words (full text here), is right there at its beginning (bold is mine):
An Act -- To create the Small Business Lending Fund Program to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to make capital investments in eligible institutions in order to increase the availability of credit for small businesses, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax incentives for small business job creation, and for other purposes.
This is not very different from what ended up happening with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) enacted two years ago. In fact, two lawyers writing on the law's potential impact describe it as a "mini-TARP." You'd never know that from Gogoi's report (one cryptic reference to the underlying state control involved is in bold):
If there is an example of anyone who has overseen a bigger audience decline and loss of competitive position and survived so long, I don't know who he or she is. Fox News, which first passed CNN in total viewers in January 2002 (interesting how this basic factoid is not at Fox's Wiki entry), now routinely trounces CNN and CNN Headline combined by a factor of 1.5 to 1 or more. On Thursday, Fox's primetime audience of 574,000 was 75% greater than the CNN pair's combined total of 329,000.
But before he arrived at CNN to do his damage, Klein inadvertently did the nation a service.
On Friday's Situation Room, CNN highlighted the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's concerns over a planned concert at Fort Bragg, North Carolina organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Foundation, but omitted the MRFF president Michael Weinstein's past invective against Christianity. Anchor Wolf Blitzer referred to the MRFF as merely a "watchdog group."
Blitzer introduced correspondent Chris Lawrence's report by summarizing the controversy over the "Rock the Fort" concert and used his "watchdog" label for the MRFF: "A concert scheduled at Fort Bragg in North Carolina tomorrow may sound like a good way for soldiers to kick back, but a watchdog group is objecting to the message behind the music: an attempt to recruit the troops to 'God's army.'"
Lawrence picked up where the anchor left off: "Well, on one hand, you've got thousands of soldiers and their families who want to praise God and to hear this Christian music at the concert tomorrow. On the other hand, you've got people saying, why is the U.S. Army helping an evangelical organization recruit new members?"
CNN played an excerpt of its upcoming documentary "What the Pope Knew" on Thursday's Newsroom (see CNN's commercial promoting the documentary at right), and if this preview and its past coverage of the Church abuse scandal is any indication, the documentary left out key information in order to paint Benedict XVI in the worst possible light. Correspondent Gary Tuchman failed to explain how then-Cardinal Ratzinger's handled a specific case from Wisconsin.
Anchor Kyra Phillips introduced the excerpt from the documentary 24 minutes into the 9 am Eastern hour. The segment focused on the case of Father Lawrence Murphy, who was the priest and headmaster for St. John's School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. Phillips noted that as many as 200 boys at the school were raped or sexually abused by Murphy and stated it was "one of the most notorious cases of sex abuse in the Catholic Church."
Tuchman interviewed Terry Kohut, one of Murphy's victims. The correspondent stated that "fifty years ago, when he was just 10 years old, Terry, who is deaf, was sent to the St. John's School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What happened there to Terry and up to 200 other deaf boys is now central to the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, and to the question of what Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, knew about it all." This introduction gives the false impression that Ratzinger was a cardinal five decades ago, when he actually was a priest and college professor in Germany during the 1960s.
So what's more important: The fact that independents are as "upset" as Republicans, or that Americans' disapproval of how President Obama is handling the economy is at an all-time high?
Here's another priority-related question: Is it more important that "independents and Republicans were half as likely as Democrats to be inspired and less prone to be hopeful, excited and proud," or that Republicans are now more trusted than Democrats in handling the economy, representing a 10-point swing (from -5% to +5%) in just three months?
If you're the Associated Press's Alan Fram and Jennifer Agiesta reporting on your own poll -- an AP-GfK poll found in full at this link (click on "September 8th - September 13th 2010 - AP-GfK Poll Topline" when you get there) -- you would apparently say that the first alternatives in each question are more important, even though terms like "upset," hopeful," excited," and "proud" are subjective, and the items that trigger these emotions will vary widely among survey respondents.
Why, if I didn't know better (I think I do), I'd say that Agiesta and Fram filtered out the worst of the bad news for Democrats in favor of the touchy-feely stuff.
Today, eight city council members were arrested in Bell, California for what Los Angeles County District Attorney labeled "corruption on steroids." Thus far, every major news outlet that has reported on the story has omitted the fact that all eight individuals arrested are Democrats.
These glaring omissions come only weeks after NewsBusters reported that of the 351 stories on the then-brewing controversy, 350 had omitted party affiliations, and one had mentioned they were Democrats only in apologizing for not doing so sooner.
CNN contributor John Avlon returned to his consistent theme of bashing conservatives on Monday's Newsroom, labeling Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell the "new queen of the wingnuts." Avlon also referenced Reason magazine's label of O'Donnell as a "crackpot of the first order" and didn't provide the full context of her 1997 remarks on AIDS.
Anchor Kyra Phillips led the 9 am Eastern hour of Newsroom with the Republican's 1999 appearance on ABC's Politically Incorrect where she cited how she "dabbled" in witchcraft as a teenager. After playing a clip from the 11-year-old appearance, Phillips continued that O'Donnell's remarks are "raising eyebrows and some concerns from the GOP establishment" and brought on Avlon, who has a knack for being tougher on his identified "wingnuts" on the right than those he picks from the left. The anchor referenced The Daily Beast writer's September 15 column in her first question: "O'Donnell actually canceled two Sunday talk show appearances after this came to light, and now, you are calling her the new queen of wingnuts."
Yet in neither of two separate articles by the Associated Press (Nicole Winfield and David Stringer/Victor L. Simpson) do the writers mention a possible extremist Muslim/Islamic connection. The writers simply identified the suspects as "London street cleaners."
Joliet, Illinois must be a community absolutely bursting with newsworthy events. Why? Because the Herald-News newspaper in that city was (conveniently) unable to cover a local news story that has become a sizzling hot topic in the blogosphere. All one has to do is enter the name of the Illinois 11th Congressional District Congresswoman, Debbie Halvorson, into Google Blog Search and you will get results chock full of a shocking incident a few days ago, including this video. The Frugal Café Blog Zone, which is but one of many sites covering this, explains:
Would MSNBC or CNN have featured this shocking story if the vile protesters at the Nazi-themed protest were CONSERVATIVES or REPUBLICANS or if left-wing extremists had dressed up like Nazis and crashed a tea party posing as conservatives or Republicans? Why do you even ask? Of course they would.
When interviewed in the video below, these anti-conservative protesters in Joliet, outside Chicago — proudly carrying Nazi-esque signs slamming GOP congressional opponent Adam Kinzinger and other well-known conservatives, like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin — denied several times being there in support of, or affiliated with, Democrat Rep. Debbie Halvorson. Congresswoman Halvorson is running against Kinzinger in the November election.
...Much later, these bogus grassroots protesters were videotaped returning to the congresswoman’s campaign office in the dark of night. Obviously, they’re part of the liberal congresswoman’s camp. Unless Halvorson had NO IDEA that these left-wing extremist folks had her campaign office keys and gained access to her office. They look pretty darned cozy in there in the video with Julie Merz, Halvorson’s campaign manager.
Collectively they gave her less than five minutes.
The Republican Delaware Senate nominee gave a speech at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C. this afternoon from about 3:25 to 3:45 p.m. EDT. Of the three major cable news networks, Fox News showed none of the speech while MSNBC's Chris Jansing gave viewers just under a minute of O'Donnell audio before interviewing Time magazine's Jay Newton-Small about concerns some GOP operatives have about O'Donnell being a weaker matchup against the Democratic nominee than Rep. Mike Castle (R) would have been.
Only CNN's Rick Sanchez gave O'Donnell a substantial chunk of time: 3 minutes and 33 seconds. When Sanchez cut away from O'Donnell, he noted that she's "getting her first taste of the national spotlight" since clinching the nomination and promised that CNN would "continue to follow as the midterms in November draws near."
I tried to find a nicer way to put it in the headline. But I can't.
At the Associated Press, Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger's apparent plug-and-play report less than an hour after the issuance of Uncle Sam's August Monthly Treasury Statement on Monday (his item is time-stamped at 2:56 p.m., which follows the Treasury Department's 2:00 p.m. release by less than an hour) contains three obviously false statements that a news organization which really subscribes to its own "Statement of News Values and Principles" would retract and/or correct.
The specific AP standard in question is whether it has violated its promise not to "knowingly introduce false information into material intended for publication or broadcast." The only conceivable excuse at this point is that Crutsinger and his employer don't realize what they have done. The three falsehoods involved are not arcane or open to interpretation. Rather, they are significant, obvious, irrefutable, and in need of correction.
What follows are the three statements, the first of which contradicts itself in the report's own subsequent sentence:
New York Times reporter Robert Pear ought to consider moonlighting as a stand-up comic in the tradition of Steven Wright.
Wright's deadpan delivery is legendary. Pear's deadpan lines in his article about the immense paperwork burden heading the economy's way in the form of requiring IRS 1099 forms to be issued to each and every person paid $600 or more during the course of a calendar year for any and all goods provided or services rendered are remarkable.
Of course, if Pear chooses to get on stage with his act he'll have to come up with a more humorous topic. The nightmare that could be visited upon American business and really the American economy is pretty stunning -- and don't for a minute think that individuals with hobbies that break even or possibly lose money every year and don't ordinarily bother to file tax returns for their activities (because they aren't required to) aren't going to be affected.
What follows are a few of the choice one-liners found in Pear's September 11 article ("Many Push for Repeal of Tax Provision in Health Law") that appeared in the paper's Sunday print edition on Page A25:
"Mr. Boehner's ties to lobbyists seem especially deep," New York Times reporter Eric Lipton wrote of the House Republican Leader yesterday. Well, they're not, and therein lies the problem: Lipton apparently premised his article not on facts and data, but on what he thought seemed reasonable.
Had Lipton stooped to investigate some of the serious claims he was making, he might have discovered that Nancy Pelosi has raised almost twice as much money from lobbyists this cycle as has Boehner. He might also have revealed that Sens. Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and Blanche Lincoln all raised more money from lobbyists this cycle as Boehner has since 1999.
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney, who did the legwork on these numbers, also noted that Boehner's name does not appear on the Center for Responsive Politics's list of the top 20 recipients of lobbyist cash. Eighteen House Democrats have received more such money than Boehner has this cycle.
The New York Times's lobbyist double standard lives on. Since Barack Obama became president, the paper has routinely overlooked the vast disconnect between his rhetoric on lobbying's role on the political process - there really isn't one, if you believe Barack - and his actions on the issue.
But while the Gray Lady all but ignores Obama's deep ties with lobbyists and the industry groups they represent, the paper has hammered Republicans for their ties to "special interests."
The latest such attempt is a hack job in Sunday's New York Times. Reporter Eric Lipton claims that House Miniority Leader John Boehner "maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation's biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R. J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS."
The story makes some serious allegations - the most damning of which was sourced to an anonymous lobbyist. Intriguingly, some of the same claims undergird an upcoming DNC ad blitz against Boehner. The Leader's staff, meanwhile, claim they were not asked for comment before the story went to press.
Adopting language and tactics more typical of tyrants, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday sent a public letter to the head of a health insurance industry group demanding that carriers stop "falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act," and that "that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases."
She reinforced her short-term threat with a longer-term one:
We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014. Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections.
When Sebelius threatens exclusion from the "Exchanges," she is really saying: "Shut up and eat your costs, or you'll be out of business in a few years."
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening new shows have yet to notice Fidel Castro's astonishing admission that Cuban Communism does not work. But non-journalist Jay Leno brought the news to his Tonight Show audience on Thursday, joshing: "Most Cubans heard this announcement on a 1954 RCA Deluxe console TV -- beautiful black-and-white, all mahogany...." (Video at right)
The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg recounted Castro's confession in a September 8 post:
During the generally lighthearted conversation (we had just spent three hours talking about Iran and the Middle East), I asked him if he believed the Cuban model was still something worth exporting.
Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggested continued growth in national economic activity during the reporting period of mid-July through the end of August, but with widespread signs of a deceleration compared with preceding periods.
... However, the remaining Districts of New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, and Chicago all highlighted mixed conditions or deceleration in overall economic activity.
It may be fair to describe the detail in Atlanta's section of the report as "mixed" (it's a borderline call; the opening paragraph from that District's report will appear later). But Richmond's section is clearly one of deceleration, which brings us to today's clearly needed geography lesson for Jeannine Aversa and/or a headline writer at the Associated Press.
What follows is a graphic containing the headline at Aversa's 2:45 p.m. story (since updated here), and her first few paragraphs:
CNN's Deborah Feyerick played up Imam Feisal Rauf's apparent credentials as a "moderate" Muslim during a report on Wednesday's American Morning. Feyerick omitted using sound bites from Rauf's critics, and only briefly mentioned his controversial remarks about on CBS's 60 Minutes about the 9/11 attacks and his reluctance to condemn Hamas.
The CNN correspondent's report led the 6 am Eastern hour, and was re-broadcast throughout the day on the network. Almost immediately, Feyerick stressed how Rauf is apparently a "voice of moderation" by playing three clips from three who unequivocally endorse him- the State Department's P. J. Crowley, mosque developer Sharif El-Gamal, and Professor John Esposito of Georgetown University. She continued by describing the Islamic cleric as a "Sufi Muslim, at the other end of the Islamic spectrum from the radical theology that feeds groups like al Qaeda."
In a Tuesday evening report, Associated Press Writer Jesse L. Holland engaged in a great deal of word massage which appears to have been designed to mislead relative newcomers to discussions about stem cell research.
The news concerned Federal Judge Royce Lamberth's refusal of the federal government's request that he lift his August 23 order blocking federal funding for embryonic stem cell research during the appeals process.
Less-informed readers could be excused for believing, at least through first nine of the eleven tortured paragraphs in Holland's report, that stem cells can only be obtained from human embryos. In Paragraph 10, Holland finally acknowledged the existence of adult stem cells, but then dubiously implied that the litigation was brought solely because the plaintiffs don't want competition from embryonic research. The AP writer also ignored a fine piece written in early August by wire service colleague Malcolm Ritter (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), who accurately reported that "Adult stem cell research (is) far ahead of embryonic."
What follows are several paragraphs from Holland's horror, including a ridiculous title falsely implying that no federal funds are going into any kind of stem cell research (bolds are mine throughout this post):
On Tuesday's American Morning, CNN's Kiran Chetry used General David Petraeus's denunciation of a planned Koran burning by a church to blast the church's pastor for any subsequent deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan: "Are you willing to have the blood of soldiers on your hands by this demonstration?" Chetry also lectured Pastor Terry Jones over his apparent lack of "refined" Christianity.
Chetry interviewed Pastor Jones 41 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour. After asking him why he and his church were planning to burn Korans, the anchor launched into her critique of the minister: "I wanted to let you say your piece, because when I first read this story, I thought there's no way that this could be as bad as it sounds. It appears that it is. You're saying that you're going to burn the holy book of another religion to send a message to the radical elements of that religion, with no thought to the fact that you'd obviously be highly offending everyone in that religion. How do you justify that?"
Later in the segment, Chetry turned theologian and quoted Scripture to Pastor Jones as she continued to question his planned action: "What about turn thy cheek? I mean, this is- you know, Christianity at its most- you know, refined. It's that you just don't act out in violence. You don't act out in any manner of hate, that you turn thy cheek, that you don't rise to the nastiness or the level of payback that your perceived enemies do. I mean, isn't this the exact opposite of what Christ taught all of us to be and to do?"
It's interesting, and more than a little frustrating, to see how inflammatory words in speeches delivered by liberal and leftist politicians that might cast them in a bad light don't seem to make much news.
One such example occurred in a speech yesterday at Cincinnati's Coney Island, on the occasion of the AFL-CIO's huge annual picnic there. At that event, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland lashed out at the party of gubernatorial opponent John Kasich as, according to one local reporter, "overrun by extremist elements."
I don't know that this is exactly what Strickland said, but it seems highly unlikely that veteran WLWT reporter John London would have strung those words together on his own.
Strickland's characterization of his opposition as relayed by London, which you will find at this Bing video and also at WLWT's own web site, "somehow" didn't make it into the the station's accompanying text report on the event, which, contrary to what I believe is the norm at the station, doesn't in any way follow the script of the London's coverage. The "overrun by extremist elements" reference also was not noted at either of the city's two other news-following TV stations which covered the event (here and here), nor in Howard Wilkinson's coverage at Gannett's Cincinnati Enquirer. Imagine that.
Here is the first 70% or so of the verbiage in the WLWT broadcast:
Obama administration Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (pictured at right with what I would guess is her ideal car of the future) shamelessly used Labor Day weekend as an opportunity to score political points.
In a presentation that was more a political stump speech than an informative presentation, Solis recited a litany of alleged accomplishments. Many of them have no relationship to what her department does, while some are also objectively wrong. Second, she set up a host of straw men in the form of "those who would" and "to those who want to" to make her department and the administration where she works appear as if they and they alone are the bulwark against rapacious employers and their political allies.
The YouTube video is present at this DOL page (direct YouTube link here). What follows are selected transcribed excerpts, with specific critiques:
The news out of Government/General Motors during the past couple of days hasn't been particularly good.
First, August sales results were disappointing. Second, it become known today that GM will attempt to go public on November 18, a later than originally hoped post-election date chosen to hopefully allow for another reported quarterly profit to boost investors' appetite for its shares.
As so often has been the case during Democratic administrations when unfavorable developments arise, the UK press has seen potential problems with the IPO, while the Associated Press has been acting as if all is well.
In two separate items, AP reporters couldn't even bring themselves to tell readers what the company's real August sales decline was.
In a report yesterday on the industry's awful August, reporters Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher were appropriately gloomy overall, but they massaged GM's reported result (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Yesterday the Gallup organization released a poll showing that Americans trust Republicans over Democrats on most major issues heading into the general election season. Today the same polling outfit released a poll that found a large number of Americans blame George W. Bush for the faltering economy.
Nearly two years after Barack Obama was elected president, Americans still are inclined to blame his predecessor for the nation's current economic problems.
In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, more than a third of those surveyed said George W. Bush deserved a great deal of the blame for economic woes and a third said he should get a moderate amount of it. Not quite another third called that unfair, saying Bush warranted not much or none of the responsibility.
In a short item about a Democratic Governors Association election complaint about Ohio GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich, the Associated Press's Julie Carr Smyth showed that she is willfully ignoring Buckeye State reality, or has been living a hermit's existence for the past few months.
In describing Kasich's standing against Democratic incumbent governor Ted Strickland, Smyth claimed that Kasich "is keeping pace with Strickland in polls and fundraising" (a picture of the relevant paragraph is here).
As you can see, that's sort of like a baseball writer claiming that "The Cincinnati Reds are keeping pace with the Chicago Cubs this year":
Meanwhile, the NBC, ABC and CBS evening newscasts combined for a dubious record last week: the average of 18.7 million people who watched one of the three shows last week was the smallest audience those three telecasts have reached collectively on record, since the infancy of television, Nielsen said.
During the slow news period of late August, the broadcasts broke their previous record — set just last week.
Little did I know that my post last week (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) also covered a negative record-breaker.