Don't they usually wait until after Labor Day to do this?
Ten days ago, I asserted that that the administration's cynical use of Andy Griffith for a patently political promo on behalf of Medicare ("This year, as always, we’ll have our guaranteed benefits, and with the new healthcare law, more good things are coming: free check-ups, lower prescription costs") was "the foundation for the biennial Democratic scare-the-seniors campaign."
Well, the Social Security portion of that scare campaign kicked in this morning.
President Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address to glorify Social Security's accomplishments (he "somehow" forgot to mention the program's $7.7 trillion unfunded liability) and to rip unnamed Republicans for proposing to privatize the program. The President, who has used so many straw-man arguments in the past 19 months that he ought to have a scarecrow sitting next to him every time he speaks, framed active GOP proposals as all-or-none privatization ("You shouldn't be worried that a sudden downturn in the stock market will put all you've worked hard for, all you've earned, at risk"), when they're not. For example, what President Bush proposed five years ago involved giving those who wished the opportunity to invest 2% of their pay -- out of the 12.4% of their pay that currently goes into the system -- in one or more of a limited number of investment funds.
But wait until you see how the Associated Press and Erica Werner fanned the flames even further. I found the headline that follows at both the AP's main site and at the same story at USA Today, so what you're about to see is clearly their preference:
File the news in this report filed late yesterday afternoon by Michael Calderone and John Cook at Yahoo's Upshot Blog under "D" for Double Standards:
White House reporters mum on Obama lunch, even as papers back transparency
White House reporters are keeping quiet about an off-the-record lunch today with President Obama — even those at news organizations who've advocated in the past for the White House to release the names of visitors.
But the identities of the lunch's attendees won't remain secret forever: Their names will eventually appear on the White House's periodically updated public database of visitor logs.
... The Obama White House began posting the logs in order to settle a lawsuit, begun under the Bush administration, from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sought the Secret Service's White House visitor logs under the Freedom of Information Act.
... And guess who filed briefs supporting that argument? Virtually every newspaper that covers the White House.
Wednesday evening, Brent Baker at NewsBusters noted that two of the Big Three television networks failed to tag Dan Rostenkowsi, the former long-time congressman from Chicago who was ousted from his seat in 1994 over corruption charges and ended doing prison time, as a Democrat. Rostenkowski (RIP), who was 82, died yesterday.
At the five major wire services whose reports I reviewed -- The Associated Press, Reuters, UPI, AFP, and the business-oriented Bloomberg News -- Rosty's Democratic affiliation made at least one appearance. But the prominence and directness of those appearances varied widely.
Not surprisingly, the Associated Press and writer Don Babwin did the worst job of identifying Rosty's party, waiting until the eleventh paragraph to directly tag him (the eighth paragraph contains a generic reference to the "Chicago Democratic machine"), and poured it on the thickest when referring to the supposedly beloved bygone days of bipartisanship:
There are quite a few shaky assertions in Alan Zibel's Associated Press report yesterday about Freddie Mac's latest quarterly loss ($6 billion), its latest bailout installment request to the U.S. Treasury ($1.8 billion), and the cumulative taxpayer bailout amounts that have been paid out to Freddie Mac and big sister Fannie Mae thus far ($148.2 billion) -- too many to cover in a blog post.
So I'll concentrate on the howlers present in just a single paragraph near the end, wherein the AP reporter attempts to explain why the two formerly government-sponsored mortgage giants that are now government-bailout enterprises ran into the ditch. The verbiage pretty much states the meme that the establishment press seems to want the public to swallow about what went down, and who's to blame:
During the housing boom, Fannie and Freddie faced political pressure to expand homeownership and competitive pressure from Wall Street to back ever-riskier loans. When the market went bust, defaults and foreclosures piled up, and the government had to take them over.
The past week has brought forth a couple of items from the Associated Press's -- and for the most part the establishment press's -- special corner of journalistic unreality. It is an area where human-caused global warming is still a given, and where that the nastiness known as ClimateGate that exposed the entire global warming enterprise as entirely unsupported by verifiable scientific data doesn't exist. Maybe we should refer to that special corner as "The Climate Zone."
The reports each arrived via AP Writer Arthur Max. Mr. Max and conference attendees at climate negotiations in Bonn shouldn't be mad about having the opportunity to spend time in West Germany's former capital city. After all, the temperatures there, based on the current report for Tuesday and plus the three forecasted days in the graphic at the top right (seen currently at Google), are on track to be virtually identical to the city's pleasant historical August average highs and lows of 73 and 54 degrees, respectively, for August.
But despite the reasonably pleasant atmosphere (yeah, I know temps and climate aren't the same, so back off already), Mr. Max's August 6 and August 8 reports tell us that discussions between "rich" and "poor" countries have been quite frosty. Meanwhile, reactions from the the supporters of international statist expansion in the environmental movement who are on hand for the festivities have been quite heated. Overall, everyone, including the clumsy Mr. Max, is making mince meat of President Barack Obama's claim, occasionally echoed in establishment press outlets at the time, to have accomplished anything meaningful at last December's Copenhagen conference.
While filming a segment for her new TLC program in Homer, Alaska, former governor Sarah Palin was recently accosted by one Kathleen Gustafson, a local bearing a large handwritten banner reading "Worst Governor Ever."
Gustafson is listed as a "theater tech" at Homer High School. In addition to those duties, she's on staff at the Homer public radio station and on the board of directors for a family planning clinic in town. From her bio:
On August 3 ("U.S. To Train 3,000 Offshore IT Workers"), InformationWeek.com's Paul McDougall reported that the U.S. Agency for International Development is operating at cross purposes with the Obama administration's stated goal to keep high-tech jobs in the U.S.
USAID has since attempted to do some backing and filling about the assistance it is providing in Sri Lanka, but its arguments may ring hollow, given McDougall's report two days later that the agency is also helping to fund IT outsourcing efforts in Armenia.
What follows was eminently predictable, but noting it is nonetheless necessary.
Shirley Sherrod, and to a lesser extent her husband Charles, were media celebrities for a while in late July. Readers might have noticed their near absence from establishment media news reports during the past seven days. It would be easy to think that this has occurred because the story played itself out, with nothing newsworthy to add.
That stopped being true on Monday, August 2, when a column by Ron Wilkins ("The Other Side of Shirley Sherrod") appeared in the leftist alternative publication Counterpunch.
Wilkins is currently a professor in the Department of Africana Studies (not misspelled) at Cal State University. He claims in the final sentence of his column that he is knowledgeable concerning what he is writing because "I was one of those workers at NCI." "NCI" is New Communities, Inc., described at a RuralDevelopment.org link as "the land trust that Shirley and Charles Sherrod established, with other black farm families in the 1960's."
Here's part of what Wilkins alleges (excerpted items are not in the same order as they originally appeared; out of order verbiage is identified):
In what I believe is the first direct acknowledgment by the wire service of what so many have known for so long, the Associated Press's Tom Krisher wrote the following in an August 5 story about plans for an initial public offering by government-controlled General Motors (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Ever since the Obama administration gave the automaker a $50 billion dollar survival loan last year, many drivers have scorned the company and bought cars from rivals. Even though GM has cut costs, changed leadership, and reported its first quarterly profit since 2007, the resentment will linger as long as taxpayers have a 61 percent stake in the company.
Actually, the "resentment" goes back to December 2008, when the Bush administration bowed to pressure to use Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to "temporarily" loan a combined $13.4 billion to GM and Chrysler. Also, the total bailout dollars involved are at least $63 billion when GMAC is included, as it should be.
If you have relied exclusively on AP reports and its news feeds to subscribing publications since then, Krisher's assertion that "drivers have scorned the company" would more than likely be the first time you have seen an AP reporter record that observation.
We have picked out a couple posts from each of the five categories and asked the authors to reflect back on writing them up. In this series of short videos, they share their thoughts on how they caught the particular media moment and describe the impact their post had.
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez revisited his vendetta against Fox News, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh on Thursday's Rick's List. Sanchez brought on outgoing Representative Bob Inglis, who lost a primary challenge to a Tea Party-backed Republican candidate, and when he harped about "flamethrowers" on TV and radio, the anchor pressed him on whether he meant the two radio hosts and his network's competitor [audio clips available here].
Sanchez interviewed Rep. Inglis just before the top of the 4 pm Eastern hour. He introduced the politician by emphasizing the South Carolina Republican's overall conservative record and his recent defeat in the primary: "My next guest is a conservative firebrand. He is a veteran conservative congressman. In fact, he's maintained a 93 percent conservative voting record....Pro-choice liberals have called him a 'zero.'...He was a Ronald Reagan Republican, if there ever one was, and suddenly, he wakes up one day, and he simply is not conservative enough, not for South Carolina Republicans. He lost the recent primary. No- he got killed in the recent primary, 29-71 [percent]."
While Thursday reports on both ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today featured Proposition 8 supporters questioning the impartiality of California Federal Judge Vaughn Walker's decision to strike down the state's referendum defending traditional marriage, CBS's Early Show failed to provide any such arguments.
On Good Morning America, correspondent Terry Moran explained: "Opponents of same-sex marriage vowed to fight on and blasted the judge for, they said, letting personal interests trump his legal duty." A clip was played of one Proposition 8 supporter: "The judge has imposed his own agenda upon the voters and the children and the parents of California."
On Today, legal correspondent Pete Williams noted: "But opponents of gay marriage, who supported Proposition 8, denounced the ruling and began preparing to fight back." Supporter Randy Thomasson explained: "The judge has shut the Constitution, imposed his own agenda. He's made a lot of people happy in the gay community in San Francisco, but he is the most dangerous type of judge in America."
The Early Show report by correspondent Priya David-Clemens only featured a couple brief sound bites of gay marriage opponents in "outright disbelief" of the ruling, but no specific criticisms of the judge being biased. In contrast, three sound bites in favor of the ruling were featured.
Of the three network morning shows, only Good Morning America noted that Judge Walker was himself openly gay. Introducing the segment, co-host George Stephanopoulos mentioned: "The judge, Vaughn R. Walker, a Republican first nominated for the bench by Ronald Reagan, he is also openly gay." Both the Early Show and Today skipped over that detail.
It seems that not even the truth can possibly overturn the narrative that President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have brought transparency to Washington.
Last Wednesday I wrote about how the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill Obama signed into law last month contains a provision exempting the Securities and Exchange Commission from Freedom of Information Act requests. Such an exemption would surely have been grounds for a media outcry during the Bush administration, yet apart from The Wall Street Journal and CNN, only blogs have been following the developments. The latter opted simply to parrot the administration's claims without challenge.
Other media ouetlets, such as National Public Radio and MSNBC, completely ignored the controversy, in stark contrast to their extensive coverage of the Bush administration's attempts to curtail the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. NPR's Don Gonyea said "When conflicts arise over what should or should not be open, the administration does not hesitate to invoke the memory of 9/11. And while it's true that 9/11 changed the security landscape, it's also true that the administration was tightening the control of information much earlier . . ."
The AP's Larry Margasak ran with the Democrats' latest talking point in a Tuesday article which carried the headline, "Democrats Declare Swamp of Corruption Drained." The writer, referring to a line by Nancy Pelosi, explained that the remark "might seem odd, but it's an emerging strategy: Separate Democratic-initiated ethics from the cases of Reps. Charles Rangel...and Maxine Waters."
Despite naming Rangel and Waters in his article, Margasak completely omitted other Democratic ethics scandals since they took control of Congress in 2007, such as the case against former Louisiana Representative William Jefferson and the three members of the party linked to the scandal surrounding the PMA Group (former Rep. John Murtha, Virginia's Jim Moran, and Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana).
The AP writer expanded on the headline in his lede: "Democratic leaders say they've emptied the swamp of congressional corruption. Never mind the ethics trials to come for two longtime party members. 'Drain the swamp we did, because this was a terrible place,' Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week of the Republican rule in the House that ended in January 2007."
On Sunday's Newsroom, CNN's Don Lemon conducted a softball interview of the Rev. Al Sharpton and helped him forward the theory that the congressional ethics investigations into Representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters are being conducted because they are black. Lemon also didn't go into much detail as to what the charges against the two were and what were the circumstances of their cases.
The anchor interviewed the liberal minister 12 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour. Before introducing Sharpton, Lemon did mention that Congressman Rangel was "accused of violating 13 House Rules" and that the "accusations range from financial wrongdoing to damaging the credibility of Congress," but never mentioned during the segment that the charges mainly involve rental properties the New York representatives owns in his district and in the Dominican Republic. He also noted that Rep. Waters "has chosen to face a House ethics trial related to claims involving federal aid to a bank with ties to both Waters and her husband" but didn't give additional details about that case.
Lemon then set up his topic of discussion with the reverend: "Now, the investigation of such powerful people, like Rangel and Maxine Waters, have a lot of people talking. The reaction in Washington seems to be centered on whether the two House members are guilty or not, but back home, in their respective districts, some of their constituents aren't so sure justice is being done, and some are openly questioning why two high profile African-American House members are coming under such tough scrutiny." He then asked Sharpton, "Do you think that black members are being targeted unfairly by the Ethics Committee?"
UPDATE, 6:20 p.m. ET: AP now has a 5:28 p.m. item on the bounty. It's enough to make you wonder if the item below shamed the wire service into covering it.
A look at the Associated Press's raw national feed (saved and stored here at about 1:30 p.m. ET for future reference) informs us that the wire service considers the following items worthy of at least some countrywide attention:
We're No. 1! UGA tops party schools ranking
Lindsay Lohan released from jail, goes to rehab
(Football Player Albert) Haynesworth again doesn't pass conditioning test
Vuvuzelas silenced for basketball worlds
The fact that the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona has had a $1 million bounty placed on his head by a Mexican drug cartel, an offer that is being treated as a credible threat? Sorry, that doesn't make the cut. An AP search on Sheriff Joe Arpaio's last name confirms it:
There's a big "surprise" in the ObamaCare legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the President in late March. Imagine that.
This morning, the Associated Press's Stephen Ohlemacher reported on the status of one of them, namely an IRS-related provision in the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" that has nothing to do with patient protection or providing affordable care. The AP reporter does a decent job of explaining the current situation, but doesn't tell readers how or why the problem arose in the first place. He also gives Democrats cover for what appears to be a half-hearted effort at repeal.
The key point Ohlemacher avoided is that no almost no one in Congress had any idea that the provision, which extends Form 1099 filing requirements to virtually all vendor payments exceeding $600 in a calendar year, was in the bill. It's also clear that very few outside of Congress were aware of the provision during the run-up to the final votes, as the result of a Google News Archive search on "Obamacare 1099 $600" (not typed in quotes) shows:
It would appear that someone at CNBC listened to the Mark Levin Show on Thursday. Either that, or someone at the network paid attention to his or her e-mail alerts and read my post that went up in the wee hours Friday morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). Likely in response to our criticisms, CNBC has revised and "clarified" a report by CNBC staff writer Jeffrey Cox.
The network's revised and "clarified" report still fails to sufficiently inform readers. In fact, the new version seems to be the result of a meeting where the topic of discussion was: "What are the least informative changes we can make while being technically correct?"
On his show Thursday night, Levin referred to Cox's probably original version (now Google cached; copy saved here at my web host for future reference) addressing Deutsche Bank analysts' fears that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts at the end of the year will have a sharply negative economic impact. (For what it's worth, I prefer to describe what's coming as a plain-and-simple tax increase, simply because after what will have been eight years -- 2003 through 2010 -- everyone has long since gotten used to the current income tax structure.)
Here are the first two paragraphs of Cox's report as found by Levin and yours truly (bold is mine):
Some very persuasive evidence of a double standard at work in The Washington Post came to light today. Today's Post featured a front page headline about the Securities and Exchange Commission charging billionaire brothers Sam and Charlers Wyly with fraud.
The double standard came in when it became clear that the news a couple weeks ago about the conviction of Democratic fundraiser Hassan Nemazee had gotten almost no notice. The Post printed an Associated Press item on the third page. Nemazee had defrauded almost $300 million and was a major contributor and fundraiser to John Kerry's presidential campaign and Hilary Clinton's campaign to be 2008's Democratic nominee.
The Wylys have donated to Republicans and the Republican Party in the past, a fact The Post made very prominent both in its headline: "SEC charges billionaire Texas brothers who donate to Gop with fraud" and put in a quick reminder right in the story's first paragraph:
Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire Texas brothers who gained prominence spending millions of dollars on conservative political causes, committed fraud by using secret overseas accounts to generate more than $550 million in profit through illegal stock trades, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thursday.
What will it take for the media to acknowledge that the Tea Party is not a racist movement, and that liberals have smeared it as such in a naked politicization of race relations? How about a lefty activist admitting just that.
UPenn professor Mary Frances Berry, a leader of the "far-left black political scene," as NB Executive Editor Matt Sheffield wrote, penned this astonishing email to Politico, published on July 20:
Tainting the tea party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one’s opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness.
On Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360, anchor Anderson Cooper faulted himself for not pressing Shirley Sherrod when she appeared on the show back on July 22 and claimed that conservative Andrew Breitbart was a “vicious” racist who “would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery.”
Cooper now says he should have challenged Sherrod to support such an inflammatory charge with facts: “I believe in admitting my mistakes....I didn't challenge her that night and I should have.”
The July 22 interview was one of numerous appearances Sherrod made on CNN after she was fired by the Department of Agriculture on July 19. Cooper asked Sherrod about her phone conversation that day with President Obama, and then about Breitbart. Here’s the transcript of that section of the interview; an extended video clip appears after the jump:
Roger Simon's Wednesday morning column ("Journolist veers out of bounds"), an item Rush brought up on his show this afternoon, may be one of the most delusional items ever written by a journalist attempting to defend his profession.
Rich Noyes at NewsBusters covered one aspect of Simon's column on Wednesday, namely the deliciously hypocritical outrage of NBC/MSNBC reporter Chuck Todd over how the Journolist scandal "has been keeping him up nights, and he's especially frustrated that 'the right' would use it as 'a sledgehammer' against everyday journalists, 'those of us who don't practice advocacy journalism.'"
I'll suggest that Simon's rendition of journalistic history is at least as offensive as Todd's reaction, in that it's laughably and obviously false on so many fronts (numbered tags are mine):
... when I became a reporter, it was almost a holy calling. (1)
Fox Business is reporting that the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that President Obama signed recently includes a provision that exempts the Securities and Exchange Commission from responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. Fox wrote:
The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities." Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.
Several years ago, the media was confronted by several similar issues involving attempts by the Bush Administration to narrow the provisions of FOIA and exempt certain agencies from having to respond to requests filed under that act. The question that remains in these next few days as the media reports on this story is weather their response will be as condemnatory as it was when George W. Bush was in office.
The Daily Beast's John Avlon tried to sever the Tea Party movement from the conservative legacy of Ronald Reagan in a Tuesday column on CNN.com. Avlon, a Tea Party hater, opined that a "key difference between Reagan's rhetoric and [the tea party] is the comparative civility," and suggested that "Reagan...would have a hard time getting the GOP nomination today" for apparently not being conservative enough.
Avlon began his column, "2010 Tea Party echoes 1964 Reagan," by tying the Tea Party movement to the former president's famous speech at the 1964 Republican convention, "A Time For Choosing." After giving three excerpts from the speech, the writer labeled it a "classic -- smart, funny and still so resonant that the rhetoric Reagan used more than 50 years ago echoes in Tea Party protests today." Actually, Avlon erred in his math, as 1964 was only 46 years ago.
During live news coverage this afternoon, MSNBC's Chris Jansing demonstrated her apparent ignorance of the statistical maxim "correlation does not imply causation." Interviewing the authors of Red Families v. Blue Families, the daytime anchor gleefully reported the finding that states that voted Republican in the 2008 presidential election have higher rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, and unwed parenthood than states that voted for Barack Obama.
"You've heard the term a lot – 'family values' – but are they actually breaking up families?" the daytime anchor inquired enthusiastically. "According to one book, the so-called liberal blue states actually have more stable family units than culturally conservative red states."
Presenting the findings as a nonpartisan analysis of statistical data, Jansing omitted the fact that the authors, June Carbone and Naomi Cahn, are contributors to New Deal 2.0, a blog of the left-wing Roosevelt Institute designed to "discuss how the Great Recession has exposed the fault lines of traditional family values."
Writing for New Deal 2.0 on March 1, Carbone and Cahn lectured:
Thanks to Shirley Sherrod, Andrew Breitbart, and the NAACP, political journalists have supposedly discovered the importance of "context" (though they strangely seem to lost interest once fuller context items like this and this became known). It would be helpful if such an interest in full context would legitimately and consistently spread to business reporting.
Full context would include looking at the raw business and economic data before it gets seasonally adjusted and reporting it when it is significant. Given the information the press would then have to report in the current economy, I'm not holding my breath waiting for journalists to even look at it, let alone report it. (Update: See this comment below for another important contextual element.)
Take the housing market, particularly housing starts and new single-family home sales. During the past week, the Census Bureau released statistics on each of these important metrics. Let's look at an excerpt from reports about each.
With recent controversial race topics entering the spotlight, such as the voter intimidation incident and Shirley Sherrod story, the media has been more than willing to open their arms and turn on their cameras to hear the opining of the National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party, Malik Zulu Shabazz. Shabazz has appeared on Fox News, issued a statement through CNN, and done exclusive interviews for various media outlets.
The Anti-Defamation League has described Shabazz as anti-Semitic and racist, trying "to recast himself as a serious civil rights leader in recent years by cloaking his bigotry and intolerance in religious and civil rights principles and inserting himself in high profile, racially charged issues around the country." This certainly seems to be the case as he has made an increasing number of appearances in the media, in which the audience is to suspend belief and assume this man is an evenhanded voice on race relations in America.
In fact, Shabazz used his statement at CNN to accuse the ‘Republican or right wing tea party strategists' of ‘stir(ing) up racial fears'.
Many readers may already be familiar with recent exposure of the treasury plunderers disguised as public officials serving up hefty salaries to themselves while allegedly serving their constituents in the LA suburb of Bell, California.
Here's some of the latest from the Associated Press, carried at the Los Angeles Times, which broke the original story, for those who need a quick catch-up. Almost as night follows day, the news doesn't answer a question many readers here and elsewhere will naturally have:
Several hundred angry residents from a modest blue-collar Los Angeles suburb marched Sunday to call for the resignation of the mayor and some City Council members in a protest sparked by the sky-high salaries of three recently departed administrators.
The residents of the city of Bell marched to Oscar's Korner Market and Carniceria, owned by Mayor Oscar Hernandez, then to his home, demanding that he reduce his own six-figure compensation or quit.
They then did the same with some members of the City Council, with many marchers wearing T-shirts that read "My city is more corrupt than your city."
Ali Velshi continued CNN's endorsement of the homosexual agenda on Thursday's Newsroom with a commentary where he endorsed legislation that would "require school districts to have policies recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity." Velshi highlighted the case of a Mississippi teen lesbian who, with the ACLU's help, won $35,000 in damages against her school district, who had barred her from taking another young woman to the prom.
The CNN anchor gave a one-line preview of his regular "XYZ" segment 57 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour: "Okay- a prom is for everyone, no matter who your date is. I'm going to tell you more about it in my 'XYZ,' coming up." After a commercial break, Velshi launched into his commentary: