Yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted Fannie Mae's $72 billion loss announcement and the ward of the state's simultaneous $15.3 billion handout request.
Late Friday was also the occasion for the release by the Treasury Department of the "2009 Financial Report of the United States Government." The report shows how seriously the government's financial situation deteriorated during the fiscal year that ended September 30. The coverage of the report prepared by the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger demonstrated how weak the press's communication of that seriousness is.
After presenting the first several paragraphs of Crutsinger's composition for the purpose of providing the basic facts, I'll concentrate on the AP writer's three worst paragraphs that followed (there is also a summary table from the report at the end of this post):
After the closing bell on Friday, just in time for everyone to stop paying close attention, mortgage behemoth and ward of the state Fannie Mae ("Fan") released its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results. Its press release (PDF) informs us that its $74.4 billion loss in 2009 (inclusive of dividends paid to the government) followed a $58.8 billion loss in 2008.
Oh, by the way, Fan also told us yesterday that it will need another $15.3 billion in cash by the end of March. That would bring the total of Uncle Sam's combined Fan-Fred cash infusions to $126 billion.
These outrageous results are made even more maddening by Zibel's kid-glove treatment of the problems at the two entities in paragraphs 8 through 10 of his report:
Democrats at the Feb. 25 health summit argued that under their proposal, 31 million of the 47 million uninsured Americans would receive coverage.
CNN's "American Morning" co-host Kiran Chetry repeated that claim Feb. 26 and asked one of her guests: Kenneth Thorpe, Prof. at the Rollins School of Public Health, about its validity and the debate surrounding the statistic.
"I mean there's 47 million uninsured Americans they [Senate Democrats] argue. And when you talk to Republicans, we talked to Sen. John Cornyn yesterday - ‘No, no, no - that's a wildly inflated number," Chetry said.
"If you can't even necessarily agree on who wants and needs health insurance at various stages of their lives, how can you move forward on who is going to get it under the plan?" Chetry asked.
Earlier this afternoon, NB's Tim Graham noted how NPR's Robert Siegel and Pew Research pollster Andrew Kohut spoke approvingly of "Millennials" as being "less 'militaristic' and less religious" than their elders.
At end of his post, Graham noted that Siegel and Kohut "somehow" forgot to discuss the key political finding in the poll, namely that the demographic's 32-point favoritism towards Democrats (62% to 30%) has declined by more than half (to 54% to 40%) in just one year of living in Obamaland. Shoot, if that trend continues for another nine months, it will be almost all even by Election Day in November.
Chris Matthews is widely known for his hasty--and often erroneous--conclusions about the conservatives he criticizes on his show. He has wondered if Rush Limbaugh really believes what he says and supported claims that Joe Stack is somehow tied to the "radical right".
During last night's "Hardball", he did it again. Matthews quoted former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich completely out of context to make it seem as if he had called Obama a socialist without having any idea what the word means.
In fact, Gingrich knows exactly what the word means, and spent considerable time clarifying and qualifying his statement. These additional remarks, however, were left out of Matthews's report in his attempt to delegitimize Gingrich's argument without actually addressing it.
Upon further research and examination into the Army's complete findings on the Fort Hood shootings, in a February 22 report, the Boston Globe's Bryan Bender conceded that politically-incorrect conservatives were right all along - just not in those words of course.
Immediately after Major Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 U.S. soldiers November 5, major news networks and publication bent over backwards to omit Hasan's Islamic identity or to excuse the killing of 13 soldiers as a result of stress or psychosis.
Report after report, interview after interview, and press conference after press conference, reporters, politicians, and government officials warned against jumping to conclusions - in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
"I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing." - Joe Biden, 2005
Few Americans would be shocked to hear that members of Congress are not always consistent, and occasionally outright hypocritical. Very often, however, the liberal media attempts to downplay Democratic double standards and highlight Republican ones.
Each recent change in the congressional majority, it seems has brought calls from the newly dominant party for an end to the filibuster. This Democratic majority is no different.
When noting rhetorical inconsistencies, however, the mainstream media has jumped at the chance to note that Republicans, now using the filibuster as a potential means to block Democratic health care legislation, were ardent advocates of majoritarianism in the Senate only a few years ago (as demonstrated in the video below the fold).
On February 14, CNN aired both segments of its special series “Black in America," and used the opportunity to perpetuate a harmful racial myth.
In the first installment, reporter Soledad O’Brien took viewers to Project Brotherhood, a clinic in the south side of Chicago offering free medical care and advice to its black residents.
“We are seeing an increasing amount of men with resources, who are just reluctant to access services elsewhere,” Dr. Pete Thomas, a clinic doctor told O’Brien.
“Why the reluctance? Dr. Thomas says black men are afraid of being exploited – a fear caused by history and the revelation that for forty years unsuspecting poor black men were used as medical guinea pigs in the infamous Tuskegee experiments,” O’Brien said.
CNN's Kiran Chetry's two guests -- Time magazine's Karen Tumulty and Wendell Potter of the liberal Center for Media and Democracy -- promoted the latest health care "reform" proposal by President Obama on Tuesday's American Morning. Chetry also omitted the left-of-center political affiliation of Potter's organization.
The CNN anchor began the segment, which aired just after the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour, by focusing on the cost of President Obama's latest health care plan: "[Obama] laid out his own vision online yesterday. It would cost an estimated $950 billion over 10 years, and it would extend coverage to about 31 million uninsured Americans. It would also expand Medicaid and close the so-called 'doughnut hole' in Medicare, where seniors have to pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs. So where does all the money come from?"
Chetry then introduced Potter as a "former insurance executive" who is "now with the Center for Media and Democracy," and Tumulty as the "national political correspondent for Time magazine, who has done extensive writing about the health care situation." The anchor never mentioned the Center's liberal political agenda during the segment (four previous CNN personalities did the same during 2009). She first asked Tumulty to "break down for us how the President is proposing to pay for this nearly $1 trillion proposal."
Last Friday, New London, Connecticut's newspaper The Day carried the first bit of news in years that might be construed as positive about the city's Fort Trumbull area, part of which became the subject of the infamous Kelo v. New London Supreme Court decision in June 2005. Twenty-four hours later, further detail also carried at the Day showed that the "good news" is really a cruel joke on homeowners who fought for the right to keep their properties.
The city convinced the Supreme Court that it had "a carefully considered development plan." The trouble was when that plan met the real world during the three-plus years after the July 2006 final settlement between the city, the State of Connecticut, and final eminent-domain holdouts Susette Kelo and Mike Cristofaro, no developer wanted to get involved. Kelo's house (pictured above via the New York Times) was moved to a separate site and serves as a monument to her and others' heroic efforts.
Despite the hard feelings all around, one can see how Thursday's news covered in Friday's Day indicating a bit of movement in a moribund situation might have been cause for limited cheer:
On Monday's Rick's List, CNN's Rick Sanchez painted Ann Coulter and CPAC as "hardline." Sanchez also implied that the CPAC attendees were hypocritically cheering Dick Cheney: "I invited Ann Coulter, who exemplifies the hardline spirit of CPAC...and asked her why anti-spend conservatives meeting there...would give a standing ovation to a former vice president whose administration ran up the deficit" [audio clip available here].
The CNN anchor revisited his Friday interview of Coulter 13 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour (Noel Sheppard exposed Sanchez's slanted interview of Coulter): "Do you remember last week when former Vice President Dick Cheney got the loudest ovation at CPAC? So I invited Ann Coulter, who exemplifies the hardline spirit of CPAC, I believe, and I asked her why anti-spend conservatives meeting there at CPAC would give a standing ovation to a former vice president whose administration ran up the deficit to $1.2 trillion, even though they were handed a surplus. I thought it was a fair question."
Why, you get hired by Uncle Sam at what is probably a six-figure salary to be a Transportation Department spokesperson. Isn't that obvious?
The person involved is one Olivia Alair, whose name has appeared several times in the past 24 hours in connection with establishment media stories covering an internal Toyota company presentation turned over to congressional investigators and subsequently leaked to the press. Here are a few examples (previous related NewsBusters posts are here, here, and here):
If the goal of whoever leaked the contents of a presentation originally made internally at Toyota's Washington, DC offices and turned over to congressional investigators was to drum up an intense level of negative press coverage against the company, they can sit back and say, "Mission accomplished."
It seems to have started Sunday with David Shepardson of the Detroit News, who reported that the company had "bragged" about avoiding recall costs. Though he appears to have erroneously believed that he had the whole thing, Shepardson's "evidence" consisted of only ten of that presentation's sixteen (or possibly more) pages with a couple of references to "wins." His report was picked and spread widely by the Associated Press's Ken Thomas, who turned "bragged" into "boasted."
I guess we could call it the congressional leakers' version of "spreading the wealth."
As noted in a post late Sunday evening (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Detroit News received a "10-page document" from what had been a Toyota internal presentation that more than likely came from someone who is either a member of or working in Congress, or is involved with the Department of Transportation. Reporter David Shepardson clearly led readers to believe he had the whole thing -- even though the page numbers on the document were 1-6, 8, and 14-16.
Shepardson, along with the Associated Press's Ken Thomas in a related story, wrote that the company "bragged" and "boasted" about saving money on recall costs when the underlying documents show no such thing, especially when one understands (as this pair clearly doesn't) Japanese cultural and behavioral norms.
Politico was the beneficiary of its own different set of leaked documents from that same presentation. As seen below, the web site's Jack Sherman also gave readers the impression in his report that it had the entire document:
How coincidental. A Detroit News item by David Shepardson supposedly indicating that Toyota is more concerned about saving money than driver safety surfaces less than 48 hours before congressional hearings are to begin. His story's basis is a presentation that appears to have been leaked by someone either in Congress or working there, or who is involved with the Department of Transportation.
Lo and behold, Associated Press writer Ken Thomas is right behind him to make sure the story goes national and to mimic Shepardson's breathtaking cultural ignorance in time for the wee-hours press runs for Monday's newspapers and for the writers at the morning news shows.
Shepardson and Thomas, absent any other evidence they chose to make readers aware of, believe that four documents in what was originally an internal company presentation somehow prove that Toyota "bragged" and "boasted," respectively, about saving money in connection with the potential "sudden acceleration" problem in many of its models.
Further, and crucially, Shepardson seems to be a bit numerically challenged, while Thomas appears to have relied on Shepardson's innumeracy. The Detroit News writer told readers that he obtained a "10-page" presentation, but the page numbering on the actual documents indicates that its full length was at least 16 pages. I'm not kidding.
Between its January 31 and February 20 reports on developments in the "interrogation memos" saga, the Associated Press may have learned a lesson in basic journalism from a NewsBusters commenter. I'll describe; readers can decide.
The wire service's unbylined report three weeks ago opened with this paragraph:
The top United Nations climate change official said today that he has made the “difficult decision” to step down from his position, citing his desire to pursue new opportunities to advance progress on the issue in both the private sector and academia.
.... Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that he was informed by Mr. de Boer of his decision two days ago and respected his decision, but “with regret.”
“Developing countries need to move as quickly as possible toward a future of low-emissions growth and prosperity,” he stressed, noting that millions of people in Africa and around the world are suffering from climate change’s effects.
These people are still living in the fantasy world they have constructed over the past two decades.
The liberal press is determined, it seems, to tie Joe Stack's apparent suicide in Austin today to the Tea Party movement. NewsBusters has reported on three such attempts, and now New York Magazine has thrown its hat in the ring.
Like Time Magazine, MSNBC, and the Washington Post, New York Magazine cherry-picked portions of Stack's apparent suicide note, which he posted online, in order to support the contention that he was acting out of a radical hatred of the IRS and the federal government in general.
Also like the those three bastions of media liberalism, NY Magazine did not include the final two lines of Stack's note. They are perhaps the most politically consequential lines in the entire note, yet they were suspiciously absent from the piece. They should also put to rest any notion that this man was in any way affiliated with the Tea Party movement.
According to ABC, CBS and NBC, an athlete involved in a three-month-old sex scandal is more newsworthy than a statement of principles signed by more than 80 conservative leaders.
Not just more newsworthy. The broadcast network morning shows devoted more than 30 minutes of coverage about Tiger Wood's statement to the press on his sexual "indiscretions" scheduled for Feb. 19. By contrast, the Feb. 17 signing of the Mount Vernon statement by 80 prominent conservative leaders received zero coverage. Both CBS and NBC sent camera crews to the event.
ABC provided the lion's share of the Tiger coverage, giving more than 17 minutes of airtime to the Woods story. A crisis management professional, a family therapist and two sports writers were brought on to speculate about the impact his expected apology would have on Woods' image and career, as well as the pros and cons of his wife Elin appearing alongside him.
Woods coverage on CBS clocked in at more than nine minutes while NBC, currently covering the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, gave Woods only four-and-a-half minutes.
In his report ("Federal deficit at $430.69 billion through January") following yesterday's snow-delayed release of Uncle Sam's most recent Monthly Treasury Statement, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger informed readers that through the first four months of the fiscal year, "outlays total $1.12 trillion, down 3.9 percent from the spending through the same period in 2009."
He further explained that:
The huge deficits are being caused by the impact of a severe recession, which has trimmed the government's tax receipts and raised spending on such programs as unemployment insurance and food stamps. The deficits also reflect the billions of dollars being spent from the $787 billion stimulus program passed in February 2009 and the $700 billion financial bailout program Congress passed in October 2008 to stabilize the banking system.
The items I bolded in the excerpted paragraph are far from the only ones showing big increases. More to the point, two vaguely described spending line items in the report showing huge year-over-year spending decreases are masking big increases at many federal agencies.
Here is a rundown of the major offenders and line items through the first four months of the current fiscal year (from Page 2 of the Monthly Treasury Statement; percentage increases are derived from unrounded figures):
Vice President Joseph Biden's very public wearing of ashes, a Lenten practice for Catholics, on Wednesday led to several befuddled reactions from the mainstream media. Sky News's Kay Burley had to apologize after confusing the ashen mark for an injury. More egregiously, ABC News's Karen Travers omitted the past controversy over his support for legalized abortion, and portrayed him as a devout Catholic.
The Vice President bore the ashes on his forehead as he introduced President Obama at a White House event celebrating the one-year anniversary of the so-called Recovery Act. Burley asked Greg Milam, Sky News's US correspondent, about the mark as they monitored Biden's remarks: "What's happened to his head? I'm sure that's what everybody's asking at home." After a short pause, Milam replied, "Yes, I don't know. It's a simple answer. Maybe we'll get a chance to find out a little later." Burley then remarked, "It looks like he walked into a door, doesn't it? I'm sure that's one of the questions that the networks will be asking him." (video clip above is from Thursday's Morning Joe on MSNBC; audio available here).
Update - 7:15 PM | Lachlan Markay: The questions from the poll phrase the issue in similarly misleading language. Details below.
The news media have a tremendous potential to shape public opinion. So when they misreport important events, it has significant consequences for public opinion and public policy.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released today shows that 80 percent of Americans disagree with the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United v. FEC decision last month. Perhaps if the Post stopped misleading its readers about the decision as it did today in reporting the poll, public opinion would look differently.
The misinformation begins right in the lede, where reporter Dan Eggen claims the SCOTUS decision "allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns." That statement is utterly false. The decision allows corporations and unions to spend unlimited dollars on political advertising. Restrictions on campaign contributions are still in place.
CNN's Ed Lavandera misrepresented "lost and stolen" gun ordinances passed by municipalities in Pennsylvania as "straw purchase ordinances" on Wednesday's American Morning, and hinted that gun rights supporters were somehow extreme. Lavandera also omitted that county and local governments in Pennsylvania cannot pass gun laws due to the state legislature preempting this area of regulation.
The correspondent's report was the third installment in a continuing series on American Morning titled "The Gun Trail" (on Tuesday, he touted what gun control activists call the "iron pipeline," and omitted that gun straw purchases are illegal under federal law). Lavandera highlighted a push in Pennsylvania to pass the "lost and stolen" ordinances. He began with two sound bites from Jana Finder, a coordinator for Ceasefire PA, a gun control organization. The correspondent never explicitly mentioned Ceasefire PA's gun control agenda, just that it had "launched a grassroots campaign to get local governments to sign on to what's become a highly controversial law called 'lost and stolen' ordinances....The ordinances require gun owners to report if their weapons have been lost or stolen, usually within 24 hours."
CNN's Ed Lavandera highlighted what gun control activists call the "iron pipeline" during a report on Tuesday's American Morning, where guns are obtained illegally through straw purchases, a felony offense under federal law, and smuggled to criminals who cannot legally purchase them. Lavandera never made it clear that such straw purchases are illegal during his report.
Anchor John Roberts introduced the CNN correspondent's report, which is part of a series titled "The Gun Trail." Roberts explicitly referenced the "iron pipeline," where guns obtained through illegal straw purchases in the Southeast are smuggled up the I-95 corridor to criminals in the Northeast: "Today, our Ed Lavandera is on the front line, a state at the start of the so-called 'iron pipeline'- a pipeline that could end on your street."
In a story primarily about President Obama's plan to campaign on behalf of incumbent Democratic senators in Nevada and Colorado, Washington Times reporter Joseph Curl did not name Colorado Senator Michael Bennet's opponent.
That oversight would ordinarily be defensible if the Bennet's primary competitor were polling weakly. But he is most decidedly not, at least where it ultimately counts -- in general election match-ups against the current Republican primary front-runner.
On a low-attention Sunday, the Associated Press's Tom Raum put together a pretty good analysis ("US debt will keep growing even with recovery"), though not labeled as such, of the serious financial situation the country faces thanks to the mushrooming national debt.
But the AP writer ignored two critical warnings raised in a related item he filed over a year ago on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 ("Analysis: Deficit spending is tough medicine") that have contributed mightily to the dire situation he described. In that report, Raum claimed that there was a "consensus ... that some form of major stimulus — either new spending, tax cuts or a mix — is needed ... so long as it is short term and doesn't include permanent new spending programs." It is clear that the stimulus plan passed last year has flunked both key concerns he raised.
Raum also blithely assumed that White House and Congressional Budget Office forecasts assuming a huge increase in collections are accurate, when there is ample evidence that they are not.
Here are key paragraphs from the AP's Sunday sounding of the siren:
UPDATE, 6:15 P.M.:An unbylined 11:57 a.m. AP report (i.e., 54 minutes after the time stamp of the original post at BizzyBlog) contains two paragraphs about Delahunt's involvement. Based on a search on Delahunt's last name at about 6:15 p.m., this version of AP's report is either still not at its main site, or has not been indexed by its search engine.
Democratic Congressman Bill Delahunt's far from minor role in the 1986 release of Amy Bishop, the University of Alabama in Hunstville biology professor implicated in the murder of three colleagues on Friday, has garnered significant press attention in the past 24 hours or so. Some reports have noted Delahunt's party affiliation; others, mostly but not entirely out of New England, where Delahunt's party affiliation may be common knowledge, have not.
In late August 2009, Toyota announced that it would close its New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) factory in Fremont, California at the end of March. The plant had been a joint venture of the company and General Motors until June, when GM withdrew.
Almost six months later, in the wake of a series of Toyota product recalls, and roughly seven weeks before the plant's scheduled shutdown, the UAW and the AFL-CIO on Friday began an attempt to gin up a campaign to convince the company to reopen the plant, and to encourage the public to refuse to buy its products it if doesn't.
Since there is virtually zero chance of the plant remaining open (the company said at the time of the closure that "it will close the plant, regardless of financial incentives offered by the state"), you'll have to excuse me if I question the overall timing, and even if there might be just a wee bit of government and union coordination going on here -- especially given some of the people involved and some of the statements made at a rally outside the plant and at the UAW's nearby union hall yesterday.
In terms of press coverage of yesterday's events, you have to wonder if Brooke Donald of the Associated Press and George Avalos of the Oakland Tribune were actually in the same place. Donald's AP coverage made what was going on appear relatively benign, while Avalos included important details to the contrary.
Since the AP science reporter wrote his December 12, 2009 defense of the alleged scientists who have promoted the alleged perils of human-caused global warming, the scandal known as ClimateGate has inexorably widened. It has deeply tarnished never-deserved reputations; revealed the entire premise to be based on fraudulent, corrupted, manipulated and/or nonexistent data; and taken the entire enterprise to the point where it is utterly without objective credibility.
Thus, it would be understandable if poor Seth might be looking for some way, any way, to inject in his two cents yet again without being forced to defend the indefensible.
He found a bit of an outlet on Friday in his coverage of this year's virtually unprecedented U.S. snowfalls. How unprecedented? This may be the first time 49 out of 50 states have snow on the ground at the same time.
Here are key factual paragraphs relating to the U.S. situation in Borenstein's report, followed by his veer-off into global warming near its end (bolded by me):
The liberal website Talking Points Memo continues to report on a bigoted individual who speciously claims to represent 6 million members of the Tea Party movement as a "leader."
In fact, he doesn't represent anyone but himself.
Readers can only infer from TPM's consistentcoverageofone Dale Robertson that the website is attempting to play up the most radical figure it can find who associates with the Tea Party movement. The website referred to Robertson today as a "prominent Tea Party leader" in the first sentence of a story headlined, "'Warning: Tea Party In Danger': Leader Slams Palin As 'Wolf In Sheep's Clothing.'"
But not only doesn't Robertson represent any faction of the movement, he has also been publicly and consistently rebuffed by a number of Tea Party groups who want nothing to do with his message. Even liberal blogs have noted the duplicity in associating him with the Tea Party movement.