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.
It is a strange paradigm among much of the mainstream media that plummeting poll numbers are of far greater import for Republicans than they are for Democrats. That, at least, is the logical conclusion of the relative silence of major media outlets on the steep decline in President Obama's poll numbers compared with the decline in President Bush's.
According to an Allstate/National Journal poll released Wednesday, 50 percent of Americans would vote against President Obama if the presidential elections were held today. Only 39 percent say they would vote to re-elect the president.
But so far, this stunning development--given the President's sky-high approval ratings upon entering office--has gone seemingly unnoticed by the major television networks and most prominent print publications. Aside from some prominent blogs (whose coverage is by no means substandard), the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Washington Examiner are so far the only major outlets to report on the poll, according to a google news search (as of 2:00 PM).
The charts definitely show how utterly wrong reporters like the Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa are when they claim that there has been anything resembling a "rebound" since the economy hit bottom from a growth standpoint in the second quarter of 2009 (the economy has yet to see an employment bottom). They also explain why AP reporter Martin Crutsinger seems to have tired of trying to put a "getting better" face on things in the past couple of days (as seen here and here at NewsBusters; here and here at BizzyBlog).
Here, after screen captures by Morrissey, are the two mind-numbing creations in question, the first showing changes in output (GDP) and the second showing changes in employment:
Today, Roger Alford and Bruce Schreiner of the Associated Press, reporting from Frankfort, KY, are giving leftist bloggers, columnists, journalists who assumed or gave the impression of assuming that the death of Census worker Bill Sparkman was some kind of right-wing hit job another chance to come clean with an unconditional "I was wrong, I amy sorry." The list of those needing to post corrections and apologies includes the Associated Press itself.
You see, not only is it crystal clear that Sparkman (may he rest in peace) indeed killed himself, Alford and Schreiner tell us that he told a friend of his plans:
Jan 15, 6:09 PM EST
Police: Ky. census worker had told of suicide plan
An eastern Kentucky census worker found naked, bound and hanging from a tree had told a friend he intended to kill himself and that he had chosen the time, place and method to do it, police records show.
In his coverage of yesterday's Monthly Treasury Statement from Uncle Sam, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger, who I have criticized frequently for cruddy reporting, especially on federal finances, did a pretty good job reporting key facts and conveying very real concerns that are brewing over the country's current fiscal path.
In the process, he made a stunning admission about the economy's situation that has to be seen to be believed.
I find myself concerned that the previous paragraphs might cause Mr. Crutsinger to get called into a closed-door meeting where he gets asked what in the world is going on. If that happens, I have an agenda item he can bring up. I'll get to that later.
Crutsinger's only serious error was his final paragraph's mischaracterization of deficit trends during the Bush administration.
But given that the incident in question is a Weekly Standard writer alleging an assault by an aide for Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley (Mass.), it's understandable, but not excusable, if you don't hear much about this from the broadcast or cable news networks.
For its part, the Associated Press -- in a story run on Boston.com -- all but dismissed the incident for the Coakley camp with a five-paragraph article blandly titled "Reporter takes stumble chasing Mass. candidate," wherein John McCormack of the Weekly Standard was said to have been "involved in a scuffle with one of [Coakley's] aides," a man by the name of Michael Meehan.
The media has frequently made the deplorable decision to present prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as innocent choir boys, wrapped up in the evil that is a U.S. prison system run by blood thirsty prison guards. Such is the case of a recent piece by the BBC, covering a love-fest reunion between the former Guantanamo guard who has seen the light, repenting for his evil ways, and two ex-inmates whose only goal in Afghanistan back in 2001 was to provide aid work, sight see, and smoke dope.
The BBC interview with the three individuals - former prison guard Brandon Neely and former inmates Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul - asks the question: "But what were the pair doing in Afghanistan in 2001?"
Ken Vogel, the Left Whisperer The Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel was today a poor excuse for a journalist. He was, however, an excellent excuse for a public relations flack for President Barack Obama and his Administration.
Recall if you will the brouhaha that arose after C-Span Chief Executive Officer Brian Lamb publicly released a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner asking that the electronic media be allowed access to the health care legislation conference meetings.
(Currently, they are being conducted behind closed doors with only Democrats allowed to participate - no Republicans, no media.)
This became a bit of a problem for President Obama as well. Here we have eight times during the campaign where he pledged on camera to have all health care meetings televised - on C-Span, by name. Yet he has thus far refused to demand greater openness of or for the health care legislative process.
Yesterday, Fox News Channel's Bret Baier picked up on a statement NewsBusters Publisher and Media Research Center President Brent Bozell made about "60 Minutes" failing to note Harry Reid's controversial "Negro dialect" remark, even as the news magazine program devoted plenty of time to other revelations from the just-published book "Game Change".
It's utterly shameless for CBS to cover this book, and ignore the scoops about the racially charged comments of Harry Reid and Bill Clinton, but devote a very slanted 10 minutes to more of the same old McCain aides slashing Sarah Palin.
There's just something about Sarah. A morsel, any morsel, about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin that can possibly be used to belittle her is rabidly devoured by many in the mainstream media. On his CNN Newsroom segment today, anchor Rick Sanchez highlighted Palin's difficulty in keeping Joe Biden's name straight. Four different times, he played the same video from 2008's vice presidential debate in which she referred to him as "O'Biden." Sanchez played part of an interview with McCain campaign staffer Steve Schmidt, who described Palin's error as "a verbal tic" that could prove "devastating beyond words." Then:
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: How did you get around it?
SCHMIDT: Multiple people, and I wasn't one of them, all said at the same time, just say, "Can I call you Joe?" Which she did.
Executives from Government/General Motors and Chrysler are at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit vaguely holding forth on the prospect of reopening previously shuttered production facilities.
Uh, don't sales have to start heading seriously upward before that happens?
Apparently the Associated Press's Tom Krisher, who has his hands in separate stories on the two companies, and Jeff Karoub, who is co-spokesman -- er, co-author -- of the report on Chrysler, aren't asking that question.
On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office issued its Monthly Budget Review for December 2009. It estimates that December's federal deficit will be $92 billion when the Treasury Department releases its Monthly Treasury Statement on Wednesday, and that the deficit for the first fiscal quarter will be "about $390 billion." The CBO director's related blog post is here. The establishment press has virtually ignored it.
Here is the initial result of a Google News search on "CBO deficit" (not in quotes) for articles relating to the Congressional Budget Office's Thursday estimate of the federal government's deficit for the first quarter of its fiscal year:
Clicking on the "all 10 new articles" reveals that there are really only four results, that three of them are at blogs, and that only one of the blog posts is from an establishment media site:
Four recent stories out of Venezuela each give readers brief glimpses at how Hugo Chavez's brand of authoritarian socialism is critically wounding what could be a resource-rich, financially prosperous country:
January 9, AP -- "Venezuela faces risk of devastating power collapse."
Collectively, however, they depict a country in the early stages of a headlong free-fall into Cuban-style financial ruin. No U.S. establishment media enterprise appears interested in making the accelerating decays in financial well-being and personal freedom in that country understandable to the average person.
AP's headline at the first item noted seems designed to avoid attention. This isn't a mere "weakening" of the currency; instead, it's a bizarre bi-level devaluation of up to 50%:
Toyota and Ford are on the verge of catching Government/General Motors in monthly U.S. vehicle sales. Based on the sales trends at the three companies, GM may lose its domestic kingpin status in just a few months.
I heard the December facts giving rise to the aforementioned tidbit on the radio Monday afternoon, and wondered whether the commentator came up with them on his own or if early wire reports had relayed them. If it's the latter, the relevant points seem to have disappeared from later wire service dispatches, including this one from the Associated Press's Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin. I think they need to be plucked from the ether and emphasized, especially given the boast by the GM's chairman that it will make a profit in 2010.
"Not in sync with the current program" is how former CNN host Tucker Carlson describes his new website, the Daily Caller, which is scheduled to launch Monday. Designed as a conservative answer to the Huffington Post, the Daily Caller will do what few center-right blogs have attempted: report hard news.
Carlson and his partner, former Dick Cheney aide Neil Patel, have raised $3 million in startup capital for the site, according to the Washington Independent. That impressive sum is enough to keep the Daily Caller operating for about a year. The site will employ a reporting staff or 21 in its Washington, D.C. office.
With Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism, which launched earlier this week, Carlson hopes to be on the cutting edge of a new effort on the right to circumvent major media outlets--and overcome the significant obstacles to conservative news of traditional media outlets.
As has been noted here in the recent past, it isn't just government entities that are a little slow on the uptake when it comes to identifying radical Muslim preachers as accessories to terrorism - it's also the media. Consider the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, a man who has consistently shown ties to terrorist attacks, yet who had gone predominantly under the media radar as nothing more than a simple cleric.
Also consider the curious case of one Yasir Qadhi, a man recently interviewed by CNN for a sympathetic look at the failed underwear bomber, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab. A man who has apparently escaped background investigations by both CNN and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). (H/t the Jawa Report)
How else to explain CNN's representation of Qadhi as a simple, orthodox teacher of Islam, who had no idea of the extremist views of AbdulMutallab? And how else to explain the baffling decision by the NCTC to utilize Qadhi in its deradicalization efforts?
What, you might ask, is wrong with presenting this man as a moderate teacher of ‘the nuts and bolts of Islam?'
Well, for starters, he is - by his own admission - a proud member of the U.S. terror watch list, and an instructor at an institution so extreme in their teachings, that an anti-terror consultant once dubbed the school ‘Jihad U.'
Find out more about the man CNN presents as an innocent professor of Islam after the break...
CNN continued its spin on the retirement of Senator Byron Dorgan on Wednesday. Anchor Campbell Brown one-upped Wolf Blitzer’s “moderate Democrat” tag of the senator, going so far to label the liberal a “conservative Democrat.” Correspondent Dana Bash also noted how the outgoing senator is apparently “popular” in his state, contrary to recent polls. Not once was Dorgan labeled “liberal” or “left.”
Brown’s interview of Dorgan aired at the bottom of the 8 pm Eastern hour. During the second half of the segment, the anchor expressed some of the left’s concerns over his decision to not run for reelection: “You know, this is that rare moment where Democrats have a supermajority and are able to get through what they wanted to accomplish. And so there are people- fairly or unfairly- who are saying, why are you doing this to us now?”
Washington Post reporter Dan Eggen scored a front page hit on...wait for it...conservative advocacy groups that oppose Obamacare. (See Funding for Health-Care Interest Groups Often Fuzzy.) Eggen is scandalized that (big) business interests want to fund groups that oppose President Obama's plans to socialize insurance in the U.S. Eggen singles out a handful of non-leftists groups and complains about "opaque financing" and "hidden support from insurers, drugmakers [and] unions."
The second part of Eggen's report similarly blasts left-of-center groups that take corporate money to support Obamacare. Yeah, right. Actually, Eggen expends just one paragraph mentioning that liberal groups might be "beholden to labor unions and liberal foundations with deep pockets." No serious discussion of the fact that industry lobbyists have been a huge backer of Obamacare - or, specific provisions thereof. (See, for example, DC Examiner author and columnist Timothy P. Carney's article this week on PhRMA's influence within the Obama administration and, last week, on another major trade association, America's Health Insurance Plans.)
Isn't it curious that Eggen omits entirely any examination of what corporate interests fund left-wing groups?
Despite six months of positive economic growth, Treasury collections are continuing what is now a serious two-year downward slide.
In August, the Congressional Budget Office projected that collections during the fiscal year that will end on September 30, 2010 will be $2.264 trillion (PDF; page 2 at link). That's $159 billion, or about 7.5% higher, than fiscal 2009's final total of $2.105 trillion.
There's a problem. Unless there's a surprise when the final numbers come out next week, Uncle Sam's receipts for the quarter that just ended, i.e., the first quarter of the 2010 fiscal year, are already $60 billion behind the previous year. Somehow, this is not news.
Through November, as seen here, collections were already behind last year by about $40 billion ($268.9 bil vs. $309.6 bil). From all appearances, December was little better, as its estimated take of $218 billion trailed last year's $237.8 billion.
In a report time-stamped January 2, the Associated Press's Philip Elliott relayed what was supposedly important news:
Obama cites apparent al-Qaida link in bomb plot
An al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen apparently ordered the Christmas Day plot against a U.S. airliner, training and arming the 23-year-old Nigerian man accused in the failed bombing, President Barack Obama said Saturday.
You don't say?
The story was on the front page of Sunday's Cincinnati Enquirer, and likely many other papers across the nation.
The Obama administration's Home Affordable Modification Program (known as "HAMP" to lenders and services, and MHA, or "Making Home Affordable" to the general public) is "failing."
I only learned this because I looked at the Associated Press's feeds on Christmas evening and saw this headline -- "No consequences for lying borrowers."
In an item time-stamped December 25, AP national business columnist Rachel Beck (note: not a reporter) used language that would ordinarily cause many in the press to characterize such a person as a hard-hearted meanie to describe the results of this core Obama initiative this far:
No consequences for lying borrowers
The government shouldn't reward liars. But that's the effect of changes to the Obama administration's failing program to help homeowners modify their mortgages.