Give the New York Times points for nerve, anyway. Chief political reporter Adam Nagourney managed to take the paper's new poll, full of bad news for President Obama and Democrats, and to change the subject, twisting the findings to suggest that Republicans were the party in trouble, in Friday's front page story: “Obama Fares Better in Poll Than G.O.P." The online headline is similar: "Obama Has Edge Over G.O.P. With Public."
Nagourney, with co-writer Megan Thee-Brenan, entirely passed over several interesting tidbits from the poll (you can read a .PDF version here) which reflected badly on the prospects of Obama and the Democrats. The negative stuff that was brought to light was buried, while positive but irrelevant trends for Obama were placed up high, in paragraph three.
That's where Nagourney gave Obama credit for being on the popular side of the issue of gays serving openly in the military, an issue that wasn't even on the national agenda before Obama's State of the Union address two weeks ago. Meanwhile, deep public opposition to Obama's long-time signature issue -- his health care plan -- wasn't addressed until paragraph 10, and then only lightly.
Press reports about the prediction by President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers that the economy would add an average of 95,000 jobs per month during calendar 2010 weren't exactly overflowing with praise, but were lacking in something one would have expected: historical context.
Philip Elliott's Associated Press report provided none. Sewell Chan's New York Times coverage at least pointed out that the promised level of job growth was "barely enough to keep up with the normal number of jobs the economy would have to create to meet the growth in the labor force and keep the unemployment rate steady."
But how would what the administration predicts compare to previous recoveries? As seen in the following chart based on more detailed information here, all based on data from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 95,000 per month performance in job growth following a breakout quarter after a recession wouldn't exactly be impressive:
We're not looking to give Bill Clinton a hard time on a day when he's undergone heart surgery. But our forbearance doesn't extend to Tom Brokaw when he misstates history . . .
On this evening's Hardball, responding to Chris Matthews' question as to what motivates Clinton nowadays, Brokaw surmised that he is trying to improve his place in history given that, as president, impeachment proceedings had been "initiated" against him.
In a 15-paragraph story filed yesterday afternoon, Baltimore Sun's Justin Fenton reported how a police cruiser was dispatched at all times during the recent snowstorms to watch over the house of the city's disgraced ex-Mayor Sheila Dixon (D).
You'll recall Dixon was convicted of misappropriating donated gift cards intended for distribution to needy constituents. Instead, Dixon used them on her own personal shopping spree.
Pursuant to a plea deal on another criminal charge, Dixon resigned from her mayoral post on February 4.
Fenton did an excellent job reporting the story and noting the controversy engendered by the city devoting resources for a felonious ex-politician. Yet nowhere in his story did he note that Dixon is a Democrat.
Veteran New York Times welfare-beat reporter Jason DeParle took yet another victory lap in his Thursday story on how food stamps are losing their stigma in a piece co-written with Robert Gebeloff: "Once Stigmatized, Food Stamps Find Acceptance."
These same two reporters wrote a national version of the same story with virtually the same headline less than three months ago, which appeared on the front page November 29, 2009: "Food Stamp Use Soars Across U.S., and Stigma Fades." Both stories are apart of the paper's occasional series "The Safety Net."
The triumphal headline and DeParle's accompanying attitude of barely concealed vindication is no surprise, given his long-time opposition to welfare reform, noted most bluntly in a sour and alarmist piece he penned as a Times reporter, opposing the passage of Clinton-era welfare reform in the July 28, 1996 Times Week in Review: "Get a Job -- The New Contract With America's Poor." DeParle warned in that 1996 piece:
According to Chris Matthews, the fact that racists have during the history of the nation invoked the rights of the states to perpetuate slavery or segregation immediately renders all proponents of states' rights -- a pillar of federalism and the American Constitution -- racist.
While Matthews and his Hardball guests on Tuesday cited names like Jim Crow and John Calhoun and compared them to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Deborah Medina, Perry's libertarian-leaning opponent in the upcoming GOP primary, the names of the nation's founders -- who were ardent advocates of states' rights -- were conspicuously absent.
Matthews claimed to give his viewers a lesson in the meanings of "interposition" and "nullification" as they relate to the rights of the states and the Constitution. But he didn't say what they meant.
He just read a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. mentioning those terms as they related to the civil rights movement (video below the fold - h/t Liz Blaine of NewsReal).
As described in a Wall Street Journal editorial today, those two organizations have caught the Obama administration playing with the federal budget numbers, specifically the "baseline." The editorial also makes two important points in its two final paragraphs (bolded by me):
... the White House is proposing to convert spending sold as a one-time economic boost into a permanent feature of future government growth. As both the Tax Policy Center and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget have pointed out, supposedly temporary parts of the stimulus—expansions of the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit and Pell Grants for college students—have now found their way into the budget baseline.
True to the way Mr. Obama has honored his campaign pledge of transparency, this news was buried in a footnote on page 170 of the budget's Analytical Perspectives.
Salon columnist Max Blumenthal continues to get flak for his slanderous, factually-challenged hit piece on conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe last week. The column, premised on a host of omissions and baseless assumptions, contended that O'Keefe's is a racist.
Blumenthal's latest critic is Columbia Journalism Review, Old Media's paragon of journalistic elitism. CJR has requested that he correct but one of the many errors that comprise his column.
But CJR really has a problem, it seems, that Blumenthal has given ammunition to critics who claim Old Media is rife with liberal bias. CJR contributor Greg Marx lamented that Blumenthal and other quasi-journalists, in ignoring facts to support their agendas,give "ready-made ammunition for that broader campaign."
Bloomberg News managed to pen a full obituary of the late Congressman Jack Murtha today, calling him a "Supporter of Troops" in the headline, without once mentioning his incendiary--and unfounded--claims that a group of Marines had murdered 24 Iraqis in cold blood (h/t Washington Examiner's Mark Hemingway).
Murtha, himself a former Marine, said in 2005 after two dozen Iraqis were killed in the city of Haditha, "there was no firefight, there was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
Eight Marines were charged in the killings. Charges against six of them have been dropped, one has been found not-guilty, and the case against the remaining Marine is pending. Murtha was unrepentant about the slanderous accusations he leveled against these Marines. He even compared the Haditha incident to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War (see video below the fold).
John Murtha, who represented the 12th district of Pennsylvania for 35 years, died Monday. David Stout's obituary in Tuesday's edition of the New York Times, "Representative John P. Murtha Dies at 77; Ex-Marine Was Iraq War Critic," focused on Murtha's influential anti-war turn and "history of hawkishness," but omitted Murtha's smear of the military -- his preemptory claim that Marines in the town of Haditha, Iraq had killed women and children ''in cold blood'' in a November 2005 incident. Of the eight Marines accused, only one still faces possible charges -- the rest were either acquitted or had the charges dropped.
Stout hit the sordid highlights of Murtha's legislative career, including the Abscam scandal, which he survived by the skin of his teeth, turning down money from an undercover FBI agent posing as a sheikh but said would be willing to talk about it later. Stout called it an "awkward moment." But Stout made Murtha's anti-Iraq war position a running theme of the obituary, while not once bringing up Murtha's smear of the Marines at Haditha.
White House Budget Director Peter Orszag and Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf have a problem: They can't revise their budget estimates quickly enough to account for the continued bad news about tax collections arriving daily from the Treasury Department. Luckily for them, but unfortunately for taxpayers, an establishment media obsessed with PDS (Palin Derangement Syndrome), TDS (Tebow Derangement Syndrome), and TPDS (Tea Party Derangement Syndrome) isn't paying any meaningful attention to the problem.
Back in August of last year, the CBO guesstimated that collections during fiscal 2010 will amount to $2.264 trillion. That guesstimate assumed a 7.5% increase over the $2.105 trillion collected in 2009, and clearly depended heavily on a revival in private-sector economic growth and employment.
Well, economic growth has occurred. The problem is that it's the government that has grown, while the private sector has shrunk. Additionally, according to the Establishment Survey published by Uncle Sam's Bureau Labor Statistics, seasonally adjusted total employment has continued to fall.
Thus, CBO dropped its estimate of fiscal 2010 receipts in projections it released in late January to $2.175 trillion. The collections guesstimate in the Obama administration's budget is actually a bit lower:
Here's something you won't hear from the liberal media: that whole "birther" conspiracy movement? Yeah, that was started by a couple of Democrats, and neither is named Orly Taitz.
Their names, in fact, are Linda Starr and Philip Berg, according to John Avalon, author of the new book "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America" (just to clarify, he singles out "wingnuts" on both sides of the aisle). Both were die-hard supporters of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 campaign.
Starr was cited as a source of the false documents that got disgraced CBS correspondent Dan Rather fired. Berg is an aggressive Pennsylvania attorney (and former Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General) who filed a lawsuit against former President George W. Bush in 2004 alleging he was complicit in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Rather than lie low, Murtha further made himself a target with public comments in the spring of 2006 pressuring the Marine command to investigate allegations of civilian casualties at Haditha, Iraq. This infuriated many Marines, and critics argued that the congressman had become more partisan himself out of loyalty to Pelosi.
But Murtha went beyond pressing for a formal military investigation, which is a legitimate call any congressman could and should make after an incident like Haditha. The former Marine practically declared the Marines at Haditha guilty by saying they have killed "in cold blood."
Over the weekend, poor and biased media reporting, dysfunctional politics, blindly ambitious activism, and economic ignorance fed on each other to produce a phenomenally false narrative that went out to hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. The result not only doesn't pass the smell test; it fails the stench test from a mile away.
The first origins of the activist narrative burst forth during Friday's PBS News Hour, when the network's Betty Ann Bowser opened her report on health care costs with two sentences that belong in the Sloppy Statement Hall of Shame (bold is mine):
Health care spending devoured 17 percent of the entire economy last year, about $2.5 trillion. That's the biggest one-year growth since record-keeping began in 1960, according to projections from the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, this week.
If you don't mind my asking -- What exactly is the "that" to which Ms. Bowser referred?
In stories currently carrying Friday afternoon and early Saturday time stamps, the Associated Press weighed in with supportive articles about Illinois Democrats who are desperately trying to convince Scott Lee Cohen (pictured at right; image is captured from his web site), who won the party's nomination for Lieutenant Governor, to step aside.
In the Friday afternoon's report ("Embattled Dem Ill. candidate won't step down"), AP reporter Karen Hawkins swallowed the line that "details had emerged" about Cohen's 2005 arrest on domestic battery charges, despite the fact that Cohen himself preemptively disclosed many of those details to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mark Brown in March 2009 (link is to a cached copy of Brown's article that was posted at Cohen's campaign site). Brown apparently chose not to relay much of what Cohen revealed, but he clearly had a lot of it.
In an early Saturday item ("IL Gov. might want to run from his running mate"), the wire service's Deanna Bellandi owned up to the existence of the Sun-Times story and relayed the demands of several Illinois Democrats that Cohen withdraw.
Each reporter seemed to go out of her way to avoid mentioning the remaining candidates for the Republican Party's gubernatorial nomination, Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, who are currently locked in a razor-thin, currently undecided race.
In a post late Thursday afternoon (at NewBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the half of the teases (6 of 12) for the Associated Press's short videos in business stories at its web site were about Toyota, specifically its recent product quality issues and falling sales.
In that post, I noted a conflict of interest in the relationship between the U.S. government and Toyota, and wondered when someone in the press would bring the matter up:
To the extent the government is leaning hard on the company, somebody in the press should be questioning whether the motivations are purely related to safety or whether they also involve generating as much negative publicity as possible about the principal foreign-based competitor of government-controlled General Motors and Chrysler.
I didn't realize at the time that one wire service, AFP, actually had actually brought up the matter, complete with quite a provocative headline, Thursday morning.
CNN’s Rick Sanchez failed to mention the party affiliation of former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon on Friday’s Rick’s List program, but made every effort to identify former Congressman Tom Tancredo as a Republican. Sanchez ranked Tancredo higher on his “List You Don’t Want to Be On” for his remarks at the Tea Party Convention, despite Dixon’s conviction for illegally using donated gift cards for the needy.
The CNN anchor gave the number three and number two spots on his “List You Don’t Want to Be On” just before the top of the 4 pm Eastern hour. Sanchez chose Dixon as his number three, and gave a brief on her resignation from office and how she received two years probation for her crime. He didn’t mention her Democratic Party affiliation during his brief, nor was it mentioned in the accompanying on-screen graphic.
When the far-left finds a character to assassinate, it doesn't let facts get in the way. That, at least, is the lesson we can draw from the latest bout of liberal character assassination, this one aimed at James O'Keefe.
The slandering of his reputation has occurred mostly at Salon.com, the Village Voice, and an obscure hard-left organization called the One People's Project. Together, they have waged an all-out war on James O'Keefe's character by associating him with supposedly racist people and organizations. Just one problem: their claims are predicated on falsehoods, exaggerations, and assumptions (but mostly just falsehoods).
Max Blumenthal, who penned the Salon piece, and the stalwart non-journalists at OPP (the Village Voice, for its part, issued a mild retraction) alleged that O'Keefe had helped to organize a gathering of "anti-Semites, professional racists and proponents of Aryanism." They also claimed (and produced a cropped picture that could not possibly validate this claim) that O'Keefe had manned the literature table at the event.
My supposedly informative but in reality selective CNNMoney.com E-mail just alerted me to the fact that the unemployment rate dropped in January, but "somehow" forgot to reveal that 20,000 seasonally adjusted jobs were lost (see related post by BMI/NB's Julia Seymour):
CNNMoney.com also "forgot" to say anything about a downward 900,000-job revision (actually, even worse) to previous data (text is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report released at 8:30 a.m. ET):
You would think that someone going to the trouble of reporting on something would at least provide the most basic of relevant numbers so that readers could understand what they're telling us.
That isn't the case with the 11:51 a.m. version of Uncle Sam's report on unemployment claims by the Associated Press's Stephen Bernard and Tim Paradis. Their report failed to specifically state what analysts predicted, and waited until a much later paragraph to tell us what their predictions are for tomorrow's jobs report.
The first three paragraphs of that version of the story are in the graphic capture that follows:
For much of the liberal media, President Obama operates in a vacuum. In their minds, if he says he will do something, he will most likely do it, even if he has a blatant record of not following through on similar promises.
Take Obama's lobbyist rhetoric, for instance. When the President claimed the White House has "excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs" he was telling the truth, sort of. He did not mean, and his staff has confirmed this, that they've excluded all lobbyists from the process, as, you know, a reasonable person would gather. He just meant that some lobbyists that applied for jobs in his administration didn't get them.
As it turns out, there are over 40 former lobbyists working in the White House or some branch of the executive (see chart below the fold).
The New York Times today ran a glowing story on President Obama's upcoming crackdown on lobbyists, never once mentioning his duplicitous statement during the State of the Union.
The gubernatorial race in Illinois is heating up. Conservative Republican candidate Adam Andrzejewski has, according to some reports, surged from relative obscurity to within 2 points of the lead for the GOP nomination. And last week Andrzejewski was endorsed by Lech Walesa, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and former President of Poland.
If you live in the Chicago area, however, may be unaware that such an important historical and political figure was just in your town, endorsing a candidate for governor of your state. The only local television coverage the endorsement event received was from Chicago's ABC News station, which showed Walesa and Andrzejewski on stage while covering a Tea Party rally at the event, but never even mentioned the former president by name (see video below the fold).
The only print coverage in local newspapers the event garnered was from the Tribune, which ran a 113-word AP story, and the Sun-Times, which mentioned Walesa in a 2-sentence caption, right below a blurb headlined "Family of boy found hanged sues schools" and above one headlined "New Schools Expo today". So the latter paper decided the death of a child in a local suburb was more important than a political endorsement from a man at least partially responsible for the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. The former decided it couldn't spare a reporter for such a monumental figure (h/t Founding Bloggers and Race 4 2012).
Is Barack Obama just too complex for voters to figure out? That was the premise behind the New York Times's Sunday Week in Review lead story by Richard Stevenson,“The Muddled Selling of the President.”
Stevenson denied Obama was a liberal (despite his push for government-supervised health care and $787 billion in “economic stimulus” spending), suggesting he was too “complex” for such a label. Further, he wondered if Obama's recent political struggles means it's no longer “possible to embrace complexity in a political and media culture that demands simple themes and promotes conflict?”
On this much, President Obama’s friends and foes could agree: He eludes simple labels.
Yes, he’s a liberal, except when he’s not. He’s antiwar, except for the one he’s escalating. He’s for bailouts, but wants to rein in the banks. He’s concentrating ever-more power in the West Wing, except when he’s being overly deferential to Congress. He’s cool, except when he’s fighting-hot.
In a world that presents so many fast-moving and intractable problems, nuance, flexibility, pragmatism -- even a full range of human emotions -- are no doubt good things. But as Mr. Obama wrapped up his State of the Union address on Wednesday night with an appeal to transcend partisan gamesmanship, he was plaintively testing a broader proposition: Is it possible to embrace complexity in a political and media culture that demands simple themes and promotes conflict?
If Christians in the military were emblematic of George W. Bush, would the media suggest that this great Pagan Opening is symbolic of the Obama era?
From an offical Academy press release:
The Air Force Academy chapel will add a worship area for followers of Earth-centered religions during a dedication ceremony, which is tentatively scheduled to be held at the circle March 10....
Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, NCO in charge of the Academy's Astronautics laboratories, worked with the chapel to create the official worship area for both cadets and other servicemembers in the Colorado Springs area who practice Earth-centered spirituality...
Well if you can't win the propaganda war by twisting the content of something you don't like, you can at least plant a presumptive seed in the heads of those who will only see a story's headline.
That seems to be the logic behind an unbylined Associated Press report this morning. Its headline ("Report: No sanctions for lawyers who OK'd torture") would tend cause anyone not reading further to believe that what was under review is indisputably considered "torture." But that is not the case, and the underlying article itself proves it.
What follows is a graphic capture of the first few paragraphs of the AP report:
Watching the media's inability to find relevant investigative news during the Obama era is like watching a bald-headed fellow named Fudd hunting for ‘wabbit'.
Such is the case of the main stream media's complete and utter ignorance involving the administration recently steering a $25 million no-bid contract to a Democratic campaign contributor.
While Fox News reporter James Rosen did an in-depth investigative report (and follow up) on the deal with Checchi & Company - despite working for what the administration considers a non-news network - the entire media establishment had ignored a significant reneging of campaign promises, right up until that deal was canceled.
Doing his best impersonation of a crystal ball, NewsBuster Tom Blumer correctly foretold the future when he questioned the media response to the story:
"Will the rest of the establishment press risk the tattered remnants of its credibility, follow the White House's suggestion, and ignore the story because it's coming from Fox?"
Based on the two pictures seen at the right, it doesn't exactly take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the people at the Associated Press who decide on what pictures to use to tease the wire service's assorted video clips are not all favorably inclined towards Tony Blair.
Rather than show a picture of the former UK Prime Minister, the AP chose pics of a demonstrator outside where the inquiry was held.
As of about 8 PM ET, the "Raw Video" feed was still in the rotation and easily accessible at many hosted.ap.org pages carrying an international story. An accessible link to that vid is here at YouTube.
Robert Reich must have nightmares about Fox News. Shoot, he must have triple locks on his doors and sleep under his bed out of fear that Roger Ailes will come and take him away.
In a Monday column at Salon.com ("Is the President Panicking?"), Reich excoriated President Obama's proposed discretionary spending "freeze" -- a "freeze" that NewsBuster Julia Seymour noted fails to offset the spending proposals Obama brought up in his State of the Union speech -- for "invok(ing) memories of (Bill) Clinton's shift to the right in 1994," especially because "it could doom the recovery."
That was absurd enough, but in the process of recounting his fevered view of 1990s history, Bill Clinton's former Secretary of Labor threw in this whopper, revealing that for Reich, as Buffalo Springfield told us so many years ago in their 1960s hit song "For What It's Worth," paranoia really does strike deep:
In December 1994, Bill Clinton proposed a so-called middle-class bill of rights including more tax credits for families with children, expanded retirement accounts, and tax-deductible college tuition. Clinton had lost his battle for healthcare reform. Even worse, by that time the Dems had lost the House and Senate. Washington was riding a huge anti-incumbent wave. Right-wing populists were the ascendancy, with Newt Gingrich and Fox News leading the charge. Bill Clinton thought it desperately important to assure Americans he was on their side.
The Washington Post launched an interactive page this week to profile President Obama's record on his campaign promises after one year in office. The Post put promises into three categories: "To Do," "In Progress" and "Completed."
Based on the president's record, most people would be surprised to learn the Post put most of the promises in the "In Progress" category -- and didn't even include a "Broken Promises" category. Many recent promises made as president would belong in that category.
"In Progress" according to the Post includes "reversing" the Bush tax cuts, while the "To Do" list includes "enact a windfall profits tax" on oil companies.
James Valvo, government affairs manager for Americans for Prosperity, offers the following additions to the Post's analysis:
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.
Brad Smith at National Review Online has already delivered the definitive debunking of the president's statement, while offering two choices as to what that statement represents. Whichever it is (I pick "demagoguery"), the fact that Obama could even have the nerve to make such a statement exemplifies how establishment media-enabled negligence enables over-the-top political chutzpah.