I've been trying to resist taking satisfaction in David Cay Johnston's utter humiliation on his first assignment at Reuters. Y'know, there but for the grace of God, etc. I do wish him well, though I question whether the feeling is mutual. More important, I hope he recognizes the need to go into journalistic rehab. My guess is that he doesn't.
The former New York Times journalist/reporter (whatever, David) and yours truly had an extended online dustup four years ago when I demonstrated Johnston's in my view sloppy, foundation-limited, and biased reporting at the Old Gray Lady (graphic of first few paragraphs as originally presented; current link) in an item about what had happened to Americans' incomes between 2000 and 2005 (errors summarized here in "Top Six Errors Committed by David Cay Johnston and/or the New York Times in Their Income Growth Report"; I noted a seventh later).
Let's go through the development and destruction of Johnston's maiden effort at Reuters.
In their Sunday evening coverage of the Minnesota government shutdown, Associated Press reporters Steve Karnowski and Amy Forliti failed to mention any form of the word "tax," failed to mention "spending" in the context of government outlays, and fretted that a prolonged shutdown might cause a "brain drain" from state government.
The failure to bring up taxes is clearly the item's most egregious oversight, since the shutdown is all about taxes, specifically Democratic Governor Mark Dayton's refusal to sign a state budget that doesn't contain tax increases on high income-earners.
Looking for updates on the Connecticut state budget mess earlier this afternoon, I searched the Associated Press's national site on the last name of Democratic Nutmeg State Governor Dannel Malloy, and found nothing recent (graphic saved here for future reference).
But there were two stories originating from the state which the wire service, the nation's de facto news gatekeeper, deemed worthy of national attention. Brace yourself.
"But Cuomo paired his quest for same-sex marriage with efforts to slash state spending and curb the power of public employee unions, suggesting a blend of fiscal prudence and progressivism on social issues could be a new Democratic model in tough economic times," she added.
After citing one "California gay-rights leader" who cheered Cuomo as a "civil rights leader," Fouhy waited until the 12th paragraph of her 19-paragraph story to cite a Democrat who's talking up the freshman New York governor as a prospective 2016 presidential aspirant:
Something astonishing happened in New Jersey last week. A majority Democratic legislature and a Republican governor agreed on a measure that will cut benefits for the state's 750,000 employees and retirees.
Like Wisconsin and other states that are being forced to deal with large budget deficits caused mostly by sweetheart deals struck in more prosperous times between politicians who need votes and labor unions who deliver them, New Jersey couldn't afford to go on like this.
Susan Haigh's report Friday evening on the current status of budget negotiations between Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and the state's public-sector unions contains two glaring errors which mar the entire enterprise.
Haigh conveniently withheld the fact that the Nutmeg State's legislature has already approved $2.6 billion in new taxes over two years until her report's final paragraph, while giving voice in a much earlier paragraph to an absurd union demand that "big businesses and wealthy taxpayers would be asked to pay more if they agreed to givebacks." Uh, the taxes have already happened, guys. She also dramatically understated the objections of state residents to the over 75(!) new taxes which have been imposed.
Here are excerpts from Haigh's hijinks (bolds are mine):
Given a chance to revise and extend its 9:58 a.m. report (covered this afternoon at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) on the June 13 altercation between Wisconsin Supreme Court Judges David Prosser, Jr. and Ann Walsh Bradley, the Associated Press's 5:29 p.m. version persists in telling its national audience only one side of the story.
Although the fact is that accounts as to who was the aggressor completely differ, the wire service's oddly unbylined story (a 650-word AP item usually has a byline -- it's almost as if someone doesn't want their name on it) will cause its readers, including subscribing news outlets around the country, to believe that the only open question is whether and how hard Prosser choked Bradley. One suspects that AP's "fairness" defense will be the employment of these three words in Paragraph 8: "While accounts differ ..." Sorry guys, that doesn't cut it when the accounts are totally opposite.
Despite the accumulated reportage and commentary available to the Associated Press this morning, the wire service, at 9:58 a.m Eastern Time (saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes), only reported on one side of the story relating to an altercation that took place between Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices David Prosser, Jr. and Ann Walsh Bradley. In doing so, it ignored the existence of a follow-up story published at least 12 hours earlier at the Milwaukee Journal, the newspaper it cites as the primary source of its original coverage.
In AP-Land, despite contrary assertions, the relatively conservative Prosser is the alleged choking aggressor, and the left-leaning Bradley the supposed innocent victim. Taking all known accounts into consideration, the matter is hardly so clear-cut.
I can't say that I'm up on what every state is doing, but it's hard not to notice contrasts between two trios of states singing decidedly different tunes:
Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey, three states with recently elected conservative Republican governors, have either put their budgets to bed, or are on the verge of doing so, by cutting costs and not raising taxes.
Connecticut, Minnesota, and California, three states with recently elected liberal governors who are Democrats, are on the verge of a shutdown, serious layoffs, or issuing IOUs. All three governors have enacted or want tax increases.
It took well over a year, but New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has gotten his way.
Covering the story for the New York Times, Richard Perez-Pena seemed to alternate between shock and "Awww." His biggest journalistic distortion was understating the degree to which Christie needed -- and got -- Democratic Party help to pass legislation which, in Pena's words, "will sharply increase what state and local workers must contribute for their health insurance and pensions, suspend cost-of-living increases to retirees pension checks, raise retirement ages and curb the unions’ contract bargaining rights."
The shock and "Awww" at the Times extends to the difference between the item's browser window title ("N.J. Legislature Moves to Cut Benefits for Public Workers") and the article title, which readers will see after the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Gosh, I would have thought that someone in Wisconsin's or America's labor movement would have caught Scott Bauer's clear June 15 understatement of the net pay hit many unionized public sector workers in the Badger State will be taking as a result of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, commonly known as the "Budget Repair Bill," once the law's provisions become effective on July 1. That error is in the following sentence from Bauer's report ("New lawsuit filed against Wisconsin union law"):
The law also requires workers to pay 12 percent of their health insurance costs and 5.8 percent of their pension costs, which amount to an 8 percent pay cut on average.
The AP reporter apparently spent time which should have gone towards getting the facts right to ensuring, as he did in a June 14 story (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), that the law was described as "polarizing" as often as possible. Bauer's frequent use of the P-word also seemingly distracted union supporters who read or heard portions of Bauer's report from noticing the error I will explain shortly.
As has been the case virtually from the beginning, the Associated Press's Scott Bauer has been clearly unhappy with 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, commonly known even to the Wisconsin Supreme Court as the "Budget Repair Bill." Today, the court ruled that the law as enacted by the Badger State's legislature and signed by Governor Scott Walker can go into effect on July 1.
Looking back at what's available of Bauer's body of work on the matter during the past four months, his consistent mischaracterization of the bill's contents, saying that it would "eliminate collective bargaining" when it doesn't (shown here and here), is truly striking. What's even more striking (pun intended) is how he and his employer described the law in the report's headline and first sentence in at least one early version this evening:
The educated guess here is that Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler is currently not the most popular person in the White House.
On Saturday, in a relatively rare rebuke originating from what G. Gordon Liddy has mockingly derided as "Washington's quaint little alternative newspaper" (daily circulation 741,000 in March 2005, 551,000 in March 2011), Kessler ripped into the President's claims about the auto bailout, giving him "Three Pinocchios," which in his ratings system means "Significant factual error(s) and/or obvious contradictions." Kessler found "weasel words," a "misleading figure" (actually, more), and (imagine that) a straw man.
Here are selected paragraphs from Kessler's KO (bolds are mine; internal link was in original):
... What we found is one of the most misleading collections of assertions we have seen in a short presidential speech. Virtually every claim by the president regarding the auto industry needs an asterisk, just like the fine print in that too-good-to-be-true car loan.
In late January (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how the Associated Press and the New York Times had been studiously avoiding covering the Obamacare waivers granted by Kathleen Sebelius's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Though I can't verify that the AP has ignored the issue since, it doesn't seem to have been a prominently covered item until today, when wire service reporter Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar ("Health care law waivers stir suspicion of favors") unsurprisingly weighed in for the defense.
In doing so, the AP reporter failed to note that the waiver process's arbitrary nature, which leaves plans at the tender mercies of HHS, is troubling even if the evidence of favoritism is not yet convincing (arbitrariness can also involve poor judgment even if politics aren't involved). He also failed to address those who contend that if Obamacare is such a good thing, why are companies and other entities having to scramble to avoid it? Finally, he failed to tell readers if any waiver requests have been turned down, and if so why.
Here are excerpts from Alonso-Zaldivar's report. Get a load of his third paragraph, where he dreams up excuses, and the final excerpted paragraph, where he all but admits that waivers in general are being granted for a very important political reason -- to prevent embarrassing Obama and the Democratic Party (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Earlier today, NB's Tim Graham noted that the establishment press has given the silent treatment to a study by Timothy Conley of the University of Western Ontario and Bill Dupor of Ohio State University showing that the stimulus plan passed in February 2009 was a major net economic loser. In the first paragraph of the study, the authors revealed their core estimate that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act "created/saved 450 thousand government-sector jobs and destroyed/forestalled one million private sector jobs." That's a net loss of 550,000 jobs "destroyed/forestalled."
To test Tim's contention that "Our media only cites studies which estimate the number of jobs Team Obama 'saved or created,'" I did searches on Dupor's last name at the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, and got back the following results:
Pro-government union protests in Wisconsin and elsewhere have provided some stunning insight into the double standards that pervade coverage of major protest movements. One such double standard lies in media treatment of threats against public officials. News of the release of more than 100 pages of documented threats against officials of both parties in Wisconsin has brought that double standard to light.
Very often such threats are most intensely focused on a single individual perceived as the leader of the ideological or political opposition. President Obama was the target of perhaps less overt, if certainly as menacing threats during the early stages of his administration when a handful of demonstrators brought firearms to a presidential town hall meeting. That of course dominated the airwaves for the following week, as many in the media bemoaned what they presented almost uniformly as hints at assassination.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, like President Obama, became the target of much of the rage from pro-union demonstrators. And like Obama, Walker received some very vocal - and in many cases more overt - threats against his life. Unlike threats against the president, however, those directed at Walker have received scant press attention outside of Wisconsin media.
Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy has called himself the "anti-Christie" because of his willingness to raise taxes to help balance the Nutmeg State's budget. By contrast, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the object of Malloy's scorn, recently ruled out tax increases, as he has been doing ever since he became governor in 2010.
Malloy's recently passed taxes amounting to an estimated $1.4 billion annually include property tax hikes which according to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial (quoted at link's third item) amount to "$500 a year for the average homeowner."
But Malloy still needs to balance the budget by extracting significant cost savings from the state's recalcitrant employee unions, and guess what? Just like Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker, he's staring at the need to resort to layoffs if he can't reduce employment costs. But unlike the Associated Press's militant reporters in Wisconsin, the AP's Susan Haigh in Hartford is letting Malloy off relatively easy, as seen in these excerpts from her Tuesday evening report:
Gosh, after Republican Governors Scott Walker and John Kasich succeeded in championing legislation curtailing many collective bargaining rights of unionized state and municipal employees in Wisconsin and Ohio, respectively, the establishment press had the meme all set. The GOP, conservatives, and Tea Partiers are enemies of labor and the middle class, while Democrats, liberals, and progressives are their champions.
Then along comes bluer-than-blue Massachusetts. As the Boston Globe reports, the Bay State's House "voted overwhelmingly last night (Tuesday) to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns." It's not a law yet, but it seems to be heading pretty quickly in that direction.
The Associated Press's beat reporters and editors must be beside themselves.
Imagine if a Tea Party backer by some miracle got to teach on a college campus, and began describing ways to, oh, I don't know, keep opposing politicians from conducting business, hack into their computers and destroy data, and make their staffs feel threatened. How long would that class last, and how long would it be before it became a national news story?
Well, Publius at Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com reports that " the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) sponsored two college courses: Introduction to Labor Studies and Labor Politics and Society, to be taught simultaneously through a video conference between to two campuses." Publius asserts, with video proof, that the courses really really are "How-to College Course(s) in Violent Union Tactics."
The two must-see BigGov posts are here and here. Direct links to the videos and brief descriptions follow the jump:
The undisguised bias of a dispatch tonight by Associated Press reporter Laurie Kellman, with help from Scott Bauer, about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's appearance before a Congressional committee may have as its source two items found at the Newspaper Guild's web site (seen after the jump).
One is an announcement relating to a possible deterioration in the Guild's negotiations with AP, where union members have been working without a contract since November. Immediately below the announcement is an extraordinarily mean and spiteful cartoon produced by "alternative" comic Tom Tomorrow directed at Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan which has no place at the site of a group wishing to at least maintain a fig-leaf pretense of objectivity.
First let's look at several of the sentences seen in the 10:26 p.m. version of the pair's report (saved here at my host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) -- after the headline ("Wisconsin governor defends hobbling unions'), with which the AP pair may have had help:
In a Monday opinion piece at Politico (HT Hot Air) entitled "NFL players need Obama's support," Blackistone criticized the President of the United States for not supporting the players in their dispute with the league's owners, and -- I kid you not -- said it "differs very little" from the recent public-sector collective-bargaining controversy in Wisconsin. Blackistone even brought Martin Luther King into the mix (bolds are mine):
It may be laziness, or it may be failure to recognize reality, but the Associated Press's official tally of the Wisconsin Supreme Court race carried at JSOnline (but note the AP-based URL) still shows Democrat JoAnne Kloppenburg with a 204-vote lead over incumbent David Prosser, and hasn't been updated since Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.
This failure to update has occurred despite the following statement made at the 3:00 mark of the video (HT Hot Air) showing Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus explaining why over 14,000 country votes were not originally reported to the Badger State's Government Accountability Board (GAB), which oversees state elections, at a late Thursday press conference:
These numbers will be reflected in my official results, canvass report, that was submitted to the Government Accountability Board.
Ms. Nickolaus mixed up tenses, but it seems pretty clear that by using the word "official" she is saying that the GAB now has the results, and that they should be reflected in any official reports.
Accordingly, yours truly has updated the AP's non-current scoreboard with the Waukesha County correction and a couple of smaller ones:
Once again, despite almost two months of national coverage Wisconsin's collective bargaining law and the protests and bad behavior which have accompanied it, the Associated Press is deciding that the nation's news consumers outside of the Badger State don't need to read, hear, or see news relating to unions and leftists acting illegally.
In a post on Saturday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the wire service treated the arrest of Katherine Windels for issuing death threats to all but one of the GOP's state senators as a local story. Later on Saturday, NB's Noel Sheppard noted the virtual absence of media coverage of Windels' arrest on any broadcast network newscast or cable new show (except Fox's O'Reilly Factor).
The AP apparently believes that unions attempting to intimidate businesses into supporting their agenda -- or else -- isn't something that anyone outside of Wisconsin should care about. Even then, there is a palpable reluctance by the wire service to provide much in the way of accurate detail.
Even though the goings-on in Wisconsin this year connected with collective-bargaining rights legislation have been front-page news nationwide for well over a month, the Associated Press has apparently concluded that folks outside the Badger State couldn't possibly be interested in real threats of serious violence issued against Republican legislators who voted for it -- and their families.
The latest support for that contention comes in the AP's coverage of the indictment and arrest of Katherine Windels on four counts: two relating to "threatening injury or harm" and two for "bomb scares."
At first I thought that the wire service might have totally ignored the story when a search at the AP's home site on the woman's last name at 8:45 a.m. this morning came up empty. But AP did report the news -- in Wisconsin, treating it, at least based on the tag at the left seen below, as a local story ("Wisconsin woman Katherine Windels charged for threats to state senators"):
FreedomEden's Mary writes: "Jake Sinderbrand, son of Judge Maryann Sumi, poses a bit of a problem for his mother." Sumi is the county judge who on Friday temporarily blocked implementation of the collective bargaining-related law passed by the Wisconsin legislature and signed by Governor Scott Walker.
While looking into the News Media Guild's positions in the current standoff between it and the Associated Press, I came across the most recent contract (large PDF file) between the two. It expired this past November; unionized AP employees are continuing to work under the old contract's provisions.
Many people don't know that the AP is a "not-for-profit news cooperative" which is "owned by its contributing newspapers (over 1,000), radio and television stations (over 5,000) in the United States." It would appear to be exempt from paying federal, state, and local income taxes (and perhaps others), and as such would seem to have a competitive advantage over any person or entity which might consider competing with it.
I thought readers might be interested in certain of the expired 65-page Editorial Unit contract's provisions, and consider how often such arrangements are available in the private sector (56 other pages which follow relate to Technology Unit, whose contract provisions are very similar; bolds are mine):
In the week since Wisconsin lawmakers passed collective bargaining-related legislation, much noise has been made about efforts to recall GOP Senators who supported the measure.
A Google News search on "Wisconsin recall" returns items that are overwhelmingly oriented towards Democrat efforts to recall Republicans. The final sentence of a March 13 Associated Press report by Sam Hananel indicates that "Union officials are also helping mobilize demonstrations in state capitols and spending money on recall campaigns against GOP officials who support efforts to curb union rights," with no mention anywhere of GOP efforts against "Fleebagging" Dems.
It would be understandable if conservatives and Tea Party sympathizers believe that the Badger State recall momentum is on the Democratic side.
But an email correspondent in Wisconsin who follows matters there closely (Update, 9:00 p.m.: That would be Steve at No Runny Eggs, who has now put up a related post with a polling update) indicates that the split is closer to 50-50 in terms of genuine vulnerability. Specifically, Steve writes (bolds indicating that an atmosphere of leftist intimidation remains quite evident are mine):
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has once again earned his nickname: Thurston B. Howell III. He's elite, effete and so hopelessly out of touch with reality that his latest solution to America's fiscal profligacy is ... more fiscal profligacy, of course, Lovey! On Tuesday, Kerry introduced a $10 billion infrastructure bank bill that would engineer yet another federal taxpayer boondoggle benefiting Big Labor and favored Big Business interests.
Kerry finagled support from Texas GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, AFL-CIO brass knuckler-in-chief Richard Trumka, statist U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donohue, and the far-left Center for American Progress. Like spinning straw into gold, the Kerry coalition promises to leverage $10 billion in unidentified funds into $640 billion for crumbling roads and bridges.
The New York Times versus state spending cuts. Reporter Sabrina Tavernise went to the downtrodden town of Gallipollis, Ohio, and collected a grab bag of sympathetic liberal anecdotes about government workers threatened by a bill that would restrict public-sector unions, for Wednesday’s “Ohio Town Sees Public Job As Only Route To Middle Class.”
Tavernise focused solely on the plight of low-income workers, including unionized government workers, while failing to mention the state's $8 billion deficit (a number included only in an Associated Press sidebar story, "Governor's Budget Seeks To Limit Union Influence.")
Jodi and Ralph Taylor are public workers whose jobs as a janitor and a sewer manager cover life’s basics. They have moved out of a trailer into a house, do not have to rely on food stamps and sometimes even splurge for the spicy wing specials at the Courtside Bar and Grill.
While that might not seem like much, jobs like theirs, with benefits and higher-than-minimum wages, are considered plum in this depressed corner of southern Ohio. Decades of industrial decline have eroded private-sector jobs here, leaving a thin crust of low-paying service work that makes public-sector jobs look great in comparison.
Now, as Ohio’s legislature moves toward final approval of a bill that would chip away at public-sector unions, those workers say they see it as the opening bell in a race to the bottom. At stake, they say, is what little they have that makes them middle class.