The press loves billionaire Warren Buffett, who can be relied to support President Barack Obama even in implausible circumstances — such as the current economy, where the "recovery" following the 2008-2009 traditionally defined recession has been worse than any since World War II, and barely better than what was seen during the awful post-Depression 1930s.
Thus far, the press has managed to ignore one of the implications of the first quarter's serious contraction. One more quarter of economic contraction could mean that the end of the recession, as Buffett himself has defined it, failed to permanently arrive.
Donna Brazile apparently liked yours truly's NewsBusters post yesterday. That post ripped the Associated Press's Pollyanna-like coverage of the U.S. economy, and carried the following headline which may have caused several spilled drinks and soaked monitors among the genuinely informed — "AP: ‘Humming’ and ‘Rising’ U.S. Economy Is a ‘World-Beater.'"
About five hours after the post's appearance, Brazile tweeted her clear approval (HT Twitchy). While we appreciate any traffic which might have come this way as a result of Brazile's tweet, it's hard to imagine that Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign manager has switched sides. It's far more likely that she didn't bother reading the underlying post. The tweet follows the jump:
Fox News contributor and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer made a very interesting and logical correlation Friday. The press has predictably failed to make the connection or even to relay Krauthammer's point, simply because it leads to the default assumption that conservatives were right on an important economic issue.
To be clear, the point Krauthammer and National Review Online's Robert Stein made on Thursday isn't directly provable. But the fact that an acceleration in job growth and a significant reduction in the unemployment rate have occurred in the six months since extended unemployment benefits expired is hard to explain away as some kind of lucky coincidence — especially given the endless blather of "weather" excuses the press and the administration have made about the economy in general since early this year. Video and a transcript follow the jump.
In the latest White House press release disguised as analysis at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, AP stenographer Paul Wiseman sang the praises of this nation's "humming" job market and its "steadily rising" growth as the economy is "finally showing the vigor that Americans have long awaited." Wow.
Of course, the White House — er, Wiseman — never mentioned the following (to name just a few): two straight months (April and May) of real declines in consumer purchases; the seasonally adjusted decline of 523,000 in full-time employment paired with an increase of 799,000 part-time jobs in June; April’s and May's trade imbalance coming in worse than March’s, which was already very high; shipments of durable goods barely budging in April and May; factory orders falling in May; or May's flat construction spending. It got worse, as Wiseman concocted five reasons why the U.S. economy is a "world beater." Excerpts from Paul's pathetic prose follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
A prominent exhibit explaining why the nation's trust in its media establishment has dropped to precipitous lows would likely include Tom Cohen's Thursday afternoon column at CNN expressing befuddlement over President Barack Obama's unpopularity.
After all, Cohen's headline crows that under Obama we have "more jobs" and "less war" (!), so there's a "disconnect" which must be explained. To give you an idea of how pathetic his attempt is, he managed not to mention any form of the words "immigration," "scandal," or "contraction" (as in, the first-quarter decline in GDP) while pretending to present a complete analysis. Meanwhile, one of CNN's embedded headline links to another story ("Obama to Republicans: 'So sue me'") openly mocks Cohen, doing a better job of explaining the "disconnect" in six words than anything he wrote in his first 37 paragraphs. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post; numbered tags are mine):
July 2 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act and on Wednesday CBS This Morning used the event to highlight liberal labor activist Dolores Huerta.
CBS correspondent Michelle Miller began her 5 minute report by gushing over Ms. Huerta and described her as someone who “co-founded the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez, fought for feminism with Gloria Steinem and battled for social change.” [See video below.]
Reporting on the outcome of Harris v. Quinn on the front page of Tuesday's Washington Post, staff writers Jerry Markon and Robert Barnes buried the perspective of the successful party in the case, non-unionized home health care worker Pam Harris, in the 21st paragraph of the 29-paragraph article, "Ruling on union dues a blow to organized labor."
But right out of the gate, Markon and Barnes choreographed a melodrama pitting a narrow conservative majority on the Court versus the nation's labor unions and their valiant liberal defenders on the Court. An excerpt is reproduced below (emphasis mine):
Shortly after 3 PM Eastern Time Monday afternoon, an outfit called "Faithful America" issued a "Media Advisory" for an event which would take place at 7:30 PM Central Time.
In the email, Faithful America claimed to be "the largest and fastest growing online community of Christians taking action for social justice," and to have 300,000 members. They may have that many members, but only about 0.01% of them showed up for the event involved: a "vigil" opposing today's Supreme Court decision at Hobby Lobby's flagship store in Edmond, Oklahoma. In covering the titantic event, Edmond Sun reporter Mark Schlachtenhaufen appears to have exaggerated the puny turnout, and made the same misstatement concerning the circumstances of the case we've seen constantly in the national press (bolds are mine):
USA Today reporter Richard Wolf's afternoon coverage of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision this afternoon appeared to be completely ignorant of the dire financial consequences which would have been visited on the company had it lost today.
He also allowed unscientific and objectively wrong arguments about conception to be advanced by those who wanted to see Hobby Lobby defeated. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
An undated but clearly recent page at the National Wildlife Federation breathlessly warns readers, in a section entitled "Threats from Global Warming," that "Lake Erie water levels, already below average, could drop 4-5 feet by the end of this century, significantly altering shoreline habitat." A Thursday Huffington Post Canada Business entry observed that "the (Great Lakes) basin has experienced the longest extended period of lower water levels since the U.S. and Canada began tracking levels in 1918." Of course, it's because of "climate change."
Friday, Julie Bosman at the New York Times reported (HT Powerline) that "The International Joint Commission, a group with members from the United States and Canada that advises on water resources, completed a five-year study in April 2013 concluding that water levels in the lakes were likely to drop even farther, in part because of the lack of precipitation in recent years brought on by climate change." But the reason Bosman was on the story is because — fortunately for area residents, but unfortunately for "startled" global warming adherents claiming to be "scientists" — Great Lakes sea levels are rising again (bolds are mine throughout this post):
In a Thursday evening writeup about how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will allow a California wind farm to "become the first in the nation to avoid prosecution if eagles are injured or die when they run into the giant turning blades," reporter Scott Smith at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, took a big gulp of his hi-test White House koolaid, and wrote: "Under President Barack Obama, wind energy has exploded as a pollution-free energy source that can help reduce the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming."
Math is hard over at the Department of Labor these days, pretty much from top to bottom. Last Friday, the DOL listed what it says were the 31 states which showed "statistically significant" job growth in the 12 months ended in May. It turns out that six other states should have been on that list, dropping Ohio, which was the slowest-growing among those originally listed, from number 31 to 37.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and apparently the rest of the country, has a really big problem. He claims that his department has trained 84 million workers during the past six years, yet millions and millions of Americans are somehow still unemployed. The opening portions of a speech Perez made on July 19 at the National Fund for Workforce Solutions Annual Meeting follow the jump (HT to a frequent emailer; bolds are mine throughout this post):
In an exercise supposedly "aimed at understanding the nature and scope of political polarization in the American public, and how it interrelates with government, society and people’s personal lives," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has published a 185-page report containing some of the most ridiculous either/or questions I have ever seen in a polling effort. Its mission seems to be to demonize anyone who believes that government aren't particularly good or effective at what they do, and anyone who thinks there are limits on what it can or should do.
One of the most egregious pieces of either/or nonsense caught the attention of liberal-leaning blogger and law professor Ann Althouse. Participants had to choose between the following two statements: "Poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything," or "Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don't go far enough to help them live decently." Pew, which divided voters into different "typologies," reports that a combined 80-plus percent of those who it typed as "conservative went with the "have it easy" choice.
People who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid known as global warming-climate change are not just "deniers"; we are guilty of a "nihilistic refusal" to address the issue. So says a Washington Post editorial commenting favorably on Monday'sSupreme Court ruling that allows theEnvironmental Protection Agency, under certain limits, to proceed under the Clean Air Act to regulate major sources of greenhouse-gas emissions.
The actual nihilists are those who refuse to accept any scientific information that undermines their claim that the globe is warming and humans are responsible for it. Cults are like that. Regardless of evidence contradicting their beliefs, cultists persist in blind faith.
Reporting on yesterday's demise of New York City's jumbo-soda ban in New York State's Court of Appeals, the New York Times's Michael Grynbaum loaded his June 27 story with weighted language in favor of the vanquished side of the policy and legal arguments and presenting the fight as one between well-intentioned health advocates on one end and evil, greedy soda barons -- Big Fizz? -- on the other.
"The Bloomberg big-soda ban is officially dead," the Times staffer mourned in his lead sentence, adding (emphasis mine), "The state’s highest court on Thursday refused to reinstate New York City’s controversial limits on sales of jumbo sugary drinks, exhausting the city’s final appeal and dashing the hopes of health advocates who have urged state and local governments to curb the consumption of drinks and foods linked to obesity." By contrast, he noted "The ruling was a major victory for the American soft-drink industry, which had fought the plan." It was also a victory for the leave-me-the-hell-alone ethos of many a New Yorker who opposed the soda ban, but it seems Grynbaum failed to consult the proverbial man on the street by say hitting up a local bodega and asking the average customer for his or her thoughts.
Slowly but surely, the confident assurances of a fantabulous second quarter for the U.S. economy — one which is supposed to make the serious first-quarter contraction reported on Wednesday a distant memory — are crumbling.
Yesterday at the Associated Press, Martin Crutsinger, who just a couple of weeks ago had been relaying confident second-quarter predictions of annualized 3.5 percent and even 4 percent growth, quoted a still-optimistic economist who, in Crutsinger's words, "said strength in other areas (besides yesterday's weak consumer spending report — Ed.) should still lift economic growth to around a 3 percent annual rate in the current quarter." Today, in covering the University of Michigan's consumer confidence report, Christopher Rugaber, Crutsinger's dynamic duo buddy at the AP, brought the growth figure down to a level which won't even offset the dreadful first quarter:
My, those "this quarter's really, really going to be great" predictions can disappear so quickly these days.
Yesterday, in the wake of the government's third revision to gross domestic product showing that the economy shrunk by an annualized 2.9 percent during the first quarter instead of the previously reported 1.0 percent, commentators, analysts, and economists fell all over themselves insisting that the second quarter and the rest of the year will be fine. The reaction at Goldman Sachs was — get this — to raise their estimate for second-quarter growth from an annualized 3.8 percent to 4.0 percent. Today, in the wake of a particularly weak consumer spending report for May, the backpedaling — well, partial backpedaling — is under way, particularly at the Associated Press (bolds are mine):
The press, even in the wake of yesterday's awful reported 2.9 percent annualized first-quarter contraction, continues to regale us with noise about the economy's "recovery" during the past five years.
As P.J. Gladnick at NewsBusters noted yesterday, CNNMoney.com's Annalyn Kurtz, in giving readers "3 reasons not to freak out about -2.9% GDP," concluded her report by telling readers that "This recovery is underway, but it's choppy and still very slow." Actually, it may have resumed this quarter. At the Associated Press yesterday, Martin Crutsinger all too predictably wrote that"the setback is widely thought to be temporary, with growth rebounding solidly since spring." After almost five years of this nonsense, it's long past time that they start telling readers, listeners, and viewers that this economy bears more resemblance to the 1930s economy under Franklin Delano Roosevelt than it does any post-downturn economy we've seen since the end of World War II. Hard proof follows the jump.
Hillary Clinton is touring to promote her State Department memoir “Hard Choices,” but most of the news she’s made along the way relates to her personal finances, not her tenure in Foggy Bottom. On Tuesday, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait examined Hillary’s “dead broke” comment and other recent remarks and revelations about the Clintons’ money with an eye toward whether or not they’ll hamper her presumed presidential campaign.
Chait opined that while some of the Clintons’ “buckraking” constitutes “both a problem of perception and a problem of substance,”Hillary nonetheless has two big economic things going for her heading into 2016: voters’ memories of the strong economy during Bill’s presidency, and the near-certainty that if she becomes the nominee, her opponent will represent “a Republican Party still wedded to the upward redistribution of income as its central policy goal.”
Carol Costello is trying. She is trying really really hard not to FREAK OUT over the lousy economic news today about the Gross Domestic Product falling 2.9% in the first quarter of the year.
Feeding freaked out Carol economic Soma pills to calm her down is Chief Business Correspondent for CNN, Christine Romans. However, despite her efforts, it is obvious that poor Carol is still FREAKED OUT as you can see in this CNN Newsroom video (and after the jump) today. Okay, Carol finally declares she is not FREAKED OUT but it is more like she is trying to merely shout away her clear doubts. First we have a very nervous Costello deliver the gloomy economic news:
Acting as a cheerleader for the White House "Summit on Working Families" on Tuesday's NBC Today, 9 a.m. ET hour co-host Natalie Morales hailed: "A lot of good talk at the White House yesterday. You know, the whole conversation about managing work-life balance." She teed up a clip of President Obama speaking at the event: "He spoke about the importance...of having that balance in his own life and how much Michelle has had to pinch hit for him. And vice versa." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In part, Obama observed: "You look at something like workplace flexibility. This is so important to our family....that flexibility made all the difference to our family. But a lot of working moms and dads can't do that." As the soundbite ended, Morales and weatherman Al Roker agreed that it was "so true."
Sounding a familiar theme at the Associated Press ahead of awful economic news, Christopher Rugaber and Martin Crutsinger prepared a column in advance of tomorrow's final report on the economy's first-quarter economic contraction reminding us, with far more certainy than is justified, that "A GRIM US ECONOMIC PICTURE IS BRIGHTENING."
Guys, before you "brighten," you first have to step out of the darkness. According to the wire service's dynamic duo of reporting on the economy (I guess I could add Josh Boak and call them "the three amigos"), tomorrow's report on the nation's first-quarter Gross Domestic Product is expected to show that it contracted by "nearly 2 percent" on an annual basis. AP reports a week ago didn't include "nearly." Bloomberg News is currently predicting a contraction of 1.8 percent. I'd like to be wrong, but I'm concerned that it might be significantly worse. But Rugaber and Crutsinger say, "Don't worry, be happy; the rest of the year will probably be fine" (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
As you probably know, the 1980s were boom years for conservatives. Among the most prominent right-wingers back then: Ronald Reagan, Tom Clancy, Casey Kasem…
OK, Kasem, who died on June 15, actually was a staunch liberal, a supporter in that decade of Jesse Jackson and later of Dennis Kucinich. But during the ‘80s, wrote Scott Timberg in a Sunday piece for Salon, “we had a political and economic revolution, spearheaded by a one-time actor who was often massively popular, that did the same thing as” Kasem’s radio show, “American Top 40.”
In a Thursday New York Times op-ed, columnist Timothy Egan, who previously "worked for 18 years as a writer" at the Times, went after Wal-Mart as "net drain on taxpayers, forcing employees into public assistance with its poverty-wage structure." In his view, working at Wal-Mart and receiving its "humiliating wages ... certainly keeps you poor."
At the company's blog, David Tovar, Walmart's vice president for corporate communications, armed with a photocopy of Egan's op-ed and a red pen, ripped Egan's contentions to shreds (portion presented was reformatted to fit the available space; HT Instapundit):
MSNBC”s Chris Jansing has just become NBC News’ Senior White House Correspondent and it seems as though she has brought MSNBC’s liberal ways with her. For her first assignment on Monday, June 23, Jansing did her best to promote the Obama Administration’s “Summit on Working Families”, where MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski participated in a panel entitled “Family Matters.”
Jansing began her inaugural report by hyping “What’s being talked about in Washington tonight are kitchen table issues that impact nearly every American” before detailing how the Obama Administration wants to mandate private businesses provide guaranteed sick and maternity leave." [See video below.]
Promoting an upcoming White House summit on working families during an interview with President Obama aired on Monday's CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O'Donnell lobbed a series of softballs on the issue, starting with: "I know you said in your State of the Union, 'When women succeed, America succeeds.' What's the single most important thing you think you can do to help working women?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Obama seized the opportunity to spew talking points: "Well, the question is not just what can I do, but I think what we as a society need to do. And this is an issue that's near and dear to my heart. I was raised by a single mom....And now I've got two daughters. So I want to make sure that their able to balance family life and the workplace much better..."
Timothy Egan, the liberal New York Times reporter turned ultra-liberal columnist, flashed hostility to Wal-Mart (and capitalism in general), as well as a broad ignorance of economics in his latest Sunday Review column, "Corporate Daddy."
For some time now, Republicans in Congress have given up the pretense of doing anything to improve the lot of most Americans. Raising the minimum wage? They won’t even allow a vote to happen. Cleaner air for all? They may partially shut down the government in a coming fight on behalf of major polluters. Add to that the continuing obstruction of student loan relief efforts, and numerous attempts to defund health care, and you have a party actively working to make life miserable for millions.
Democrats control the White House and Senate and won a clear majority of the vote in 2012 House elections, but American Prospect co-editor Robert Kuttner thinks that Republicans might be even less popular if Dems weren’t so shy about advocating economic policies markedly to the left of the ones they now support.
In a Monday post, Kuttner argued that only the rich have benefited from thirty-plus years of “tax cuts, limited social spending, deregulation, and privatization,” which caused him to wonder, “If conservatives offer little that’s credible to the anxious middle class, why aren’t liberals just trouncing them?” His three-part answer:
Some readers here may have a tough time discerning why the economy's mediocre to stagnant performance isn't fully registering with the general public, which feels that things aren't going too well but still doesn't how weak the situation really is. The obvious answer is that the press overemphasizes any good news which appears and downplays marginal or bad news — while occasionally, as seen last night in Bloomberg's coverage of yesterday's largely miserable homebuilding statistics, pretending that bad news really was good.
Perfect examples of this problem came in two CNNMoney.com emails I received this afternoon. The emails has news which could be considered news, while leaving out some clearly bad news which delegitimizes their email's optimism: