On Wednesday, June 17 Bloomberg reported that Bill and Hillary Clinton are taking advantage of financial planning strategies to avoid paying a hefty estate tax, even though the Clintons are prominent supports of the tax.
Despite the report, ABC, CBS, and NBC have all ignored the story on both their morning and evening newscasts. According to Bloomberg: “The Clintons are using financial planning strategies befitting the top 1 percent of U.S. households in wealth. These moves, common among multimillionaires, will help shield some of their estate from the tax that now top out at 40 percent of assets upon death.”
There must have been a double delivery of Obama administration koolaid over at Bloomberg News this morning.
The business wire service, which ordinarily is slightly less imbalanced in its business and economics reporting than the Associated Press, somehow interpreted a 6.5 percent seasonally adjusted decline in housing starts during May and a nearly identical percentage drop in building permits — with both figures lower than May 2013 — as evidence that "the homebuilding industry stabilized after a first-quarter swoon." That's ridiculous. The first quarter was supposedly as bad as it was because of bad winter weather; so there should have been an overcompensating bounceback. It hasn't happened. Meanwhile, that second Bloomberg koolaid delivery must have been the one meant for AP, whose Josh Boak turned in a report noteworthy for its unusual sobriety (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Despite the damning new revelations in the IRS scandal, ABC and NBC have failed to cover the story as of Monday June 16, and only CBS This Morning reported on the emails on Monday but their evening news program ignoring the IRS alongside ABC's World News with Diane Sawyer and NBC Nightly News.
You've got to hand it to Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press. His Thursday writeup on May's disappointing retail sales result — a 0.3 percent increase compared to expectations of 0.4 percent to 0.6 percent — was infused with optimism. It's "unlikely to derail overall economic growth." There's been a "revival in consumer spending." We'll see "boosting incomes and supporting stronger consumer spending" as a result of more hiring."
But along the way, Crutsinger quietly downgraded his estimate of second-quarter and full-year economic growth. Just a few weeks ago, AP reports were predicting that the second quarter might come in at an annualized 4 percent, and that 2014 on the whole would surely come in at 3 percent or greater, even after the first quarter's annualized 1.0 percent contraction. Let's see how Crutsinger stealthily reported a far lower estimate after the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
On Tuesday, the Associated Press carried a regional story about the status of North Dakota's planting season. Readers will be pleased to know that 93 percent, 78 percent, and 92 percent of the state's wheat, potato and corn crops have been planted.
Of course, farm news is important in the Roughrider State. But so is the latest information on its stratospheric economic growth, as well as looking at last year's growth in the nation's other 49 states and DC as reported by the government's Bureau of Economic Analysis yesterday. But I could not locate a national AP story on state-by-state gross domestic product growth, and there have been almost no national-scope stories anywhere else. Perhaps that's because the country's top performers are predominantly deep-red states, while its significant laggards, at least based on who they supported for president in 2008 and 2012, are mostly blue.
The AP, like most establishment press outlets, has virtually if not completely ignored an inconvenient and alarming Obamacare-related statement in a footnote found in a recent Congressional Budget Office report. Paul M. Krawzak at Roll Call, who reported on it last week, seems to have been the first one to discover it. In Krawzak's words, the CBO "said it is no longer possible to assess the overall fiscal impact of the law." This didn't stop Crutsinger from relaying a claim about projected Obamacare cost savings which the CBO's surrender has rendered irrelevant. There's a good chance that he ignorantly did so because his colleagues haven't covered CBO's white-flag statement (if they have and he went ahead anyway, that's an even bigger problem).
According to an article last Sunday in the online magazine Salon, there's a new intellectual dynamic duo in town: French economist Thomas Piketty and American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who've become media superstars almost simultaneously over the past few months thanks to Piketty's book "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" and Tyson's TV series "Cosmos."
Writer Paul Rosenberg places Piketty and Tyson at the forefront of an evidence-driven pushback against faith-based right-wing doctrine. He lauds each for offering "a big-picture story that helps us collectively make sense of our lives. In Piketty's case, this comes from his insight that capitalism does not just naturally evolve to a state of broader general prosperity." For Tyson, it's his "almost quasi-religious" quest for knowledge about the universe - a quest which evokes "terror" in devoutly anti-science conservatives.
At the Associated Press yesterday, Christopher Rugaber's writeup on the latest economic growth projections of the National Association of Business Economists (NABE) contained several glaring weaknesses.
Take the headline (quite possibly not his doing) and his opening sentence. The headline, "SURVEY: GROWTH TO PICK UP, HIRING STEADY," seems designed to ensure that those who only look at headlines in print or on their online devices will remain blissfully ignorant about the economy's first-quarter contraction. The fact is that following a quarter of shrinkage, economic growth first has to "return" or "resume" before it can "pick up."
ABC's Diane Sawyer missed a prime opportunity to try to pin down former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a major economic issue -- whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline -- CNBC senior contributor Larry Kudlow noted in an interview with Brian Wilson and Larry O'Connor on WMAL radio's June 10 edition of Mornings on the Mall. [listen to the full interview by clicking play on the embed below the page break]
"I want to know what her positions are on a variety of issues... For example, I want to know what her position is on Keystone," Kudlow insisted, noting that "her department has signed off three times on Keystone" while she personally "has not said a word about it." What's more, Kudlow noted, a new study published by the Obama-Kerry State Department found that:
Liberals have long been used to dominating the narrative in news coverage of wage and poverty-related issues. The liberal perspective, in terms of what policies best represent the interests of workers and the economy as a whole, sometimes goes entirely unchallenged.
A welcome exception to the rule occurred during the June 2 edition of Noticiero Univisión, however, when correspondent Liliana Escalante included the perspectives of a reputable economist and a Latino small business owner, both of whom clearly pointed out the negative, job-killing consequences of legislation in California that would raise that state’s minimum wage from its current $8 to $11 an hour beginning January, 2015.
In a brief on Tuesday's NBC Today, news anchor Natalie Morales portrayed a minimum wage hike in Seattle as the first step toward a nationwide increase: "Well, with talks across the country ongoing about boosting the minimum wage, workers in Seattle are soon going to be seeing a big boost....The Seattle city council passed an ordinance Monday that bumps the minimum wage up to $15 an hour. That's the highest in the nation." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The headline on screen declared: "Landmark Minimum Wage Hike; Seattle's $15 an Hour Could Set New Standard." In a later news brief, Morales proclaimed the policy to be "A historic victory for workers in Seattle that could have a big impact nationwide."
A month ago, I noted that the establishment press has ignored an especially pernicious program undertaken by Eric Holder's Department of Justice and the Obama administration's regulatory apparatus, namely Operation Choke Point.
On Thursday, a strong 321-87 bipartisan majority of the House passed H.R. 4660, the "Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (of) 2015." Among its provisions: "Sec. 554. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to carry out Operation Choke Point." The final bill's supporters included 204 Republicans and 117 Democrats. The establishment press has ignored the vote. Excerpts from Kelly Riddell's Friday coverage at the Washington Times follows the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
CNN’s Jake Tapper interviewed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on his The Lead with Jake Tapper program on Monday, June 2 and used the opportunity to hit the Obama official over new regulations aimed at reducing CO2 emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030.
Throughout the discussion, Tapper grilled McCarthy over the lack of Democratic support for the new regulations and how “You can't get anything through Congress on this and not just the Republican House but also the Democratic-controlled Senate?” [See video below.]
After investing so much emotional energy in the idea that the weather-impaired contracting U.S. economy of the first quarter is going to give way to a super-duper awesome second quarter and strong rest of the year, it was foolish to think that Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, would backtrack after just one contradictory report on consumer spending, which "unexpectedly" fell 0.1 percent in April, confounding expectations of a 0.2 percent pickup.
And of course he didn't. What's remarkable is that Crutsinger's Friday report seemed to get even more aggressive with his second-quarter prediction, citing "some analysts" who believe that it will come in at an annualized 4 percent — quite the reversal from the first quarter's 1.0 percent annualized contraction. Meanwhile, the AP reporter missed a less buoyant report from his colleague Christopher Rugaber which punctured a bit of Crutsinger's premise. Excerpts from both items follow the jump.
On the May 29 edition of the Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor, anchor Bill O’Reilly and colleague Kelly Megyn of FNC’s Kelly File, argued about how conservatives and Republicans should take on the Left’s spin about “income inequality” in American society today.
While Kelly argued that income inequality has objectively gotten worse and is a valid issue that needs to be confronted by policymakers – albeit from a conservative tack by conservatives – O’Reilly claimed that the idea that income inequality is a new and pressing problem is a “myth” as it naturally “exists in every free marketplace” and has merely been “exacerbated” by the success of technology improving everyone’s standard of living. You can read the relevant transcript and watch the exchange by pressing play on the embed below the page break. Click here for MP3 audio.
In an apparent attempt to reach those who usually don't pay much attention to the economy, USA Today sent out a tweet Thursday afternoon in the wake of the government's report earlier in the day that the U.S. economy contracted by an annualized 1.0 percent — on its weather feed.
The tweet (HT Zero Hedge), plus evidence that the economy has somehow managed to "weather" previous cold and stormy winters, follow the jump:
America suffered an economic setback in the first quarter of the year as the GDP for Obama’s economy was revised downward Thursday morning to a negative one percent, yet neither ABC’s World News nor the NBC Nightly News considered it newsworthy.
Meanwhile, the CBS Evening News spun the bad news into a positive. Reporter Anthony Mason insisted “it sets the economy up for rebound this quarter and there are some encouraging signs in the numbers.”
Last month, CNN reported that the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis measured a decrease in the rate of growth of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) to the tune of 0.1 percent. But relax, they insisted, it was merely due to the “winter weather effect.”
Fast forward to today and the Bureau’s downward revision of GDP growth. The feds now tell us the economy contracted one percent in the first quarter. Yes, this is “the first downturn since 2011," CNNMoney noted but, hey, “it’s not a big deal,” according to the network’s dismissive headline.
BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- In the 1970s, while working as a low-paid cub reporter in Houston, Texas, I always looked forward to the annual Christmas catalogs from Neiman-Marcus and Sakowitz, a local luxury department store. Both contained outrageously expensive things that only the super-rich could afford -- his and hers Thunderbirds stick in my memory. My wife and I couldn't wait to thumb through them and we frequently laughed at how much some of the items cost, wondering if even rich Texans would spend so extravagantly.
Another tribute to conspicuous wealth comes in the annual "Rich List," a guide to the 1,000 richest men and women in Britain, published in a special edition of The Sunday Times Magazine. A fat feline sits proudly on the cover with the symbol of a British pound (in gold) around its neck.
French economist Thomas Piketty’s far-left views on wealth and income inequality are beloved ... at least by the liberal media. So it was no surprise that all three broadcast networks skipped criticism of “errors” in his work over the weekend. Some print media outlets also ignored that story.
When his book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” rose to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list the media went crazy over the “rock star” economist and his 700-plus page “beach read.” But on May 23, The Financial Times reported that its investigation found his data was “flawed.”
The Associated Press's Charles Babington went so far over the top in his Monday morning dispatch on Republicans, the Obama administration's scandals, and the fall electoral landscape that it's hard to know where to begin.
The fingerprints of Obama administration operatives appear to be all over Babington's report, both in what's included and what's left out. Most notoriously, there is no mention whatsoever of the Veterans Administration scandal. Ah, but there's a specific reference to Democrats who complain that the Benghazi and IRS scandals have been "fading from national headlines" except at the specifically named Fox News. Excerpts from Babington's babbling follow the jump (bolds are mine):
French economist Thomas Piketty has become a darling of the left for allegedly "proving" that, as paraphrased by Chris Giles at the Financial Times, "wealth inequalities are heading back up to levels last seen before the first world war." The Media Research Center's Julia Seymour has described Piketty as a "'rock star' of the far-left," an accurate assessment given praises heaped upon his book and especially his public policy prescriptions by the likes of Alternet and Vox's especially gullible Matthew Yglesias. Seymour also notes that Piketty's work has received a great deal of favorable notice in the establishment press, and that he has met "with the Treasury Secretary" and "(President) Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers."
Of course these "oligarch groupies," as Jeffrey Lord describes them, love him. Piketty favors an 80 percent tax on incomes above $500,000 and a progressive global tax on real wealth (i.e., after subtracting debt). The problem is that FT's Giles, having done a deep dive into the economist's data and spreadsheets, has found serious problems in the professor's work which nullify his conclusions.
On Thursday evening, former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on the PBS NewsHour to discuss his new memoir. Not only did the taxpayer-subsidized anchor Gwen Ifill gently press Geithner from the left on policy matters, she failed to ask him about one of his most startling admissions – that Obama administration officials wanted him to lie during appearances on the Sunday morning TV talk shows.
It's not for a lack of air time either. Ifill gave a two-minute introduction, followed by a 10-minute interview, yet she never got around to this revelation from Geithner’s book Stress Test:
In July 2013, the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber finally noticed the meteoric rise in the number of temporary help service and other non-payroll personnel working at U.S. employers — a trend which at the time was about 2-1/2 years old. Rugaber noted that "temps and to a much larger universe of freelancers, contract workers and consultants ... number nearly 17 million people who have only tenuous ties to the companies that pay them – about 12 percent of everyone with a job." He also cited two likely contributors to that growth. First, "Some employers have also sought to sidestep the new health care law’s rule that they provide medical coverage for permanent workers. Second, "companies want to avoid having too many employees during a downturn."
This morning, the AP's Tom Raum did another report on the situation, and proceeded to blow the numbers, ignore Obamacare, and downplay the influence of the mediocre economy.
Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I pointed to the track record of Dean Baquet, who has ascended to the hallowed perch of executive editor at the New York Times, and observed that "someone who has clearly been a troubling and disruptive presence is now in charge."
Two incidents spanning seven years support my contention. The first occurred in 2006 at the Los Angeles Times, where Baquet, then that paper's editor, petulantly refused to make budget cuts the paper's Tribune Company parent demanded, took his complaints public in the paper itself, metaphorically barricaded himself in his office, and dared the Trib to fire him (they did, two months later). The second occurred in April of last year, when Baquet, now at the New York Times, got into an argument with now deposed Executive Editor Jill Abramson, "burst out of Abramson’s office, slammed his hand against a wall ... stormed out of the newsroom ... (and was) gone for the rest of the day." Now we learn from David Carr at the Old Gray Lady itself that, in essence, Baquet did an "it's her or me" number on Abramson (HT Ann Althouse) to grease the skids for her firing.
What at times is worse than the Jurassic Press not covering something? The Jurassic Press covering something.
The all-encompassing government-Internet-power-grab that is Network Neutrality rarely gets outside-the-Tech-World media attention. But Thursday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in Democrat Party-line fashion to begin its process of imposing it. This was a big enough deal that it garnered over-the-weekend Big Media coverage from ABC (with a Bloomberg assist) and PBS (with a Washington Post assist).
Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, May 18 to promote his new memoir Stress Test, yet host Bob Schieffer barely touched on the most controversial aspect, that the Obama Administration had directed him to spin negative aspects of Obama’s policies.
Schieffer briefly asked his guest “Did the administration ever try to get you to put a more positive spin on things than you thought the situation deserved?" After Geithner said he “never had that experience” the CBS host quickly moved on to an unrelated topic without challenging his contradictory claim. [See video below.]
A search at 11:00 p.m. ET tonight at the Associated Press's national web site on "Serco," the company with a five-year, $1.25 billion contract to process paper Obamacare enrollment applications, returned no results. That's absolutely pathetic, given that St. Louis TV station KMOV, based on multiple accounts from several current and former employees and contractors, has reported that the company has well over 1,000 people doing almost nothing all day simply because there are very few paper applications to process. KMOV, which carried five consecutive reports this week (here, here, here, here, and here), even noted in its later segments that its work had drawn national attention.
What's worse than AP not covering the story nationally? How about the wire service treating it as a local and regional story, even though Serco and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are wasting roughly $20 million per month of U.S. taxpayers' money, and even though calls for investigation have come from U.S. senators in at least two states? It would have been just as absurd if AP had treated bankrupt Solyndra, which failed to repay an Energy Department loan of over $500 million several years ago, as a California-only story because that's where its plant was. Excerpts from the AP's story, including a "This story is boring, so don't read it" headline, follow the jump (bolds are mine):
It looks like the "weather" excuse the press went to repeatedly to explain weak economic results in December, and January, and February, and March still has life in April. But this time, warm weather (which most of us would find "good," at least in April) is to blame. An early afternoon report (relevant portion saved here in graphic form) on the Dow's 200-point mid-day dip by the Associated Press's Ken Sweet claims that April's reported decline in industrial production was "possibly due to more bad weather" (while this post was prepared, the AP issued a 2:17 p.m. update which still had the "bad weather" excuse.)
That "bad weather" line is odd, because an earlier AP dispatch by Paul Wiseman exclusively about today's production release from the Federal Reserve didn't mention or allude to the weather at all. After the jump, I'll walk readers through Sweet's possible "warm weather was really bad weather (for the economy)" logic and critique Wiseman's longer coverage.