UPDATE, Aug. 6 -- The media fact-checker overview begins here, and continues below the fold:
"..... all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling" Obama refers to is NOT just the 200,000 additional barrels obtainable from the "Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf regions." Republican proposals also include Alaska, shale oil, and tar sands.
Just including Alaska coastal at very conservative extraction assumptions leads to a potential of almost 1 million barrels of oil a day instead of only 200,000.
Fully ramped-up production from shale oil and tar sands at very conservative extraction assumptions would lead to a potential of another 27 million (you read that right) barrels a day.
Now that the government has signed off on a $25-billion bailout of home mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the obvious question is: What next?
Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, thinks breaking up is hard to do, but necessary. "The Bush Administration should vigorously push to have Fannie and Freddie recapitalized and broken up into 10 to 12 companies, with their ties to the government completely severed," as he explained in the August 11 edition.
According to Forbes, getting 10 to 12 smaller private companies involved in mortgages "will help revive and reinvigorate that sector."
Is reporter Michael Powell at the New York Times auditioning for Comic Relief?
At next year's event, Powell's headline at his August 2 story (HT Weapons of Mass Discussion) about Obama's repeated hypocritical invocations and charges relating to race (of course, that's not how he sees it), along with his report's first 10 words, would bring the house down:
With Genie Out of Bottle, Obama Is Careful on Race
Senator Barack Obama is a man of few rhetorical stumbles .....
Only someone locked inside the Old Media bubble could possibly believe that Obama hasn't "stumbled" repeatedly, to the point where he's making Bush 41 Vice President Dan Quayle look like a certified genius.
Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, on Friday contended “it is not the protectionists of the AFL-CIO or CNN who are primarily to blame for the erosion of public support” for free trade, instead:
The blame lies squarely with a business community that continues to support Republican politicians who refuse to raise the taxes and spend the money necessary to provide the economic safety net for American workers that a free-market economy has not, and will not, provide.
In his column bannered across the top Friday's “Business” section, “Wave Goodbye to the Invisible Hand” Pearlstein argued that “just as the Gilded Age gave way to the Progressive Era and the New Deal gave way to the post-war era of big government, big business and big labor, the current era of free-market capitalism seems to be giving way to something else” as “the larger truth may be that the social and economic costs of the next increment of globalization probably outweigh the benefits for many people, and that reality has now been reflected in the political marketplace.”
A night after ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News didn't air a word about the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubling to 1.9 percent in the second quarter, up from 0.9 percent in the first, the two evening newscasts found newsworthy a rise in the unemployment rate, with NBC using the increase to segue to a story on how “a growing number of Americans are...being downsized from full-time work to part-time.” Fill-in ABC anchor David Muir announced:
We're going to turn this evening now to the unemployment report out today which shows a new flurry of pink slips in July. Employers cut 51,000 jobs last month, as the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent. This marks the seventh month in a row with job losses.
NBC anchor Brian Williams, with “Hard Times” on screen, reported:
On the jobs front, the employers cut their payrolls for the seventh straight month in July, total of 51,000 jobs were shed just last month, bringing the total for the year so far to almost half a million. Unemployment rate jumped two-tenths of a percent to 5.7, that's now a four-year high. A growing number of Americans are struggling on the job front even though they're not unemployed. Instead, they're being downsized from full-time work to part-time. That report from NBC's Rehema Ellis.
"This blog is one of the places we'll tell these stories," BusinessWeek.com reporter Tim Catts wrote on the blog's first post on May 2. "Here, we'll jump into the conversation about where the economy is and where it's going. Yes, sometimes we'll look at the latest data. Sometimes we'll share observations from the road. The goal is to give readers real stories about how the downturn is affecting individuals, businesses, and communities."
However, activity on the blog has been scarce of late. Nearly three months later, there are just 22 posts. Meanwhile, the nation's Gross Domestic Product grew at a 1.9 percent pace for the second quarter of 2008, according to government estimates announced July 31.
Second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubled to 1.9 percent, up from 0.9 percent in the first quarter, the Commerce Department announced Thursday morning as consumer spending rose 1.5 percent in the quarter ending June 30, up from 0.9 percent in the first quarter, and U.S. exports soared 9.2 percent, way up from 5.1 percent in the first three months of 2008.
Yet the CBS Evening News centered a story around “disappointing” news about the supposedly “struggling economy” (with that on screen) -- while ABC and NBC, which on April 30 led with full stories on the news of a 0.6 percent (since revised to 0.9) first quarter GDP, didn't utter a syllable Thursday night about the big GDP jump. On the last day of April, ABC's Betsy Stark declared the economy had “flat lined” and NBC anchor Brian Williams warned “it's getting rough out there” as the new GDP number “stops just short of the official declaration of a recession.” Thursday night, however, ABC's World News and NBC Nightly News made time for full stories on outrage over ExxonMobil earning “the largest profit ever made by a U.S. company.” The “oil industry says it is not out of line, but some motorists feel otherwise.”
CBS anchor Katie Couric, picking up on the 4th quarter 2007 GDP revision from 0.6 percent to a minus 0.2, stressed how “the government now says the economy was receding, not growing, in the final quarter of last year” though “it picked up a bit in the first quarter of this year.” She then twisted the fresh news of a 1.9 percent jump into a negative:
But look at this: In the second quarter, when all those rebate checks were supposed to stimulate the economy, it grew less than two percent. Jeff Glor has more about the disappointing numbers.
On Thursday’s "Early Show," correspondent Priya David reported on homeowners in Philadelphia trying to avoid foreclosure: "Yajaira Cruz-Rivera thought she was choosing a responsible mortgage plan. But dreams of remodeling crumbled just days after her family moved in...Yajaira fought with her loan company, saying her new mortgage was unfair and unaffordable." However, David then introduced the hero of the story: "That's when she saw an ad on TV for ACORN, a community organization committed to helping homeowners fight foreclosures. Together they rallied the city for change."
ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, in reality, is a left-wing activist organization that seeks to implement radical socialist policies. According to an August 6, 2006 article in the Wall Street Journal by Steven Malanga:
While ACORN now operates in more than 100 cities with a national budget of $37 million, it never truly left behind the welfare-rights mentality. One is hard-pressed to find in the organization's many antipoverty initiatives any programs that address social dysfunctions like illegitimacy and single parenthood. Instead, as ACORN's executive director, Steven Kest, said several years ago, "We are more focused on irresponsible behavior in the corporate sector. I don't think [illegitimacy] comes anywhere close to the irresponsible behavior of people running the largest businesses in this country."
In addition, Stanley Kurtz outlined Barack Obama’s involvement in ACORN in a May 29 article on National Review Online.
"There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy," Obama said. "Making sure your tires are properly inflated - simple thing. But we could save all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling - if everybody was just inflating their tires? And getting regular tune-ups? You'd actually save just as much!"
Yes, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) actually suggested on the campaign trail that inflating your tires will save as much oil as can be procured by expanding domestic oil drilling, a suggestion that is downright laughable and mathematically impossible (see below the page break for more on that).
The broadcast networks exhibited gross mismanagement in their coverage of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage powerhouses now in need of a $25-billion government rescue.
"It's partially a bias and partially just sort of gross mismanagement on their part," Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor said on CBN's "Newswatch" July 30. "All they had to do was pick up a Wall Street Journal. You know people at the network news shows read the Wall Street Journal at least sometimes. The Journal's been on this case since February 2002 when they had a piece headline, ‘Fannie Mae Enron?'"
The networks - ABC, CBS and NBC - ignored six years of concerns about the two companies' management, Gainor wrote July 28.
"The combination of stock losses, government fines and proposed bailout comes close to $150 billion," he wrote. "It's a huge story largely ignored by network news until a taxpayer bailout was almost guaranteed."
But the networks were more interested in attacking private companies with Enron comparisons than likening Fannie and Freddie to the infamous corporate debacle.
Disclaimer: Yes, Joe and Chris. We know Jim was joking.
Money maven Jim Cramer is a self-described Democrat, one who idolized Lenin back in his Harvard days [Cramer's, not Lenin's] and was on the verge of tears over the downfall of his old college buddy Eliot Spitzer. But one Dem not high on Cramer's list is Jimmy Carter, so much so that Cramer feigned dismay to be informed that—contrary to his [tongue-in-cheek] belief—the former president is still among the living.
The host of CNBC's "Mad Money," a guest on today's Morning Joe, was buoyant about the economy, saying the surge in oil prices is over and that happier, if not downright happy, days are ahead. It was when he cautioned people about being sure not to exceed FDIC insurance limits on their bank deposits that Carter came up . . .
Keeping with the tone of the political campaign, the media are in full Britney Spears mode. To quote the pop tart, "Oops, they did it again." It, this time, is the economy. The mainstream media continue to be wrong about the U.S. economy.
The 2nd Quarter Gross Domestic Product numbers came out Thursday morning and the economy continued to grow, this time at a stronger pace than last quarter - 1.9 percent.
As many pundits point out, the economy has to actually recess for there to be a recession. That hasn't stopped the media, who have in many ways never stopped talking recession since we escaped the last one.
This year it has been worse, with regular references to "recession" or even "depression." These days, "depression" may be how journalists feel about their own industry. But they continue to be wrong about the economy.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "several" as "being of a number more than two or three but not many." Nevertheless, the Times used the term instead of the more accurate "two," subtly exaggerating the image of restaurant closure.
Two chains - Bennigan's and Steak & Ale - owned by the Metromedia Restaurant Group were closed across the country July 29 after the company filed for bankruptcy. The Times blamed the economy for the shutdowns.
Chuck Todd has some advice for John McCain: embrace Ted Stevens' demise. The NBC News political director made his suggestion in the course of kibitzing McCain campaign strategy with Joe Scarborough on today's Morning Joe.
CHUCK TODD: Joe, why isn't McCain jumping on this Ted Stevens thing? He hated Ted Stevens.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: He did!
TODD: He should be dancing on this guy's political grave today. This is the John McCain Republican party versus the Ted Stevens Republican party. And he ought to be, he ought to be gloating today. And he's not touched it.
Following a segment on Monday’s CBS "Evening News," on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Chip Reid again touted Obama economic advisor Warren Buffett calling for more taxes on the rich: "Barack Obama met with his team of economic advisers Monday...But there's one who couldn't make it and had to put in his two cents by phone...Warren Buffett, the richest man in the world. Despite his billions, he says the rich are under-taxed."
Reid went on to outline Obama’s plan to remedy that under-taxing: "Obama wants to end the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year and use the money for a tax cut for the middle class." Reid also mentioned John McCain’s economic team: " John McCain is also tapping the minds of business leaders, including Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and Meg Whitman, former head of ebay. They briefed reporters Monday on the importance of tax cuts for business."
"Good Morning America" correspondent Claire Shipman on Tuesday actually suggested that Americans "pitch in" $2000 to help pay off the deficit or even give up their lattes. Reporting on the news that the U.S. federal deficit is projected to rise to $482 billion in 2009, Shipman seriously proposed: "Now, we came up with a few GMA solutions to try to put this in perspective. If every American were to pitch in $2,000, we could pay off this year's deficit."
Continuing the absurd "solutions," Shipman elaborated, "Or, if we handed over, each of us, 500 gallons of gasoline or, in terms we could all really understand, if every American gave up 666 lattes for a year, we could pay off this year's deficit." Leaving aside the slightly demonic 666 suggestion, there was one piece of advice left out of the ABC reporter's piece: At no point did she talk about wasteful government spending or the possibility of cutting back on entitlement programs. Shipman also took a shot at President Bush, calling the deficit "a parting gift from one president to the next of the most unwelcome sort." Conservatives may have complained about some of Bush's spending, but he certainly didn't act without the help of many Democrats in Congress.
The Associated Press injected an editorial comment into the news... again. A few days ago, the AP issued a piece headlined Senate Republicans block heating aid bill, in which the AP made it seem as if Republicans don't care about "the poor" and are only interested in mere political partisanship. This report featured quotes showing how wonderful and caring the Democrats are but not a single quote from any Republican to explain their stance. It also clearly discounted the GOP position while positively spinning the Democratic position.
The story concerns the GOP's blocking of a Senate Democrat bill to double the Federal aid to "the poor" to subsidize their heating and air-conditioning bills. First of all, I wasn't aware that it was Constitutionally mandated that "the poor" get free air-conditioning, but that is another story. The editorializing comes in with the second paragraph.
The media have been barking up the wrong tree for while, insisting the economy is in recession when we’ve yet to have even one quarter of negative GDP growth.
But of course the mainstream media keep digging around for more reasons to say the economy has gone to the dogs. NBC’s “Nightly News” recently claimed that pets are the “silent victims of this whole economic downturn” because they were given up by their owners whose homes were foreclosed.
Now, a July 28 article on MSNBC.com claims that the economy is to blame for a rise in pet thefts.
Interestingly, the article by MSNBC contributor Kim Campbell Thornton also notes that “Police reports don't make a distinction between pet theft and other property theft, so there's no way to pinpoint the exact number of stolen pets each year, but anecdotally, officers say that pet theft is increasing this year.”
For months, NewsBusters has been reporting media's desire to depict the economy as being significantly worse than it really is in order to assist the Democrats in taking back the White House this November.
In fact, it's been rather common for press members to talk about the economy as being absolutely Hooveresque.
Well, it appears the fashion industry might be aiding and abetting this deplorable effort.
The New York Post reported Monday a rather dreary clothing concept being introduced just in time for the upcoming elections (emphasis added):
I do believe that liberals in this country have their tin foils hats on way too tight these days. At least, it's easy to think that over the new national conspiracy theory that lefties are all balled up over lately. You see, it is being imagined in the dim, dark recesses of the left's collective consciousness that cable company Comcast is out to silence them.
Apparently, Comcast has come down from their circling black helicopters and decided to target the left by moving MSNBC from their basic cable package to their more expensive premium services. This will, you see, "marginalize outspoken liberal voices" like Keith Olbermann.
Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, while waffling, has wanted to appear to many of his constituents as being opposed to free trade agreements, or at least wanting to renegotiate the terms of many of them.
On Wednesday, the Department of Commerce issued a press release, the kind of thing you would hope business journalists get in their e-mail boxes. But I found no coverage of this news in a Google News Search on [commerce "free trade'] (typed as indicated inside brackets).
Perhaps it's because the news would be inconvenient for Obama, who is in the midst of an Excellent Overseas Adventure, speaking to fawning crowds who fortunately will have no say at the ballot box in November.
The media were quick to jump on the story of an emergency airplane landing in Manila, Philippines due to a hole in the fuselage of a Qantas flight. And they were quick to sensationalize the story without mentioning Qantas' impressive safety record.
"Well, nobody's saying that we should be covering up a huge hole in the side of an airplane. But it's important for the media to not sensationalize cases like this, which they are already doing," Business & Media Institute Assistant Editor Nathan Burchfiel told Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney on the July 25 "Fox Business."
Burchfiel noted that British tabloids have already speculated that a bomb in the cargo hold may have blown a hole in the fuselage, even though there was no indication that's the case.
"This morning in the American media on ABC, David Muir said that the plane ‘instantly plummeted' 20,000 feet, which is not true," Burchfiel said. "The pilot descended 20,000 feet, rather sharply, but that was his decision, he did it under full control to normalize cabin pressure."
Don't blame Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., member of two influential banking committees - the Senate Finance Committee and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs - for IndyMac's collapse, says CNBC's Erin Burnett.
Burnett, host of CNBC "Street Signs," disagreed with a claim by MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough that a letter to regulators from Schumer caused a run on the beleaguered bank IndyMac, which eventually led to its failure and takeover by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"I don't think Chuck Schumer caused a run on the bank," Burnett said on MSNBC's July 24 "Morning Joe." "This is the new world of banking. Companies, banks come out and they say, and they say, ‘Oh my gosh - our stock's down 20 percent. It's being manipulated. Please come in and help us government. Oh my gosh, there's a run on our bank - let's blame it on a senator.'"
Earlier this month, former senator and John McCain economic advisor Phil Gramm was widely excoriated for his remarks about America being a "nation of whiners," discouraged by negative media reports fueling fears of recession.
As my colleague Nathan Burchfiel noted, the context of Gramm's remarks were the media's role in accentuating the negative in economic news and hence ginning up the public's economic fears and complaints.
Of course, the media has done little to prove Gramm wrong. Take, for instance MSNBC.com's "My Miserable Summer" series, which, among other things, takes tales of woe from readers and publishes them on the Web site (h/t NewsBusters tipster Jeff Williams).
The massive housing bailout bill, meant to prop up beleaguered government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) and help homeowners refinance adjustable rate mortgages, was praised in a segment on the CBS broadcast. It passed in the House July 23 and won't face resistance from President Bush.
"This afternoon, the House passed a bill that throws an estimated $25-billion lifeline to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae - the backbone of the home mortgage industry," CBS chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod said. "The bill makes it easier for both to raise unlimited capital from the government if needed and would allow hundreds of thousands of homeowners to refinance rather than face foreclosure."
To CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" host, we live in a world of absolutes - because the potential of a government bailout of two publicly traded government-sponsored enterprises condemns the entire concept of free market capitalism.
On the July 22 broadcast of Dobbs' show, he attacked proponents of free-market capitalism because of the potential trouble of the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE).
"Well the - it's a, it's quite a mess, quite a mess indeed," Dobbs said. "And I love the idea that all these free traders, free marketeers now got to have the government to, to bail them out. If I hear one of these ignorant, hypocritical, sanctimonious free traders ever talk about free markets again, they should be pilloried. I mean they are absolutely - this is an administration of jerks and cowards and fools. I mean it's unbelievable."
Democrats in Congress may not have acted on Sen. John McCain's proposal for a summer gas tax holiday, but that hasn't stopped the Democratic National Convention from getting tax-free gas courtesy of the citizens of the Mile High City, reports the Denver Post this morning.
Filed as breaking news and published at 8:13 EDT on July 23, the Post's Allison Sherry has the scoop here. Below is an excerpt:
Since March, staffers working on the Democratic National Convention have been using the city of Denver's tax-free gas pumps to fill up their cars - and using its carwashes.
A dispute about this prompted city officials Tuesday to promise that the local host committee will reimburse the city at a market rate for gas - and pay state and federal taxes on the fuel.
Brian Wesbury, whose writings I have quoted often, is at it again, puncturing the economic gloom with reality-based analysis. Since his job is to provide useful info for the investor-clients at First Trust, creating unrealized hype is not in his best interest.