President Bush's effort to coax the Saudis to boost oil output was given wildly different treatments on the front pages of the Washington Post than the British broadsheet the Financial Times.
"Saudis bow to oil pressure: Kingtom to lift output to highest in two years; US lobbying comes after price nears $128" reads the May 17 front page FT headline. (The headline for the online version is slightly different: "Saudis to boost oil output after US pressure.")
Of course, the Saudis DID agree to boost daily output by 300,000 barrels. As the Post's Abramowitz noted, "[t]hat would take Saudi production to 9.4 million barrels a day" whereas the max the kingdom can pump out a day would be "11.3 million barrels."
How different do you think Americans' take on the current economy would be if the business press picked up on the fact that the bad employment news is coming predominantly out of two struggling states -- and that most of the rest of the nation is holding its own?
The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that April industrial production fell, the second negative reading in the past three months. Specifically, February and April fell by 0.7%, and March showed an increase of 0.2%.
In May 2001, that same report showed that production fell for the seventh consecutive month.
Seasonally adjusted data from the Fed indicates that industrial production during those seven months (October 2000 through April 2001) fell 2.6%.
During the past seven months (October 2007 through April 2008), industrial production has fallen 1.7%.
Guess which set of circumstances generated more talk of recession?
ABC's "Nightline" on Monday continued the network's trend of hyperbolically, and in this case, apocalyptically, fretting over high gas prices in America. Anchor Martin Bashir introduced a segment by wondering if $4 a gallon gas might result in some people stealing gasoline, or, as he put it, "taking some drastic measures." Speaking to a car security expert who claimed that such theft would be a misdemeanor because the total cost would be below $1000, reporter John Donvan lost all perspective and replied, "But we may soon be paying more than $1,000 for a tank of gas." [audio available here]
Donvan, in a snarky tone, even cited the plot of the futuristic thriller "The Road Warrior" to support his argument. He speculated, "And in the future, of course, they will be stealing gas and fighting over it. We know that because of the 1981 Mad Max classic 'The Road Warrior.'"
In a rare case of balance, Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" highlighted both sides in the debate over declaring the polar bear an endangered species due to global warming as correspondent Daniel Sieberg declared: "They're at the top of the food chain at the top of the world, but their future is at the center of a political tug-of-war over drilling for oil versus protecting their habitat."
Sieberg began his report with a dire prediction: "There are an estimated 20,000 - 25,000 polar bears in the Arctic region, but environmentalists warn that rising temperatures and disappearing sea ice will cause a 30 percent decline in their population over the next 50 years." He also played clips of liberal California Senator Barbara Boxer and John Kostyack from the National Wildlife Federation.
However, Sieberg also provided perspective from the Heritage Foundation:
"You are staring into the face of one thing scientists say you can do to fight climate change," ABC correspondent Dan Harris said as the face of a cow filled the screen. "Leave this cow alone and eat less beef. According to the United Nations, 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions comes from sending beef and dairy products to your kitchen table."
West Virginia primary voters were asked at least two factually faulty exit poll questions yesterday, both of which asserted that the U.S. economy is already in recession. This, of course, is absolutely false. A recession is marked by at least two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. The last quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008 were marked by slow, but positive, economic growth.
See the screencap from CNN.com below (h/t e-mail tipster Jeff Williams):
A week after ABC focused a story on two pitiable Minnesota families living in the dark because higher energy and food prices mean they “can no longer afford to pay for electricity,” Tuesday's World News highlighted the replies from sad case stories solicited on ABCNews.com, starting with a woman who says she must skip breakfast to put $4 a day toward gas. ABC displayed “FEELING THE PAIN” on screen as Charles Gibson set up the story that David Muir started by fretting about “the price of a gallon of gas jumping more than a dime in just the last week” -- which is a piddling $2 more to fill a 20-gallon tank. Nonetheless, he asserted “the e-mails we've received show the pain is being felt far and wide. Single mother Caroline Saunders wrote to us from New Jersey.” He read aloud from her e-mail with her quote on screen:
I now skip breakfast to save the extra $4 per day. That gives me an extra $20 added to my gas budget.
Muir proceeded to recite two less ridiculous complaints, a trucker upset about a 60 percent hike in diesel fuel over the past in two years and a woman who found a job that requires $110 a week in gas to commute 140 miles round trip.
"Of course, real life never matches up exactly with the theory's assumptions. But they represent, economists say, a useful way of making sense of a complex world," Lynch wrote.
"To Soros, the conventional approach is rubbish. Instead of a world of near-identical actors, coolly assessing their economic interests and acting with clear-eyed precision, he sees a world (and markets) governed by passion, bias and self-reinforcing errors," Lynch wrote. "Because fallible human beings are both involved in, and trying to make sense of, this world, they inevitably make mistakes. Those mistakes then feed on themselves in ‘reflexive' ways that, when taken to extremes, result in situations such as the now-deflating U.S. housing bubble."
How do you write an article about Uncle Sam's April financial results without telling readers how much money came in and went out -- especially if what came in was an all-time record?
Yesterday and today, many journalists have shown us how. Two of them are Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press and Michael M. Phillips of the Wall Street Journal.
Crutsinger's AP report actually made it appear as if collections is the problem area. In fact, as you will eventually see after the jump, April's result had nothing to do with "dampening" revenue growth, and everything to do with exploding spending.
Since media began recognizing the international food crisis and its ties to biofuels, NewsBusters has been wondering when press members will expose how intricately linked Nobel Laureate Al Gore is to this controversial issue.
On Sunday, Fox News's Sean Hannity finally did just that.
In a segment on "Hannity's America," the host addressed much of what NewsBusters has been reporting for the past several months about this matter, and established a template that hopefully others in the media will emulate if they are indeed interested in helping to solve this growing problem (video embedded right):
Amid talk among the mainstream media of a sinking economy in which the elderly must live in vans and others cannot afford to drive 35 miles to church on Sundays, the Associated Press did note a drop in unemployment from 2006 to 2007. But even that news was buried in a story about the military and was used to explain trouble had in meeting recruiting goals.
On May 13, an AP story by writer Anne Flaherty used this drop in unemployment to explain that the military is having difficulty recruiting young people. But just a day before, the Associated Press reported that every branch of the military met its recruiting goals for the month of April, some branches even surpassed them. As Warner Todd Huston noted, AP’s Pauline Jelinek reasoned that the military was successful in its recruitment efforts because “other job possibilities” are limited.
Don’t you just hate it when newsrooms can’t agree over which biased meme should rule the day?
"Average gas prices set record at $3.72 a gallon" reads the teaser headline on the USAToday.com Web site. Yet the photo (by Justin Sullivan, Getty Images) accompanying the teaser on the front page shows a gas marquee with gasoline at $4.09-a-gallon.
How about I ask you if you "feel" like you make enough money each year? Let's say you make $48,000 a year, OK? (That's the median household income in the US) You'll likely tell me, then that you "feel" you need more. Now, from this, can I conclude that you are "struggling in life" as a citizen of the USA? Not if you use actual data instead of "feelings" to determine what "struggling" means and not if you then try to add context to what we all have compared to what others in the world have, of course. But, this is exactly the sort of nonsensical "survey" that Reuters gravely warned us about this week. Without bothering with any statistics or context, Reuters excitedly reported that "Many Americans struggling in life, survey finds", and decided that everyone is downtrodden and filled with "suffering" in the United States today.
But this is just another so-called survey that is reported backwards. It turns out that, even by their unscientific criteria, 49 percent of the Americans they surveyed said that they were "thriving, with few health or money worries." So, why is this reported as if the preponderance of our fellow citizens is claiming to be "struggling"?
What part of "free" in "free-market" does the Associated Press not understand?
The news wire's Glen Johnson is reporting today that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) plans on unveiling a plan to combat global climate change "while adhering to free-market principles."
McCain's major solution is to implement a cap-and-trade program on carbon-fuel emissions, like a similar program in the Clean Air Act that was used to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions that triggered acid rain.
Industries would be given emission targets, and those coming in under their limit could sell their surplus polluting capacity to companies unable to meet their target.
A cap-and-trade programs would certainly be a market, but it would be an artificial one imposed on manufacturers by government fiat. The key word in free-market being of course, free.
It would be correct to call a voluntary cap-and-trade program created by industry groups outside the pressure of government regulation a "free-market" solution, but the component of force by government here only puts an Adam Smith happy face on a Karl Marx mandate.
Michael Pollan, a long-time opponent of "agribusiness" - the food industry - was featured in a segment on his new book, "In Defense of Food: And Eater's Manifesto." Pollan advocates a return to an all-organic diet and offers tips for healthy eating.
Pollan praised "the authority of mom" and lamented that "the holders of culture when it comes to food (mothers) have been undermined by both the scientists and the food marketers."
On April 28 I noted what I argued was a case of fuzzy gas math on the part of a Washington Post reporter who uncritically relayed the gas price woes of a Raleigh, N.C., high school senior. Today blogger William Schaeffer, also a NewsBusters fan, pointed out a recent case of a suspicious gas budget claim, this time as reported in the Boston Globe. Schaeffer blogged about it here.
The May 6 Globe story, by reporter Jenn Abelson, kicked off with the lament of Dodge Ram owner Douglas Chrystall, who, Abelson noted, had just paid "$75 to fill his black Dodge Ram pickup truck for the third time in a week."
But after looking up the average gas price in Boston and the fuel economy of a Dodge Ram, Schaeffer crunched the numbers and estimated that Chrystall would have to be "driving around 961 miles a week" or nearly "50,000 miles a year."
"[B]asically the story from the Boston Globe is that consumers that drive over three times the yearly national average are facing a financial burden," Schaeffer concluded, adding sarcastically, "sounds like NEWS to me."
Worker productivity rose by a better-than-expected amount in the first three months of the year while labor cost pressures eased.
The Labor Department reported Wednesday that productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter. That was slightly higher than the 1.5 percent increase that had been expected.
For the rest of the campaign, the Media Research Center will each Tuesday announce its picks for the “Worst of the Week,” meaning the most egregious, horrendous and stupefying liberal bias of Campaign 2008. This week, the spotlight shines on those journalists who rushed to the side of Barack Obama after his minister’s radical comments, and NBC’s ridiculous effort to hype bad economic news [audio/video links below fold]:
Feeling Obama’s Pain. After Barack Obama’s former pastor’s radical remarks at the National Press Club, liberal journalists rallied around the Democratic candidate. Hours after Jeremiah Wright spoke on April 28, NBC’s Brian Williams emphasized those who deemed it a "circus" and a "sideshow," as his NBC Nightly News highlighted the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart: "Unfortunately, the victim in all of this is going to be Senator Obama’s campaign."
Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and media hype about gasoline prices. On television that third item often takes place not just in your usual standup at a gas station interviewing outraged motorists. In Web-based media, however, the still shot is worth 1,000 barrels.
We've noted how CNN.com has done it. Today, it's ABCNews.com with its front-page teaser headline "Oil: Another Day, Another Record."
The photo accompanying the AP story filed from Vienna -- yes, as in Austria -- by writer George Jahn depicts a gas marquee from an American gas station showing regular unleaded at $4.419-a-gallon. Here's how the caption for the AP photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez that accompanies Jahn's article reads (emphasis mine):
The debate over a gas tax holiday has caught the attention of all three presidential candidates as well as the media. Last night, CBS "Evening News" said 150 economists had signed a petition against the cut and quoted one saying "it isn't sound economic policy."
But that list includes several prominent liberal economists, some who have also opposed the Bush tax cuts and pushed for a higher minimum wage in other petitions. The list featured economists from liberal groups such at the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, as well as several former Clinton staffers.
Reporter Priya David didn't mention any political affiliations or leanings for those opposed to the gas tax holiday. "But last week some 150 economists signed a petition saying it's a bad idea," she said.
When it comes to the economy, "it's not good. Not good," according to Jon Stewart. "But don't take my word for it. Seriously, I'm actually doing very well."
On May 1, "The Daily Show" host was introducing a segment that made light of doom-and-gloom economic reporting on network and cable news. His mash-up highlighted CBS's own "Grim Reaper," Anthony Mason, ABC's Betsy Stark, NBC's Brian Williams and CNN's senior business correspondent Ali Velshi.
Stewart poked hardest at Velshi, whom he called that "Hairless Prophet of Doom."
"Who is that hairless prophet of doom and how can we appease his anger, please?" Stewart pleaded, "If we give you our hair will you give us back our money? Will you do it, sir? I beg of you - Velshi!"
The network news broadcasts are to blame for the American people's widely held misconception that the U.S. economy is in a recession, according to Media Research Center founder and President L. Brent Bozell III.
"How in the world is it that 81 percent of the American people believe that we're in a recession?" Bozell asked on CNBC's "Kudlow and Company" May 2. "Maybe it's because the national networks this year, and we've counted it, have talked about a recession over 500 times."
The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.—Archilochus (7th-century BC)
Mark Penn might not be appearing before the cameras on Hillary's behalf nowadays, but bet that he is beavering away behind the scenes on his polling. And judging from Hillary's dogged [to mix an animal metaphor] performance on this morning's Today, it's obvious the pollster's turned up one big thing: Dem primary voters hate oil companies.
Meredith Vieira gamely tried to get Clinton onto other subjects during her interview. But no matter the question, the answer was almost invariably the same: I Hate Big Oil. Since the questions were irrelevant, let's dispense with them and simply count the ways in which Hillary expressed her wrath at those evil purveyors of oil.
I always find it amazing when writers in the mainstream press seem to have so little knowledge of America and its history. Of course, I suppose that being blissfully ignorant of US history does help paper over their betrayal, substituting the feeling that they can maintain allegiance to American "ideals" as they attempt to advocate for the sort of socialist/communist vision that they want America to become, quite despite its true character and principles. Heck, if you don't know you are betraying your own country, you can't be ashamed of yourself for it, right? In any case, here we have another prime example of such a betrayal by The New York Times' Thomas Friedman from his May 4 piece where he has decided that America is finished, done, kaput. And guess what? It's all George W. Bush's fault -- shocking, I know.
Freidman imagines that he has found the pulse of the people and he has found that they are aching for nation building. Not nation building in Iraq or Afghanistan, but in the USA. He says we have little to show for our efforts in Iraq, that "we’re just not that strong anymore." He also claims that we have no "leverage" in Iran.
Heck, he should know. After all he and his paper have been attempting to foster these very situations for 8 years. If what Friedman is saying is true, then he and his anti-American paper deserve hearty congratulations for their success at nation destroying -- ours.
My two cents say George Stephanopoulos gave Hillary a harder time than Tim Russert did Obama during their respective appearances on This Week and Meet the Press today. Russert never pinned Obama down on exactly what he knew of Rev. Wright's most controversial assertions and when he knew it.
Over on ABC, Stephanopoulos twice challenged Hillary to name a single economist who supported her proposal for a gas-tax holiday, and threw in her face the fact that even her big admirer in economist ranks, Paul Krugman of the NY Times, has criticized her over it. In exposing her inability to name a single practitioner of the dismal science who supported her plan [McCain, who's also called for a gas-tax holiday would presumably be similarly hard-pressed], Stephanopoulos left Clinton looking like a panderer. Stephanopoulos raised the issue right out of the box.
Chavez wants to increase domestic food production; so, of course, the logical solution is to base the recovery on Marxist economics. After watching the failed totalitarian agronomics of Cuba and Russia, you'd think they could have invested a few bucks in a SimCity game so they could practice a little first.
Unbelievably, Reuters said Chavez “sheltered consumers from rising world food costs with subsidies and price controls,” and then in spite of all of that awesome planning, something surprisingly went wrong (all bolded portions mine):
On the day the government reported a tenth of a point drop in the unemployment rate and two days after news of a second straight quarter of 0.6 percent GDP growth proved the nation is not in a recession, Friday's NBC Nightly News delivered a ridiculously shallow story, based on two anecdotes and a couple of advocates, to prove rising prices are forcing the elderly out of their homes and into vans and soup kitchens. Anchor Brian Williams promised “an interesting look...at the toll that rising prices, of things like gas and food, is taking on Americans living on fixed incomes.” [audio available here]
Chris Jansing [that's her by the van] traveled to Northridge, California, just north of Los Angeles, where she found 82-year-old Betty Weinstein, stunned by a water bill, turning to a second reverse mortgage to stay in her home. But she at least still has a home. Jansing then highlighted an even sadder case:
Rising rents forced Scott and Kate Bishop to move out of this blue house and into their van, sleeping on a mattress in the back.
But it got worse: “And now high food costs have meant, for first time in their lives, the Bishops have gone hungry.” Jansing cited no source for her claims as she asserted: “Soup kitchens and food banks are seeing record numbers of seniors asking for help for the first time in their lives,” but “now donations here are down as middle class donors struggle to feed their own families.”