You have to wonder if the Associated Press felt the need to find an exceptionally gloomy story to write when it learned that the economy would probably show positive growth in the government's first-quarter GDP report. That report was released earlier today -- and came in at +0.6%.
If so, this article by the AP's Anne D'Innocenzio (HT to a NewsBusters e-mailer) does the job:
The for-sale listings on the online hub Craigslist come with plaintive notices, like the one from the teenager in Georgia who said her mother lost her job and pleaded, "Please buy anything you can to help out."
Or the seller in Milwaukee who wrote in one post of needing to pay bills — and put a diamond engagement ring up for bids to do it.
Struggling with mounting debt and rising prices, faced with the toughest economic times since the early 1990s, Americans are selling prized possessions online and at flea markets at alarming rates.
The Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa really should change her writing focus, because economics is clearly not her specialty.
After telling readers in March that "Dangerous cracks in the nation's job market" are "ominous signs that the country is falling toward a recession or has already toppled into one," Aversa had the gall to report Wednesday, "The bruised economy limped through the first quarter of this year at a six-tenths of a percentage point growth rate as housing and credit problems forced people and businesses alike to hunker down."
Are you joking? You, your wire service, and virtually every media outlet in the nation have been telling Americans that we're already in a recession. A government report comes out saying that we're not, and this is how you begin your article covering the surprising announcement?
How disgraceful. Sadly, that was just the beginning (emphasis added, h/t NB reader PunditDotCom):
Those of us, including myself, who thought that the supply-side boom in federal receipts had totally played out, as well as those who are concerned about the condition of the economy, have received a surprising bit of good news this month.
Old Media, which doesn't seem interested in looking for, let alone finding, good news, is not reporting a very interesting development. With two business days remaining in April, Uncle Sam's Daily Treasury Statement shows that federal receipts from income and employment taxes, before refunds, are actually ahead of all of April 2007:
“The government started sending out those tax rebate checks today, but they may not do all that much to stimulate the economy because a lot of the money will be used to pay for basic necessities like energy,” “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric said on the April 28 broadcast. “The price of oil approached $120 a barrel today before closing at a record $118.75.”
Despite some receiving checks between $300 and $1,200 and an extra $300 per child, Couric deemed the rebate checks as “shrinking” because of high gas prices.
Fresh off its controversial Iwo Jima cover with Marines raising a tree, Time magazine's May 5 issue celebrates with an Earth Day roundup. The cause for celebration? That in 2008, "every day is Earth Day," exulted Nancy Gibbs.
Gibbs celebrated, among other things, the banning of DDT, which led to millions of preventable deaths from malaria. "Back in 1970, there was ... poison in our pesticides," she said, but after the Environmental Protection Agency was created, "DDT was banned."
Perhaps she missed the fact that DDT was reinstated for use in malaria-ridden countries by order of the World Health Organization in 2006.
Another part of this year's Earth Day roundup: "Bolivia's socialist President Evo Morales told the U.N. that 'if we want to save our planet Earth, we have a duty to put an end to the capitalist system.'" Meanwhile, Gibbs wrote, "capitalists polished their image to a green sheen."
As food prices soar, and international experts as well as media members call for action, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, took to the Senate floor Tuesday calling for a Congressional review of biofuel policy, and for the Environmental Protection Agency to waive the current ethanol mandates.
Coincidentally, this occurred minutes after President Bush told reporters that he believes ethanol and biofuels are key to solving the nation's long-term energy problems.
With that in mind, given the amount of press coverage biofuels have been given in the past few weeks, it will be interesting to see which side of this story media will report this evening and in the days to come.
After all, what Inhofe called for today was for Congress to "revisit the recently enacted biofuel mandate," and for the EPA to exercise its waiver provision granted in the 2007 Energy Bill "that offers protection to consumers if corn prices or availability become unsustainable."
What follows is the full prepared text of Inhofe's speech (fvideo embedded upper-right):
My bottom line analysis (11:25): The two R's of bias from this Rose Garden presser: Martha Raddatz on Syria and numerous reporters on the dreaded R-word, recession. Of course a recession is two consecutive quarters of NEGATIVE economic growth, and we've yet to see one quarter of negative growth, much less two. But all the same, NY Times's Stolberg made it sound like Q1 numbers on GDP tomorrow will show a recession.
The questions below will be posted in reverse chronological order:
High food prices may be affecting middle-income families, but an anecdotal report on CBS's "The Early Show" April 28 made the situation seem as if one family's use of a food bank was "the new face of hunger."
CBS reporter Priya David highlighted Pablo and Ada Melecio, a couple who recently lost their jobs and have elected to use a food bank to make ends meet. Ada Melecio said their "mortgage payments started falling behind and all the interest on that plus all the credit cards" were making their situation even worse.
Washington Post staffer Eli Saslow introduced readers of his April 28 front-page article to a handful of newly registered North Carolina Democrats. But the hype about gas prices from the plight of one of the Democrats from Raleigh struck me to be a probable case of fuzzy math.
Meet 18-year-old Kyla White, a senior at Raleigh's Enloe High School and a part-time receptionist at a local Sports Clips hair salon who drives a 1997 Honda (emphasis mine):
She wanted to vote for a multiracial America, one in which peers wouldn't call her "too white" for being one of a handful of black students in the Enloe honors program. She wanted to vote for no more Code Reds. She wanted to vote for lower gas prices.
Many in the press seem to have difficulty distinguishing between the economy as a whole and individual governments' fiscal situations. Because of that, they seem to be believe that if a state government is having difficulty balancing its budget, there must be a recession in the whole state's economy.
The finances of many states have deteriorated so badly that they appear to be in a recession, regardless of whether that's true for the nation as a whole, a survey of all 50 state fiscal directors concludes.
The situation looks even worse for the fiscal year that begins July 1 in most states.
In the past couple of weeks, NewsBusters has reported the media's sudden negative opinion of ethanol as a result of rising food prices and rationing of rice by certain retailors.
You can now add NBC to the list, and, in particular, the host of CNBC's "Mad Money," Jim Cramer, who on Friday's "Today" show actually blamed ethanol for the current crisis while stating emphatically, "You drop the mandate, prices plummet."
With this in mind, strap your seatbelt tightly across your waist, and prepare yourself for an alternate ungreen reality (video embedded upper right, use scroll bars to properly center):
You're a member of the MSM and a Barack Obama backer. But I repeat myself. More specifically, you're Chris Matthews. What better way to promote your guy's candidacy than to claim that Republicans would really rather run against Hillary?
That's just what the Hardball host did on this afternoon's show. Here's his exchange with the–in my opinion–very impressive Republican strategist Todd Harris, who worked for McCain in 2000, and with Dem strategist Michael Feldman.
It was just a matter of time I suppose. What with Sen. Barack Obama's popularity with college students and the economy being the number one issue for voters, the media finally have an excuse to put a more youthful spin on the classic food vs. prescription drugs meme. A changing media environment, after all, calls for new angles at the same old bias. Someone had to give it the old college try.
Somewhere out there some college co-ed is making an agonizing decision: textbooks or birth control.
Fortunately for America's college-aged voters, ABCNews.com is picking up the banner on this issue:
Erin McKenna, a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, admits that she sometimes has to choose between purchasing textbooks for school and paying for her birth-control prescription.
"I have two jobs and I still can't afford it," McKenna said.
Indeed, the only thing to justify the "no end" language was citing gasoline analyst Trilby Lundberg as saying "she does not expect the prices to go down anytime soon," hardly a dire "no end in sight" forecast that conjures up notions of never-ending price increases rather than an eventual price plateau.
Tuesday's "Good Morning America" went into hyperbole meltdown over high gas prices. According to various anchors and reporters, Americans are foregoing church, prescription drugs and breakfast in order to cope. In a tease at the show's open, Co-host Diane Sawyer fretted, "As gas prices balloon, 12 cents in just one week, some Americans tell you how they skip breakfast and drugs just to drive." News anchor Chris Cuomo solemnly informed viewers of the "tough choice" many Americans face: "Food or fuel?"
Cuomo then introduced reporter Bianna Golodryga to explain "the sacrifices people are now making." Included in those sacrifices was one Juan Martinez who told Golodryga "Our church is approximately 35, 40 miles away. We've really cut down on the amount of times that we've come into service since the price has gone up." Now, as Golodryga admitted, this clip was actually from November of 2007, during a previous GMA segment about gas prices causing people to skip church and possibly cancel Christmas. So, ABC has resorted to recycling gas horror stories? Could that mean, perhaps, there's not enough of them to go around?
The unemployment rate in most states has gone up from September 2007 to March 2008. In states where the rate has gone down, none has shown an improvement like that seen in the Sooner State -- not even close.
Why is that?
What has happened in Oklahoma that hasn't happened elsewhere?
Mystery is in the eyes of the borrower–and the MSM. The term "variable rate" in a mortgage might seem straightforward enough to George Will and our erudite NB readers, but to a college-educated homeowner–and ABC's Kate Snow–it's apparently a real brain twister.
Snow hosted a segment on this morning's GMA dedicated to determining how the various presidential candidates' proposals would address the problems of sub-prime borrowers. As is the MSM's wont, ABC focused on a single sympathetic case, that of the Cruz-Rivera family in Philly.
For months, NewsBusters has been warning readers of the likelihood that media will adopt the 1992 Clinton playbook of regularly depicting the economy as being far worse than it really is.
On Sunday, the Democratic National Committee released a new television advertisement attacking GOP presidential candidate John McCain with economic statistics that don't measure up to even the slightest scrutiny.
With this in mind, will press outlets this campaign season investigate the economic claims being made by the candidates and their supporters, or allow inaccuracies present in this ad (embedded video to the right), and likely others in the months to come, to go completely unchallenged?
Consider the following written statement in this ad supposedly answering the question "Are Americans better off than they were 8 years ago?":
Today, talk-show heavyweight Rush Limbaugh picked up on a curious oversight by an AP business reporter whose negative spin in supposedly objective stories on the economy has frequently been noted here.
In a Friday story about a survey of top financial company executives, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger wrote the following (bold is mine):
Turmoil in credit and housing markets will be the most significant threat to growth this year, according to a survey of top financial company executives released Friday.
These executives believe there is a high probability — 88 percent — that the country will suffer a recession in the next 12 months.
..... After credit market tumult and troubles in the housing market, the executives listed the next biggest threats to the economy now as the possibility the government will impose higher taxes or raise protectionist barriers to foreign competition.
Network journalists have yet to meet a spending hike or regulation that they considered unwise, but any tax cut is always ill-advised and helps “the wealthy.” Living up to the pattern -- and illustrating how John McCain will earn media scorn for any conservative policy proposal -- NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams set up a Tuesday story on McCain's economic plan by emphasizing how “some critics say his economic plan, which centers on more tax cuts, doesn't add up.”
Reporting on McCain's plan outlined in a speech at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, reporter Kelly O'Donnell listed McCain's idea for a summer suspension of the gas tax, though that “tax is used to pay for highway repairs.” O'Donnell moved on to McCain's proposal to “double the income tax exemption for dependents to $7,000 a year,” hardly a boon to the rich, before getting to McCain's “core idea” to “lower taxes and make up lost revenue with cuts in government spending.” She then delivered the liberal line: “But critics and some economists argue McCain's math is wrong, that his plan would tilt toward the wealthy, swell the deficit, and not trim enough.”
John McCain not only surprised and pleased many with his hands-off stand against government intervention in the home mortgage "crisis," he broke through the liberal media's fascination with Obama-Clinton, but at a cost -- the New York Times's front-page story from March 26 was notably unsympathetic, relaying only criticism from his Democratic opponents. Hillary's plan, by contrast, had been warmly received by the Times the day before.
Late last week McCain pivoted toward calling for more federal help for struggling homeowners, and the Times took another bite, in "McCainShifts on Aid to Some Mortgage Holders," Friday's piece by reporter Michael Cooper:
Do we all get free wooden shoes? Barack Obama didn't say. But he does have an Impossible Dream to cut poverty that would make Don Quixote proud. Put people to work . . . building windmills. His idea came in response to a question at last night's Compassion Forum on CNN from Jim Wallis, a leading member of the religious left whose focus is "social justice." Wallis wanted Obama to commit to a new War on Poverty.
JIM WALLIS: As you reminded us a week or two ago, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed 40 years ago, he wasn't just speaking about civil rights. He was fighting for economic justice. Was about to launch a poor people's campaign. Yet, four decades after the anniversary of his death, the poverty rate in America is virtually unchanged and 1 in 6 of our children are poor in the richest nation in the world. So in the faith community, we are wanting a new commitment around a measurable goal, something like cutting poverty in half in ten years. Would you commit -- would you at this historic compassion forum, commit to such a goal tonight and if elected, tell us how you would mobilize the nation, mobilize us to achieve that goal?
Surely, you'd think, the candidate wouldn't fall into that big-government trap. Think again . . .
Barack Obama has been airing a shamelessly anti-business TV ad in Pennsylvania for a while now. In the ad Obama himself, in his own voice, makes the claim that he doesn't "take money from oil companies." But there is a two-fold deception in this claim that Obama doesn't tell his sycophantic fans. So where is the media to pounce on these cynical deceptions? They’re nowhere to be seen.
Recently I saw the ad where Obama claimed he didn't take contributions from oil companies and the claim struck a chord in my memory. I was under the impression that oil companies could not legally donate to a campaign at all. So, I did some checking and it seems that FactCheck.org did an entire page on Obama's deceptive Pennsylvania ad.
Just in time for Tax Day, the April 13 issue of Parade magazine gave readers left-wing talking points on corporate taxation dressed up as objective reporting.
Contributor Gary Weiss cited two left-wing interest groups and liberal Democratic congressman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) in "Are You Paying For Corporate Fat Cats?" By the end of the article, readers are all but left to seethe an angry "yes!" to that question.
Yet at no point were any economists consulted to point out that corporate tax levies are always ultimately paid by the consumer, who bears the final cost of goods and services produced by the taxed corporations. Taxes are yet one more input cost into final goods and services. So simply put, corporations don't pay taxes, individuals do.
Weiss failed to tackle the political slant of the groups he consulted, which were merely tagged as nonprofits. A quick Google search of the groups makes clear the liberal slant of the organizations.
CORRECTION: This item originally cited Ace of Spades as having uncovered that Obama's mentor was Frank Marshall Davis, a man with Communist roots. It was in fact Cliff Kincaid at Accuracy in Media. I regret the error.
Religion is the opiate of the masses. -- Karl Marx, 1843
It's not surprising that they get bitter, they cling to . . . religion . . . as a way to explain their frustrations. -- Barack Obama, 2008
Has anyone else pointed out the striking similarity between Barack Obama's recent statement about tough economic times driving people to religion and that of another person who preached change: Karl Marx?
Obama added guns and xenophobia to his list of proletarian elixirs for bitterness. But the fundamental point remains: Barack apparently doesn't take religion, his own or anyone else's, too seriously. It's not a search for truth or an attempt to live in accordance with God's word. It's just a way to get by, a stupefacient that helps proles endure the pain of living in an economy unfairly dominated by the "haves." Karl would concur.
This morning's Today did take up the controversy that Obama's remark has kicked up. View video here.
The average American will receive a $2,500 tax refund this year, a statistic that left CBS “The Early Show” host Harry Smith “stunned” on the April 11 broadcast.
“I am stunned to know what the average refund is,” Smith said. “$2,200 [in 2007], that’s too much, right?”
“It is too much,” said Money magazine senior writer Janice Revell.
She explained that the checks actually represent an interest-free loan between the government and taxpayers.
“When you get your refund it feels like this big windfall, you’ve won the lottery, but in essence what you’ve done is you’ve loaned your money, interest-free, to Uncle Sam for the year,” Revell said. “It just makes no sense.”
Congratulations to The Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein - being on the "economy is destined for calamity" bandwagon early. It has won you a Pulitzer Prize.
Pearlstein was named as one of the recipients of the 2008 Pulitzer Prizes, for his columns on the nation's economic problems. Granted, Pearlstein called the fundamental problems with some of the shenanigans going on in the home mortgage early. But, he hasn't stopped there.
If you keep banging the downbeat economy drum, you'll be rewarded. According to the Pulitzer Prize citation for his award, Pearlstein was awarded the most coveted award in print journalism for "his insightful columns that explore the nation's complex economic ills with masterful clarity."
Panicky protectionists are predicting some unsavory possibilities for the U.S. economy thanks to emerging foreign economies with newly created wealth to invest.
Although they're unlikely possibilities, CBS's April 6 "60 Minutes" delved into the potential threat one Chinese sovereign wealth fund might pose to the American economy.
"All together, the sovereign wealth funds of countries like Abu Dhabi and Kuwait have spent over $30 billion bailing out our financial system, which has raised some troubling questions," CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl said. "Are these mostly undemocratic regimes saving Wall Street or invading it? One fund is of special concern - it's new, highly secretive and the fifth largest in the world."