That's because Californians relying on Old Media for their news about the Golden State's dire financial situation are being conditioned to believe that only a tax increase will solve the state's problems.
The latest offering in that regard is a Field poll covered at the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle, headlined "Many voters think deficit fix will require higher taxes" and "Voters resigned to higher taxes to solve budget crisis," respectively. Those headlines conveniently obscure the fact that the margin of those believing that tax increases are necessary vs. those who think that the answer is totally in spending cuts is only 48%-43%.
The media does, and they have with Liberals devised the perfect way to do it. It is the "pay-as-you-go" Congressional budgeting rule -- Pay-Go. It requires every move that Congress makes be "budget neutral"; every new spending initiative must be paid for - no more deficit spending.
How could anyone, Conservatives especially, not be enraptured with such a concept?
According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, retail sales were up 3.6 percent during the holiday season - 2.4 percent excluding gas prices. But because it's not as big an increase as recent years have produced, the media reported it as bad news.
On NBC's "Nightly News," reporter Savannah Guthrie announced a "dramatic" 2.4 percent decrease in women's clothing sales. She didn't think the same percentage increase was "dramatic," however. Instead, she referred to the overall sales increase as "disappointing."
Other media labeled the figures "dismal," "small," "weak," "bleak" and "a clear sign that the economy is slowing down." Most made sure to point out, like "Good Morning America's" Ryan Owens, that the increase is "the smallest in four years."
Does the New York Times let bias creep into its post-Christmas reports on the shopping season just completed?
Smart-aleck answer: Is Maureen Dowd obsessed with Dick Cheney? (His name appears in 295 of her columns, all but four appearing during the last seven-plus years. That would be almost 40 Cheney inclusions per year, probably close to half the number of columns she has written during that time.)
After reviewing 17 years of those reports, the answer is a definitive "Yes."
For each year from 1991 through 2007, I went back to the Times's first or near-first post-Christmas report on the shopping season. I expected to find blue sky and sunshine during the Clinton years, and gloom as far as the eye can see during Bush 41 and Bush 43. While it wasn't quite that bad, the bias is there, and it's more obvious in recent years.
Business & Media Institute Director Dan Gainor appeared on the Fox Business Network December 21, 2007, to discuss the media's coverage of the economy. Full of Christmas spirit, Gainor had kind words for two mainstream reporters.
"Even in the mainstream media there are people who get it. Looking back this year one of the big stars whose improvement was surprising is CNN's Ali Velshi who delivers a much calmer look," Gainor said.
"It's nice to see somebody out there saying, ‘Oh, actually the markets aren't really doing that bad," he said, praising ABC's Bianna Golodryga. The "Good Morning America" reporter received high marks for balanced coverage of the stock market.
Politico is having some snarky fun, running a "populist pop quiz" challenging readers to guess whether it was John Edwards or Mike Huckabee who made the variety of class-warfare claims listed. You'll find a sampling of four of the questions below, but I'd encourage people to take the entire eight-question quiz and report back your scores. A cyber-statue of Karl Marx to the winner!
1. “No young person is more equal than another person because he has a higher IQ, or a higher net worth, or because he lives in a nicer home, or his clothes have a label of a designer that the other guy doesn’t have. That’s not what gives us equality.”
2. “There is unfortunately some disconnect between people who have never struggled and those for whom everyday life is a struggle.”
NewsBusters and affiliate The Business & Media Institute have been reporting for many months the continuous, bearish assessments of economic gloom and doom by America's press.
Of course, this all comes despite 24 straight quarters of Gross Domestic Product growth, 50 consecutive months of job gains, higher wages for virtually all Americans, and last month's consumer spending explosion.
Ignoring all this Sunday morning were panelists on "The Chris Matthews Show" who demonstrated such a deplorable lack of economic acumen that maybe they shouldn't be allowed to comment on such matters when cameras and microphones are on.
In 2005, I sensed that journalists in general prefer to call this time of the year in commerce that of "holiday shopping" instead of "Christmas shopping," but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to "Christmas."
My instincts were proven correct that year and in 2006, so I chose to track the same items this year to look for any noticeable change or trend.
As in previous years, it was pretty easy to predict the results. But the extent of the disparity might surprise you.
Here are results from the three sets of Google News searches I did during during this year's Christmas season, compared to the previous two years (the Dec. 22, 2007 searches were done at about 2 p.m.; previous 2007 posts are here and here; links to 2005's related posts are here, here, and here; 2006's are here, here, and here):
Between railroad tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits "tent city," a terminus for homeless people. It is not, as might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of Southern California.
The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as this region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis.
The unraveling of the region known as the Inland Empire reads like a 21st century version of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's novel about families driven from their lands by the Great Depression.
Since the stock and credit market turbulence began in July, NewsBusters has been informing readers that media continually predict recessions that never happen.
On the sad flipside, bearishness in the press can become so pervasive that an economic downturn ends up being an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy.
NewsBusters affiliate the Business and Media Institute made this very point in a late-November article by Amy Menefee entitled "Talking Ourselves Into Recession."
This concern is shared by business leaders like Craig Hester, CEO of Hester Capital Management, who during an interview with CNBC's Erin Burnett and James Cramer Friday spoke an inconvenient truth about media's impact on the economy that folks in the press sadly don't recognize as they disseminate pessimistic after pessimistic predictions often leading to people unnecessarily losing their jobs - or worse:
When Larry Summers suggested in early 2005 that, as paraphrased by Slate's William Saletan, "innate differences between the sexes might help explain why relatively few women become professional scientists or engineers," the outcry was immediate, furious, and went to saturation level virtually overnight. The controversy ultimately led to his resignation a year later as Harvard President.
On Wednesday, Mr. Summers, a Democrat who was once Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, made a recommendation in his area of expertise -- that is, that a tax cut would be a good idea to protect against a possible recession. (Yours truly doesn't believe that a recession is anywhere near occurring. But hey, I've said since May, and several times since [here, here, and here, among others] that a tax cut is needed anyway to keep the economy chugging along at a good rate. So if panicked pols want to enact a tax cut for the wrong reason, I'll take it.)
Old Media reaction to Summers has been virtual silence.
"The economy is slowing down so fast this quarter you can see the skid marks as it slams on the brakes," Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group, said in an Associated Press story on December 20.
The story also quoted former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who isn't optimistic either.
As Chief White House correspondent for NBC, there is no doubt David Gregory has danced his way through a lot of fast breaking stories in Washington, DC. Little did we know just how much practice Gregory had been getting of late.
On December 19, Gregory danced around the economy's "Naughty and Nice" list with Jim ‘Cramer Claus.' But while filling in for ‘Today' host Matt Lauer on December 20, Gregory pulled out all the stops. Demonstrating what looked like an audition for ABC's ‘Dancing with the Stars,' Gregory expressed his enjoyment of guest Mary J. Blige's performance by dancing along.
"He is a guy that doesn't get regular coal - I'm giving him high-sulfur stinky coal," Cramer said. "He is in the end an academic who is over his head frankly. I hate to say that. He's a volunteer official who is trying to do his best. But he had his chance and he's lost it."
The Democrats were finally able to get something passed in Congress, a new energy bill that mandates car gas mileage and bans the incandescent light bulb, and on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen described it as, "Congress's historic move to get rid of gas guzzlers." Co-host Harry Smith began the "historic" theme at the top of the show:
Later this morning, the president will sign a new energy bill, that will radically change the way we drive, the fuel we burn, and the way we light our homes...This morning for the first time in 32 years we will have a new energy bill. The Energy Independence and Security Act.
No one objected to the idea that everyday light bulbs would be banned with this new legislation. Instead Smith joked holding up a light bulb: "So guess what, will we see the end of the incandescent light bulb? Remember, was it Uncle Fester who put it in and it lit up?"
Barely four years after California's historic recall of sitting Governor Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger's landslide election to replace him, the Golden State is, again, in a budget crunch of its own making.
The state's Old Media, as would be expected, is moaning about cuts that might have to be made, obsessing over the possibility that "universal health care" might be derailed, and of course giving visibility to anyone and everyone who thinks even more taxes will solve the problem.
As has been the case for well over a decade, nobody that I know of in California's Old Media is considering the idea that the state is paying the price for failing to sufficiently go along with the rest of the country in aggressively reducing welfare rolls. But the numbers support the idea that if the state had done what the rest of the country has "somehow" done without visible suffering, it would be in a much better situation.
(A table and graphs illustrating the situation are after the jump.)
"[I]f you look at the history of this substance, ["American Morning" co-anchor] Kiran [Chetry] - I think this is very important - we subsidize a lot of corn production in this country," Gupta said. "We've been subsidizing it for a long time to support the corn farmers, which is a good thing. If there is a problem in all of this, it is that maybe we make too much corn and some of that corn gets turned into this high-fructose corn syrup."
If you watched the news in the last 24 hours, you'd think women's clothing sales were the barometer for the economy. All three major networks reported a 6-percent decrease in women's apparel sales this holiday season, calling the figure "ominous," "worrisome" and "a big deal."
The only problem is that the corporation reporting the figures, Mastercard, didn't say it was that big of a deal. In fact Mastercard's SpendingPulse showed a "modest increase" in holiday sales overall, and "extraordinary growth" for eCommerce sales.
But for the MSM, good news is no news, so they zeroed in on one negative to suggest Christmas 2007 is a retail failure. And since Christmas is all about shopping, we might as well declare the whole season over before it started!
On the "CBS Evening News" Dec. 17, Anthony Mason reported "an ominous sign:
You'd hardly expect the chief Washington correspondent of business channel CNBC to negatively stereotype economic conservatives. But appearing on today's Morning Joe, the urbane John Harwood did just that.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: [Huckabee is] a different type of evangelical. It's not the evangelical in American politics that's traditionally been very conservative economically. Obviously a lot of people at the Wall Street Journal don't like this guy.
Time Magazine will announce its 2007 "Person of the Year" in its December 31 issue and Jobs is listed as one of the candidates. According to Time.com, he has several things going for him, but one glaring thing working against him:
"Pro: The iPhone is a triumph while iTunes expanded its reach as the dominant source of online music. Oh, and Apple stock is up a mere 100% in 2007.
Con: Not exactly a figure of global change. He's a businessman, albeit a great one." (emphasis added)
It is and it was showcased on the December 16 "World News Sunday" in a disturbing human interest segment about freeganism - a radical-left anti-capitalist movement.
Madeline Nelson, an executive-turned-freegan, was featured on "World News." The segment showed Nelson serving a four-course meal, which included a mixed green salad, stuffed peppers, and a tofu cheesecake with strawberries.
"The grocery bill for such an elaborate feast? Zero," said ABC correspondent Ryan Owens. "That's because this food doesn't come from inside a store, but outside of it."
Prior to her "tear" question, which Mika Brzezinski asked only minutes before on MSNBC, CNN’s Kiran Chetry did direct one tough question to Hillary Clinton on Monday's "American Morning," concerning the Boston Globe’s endorsement of Barack Obama and the paper’s criticism of her campaign. "'The Boston Globe' endorsed Senator Obama, saying about you, in fact, 'her approach is needlessly defensive, a backward glance at the bruising political battles of the 1990s.' Is 'The Globe's' statement fair?"
Hillary tailored her response to make it about the debate over the economy.
The top headline in Saturday's Washington Post underlines the tendency for displaying bias by practicing future-tense journalism. "Bush's Budget Wins May Cost Him" is the headline on Jonathan Weisman's report. Inside, the headline is similar in tone: "President Could Pay a Price for Victories Over Democrats." He may -- or he may not. He could -- or he could not. But it's hard to escape the notion that the Post thinks he should. Or perhaps the Post is afraid that a series of wins by Bush may make him look powerful and boost his approval rating, and they want to keep following his image around with their own cherished personal collection of dark clouds of text.
Why can't the newspapers simply report what has already happened, and not bog down the reader with their own biased impressions of what could or should happen next? Why must reporters always get out a crystal ball and wear a silly fortune-teller's hat? Weisman's soothsayer story began this way:
As an exemplar of a government-run enterprise stuck in the mud, it’s hard to come with a better example than what is happening in the area that was the subject of the infamous Kelo v. New London ruling in 2005. Nearly 2-1/2 years after the US Supreme Court ruled that the city could evict Susette Kelo and other holdouts from their homes, and 17 months after the final settlement between the city and the final two holdouts, very little has been done in the affected area.
Make that "nearly three years" (New London Day link requires registration after a short time, and a paid subscription after that):
Yes, the viciousness is being directed at Democrats for not being spendthrift enough.
It's too early to tell whether President Bush and congressional Republicans have outmaneuvered the Democratic congressional majority, but it's looking that way. Old Media doesn't like it, and their inability to successfully buck up their side, one bit.
In the Washington Post's "Dems Blaming Each Other For Failures," Jonathan Weisman and Paul Kane are clearly critical: