NOTE: Skip to the last paragraph to get the media bias-related conclusion/speculation.
The Institute for Supply Management's November report tells us that manufacturing's winning streak is over:
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector failed to grow in November for the first time following 41 consecutive months of growth, while the overall economy grew for the 61st consecutive month, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.
As I have noted periodically (here, here, and here, among others), the 41-month expansion streak we were in the midst of is one of the longest ever, and enters the record books with other expansions as follows (link is to ISM history going all the way back to 1948; parenthetical values are for the month following the end of each streak, the lowest value it went to during the subsequent contraction, and the number of months it took for the value to get back to 50.0 or higher):
-- October 1962 - December 1966: 51 months (49.1, 42.8, 8)
-- August 1975 - July 1979: 48 months (49.5, 44.8, 7)
-- February 1971 - August 1974: 43 months (46.2, 30.7, 12)
-- June 2003 - October 2006: 41 months (49.5, NA, NA)
-- August 1986 - April 1989: 33 months (49.3, 45.1, 12)
Well, we all love to jump on it when a lefty says something stupid, don't we? We should also point out when an ostensible Conservative news commentator says something ridiculous, too...
Now, I don't usually report what radio guys are doing or saying, not that I don't like them or that I find them somehow illegitimate, but because they have their own fora from which to make their waves and they can get their ideas out without my assistance. But, I do listen to several talkers and enjoy some of them, as well.
One of the talkers I like is Hugh Hewitt. He is the reason I have stepped up my blogging and why I started a Town-Hall blog, too. I find he is usually a Reagan styled conservative and I agree with him very often. So, when he says something I usually give it consideration.
On his November 28 program, CNN's Lou Dobbs accused a major American corporation of sponsoring terrorism. But in leveling his charge, Dobbs didn't bother to give viewers a balanced perspective on American exports and business dealings in foreign countries that, to say the least, are not the nicest neighbors on the geopolitical block.
But while it's understandable to be critical of American companies doing business in Syria or Sudan, how exactly does selling cars and trucks to civilians in those countries amount to "bankrolling" terrorism?
My full article is available at the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org Web site. Before the election we documented Dobbs's bias in favor of liberal Democratic policies in his self-appointed defense of the average Joe in what he believes is the Bush administration's "War on the Middle Class."
ABC's "World News" last night aired a story based on some numbers crunched by a left-leaning think tank about nearly 2 million Americans in "extreme" jobs that cause them to burn the candle at both ends. Of course most of them are very well-compensated and have loads of responsibility on their shoulders. And then some are trial attorneys.
Guess which of those two categories Betsy Stark chose from to flesh out the plight of the overworked in America. Yeah, you guessed right.
Here's but a taste (click here for the full article):
American laborers are “going to extremes” working in jobs
“where 60 hours a week can be considered part-time, and overtime is an
Another exasperating storyline from the MSM: the economy may be just fine overall but its screwing over 20-somethings who have to live with mom and dad.
My colleague Dan Gainor wrote up a review of the media's reheating the tired old storyline:
In the November 26 “World News Sunday” story “Young & in Debt,” anchor Dan Harris talked up the story about twentysomethings “forced to move back in with their parents.” ABC and USA Today each told stories of young men and women facing mountains of debt from school, credit cards and more.
Rather than focus on how self-made those debt mountains were – up to $165,000 in the USA Today story – both reports dwelled on how twentysomethings were “struggling to pay” for their living expenses.
ABC’s John Berman introduced viewers to Todd Townsend, who moved in with his mother because of $50,000 in debt, "mostly from student loans." "But he's not living there because he wants to," Berman said. He then explained to viewers the horrors of that choice, including living in two bedrooms next door to one another and even sharing a bathroom. "You share a bathroom with your mother?" asked Berman incredulously.
Berman wasn’t finished. "Moving back home can provide some financial relief; you get free food and laundry. But there are some pretty serious drawbacks." According to Townsend, who didn’t like to admit he lived with his mother when he met women, "it's not sexy."
If it's that unsexy, why go on national TV so even more young women know the answer to "my place or yours?"
For journalists, the answer depends on whether they are covering the shopping season or company layoffs. ______________________
Last year, 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, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December (links to last year's related posts are here, here, and here):
I've decided to track the same items this year to see if there is any noticeable change or trend.
Based on the first set of Google News searches during this Christmas season, I would say there is:
Just in time for Thanksgiving, my colleague Julia Seymour has a few rainclouds to open up on the media's parade.
This time it's the media's overblown fear of inflation. Yep, it's time to put away the disco ball and the polyester.
All bets are off if Nancy Pelosi urges everyone to put on a sweater and crank down the thermostat, however.
Journalists worked themselves into a fright this spring as inflation rose, scaremongering with cries of “stagflation” and “recession.” But when the news came last week that the inflation “monster” wasn’t “rearing its ugly head,” the media could only whisper.
“I just tend to think that inflation is not something that has been kicked yet,” said CNN’s Allen Wastler on the August 19 “In the Money.”
“It’s one of those monsters, you want to stay out in front of it. The moment it’s past you – boom, you’re dead.”
American paychecks are rising again at a pace not seen since the 1990s.
The pay increase amounts to 4 percent on average over the past 12 months, and it comes at a very helpful time for millions of households.
For three years, pay increases haven't kept pace with the rising cost of living. Then came this year's housing slowdown, which has further squeezed family finances.
Those setbacks, however, are now being offset by rising income. Four percent may not sound like much, but you have to look back to 1997 to find a calendar year with a gain that big.
First, a correction: Trumbull's statement about pay increases not keeping pace with inflation "for three years" is incorrect. Start with this chart from the Census Bureau (go to the bottom half of the link for the "real income" version):
My colleague Dan Gainor has an excellent take on how even in the obituary pages, The Washington Post carries the Left's water.
Even death isn’t a great equalizer at The Washington Post. Two of America’s most well-known economists died in 2006 – John Kenneth Galbraith and Milton Friedman. But there the similarities ended.
Galbraith, who the Post called “a preeminent symbol and source of liberal political thought” was deemed worthy of three news stories totaling more than 4,000 words. Although the Post credited Friedman with “tireless advocacy of unfettered free markets” that “reshaped the nation’s economic policies,” that earned him just 1,169 words and one news story, despite a Nobel Prize.
Okay, not really. Well, maybe it is, I don't follow the price of poultry and I'm sure the media doesn't have it that high in its pecking order either. But they do when it comes to gasoline, and it's up from two weeks ago.
The law of supply and demand be damned, it's up and it's screwing you just in time for the trip to grandma's house!
Up a whole nickel from two weeks ago! Man is that gonna gobble up your travel budget. Just ask Matt Lauer.
"We know you think Democrats are gonna raise taxes, but before they do, they'll cut yours."
That's essentially what CBS's Sharyl Attkisson was selling viewers of the November 14 "Evening News" with her story on Rep. Charlie Rangel's plan to reform the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
Attkisson showed Rangel complaining that the AMT soaks the middle class, so it should be reformed and taxes on "the rich" raised. She didn't ask him if that was a bad idea seeing as the AMT began in 1969 as a, well, soak-the-rich tax scheme. Over time it's crept into soaking the middle class, a much more politically unpalatable result of the law of unintended consequences.
Nowhere in her story did Attkisson suggest that Congress needs to rein in spending, nor did she include conservative critics who would remind audiences that Rangel voted for the Clinton tax hikes of 1993, but against the Bush tax cuts of 2001.
Prior to the midterms, CNN ran a number of stories on falling gas prices and a possible conspiracy between the Republican Party and "Big Oil" to lower costs before the elections. Each piece hinted at a dark plot as the reason for declining prices. Well, the elections are over; Democrats are in power, and now America is in ‘a recovery.’ Introducing a segment on Wednesday’s "American Morning," co-anchor Miles O’Brien cheerily discussed the upcoming holiday travel season:
Miles O’Brien: "A week away from your road trip over the interstate and through the malls to grandmother's house. A check of what it will cost you to fill up your sleigh now. Triple A reports the national average of unleaded gas now at $2.22 a gallon. Shoot, grandmother could live further away, or farther away, I guess. And with prices falling more people are heading back to the bigger rides.‘American Morning’s Dan Lothian joining us from Washington with more on that. Hello, Dan."
Reporter Dan Lothian’s story focused on how these low prices are allowing Americans to buy SUVs again:
Dan Lothian: "Good morning, Miles. Well, you know, over the last couple of days we've seen gas prices in some markets across the country trickling up just a little bit. But as you mention, overall the trend is going down. For some people, that means a return to old habits. After months of severe pain at the pump, call it the recovery."
Rubin Urges Democrats to Raise Taxes to Reverse Budget Deficit
Interesting, in light of this in the Washington Post (HT Surly Don Surber; as an aside, I really have to wonder how this plays with the Democratic Underground/Daily Kos base):
Alternative Minimum Tax Targeted
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Democratic leaders this week vowed to make the alternative minimum tax a centerpiece of next year's budget debate, saying the levy threatens to unfairly increase tax bills for millions of middle-class families by the end of the decade.
“Victory is mine,” he seemed to gloat to viewers as with smug delight CNN populist gadfly and resident protectionist applauded the passage of six minimum wage increases in states ballot booths across the country.
Before the election, Dobbs was quite active in pushing such an increase both on his show and in his book, “War on the Middle Class.” Dobbs had a pre-election one-hour special by the same title, biased in favor of more taxation and regulation of the economy.
Following Christine Romans’ report on the initiatives, Dobbs chose to lecture the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and The Heritage Foundation for what he sees as their wrong-headed opinion on the matter.
In his Election Day essay on this morning's Today show, NBC's Tom Brokaw found a shaky Republican in Montana, a squishy GOP senator on the war and thought the Ted Haggard and Mark Foley stories would turn independents the Democrats' way. Running down the various issues voters face today, Brokaw did highlight some positives in the economy but then turned negative as he noted: "But there's so much wrong and a fierce debate about the road ahead. And many more think this country is headed in the wrong direction than in the right direction...Gas prices, health care, housing cost, immigration, gay marriageand the war, always the war." Brokaw then scared up three even Republicans:
Just four days before the election, the network news shows downplayed reports of a major drop in the unemployment rate and the creation of 231,000 new jobs. CBS’s Katie Couric groused, “But do the jobs out there pay enough?” NBC’s Brian Williams declared, “That was below expectations,” and ABC’s Charles Gibson gave the issue a total of 15 seconds.
That wasn’t the way the networks handled bad news in 2002 and 2004, when the final employment reports before Election Day were disappointing. On both occasions, ABC’s “World News Tonight” began its broadcast discussing the negative reports.
This reminds me of something blogger Ace of Spades mentioned to me some time ago about how it's not just the words, it's the pictures. Seemingly without exception, stories about the economy durng the 1990s had images or video of machines producing currency, cash registers ringing, and heavy traffic inside shopping malls. When's the last time anyone saw any of this in a news report about this very good economy?
Without offering any contrary views AP reports that the drop in profits for US Citgo gas stations only hurts Americans.
This half-the-story report was buttressed with a quote from Vance McSpadden, executive director of the Oklahoma Petroleum Association. McSpadden wants to stop Americans from avoiding the Citgo chain of stations -- Citgo gets their imported product from Hugo Chavez' state owned and operated Venezuelan oil companies
Over the Summer, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez went on a world-wide tour of America's biggest enemies telling them and all who would listen how America is the Great Satan and that George Bush is the devil. His whirlwind tour of hate ended at a rostrum in the U.N. where he made himself look the fool in front of the world to the applause of rabid America haters everywhere.
Thanks, Bob Kuttner. You might doubt my sincerity. But really, I mean it. With Nancy AWOL, and Charley Rangel coyly claiming at his age he doesn't buy green bananas let alone speculate what he would do as Way & Means Chairman, perhaps Americans have lost sight of what the Dems have up their sleeve if they get back the majority. So in all sincerity, thanks for telling it like it is.
"We are about to get something all too rare in Democratic politics lately -- some progressive leadership . . . With a little gumption on the Democratic side, the lopsided distribution of wealth, security, and opportunity in America could come roaring back."
A new book has hit the stands that has been a "filler" topic for many talk radio programs this week. Called 101 most influential people who never lived, the book is penned by three authors who rate fictional characters of literature and film who they feel had the greatest influence on society.
The book is being treated as light, amusing reading, with USA Today quoting author Lazar as saying, "The point of the book is to entertain". Most radio interviews I have heard have treated it as a "fun" topic.
But, a recent interview of one of the authors, Dr. Alan Lazar, was aired on Nick Digilio's WLS, Chicago radio program that was quite revealing of the "real purpose" of this book, however.
In an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney excerpted on ABC's World News on Friday night, George Stephanopoulos cited the “exceptionally low” 4.4 percent October unemployment rate announced earlier in the day -- down two-tenths from September to the lowest since early 2001 -- and wondered: “Why don't you think the President's getting more credit for that?" Cheney blamed the media: “Well, you guys don't help. The fact of course is that what's news is if there's bad news and that gets coverage. But the good news that's out there day after day after day doesn't get as much attention.”
Indeed, Cheney was prescient. On Friday night ABC limited coverage to the Stephanopoulos question and 15 seconds from anchor Charles Gibson nearly 19 minutes into the newscast while CBS, and NBC to a lesser extent, spun the good news into bad. NBC's Brian Williams gave it just 20 seconds as he reported “employers added 92,000 jobs in October,” but added how “that was below expectations.” Williams skipped how the August and September job numbers were revised to show 139,000 more jobs created. And though wages have grown by 3.9 percent over the past 12 months, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric used the lower unemployment news as a segue to ask: “But do the jobs out there pay enough? A big issue in the battle for Congress this year is how much the lowest-paid workers make.” Viewers then saw a full story on the plight of minimum wage workers and how raising it is "resonating" with voters. (Transcript follows)
ABC's "Good Morning America" picked up a new complaint by union organizers against Wal-Mart. The company actually wants its employees to show up on time for work.
GMA stacked the deck against the company with 3 of 4 man-on-the-street interviewees scoffing at the company's policy. Employees are allowed three late arrivals before being assigned a "demerit" and risk being fired for racking up demerits in a short period of time.
At the MRC's Business & Media Institute (BMI), we've tracked CNN's war on the economy. Today, Fox News's Brenda Buttner took on the media's negative slant with some cold hard facts:
“If you listen to the Democrats or listen to much of our media, our economy is in dire straights, but pay attention just to the numbers, well they tell a very different story... Number one, Americans employed, there's essentially full employment in the U.S..."
Buttner added that despite media talk of the housing slowdown, the "bottom line [is that] more and more of us today are fortunate enough to enjoy a piece of the American Dream" as 70 percent of Americans own their home.
Can't be because this is 6 days before an election, right?
At any rate, it seems even a liberal pundit cited in the cover story isn't falling for the Lou Dobbs lament that the halcyon days of the middle class are behind us:
“Looking back” with nostalgia “to a golden age of the middle class doesn’t wash,” the USA Today reporter wrote, citing Jason Furman of the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. “Overall health care is better now, for example, and far fewer people a generation ago expected to go to college,” Waggoner conceded.
"American Morning" reporter Ali Velshi insinuated on Tuesday’s show that corporations favor the GOP partly because "Republicans have kept hourly wages" low:
Ali Velshi: "All right, no big secret that Big Business favors Republicans, or has traditionally favored Republicans. But with polls showing that their friends in high places might be in some trouble leading into this election, Big Business has decided to cozy up with the Democrats. Corporate America likes Republicans. For the most part, Republicans have kept hourly wages and taxes low, and they keep their hands out of business as much as possible. Republicans like corporate America, and its hefty donations."
So, apparently, in addition to attempting to "criminalize science," Republicans also are the party of low wages? Perhaps that should be on a bumper sticker somewhere. Also, do Democrats not like their "hefty donations" from trial lawyers?