The networks played right into President Obama's hand Wednesday evening as they touted his push for a minimum wage increase while giving barely any voice to his Republican opposition.
"[T]he President was out there hitting that 'give America a raise' theme hard today in campaign-style events both in Pennsylvania and in Maryland," noted ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl. "Does that idea have a snowball's chance?" asked CBS News anchor Scott Pelley about the minimum wage increase.
Minutes before the President began his State of the Union address Tuesday night, hosts on ABC, NBC, and CBS all worried that Obama was not getting the "credit" he deserved for how well the economy was supposedly doing. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Talking to former Obama advisor David Plouffe during ABC's live coverage of the speech, Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos argued: "...one of the real puzzles the President has to solve tonight, the economy, doing about as well as it's ever done in his presidency, as he comes into the chamber tonight, but most people don't believe it and don't give him credit for it."
There was another appearance of the dreaded U-word ("unexpectedly") this morning at Bloomberg News.
The Commerce Department's advance report on December durable goods orders and shipments showed a seasonally adjusted 4.3 percent decrease in orders from November, while November was revised down from a positive 3.4 percent to 2.6 percent. Economists' median prediction for December was for a 1.8 percent increase. Bloomberg's Victoria Stilwell had an excuse at the ready, and as will be seen, chose to use it even though she knew it was a stretch (bolds are mine throughout this post):
If liberals have their way the State of the Union will be all about income inequality. That kind of speech would be cheered by many in the press, including several hypocritical millionaires who love to complain about the one percent.
The broadcast networks already took up this banner, promoting left-wing complaints about inequality and arguing for liberal solutions, in recent years. Well-paid, big name network news anchors, like Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams personally know a whole lot about wealth, since they make millions of dollars every year. At least two are worth $60 million each.
Within the past four years, these multi-millionaires have attacked the “mega-rich,” complained on air about “dangerous” income inequality, and promoted President Barack Obama’s “responsibility” to raise taxes and promote tax “fairness.”
Usually, when the Associated Press covers the Census Bureau's monthly new-home sales releases, its reporters will tell readers that a "healthy" market should generate about 700,000 sales per year (examples here and here). Though I believe that figure is insufficiently ambitious, given that pre-bubble annual sales averaged 776,000 from 1993-2000, it apparently has somewhat wide acceptance.
Of all the times to mention that benchmark, the bureau's final report for 2013 released this morning would be it. But AP's Martin Crutsinger failed to do so, possibly because astute readers would have noted that the year's actual sales of 428,000 units show that the industry, despite years of a media-hyped "housing recovery" which is supposedly leading the economy out of the wilderness (cough, cough), is still operating at a miserable 61 percent of capacity (428K divided by 700K). Excerpts from Crutsinger's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
CBS analyst Mellody Hobson, whose husband George Lucas is worth $7.3 billion, appeared on This Morning to slam excessive salaries for corporate bosses. Discussing income inequality and Barack Obama's planned discussion at the State of the Union, Hobson lashed out, "If you look today, the typical CEO makes 354 times more than the typical worker in his or her company, mostly his because there are so few women running companies." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] (How much more does the male Lucas make than the average worker?)
She continued, "If you look back to 1980, that difference was just 42 times. So it's been that kind of income inequality that has started a lot of backlash and chatter..." Co-host Norah O'Donnell introduced the segment by highlighting a hyperbolic letter to the Wall Street Journal by CEO Tom Perkins comparing the treatment of the wealthy to Jews during the Holocaust. O'Donnell promoted, "[President Obama] calls [income inequality] one of the defining challenges of our time. How do you think that will be received by people in the business community?"
When it comes to reporting on aspects of Obamacare, the press is really good at pretending to speculate about outcomes which have already happened in the real world, and at contradicting Obama administration assertions without telling readers that's what they've just done.
Case in point: Last Tuesday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Carla K. Johnson and Tom Murphy told readers that Obamacare "could touch ... people who have insurance through work," and that "The law may prompt some companies to drop coverage for their part-time workers" and to "start excluding spouses." The law has already "prompted" all of these things. Excerpts follow the jump.
On Thursday's Daily Show, comedian Jon Stewart – who is worth an estimated $80 million – mocked the irony of wealthy business leaders discussing income inequality at the recent World Economic Forum.
"Alright so a group of world's wealthiest people get together in a secluded mountain enclave to discuss concerns over income inequality. Hmm," Stewart remarked. Perhaps Stewart missed the irony that he is TV's highest-paid host, according to Variety magazine, who is lecturing others about income inequality. Two weeks ago, he spent 9 minutes lampooning conservatives and Republicans on the issue. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
The journalists at CBS This Morning on Friday appeared excited over the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, hyping the "cannabis capitalism" in the state and a new "pot tour" business that has sprouted up. Showing little skepticism, reporter Barry Petersen offered a light-hearted take: "Appropriately enough, the pot tour ends at a sub shop where Acapulco gold is a sandwich and they're ready to help with those marijuana munchies." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Petersen narrated, "Call it cannabis capitalism, the latest leaf to sprout from legalized marijuana. Michael Eymer's pot tours costs $240 bucks a person." The journalist offered a promotional look at the new industry: "Eymer has bookings and belief that he's in on one of Colorado's new growth industries. If I want to take the tour, how long am I going to have to wait to get aboard?"
With his papal audience, Mr. Obama has "an opportunity to highlight the problem of economic inequality, an issue he has placed at the forefront of his second-term agenda" and what's more the visit gives "the president a chance to frame one of his signature domestic issues in largely moral terms." (emphasis mine)
CBS This Morning journalists on Wednesday pushed a new San Francisco tax on buses as a symbol of "income inequality" and failed to identify a liberal organization supporting the move. The progressive city approved a $1 per stop tax on tech company buses that transport employees to the Silicon Valley. CBS journalist John Blackstone lectured, "The private buses have become symbols of income inequality and the belief that well paid tech workers are to blame for steeply rising rents." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Talking to Cynthia Crews, identified in the segment as a "San Francisco resident," Blackstone sympathized, "So, a dollar a stop doesn't seem like much." Blackstone featured Crews insisting, "The shuttles, the tech companies are not paying their fair share." According to the Canadian Globe and Mail, Crews is "a representative of the San Francisco League of Pissed-Off Voters." That group's website features endorsements, like this one for city attorney: "A progressive City Attorney would have more guts to stand up to the fat cat companies...who get way too many breaks in this town."
Williams melodramatically recited the findings: "Some new figures came out today....And they are so shocking, it takes a while for them to sink in. A study commissioned by Oxfam says the world's richest 85 individuals have the same wealth as 3.5 billion people around the world. Once again, 85 people on this planet have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people on this planet."
Is Joe Scarborough taking tips from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo? Cuomo recently declared that conservatives who are pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and opposed to gay marriage "have no place in the state of New York."
On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough took things a step further, telling rich people who shield money abroad to reduce their taxes "you're not welcome in the United States of America." Thundered the self-righteous Scarborough: "Follow your damn money. Leave! Go!" Wonder if Scarborough's banishment order applies to corporations as well as individuals? If so, say sayanora to Apple, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard . . . not to mention MSNBC's previous owner, GE, from whom Scarborough took paychecks for years. All are among the 15 US corporations with the most money held offshore. View the video after the jump.
Presumed union member (the News Media Guild) and Associated Press reporter Sam Hananel's Sunday morning coverage of union threats against a pilot partnership between the U.S. Postal Service and Staples Inc. fails to deliver on at least three counts.
First, while noting that American Postal Workers Union (APWU) boycott threats ended a similar effort at Sears stores in the late-1980s, Hananel "somehow" forgot to note its aftermath, which resulted in even wider distribution of USPS products by non-union workers. Second, Hananel ignored the fact that USPS's main competitors, UPS and Fedex, both already have large networks of relatively convenient nonunion retail shipping outlets – compared to most post offices, which are separate-trip, standalone locations. Third, and most critically, he fails to note that the APWU's demand to have its members staff the Staples counters, even ignoring the wage differential, would be an extraordinarily counterproductive waste of labor. Excerpts from his coverage follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Democrats plan to demagogue income inequality and the wealth gap for political gain in this year's elections. Most of what's said about income inequality is stupid or, at best, ill-informed. Much to their disgrace, economists focusing on measures of income inequality bring little light to the issue. Let's look at it.
Income is a result of something. As such, results alone cannot establish whether there is fairness or justice. Take a simple example to make the point. Suppose Tom, Dick and Harry play a weekly game of poker. The result is: Tom wins 75 percent of the time. Dick and Harry, respectively, win 15 percent and 10 percent of the time. Knowing only the game's result permits us to say absolutely nothing as to whether there has been poker fairness or justice. Tom's disproportionate winnings are consistent with his being either an astute player or a clever cheater.
Striking fast food workers want $15 an hour and Comedy Central is all too happy to help boost their cause. Stephen Colbert performed his usual shtick of the satirical conservative and gave a warm welcome to striking KFC worker Naquasia LeGrand on Thursday's Colbert Report.
"It's a multi-billion-dollar company, yes, but let's keep in mind that the chairman – the chairman is only making $11 million this year," Colbert gave his simplistic, comedic critique of big business. "Naquasia LeGrand. The movement is Fast Food Forward," he promoted her cause at the end. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
It's hard to imagine how the Politico's Kyle Cheney could have written up his Thursday story about the government's dissatisfaction with soon to be (but not yet) former prime HealthCare.gov contractor CGI with a straight face. But it appears that he did.
The opening sentence of Cheney's report is an absolute howler. When you read it after the jump, keep in mind that the firm worked on HealthCare.gov for well over a year before its October 1 debut, and that it was obvious to everyone within hours of its launch that the web site's construction had been horribly botched. So guess when the government wants us to believe it finally figured out that CGI wasn't up to its assigned tasks?
On Wednesday's PoliticsNation, MSNBC host Al Sharpton seemed to accuse Republicans of deliberately causing economic problems as "part of the plan" to attack President Obama during the midterm elections (video follows page break):
In May 2009, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, announced that it would be "launching an index that will provide monthly, multi-format updates on the economic stress of the United States down to the county level." Not a bad idea, especially if you were concerned that evidence of an economic recovery under Barack Obama would not otherwise be convincing.
The AP likely believed that since an overwhelming percentage of U.S. counties lean conservative (remember those Bush v. Gore county maps?), a large majority of U.S. counties would likely recover in time for the 2010 congressional elections, or in the worst-case scenario, the 2012 presidential election — even if the nation as a whole did not. A statement that "most counties in the U.S. have recovered from the recession" would have been quite useful in defending congressional Democrats and Barack Obama's incumbency. But a recently released report from the National Association of Counties (NACo), which was covered poorly by the Wall Street Journal and virtually ignored by almost everyone else, shows that it hasn't happened.
On the Monday, January 13, All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, host Hayes laughed off the view that encouraging marriage can help some women out of poverty as he spoke to a guest, Shenita Simon-Toussaint, who argued that she has found that being married is more expensive. Hayes posed:
Before anyone seeks to level a criticism for picking on someone's mistake, let's imagine what the press, which is so desperate to pin anything on Ted Cruz that one of its members recently tried to hold him responsible for others' comments on his Facebook page, would do to him if he made the error recently elected New Jersey Senator Cory Booker made two days ago on Twitter — and has yet to correct.
On Tuesday a federal appeals court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) overstepped its legal authority in 2010 when it imposed so-called net neutrality regulations on broadband companies -- cable and fiber-optic Internet providers like Comcast or Verizon FiOS. The FCC had done this despite language in federal law which forbade the regulations under a "common carrier" provision.
While the Wall Street Journal's Gautham Nagesh and Amol Sharma gave readers a factual portrait of the ruling which dealt with the law and the economic realities of broadband service, the Washington Post's Cecilia Kang opted for the melodramatic in her January 15 front-pager, foreseeing a future replete with the Internet's fast lanes auctioned "to the highest corporate bidder" while "other Web sites [slow] to a crawl." "Ultimately," the Post national technology correspondent ominously warned (emphasis mine):
NBC News special anchor Maria Shriver played both roles of journalist and activist on Tuesday's Nightly News, as she promoted her own report on closing the gender "wage gap" while touting President Obama's support for her cause.
"NBC's Maria Shriver was invited to the White House to present her report to President Obama late today," reported anchor Brian Williams, unconcerned about the conflict of interest of a reporter going to the White House to drum up support for her own work. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
MSNBC's Touré Neblett, who recently condoned consumers lying to corporations like Amazon to get discounts to which they aren't entitled, really needs to stay away from Twitter — or have someone screen his tweets.
On Tuesday, he tweeted (HT Twitchy) that "Many in poverty are working poor w two jobs. So 'jobs' is an ineffective anti poverty program." Note that he didn't indicate that "jobs" might not be the whole answer, which in some instances may be the case. He instead asserted that the idea of creating jobs and encouraging poor people to get them is "ineffective" as a way to get them out of poverty.
On a special edition of All In with Chris Hayes on Monday, January 13, MSNBC host Hayes and NBC's Maria Shriver devoted the hour to a discussion of poverty in America, 50 years after President Johnson announced the "War on Poverty."
At one point, the two gave New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand an unchallenged forum to push for paid family medical leave, without any concerns about the cost to businesses, as Gillibrand fretted that the federally mandated Family and Medical Leave Act does not go far enough since employees are often unable to go without income while taking leave.
We've seen it play out in several areas, one of which is climate science. Any researcher who questions the supposedly "settled science" of global warming is a hack who will produce whatever industry wants if they have ever accepted a dime from an energy company, while those who depend on government grants to sustain their livelihood — grants which heavily depend on toeing the politically correct line that human-caused warming is one of the greatest evils of our time — are as pure as the driven snow.
In an item about head injuries and football, USA Today's Dan Wolken went to the same, uh, playbook with neuroscientist Sandra Chapman, who contends that "concussions don't pose a significant long-term health risk." It almost seemed as if Wolken believes that those who have sued the NFL and obtained a tentative $675 million settlement — an amount which a judge believes is likely inadequate — have "settled science" on their side (HT Rush Limbaugh; bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Let's see. We know, to name just a few of many impositions, that much of the enrollee information that HealthCare.gov and other exchanges have communicated to insurers has been erroneous, that insurers have had to deal with signing up hundreds of thousands of policyholders they originally cancelled, that deadlines for premium payments have been serially revised, and that there is no computerized subsidy payment system in place.
Yet Chad Terhune at the Los Angeles Times is irresponsibly steering gullible readers into believing that insurers are responsible for the Obamacare-related chaos and poor customer service, when it's a virtual miracle that anyone is being served at all (HT Patterico; bolds and numbered tags are mine):
If it weren't for a shamelessly dishonest, hyper-protective liberal media, the American people would know, unanimously and without doubt, that Obamanomics is killing American jobs. There is no silver lining in the December jobs numbers.
Experts and analysts were expecting this latest jobs report, released Friday, to show 200,000 new payroll jobs in December, but there were only 74,000, which is 37 percent of the goal. Not 90 percent, not 80, not 70, not even 50 percent. Just 37 percent.
The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky has turned up the partisan hyperbole to 11. In a January 13 piece, the leftist writer claimed that, “the fight over unemployment benefits underscores the right’s extremism” with a picture of Tea Party Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) featured to illustrate his point.
The frequent MSNBC guest argued that because the GOP is demanding that for the first time in years any extension in unemployment benefits be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget that “the party has been hijacked by extremists.” [Pro-tip: Never play a drinking game involving liberal journalists and the term "hijacking." You'll die of alcohol poisoning.]
Following up on Friday's awful jobs report from the government (only 74,000 seasonally adjusted jobs added, with the unemployment rate dropping to 6.7 percent only because adults continued to leave the workforce), the Asssociated Press's Christopher Rugaber tried to search for excuses.
To its credit, the headline at Rugaber's report didn't blatantly dissemble like the one at Bloomberg, which, in revising the title of an underrated Stevie Wonder song from the 1970s ("Blame It on the Sun"), blamed it on the cold and snow: "Old Man Winter Put a Chill on U.S. Labor Market at End of 2013." But the AP reporter predictably failed to entertain the possibility that Obamacare's virtual chaos, plan cancellations, and impending 2014 premium hikes might have thrown a great deal of sand into the job market's gears, even though a virtual halt in healthcare hiring stuck out like a sore thumb. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):