In what has become an all too predictable ritual, an AP reporter has tried to make the situation in the economy look like it's on the upswing when it's not.
Today, the AP's Christopher Rugaber read the press release on existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors. As a trade group, NAR will tend to put a good (or at least not as ugly face) on even a rough situation. So it's hard to blame them for saying that "Sales of existing homes rose in July even with constraints of affordable inventory, and the national median price is showing five consecutive months of year-over-year increases." The first half of NAR's statement is selectively incomplete, but Rugaber compounded the problem in the first sentence of his report this morning:
An unbylined Associated Press item late this morning told us that, according to AAA, "Thirty three million people will travel 50 miles or more during Labor Day weekend," which will be "the highest level of travel for Labor Day since the start of the recession in late 2007."
But it won't be, as will be revealed in the AAA-sourced graphic found at Page 3 of its 36-page report (large PDF) seen after the jump.
About a month ago, I joked in a column published elsewhere that the reason a certain New York Times column didn't resonate with anyone is because no one pays attention to the Old Gray Lady any more.
Unfortunately, that's not true. But the fact that almost no other establishment press outlet has mentioned the paper's disclosure late Wednesday (appearing in Thursday's print edition) that former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine and others at the bankrupt firm likely won't face criminal prosecution in the firm's crack-up, which featured raiding individual customers' accounts to the tune of $1.6 billion, seems to indicate that the Times has become a favored holding cell for stories detrimental to Democrats which will otherwise be ignored. Oh, and contrary to the belief expressed in a very long Vanity Fair item in February, when Corzine was seen to be in "a scandal he can’t survive," and that "his career is likely finished," the man is seriously considering starting up a new hedge fund.
There are so many holes in Paul Wiseman's Wednesday report at the Associated Press on the weakness of the current "recovery" that it would take a term paper to cover all of them. I'll just concentrate on a repeat error Wiseman made. It is one which AP colleagues Christopher Rugaber (with Wiseman, as demonstrated here) and Martin Crutsinger (as shown here) have also committed. All three gentlemen have been preparing their reports as if "government spending" is the same thing as the government spending and investment component of the nation's economic output. It's not.
In his piece about why the Obama "recovery" (as seen here, by Warren Buffet's requirement that per capita GDP has to return to where it was before the downturn began, we don't even have the beginnings of a recovery yet) is the worst since World War II, Wiseman had the following to say on the "government spending" topic:
Late this this afternoon, the Associated Press made a correction to Christopher Rugaber's August 10 story on July's federal budget results. His original claim, noted on August 11 by yours truly at NewsBusters and at BizzyBlog, was that Barack Obama's promise to cut the deficit in half was something "he pledged to do during his 2008 campaign."
As noted in my original post and its mirror, the only evidence of a "cut in half" promise I could locate was in February 2009, a month after Obama took office and shortly after the passage of the stimulus package. A February 21, 2009 AP story reported that such a promise was coming, and it became official two days later. After the jump, readers will find the text of the AP's correction language (also found here, and currently listed at the top of its corrections link at its national site) followed by a few paragraphs from the original item up to where the correction has been incorporated:
In her story this aftermoon on the imminent expiration of the company's "lock-up" period during which certain employees and insiders must hold onto their company stock, Associated Press Technology writer Barbara Ortutay reports that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will be locked into his holdings until mid-November -- while omitting out of apparent ignorance the fact that he previously cashed out to the tune of over $1 billion.
In an apparent attempt to pin blame anywhere but on the Obama administration for the rising unemployment rate, a USA Today item currently carried at Newsmax's MoneyNews.com web site opens by claiming that "Companies across the country are cutting training programs for new employees, broadening the divide between workers with skills needed to compete in today's economy and those left out, pushing up unemployment rates in the process."
The incoherence is stunning, and it continues after the jump:
A year ago, Standard & Poor's cut its rating of U.S. government debt from AAA to AA+.
Very early Monday morning, in what read more like an Obama administration press release than a wire service news report, Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press claimed that subsequent events and other agencies' decisions not to deliver similar downgrades represent a "decisive repudiation" of S&P's call. Gee, I think an element of other agencies' holdbacks had quite a bit to do with the Obama administration's almost immediate move to launch an investigation into how S&P handled the ratings of mortgage-backed securities leading up to the housing and mortgage lending mess in 2008. The others didn't want to become the Department of Justice's next targets. But of course Wiseman didn't bring up that inconvenient point. Excerpts follow:
It's as if these people think that we're still in the era of the Pony Express and passenger pigeons.
Both CNN's email alert after the close of the markets today and the Associated Press's post-close report acted as if Monday's stock market gain was due to a positive momentum effect from Friday's splendiforous jobs report, which really wasn't that good at all. CNN's 4:01 p.m. email told recipients that "U.S. stocks end higher on momentum from July jobs report." AP's first paragraph at its news summary page read as follows:
The wire services and other establishment press members appear to be getting more selective in what they will allow into their headlines, particularly omitting items which might hurt Dear Leader.
Take the coverage of yesterday's Employment Situation Summary from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The news was a combination of bad and mediocre (though expectations-beating): The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 8.2% to 8.3% (or from 8.217% to 8.254%, if you're Obama administration hack Alan Krueger), while the seasonally adjusted number of jobs added was 163,000. Both results are really unacceptable when there's so much not utilized and underutilized labor. Three establishment press headlines avoided mentioning the rate increase, even though it was a major element of the underlying story:
General Motors didn't have a very good second quarter, as the Associated Press's Tom Krisher duly noted on Thursday.
What Krisher didn't note, and what almost no one in the establishment press ever notes, is the fact that the company doesn't have to pay any income taxes on its U.S. profits until it uses up losses carried forward from before its 2009 bankruptcy filing accompanied by at least $50 billion in government capitalization -- something other companies emerging from bankruptcy are almost never allowed to do. Based on the company's reported North American income for the quarter of $2 billion, most of which would have been realized on U.S. business, taxpayers subsidized the company to the tune of several hundred million dollars in just three months.
On his way out to commercial break at 3:24 p.m. Eastern, Studio B host Shep Smith noted that August 1 is "National Badminton Day," and quipped "Forget National Day of Intolerance, let's just stay with badminton."
The Fox News Channel host's comments appear to be referring to Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, which Smith's fellow FNC colleague Mike Huckabee declared August 1 to be recently. Huckabee announced the eat-in demonstration to show support for the national chicken chain which found itself in a liberal firestorm after its president expressed his religious convictions against same-sex marriage. [h/t email tipster Tom Hanks; MP3 audio here; video follows page break]
Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy is in hot water with the LGBT community because he committed the cardinal sin in an age of political correctness: Thou must not speak ill of anything gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgenders wish to do.
In an interview with the Baptist Press and later on a Christian radio program, Cathy, whose father, the philanthropist Truett Cathy, founded the company, defended marriage between a man and a woman and when asked about the company's support of traditional marriage said, "Guilty as charged. We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit." Cathy believes American society is rotting (and where is evidence to the contrary?) because the country has turned away from God.
Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, has said that we are “inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’” How this unremarkable statement, which never mentions homosexuals, can be labeled anti-gay is astounding. But according to the editorial board of the New York Times, it can be. After quoting Cathy, the Times says, “Antigay remarks like these are offensive.”
It won’t work. According to this logic, almost everyone who ever walked the face of the earth has been an anti-homosexual bigot. Such hyperbole relegates real gay bashing to the trash bin, something to be discarded with alacrity.
Start with the item's headline: "US consumers more confident in the economy in July" Uh, no. Given that a value of 90 is what the AP acknowledges in a later paragraph "indicates a healthy economy," today's overall reading of 65.9, up from 62.7 in June, means that consumers are less gloomy or less downbeat. Confident? Hardly. AP even got the report's underlying indicators wrong:
It's becoming increasingly clear that the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, believes there are two primary kinds of users of its output: those who only read headlines and those who read on or click through. It often dresses up the headlines with inaccuracies, omissions, and occasional downright falsehoods, which more often than not are respectively rendered properly, included, and stated truthfully (or at least sort of close) in the actual content.
It's hard to find a more stark example of a contradiction between an AP headline and its underlying content than Martin Crutsinger's late afternoon report Friday following that morning's Gross Domestic Product report:
Give credit to CNN Money's Annalyn Chensky for intuitively recognizing the ridiculousness of the economic projections included in the White House's Mid-Session Review released today. That especially goes for the assumption that full-year economic growth in 2012, with the first and second quarters coming in at an annualized 2.0% and 1.5%, respectively (the latter subject to revisions which probably won't be significant), will somehow still come in at 2.6%.
Chensky gets demerits, however, for understating how fast growth will really have to be during the second half of the year to get that 2.6% (bolds are mine):
Today's report on the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) during the second quarter didn't impress anyone -- except, apparently those who send out email alerts to CNN Money subscribers.
For several years, it has seemed like the primary goal of these alerts has been to create the illusion of pervasive prosperity when the economic news is even remotely tolerable, and to ignore or downplay news that is really bad -- all so that the relatively disengaged can be convinced that the economy isn't performing as poorly as it really is. The email alert received shortly after the government released its report showing that the economy grew at an annualized 1.5% rate during the second quarter arguably fits both categories:
While many liberals cheer the harsh words that Democratic Mayors Thomas Menino (Boston) and Rahm Emanuel (Chicago) have had for the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain as a result of its conservative, pro-traditional marriage president, editorial boards at liberal newspapers in those two cities have come out with strong criticisms for the anti-conservative bullying.
"[W]hich part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand? A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license," the Boston Globe complained in a July 25 editorial. "History will render judgment on the views of Chick-fil-A executives. City Hall doesn’t have to," the editorial board concluding, having noted that there's no evidence that Chick-fil-A breaks any anti-discrimination laws.
Liberal fascism, anyone? Add Barney Frank to the list of Thomas Friedman and Ray LaHood who regret that in the United States, that darn Constitution gets in the way of the enlightened class imposing its will on the rest of us benighted peons.
Sparring with Mario Bartiromo on CNBC this afternoon, Dem congressman Frank, expressing frustration at his inability to get through legislation he favors, lamented: "unfortunately, under this American system of government, you have these checks and balances." Yeah, so unfortunate. If only Barney could be king for a day. View the video after the jump.
Poor guy. This darned economy has a mind of its own and isn't cooperating.
That's pretty much what you're forced to think in the following cop-out sentence from the Hill in anticipation of tomorrow's report on second-quarter gross domestic product (along with revisions to prior years):
The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is taking a company to court to make it stop producing their popular Buckyballs magnetic desk toy, even though the company markets the product to adults and includes warnings that the toy is unsafe around children.
That's right, it's a desk toy marketed to adults, the vast majority of whom will keep them at their desk at work -- a generally kid-free environment -- and yet the Obama administration is trying to shut production down. Reporting the story, the Washington Post's Dina El Boghdady began today's article with a dry recitation of the lawsuit and waited until halfway through her story to get to the company's strong reaction (emphasis mine):
No matter how inane or damning his comments and answers to inquiries, it appears that Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can continue to count on favorable coverage from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, aka the Administration's Protection.
The AP's Marcy Gordon, with the help of her story's headline writer, made Geither's appearance before the House Committee on Financial Services all about partisanship until near the very end. Incredibly, she also relayed a very important question committee members asked about Geithner's use of an interest rate he knew was being lowballed by British banks as the basis for determining the interest rate on Treasury bailout loans while he was still head of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve Bank -- but didn't tell readers what his answer was. Excerpts follow (bolds are mine):
I suppose the Associated Press deserves some credit for what appears to be a grudging acknowledgment that opponents of the oil and gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, aka "fracking," "sometimes mislead the public." Also, Kevin Begos's story does a good job of letting Josh Fox, producer of the fundamentally dishonest documentary "Gasland," hang himself with his own dodgy, reality-denying words.
But the credit pretty much ends there. Begos's report is a largely a study in false equivalence (y'know, everybody exaggerates -- except, Kevin, opponents do so serially while proponents do so rarely) and psychobabble (y'know, everyone uses "facts" they like and ignores the one that don't -- except, Kevin, for the inconvenient reality that opponents' "facts" are largely falsehoods). The problem is best exemplified in the final excerpted paragraph which follows the jump (bolds are mine):
In an article for NBCNews.com's First Readon Monday, Domenico Montanaro eagerly proclaimed to readers: "Mitt Romney has criticized President Obama for his 'you didn't build that' line, when it came to businesses....But in 2002, during his speech at the Opening Ceremonies at the Winter Olympics....Romney made a similar argument about Olympians."
Romney simply told the Olympic athletes – many in their teens and twenties – that they achieved their individual success with help of parents, coaches, and their local communities. However, by Monday night, The Washington Post's Ezra Klein, filling in for MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, wildly misconstrued the comment to slam Romney: "Got that, Olympians? You didn't build it....It's like David Axelrod went back in time and put the precise words he needed into Mitt Romney's mouth."
Gosh, if Apple would only send the money it has parked overseas back to the United States and pay income taxes on it, the federal government's situation would be so much better, the budget would would balance, and ... no, not really. According to Peter Svensson at the Associated Press, the company has $74 billion in cash parked overseas, meaning that it would owe federal income taxes of about $26 billion at the maximum statutory rate of 35% if it brought it all back at once. That amount would cover the average daily deficit incurred during the past three and now going on four years for about a week.
Four days after President Obama insulted job creators by asserting "If you've got a business, you didn't build that; somebody else made that happen," CNN finally reported the controversial remarks, and only once the Romney campaign featured them in a campaign attack.
In contrast, when Romney surrogate John Sununu said on Tuesday morning that he wished "this President would learn how to be an American," it only took CNN a few hours to jump on the remarks. The network mentioned them every hour between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and anchor Wolf Blitzer even brought Sununu on for an interview to explain himself.
In case you missed it (which wouldn't be surprising given how quiet the press has been since the related report's release, the Department of Labor reported that initial claims for unemployment rose to a seasonally adjusted 386,000 from a review (up, or course) 352,000 the previous week.
An unbylined Reuters report carried at CNBC (HT to an NB tipster) bizarrely described this result as a "rebound," both in its headline and text: