This morning, the Census Bureau told us that 25,000 new homes were sold in October, which, after seasonal adjustment, works out to an annual rate of 307,000. This was up from a seasonally adjusted and downwardly revised (from 313,000) 303,000 in September. According to the first sentence of Derek Kravitz's related report at the Associated Press, this constitutes a "hopeful sign," even though October's number could easily be revised downward, as September's was.
Kravitz went further downhill in his fifth paragraph, descending into flat-out, undeniable falsehood (bold is mine):
The media are treating Thanksgiving like Halloween by whipping up one of their favorite bogeymen. ABC and NBC are now targeting canned food as potentially harmful to humans, because it contains a chemical that the media has long crusaded against: BPA, otherwise known as bisphenol-A, found in many plastics and packaging products.
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that levels of BPA increased greatly in the human body after eating canned food. On Nov 23, ABC's World News and NBC Nightly News both reported on this study - and warned consumers of the potential dangers of eating canned food. NBC's report made sure to include "Hidden Danger" in the background in the beginning of the report.
Assuming he even tried, Brian Williams could not suppress his smirk Tuesday night as he took a shot at a guest who had appeared earlier that day on CNBC. Businessman and Mitt Romney support Ken Langone said that President Obama's anti-business rhetoric and lack of leadership was preventing a true economic recovery from taking hold, exclaiming at one point that "businessmen and fat cats need to feel like they're doing something good, not that they're villains and not that their criminals."
In response, Williams decided to carve out a full minute from from his Nightly News to regale viewers with a sarcastic shot at Langone from the left-wing Gawker.com: "The writer John Cook on the Web site Gawker said, "Why should you make fat cats feel badly about getting fat, while the middle class taxpayers who financed that bailout slide into poverty? They need to be made to feel good about earning record profits!"
In their deeply deceptive Friday morning story ("Deep spending cuts pose a new threat to US economy") about how the bicameral bipartisan supercommittee is supposedly going to hurt the economy with whatever results from its handiwork, Christopher Rugaber and Daniel Wagner of the Associated Press, aka The Administration's Press, "somehow" forgot to include one "little" detail, and deferred another until very late in their report.
The omission, which is that the "cuts" under consideration are really reductions in projected spending increases in future years, is sadly typical. The fact is the $1.2 trillion in "savings" the supercommittee hopes to engineer will only slightly reduce the rate of spending growth. The deferral is that the pair waited until Paragraph 18 to tell readers, and even then only incompletely, that the "deep cuts" would be spread over nine years, thereby amounting to roughly 3% of the $40.3 trillion if projected 2013-2021 spending (Page XI here). The AP pair never explains how "cuts" which wouldn't kick in until the October 1, 2012 beginning of fiscal 2013 and which are (as they have almost always been) heavily skewed towards later years would affect the current economy. Excerpts from the pair's report follow (bolds are mine):
You would think that a story headlined "GOP says Energy Dept. tried to delay solar layoffs" would have a quote or two from a Republican Party spokesperson, politician, candidate or even a rank-and-file party member alleging that, well, the Energy Department tried to delay layoffs at now-bankrupt Solyndra. It doesn't. The "trifling" matter clearly didn't concern the headline writer at the Associated Press, which one again is showing that it deserves to be called "The Administration's Press."
Without attribution, Matthew Daly's early afternoon story (saved here at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) largely relays and only slightly builds on what Carol D. Leonnig and Joe Stephens reported yesterday at the Washington Post. What follows are selected paragraphs from Daly's report, including two (in bold) which only generically cite GOP criticism:
On Saturday, at a Q&A session at the APEC CEO Business Summit in Hawaii, President Barack Obama, when asked about impediments to foreign investment in the United States, responded in part: "... we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted -- well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America."
As would be expected, this impolitic comment has generated quite a bit of discussion all over the place in the two days since. Well, almost all over the place, as you'll after the jump in graphic captures of the results of searches on "Obama lazy" (not in quotes) at the main site of the Associated Press and at the New York Times (Times search is in order of newest first):
Kerem Ozkan at Advertising Age is not happy with Matt Drudge for having the nerve to call a USDA-administered fee imposed on growers of Christmas trees a "Christmas Tree Tax" (link is Drudge Archive item containing the referenced headline).
Actually (Ozkan recognizes this), Drudge didn't start it. David Addington at Heritage did. Here are excerpts from Ozkan's not-so-fine whine, during which he inadvertently demonstrates to readers why Drudge's characterization was correct:
Flashbacks of 2008 were on the minds of many when MF Global, a Wall Street firm led the Democratic former N.J. Gov. Jon Corzine, filed for bankruptcy amid a huge scandal. Forbes said the firm owes $2.2 billion to JP Morgan and Deutsche Banks. But the broadcast networks had amnesia when it came to their previous coverage of Corzine, his role as adviser and fundraiser for Obama and their previous use of him as an economic expert.
MF Global filed for bankruptcy protection on Oct. 31. The firm, under Democrat Corzine’s leadership had invested in more than $6 billionEuropean sovereign debt and was overleveraged (borrowed too much). Why would they have invested in such risky assets? According to both New York Times and Fox Business contributor Charles Gasparino, Corzine was betting on a European bailout.
It's truly delicious when the outfit which calls itself the Essential Global News Network essentially admits that a certain economic theory which begins with a "K" has become such an undesirable word -- almost an epithet -- that it avoids its mention.
That was the case with a pathetic critique of GOP candidates' economic plans written up by the wire service's Charles Babington on Sunday. When I saw its headline ("Studies challenge wisdom of GOP candidates' plans"), I blew past the story because I expected the same-old, same-old. Then an emailer with a journalistic background informed me that it was even worse than usual. He's so right that I can't possibly pick it apart without writing a book; so I'll just concentrate on the paragraph containing the theory with no name and the one which immediately follows it:
At the Washington Post's "with Bloomberg" Business section, the self-described locale "Where Washington and Business Intersect," a Wednesday item by Neil Irwin ("Fed downgrades growth forecasts, sees high unemployment for years ahead") told us that "The Federal Reserve sharply downgraded its projections for the U.S. economy," but never cited any projected growth numbers. Seriously.
Having learned what they are for 2011 and 2012 in the seventh and eighth paragraphs at an Associated Press item (well, at least they got to it, though it probably won't make it into many broadcasts of AP's content because of its placement), it's understandable why staunch defenders of Team Obama would resist doing so. After the jump, I'll take out the mystery by getting to the AP's numbers first:
If you didn't know any better (actually, I think I do), you would think that perhaps Cristina Silva at the Associated Press is doing all she can to minimize the tourism-damaging things President Barack Obama has said about Las Vegas while tasked with reporting on his upcoming visit there.
Three times in her short afternoon report -- once in the item's headline and twice in the item's first two paragraphs -- Silva refers to Las Vegas as "Sin City." I realize that it's a legitimate nickname and that the town isn't seen as a mecca of virtue, but whatever happened to referring to the place as, well, "Vegas" -- especially since Obama has never used the "Sin City" nickname in a speech? A graphic capture of the short item's first four paragraphs follows (link will probably be revised during the evening):
The easy catch in former Obama administration economic adviser Austan Goolsbee's Thursday interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," as reported by the Politico's Tim Mak, is that he believes that "if given a second chance he would not have backed the Cash for Clunkers program or the home buyer tax credit." Goolsbee's excuse for his changed position -- that the administration didn't think the recovery would take so long, when the administration's policies have primarily explain why the recovery has taken so long -- is characteristically lame.
Something else Goolsbee said is far more surprising -- so surprising that one wonders if famed supply-side economist Arthur Laffer somehow temporarily took over the former Obama adviser's mind and body. One also wonders why Mak saved what Goolsbee said for his report's final two paragraphs instead of headlining and leading with it.
The headline and opening sentence in Derek Kravitz's Associated Press report this morning on the Census Bureau's homebulding industry data release gives readers the impression that industry activity increased impressively during September. It increased a tiny bit, but certainly not by the percentage indicated.
The headline ignorantly assumes that a double-digit increase in housing starts is the same as an increase in "home building." It isn't. That headline, the first four paragraphs from Kravitz's report, and some other indicators of housing market progress -- and the stunning lack thereof, three full years after the politicians promised that the Troubled Asset Relief Program would right the ship -- follow the jump (bolds are mine):
UPDATE, 4 p.m.: NB gets results? The Lowe's story is currently #10 on the AP's Business home page (saved here).
It's a good thing I heard this on the radio at about 11:00 a.m., because I might otherwise have missed it. With yours truly's opinion along for the ride, I'll let readers judge whether the news of the Lowe's home improvement chain announcing that it will close 20 stores and cut its new store opening plans by one-half to two-thirds deserved to be in the top ten business stories at the Associated Press as of 12:52 p.m.
Here are the ten which made the cut in order of appearance on the wire service's Business home page (saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; original link not made because of frequent changes):
Yesterday, Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider reacted to the mixed economic news of the day by observing: "Lots of folks are scratching their head about today's dismal UMich/Reuters consumer sentiment number coming in so ugly, just as retail sales for September came in so strong."
It seems that the folks at the Associated Press were not among the head-scratchers. From all appearances, the self-described Essential Global News Network, whose acronym might as well stand for "The Administration's Press," didn't cover the consumer sentiment story at all. What follows are several paragraphs from Alex Kowalski at Bloomberg News describing just how ugly it was, complete with the "U-word" we've all come to know and laugh at (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The Occupy Wall Street protestors have received overwhelmingly positive coverage from the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) news networks, as they used their airtime to publicize and promote the aggressively leftist movement. In just the first eleven days of October, ABC, CBS and NBC flooded their morning and evening newscasts with a whopping 33 full stories or interview segments on the protesters. This was a far cry from the greeting the Tea Party received from the Big Three as that conservative protest movement was initially ignored (only 13 total stories in all of 2009) and then reviled.
Where the Tea Party was met with skeptical claims of their motivations -- with some reporters claiming they were merely corporate backed puppets and others implying they were spurred on by their racist opposition to the first black president – the Occupy Wall Street crowd was depicted as an almost genial “grassroots” movement.
One day after lauding the persistence of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests, CNN's American Morning pressured conservative contributor Erick Erickson to "admit" that the protests are indeed "resonating," and that his own counter-movement is much smaller.
"You've got to – you've got to admit it. The 'Occupy Wall Street' folks are resonating," Romans insisted to Erickson. "I mean, we just had an ORC poll this week that showed that majority of Americans have heard of the movement. The 'We Are the 53' is much smaller." [Video below the break. Click here for audio.]
A study by the Media Research Center finds that the three broadcast networks are providing virtually no coverage of the Solyndra scandal, a solar energy firm that went bankrupt after getting more than $500 million in taxpayer money from the Obama administration. This is not the approach the networks took after the collapse of Enron, an energy company with Republican ties. In just the first two months of 2002, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts cranked out 198 stories on the Enron debacle, compared to just eight so far on Solyndra, a 24-to-1 disparity. Details after the jump.
Yesterday, in a different post about long-term unemployment, I wrote: "Of all the reality-denying aspects of Obama administration press coverage, the usually implicit but occasionally explicit assertion that he and his people are just helpless bystanders in an economic calamiity is easily among the most annoying."
Bloomberg's Mike Dorning triggered the annoyance meter today with an "analysis" contending that President Obama's move from being a "conciliator" (quoting an alleged "expert") to supporting "populist causes" and sympathizing with the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street assemblage "may provide some inoculation" against the continuing bad economy -- as if Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the their party bear no conceivable responsibility for current economic conditions. Here are the first seven paragraphs of Dorning's dreck (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Chicago Mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel went after GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney yesterday over the 2008-2009 state of the auto industry. Emanuel, as paraphrased by the Associated Press, believes that "had Republican candidate Mitt Romney been president the nation would no longer have an auto industry" -- though last time I checked, Ford Motor Company, which did not accept federal government bailout money, is still headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, which is still in the USA.
In his coverage of Emanuel's comments, the Detroit News's Dave Shepardson -- who infamously and falsely claimed in February 2010 that Toyota executives "bragged" and "boasted" about saving money on safety recalls when Japanese culture deeply frowns on the practice to the point of shunning people who engage in it -- headlined Emanuel's "no industry" howler, and committed several factual errors. In addition, he missed a quite relevant and critical March 2009 episode of support from Romney -- for better or worse (readers can decide) -- when President Obama engineered the ouster of General Motors' CEO. Here are excerpts from Shepardson's shilling:
As shown in Part 1, this afternoon's report on long-term unemployment at the Associated Press by Sam Hananel attempted to create the impression but provided no actual evidence for the notion that complaints by many who have been unemployed for an extended time period that many employers are reluctant to consider and sometimes even refuse to consider their employment inquiries and applications equals support for provisions in President Obama's American Jobs Act which would for all practical purposes make them another protected class.
The AP reporter also completely failed to tell readers why the problem has reached an unprecedented post-Depression level, namely that the economy, largely due to failed public policy choices, has thus far taken three times as long to recover from its recession than it did during any other post-recession period after World War II. The following single paragraph is as close as Hananel got:
The headline this afternoon at the Associated Press to a report by Sam Hananel attempted to create the impression that complaints by many who have been unemployed for an extended time period that many employers are reluctant to consider and sometimes even refuse to consider their employment inquiries and applications equals support for provisions in President Obama's American Jobs Act which would for all practical purposes make them another protected class.
No doubt there is some support for the (in my opinion) misguided notion, but Hananel's underlying report never quoted an actual long-term unemployed person supporting the idea. Additionally, as I will cover in Part 2, the AP reporter also failed to tell readers why the problem has reached an unprecedented post-Depression level, namely that the economy, largely due to failed public policy choices, has thus far taken three times as long to recover from its recession than it did during any other post-recession period after World War II. Here are key paragraphs from Hananel's dispatch concerning the problem:
Does Bill Maher ever listen to the nonsense coming out of his mouth to make sure he doesn't contradict himself from one minute to the next?
On Friday's "Real Time," the host paid his respects to Steve Jobs by claiming how liberal the Apple founder was adding "He was not a corporate type" only to minutes later accurately note, "Apple makes their s--t in China. And they could still make it here and make a big profit, but they make more of a profit by making it in China" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
In a report filed at the Los Angeles Times's Politics Now blog earlier today, Washington Bureau reporter James Oliphant relayed a number of whoppers delivered by Vice President Joe Biden without anything resembling a challenge. In Part 1, I noted how Biden, who in August described Tea Party sympathizers as "terrorists" and in September as "barbarians," today spoke in complimentary terms of how much the Occupy Wall Street crowd has in common with them. In Part 2, I dealt with the Veep's hit at financially struggling Bank of America for having the nerve to try to recover some of what the Dodd-Frank "financial reform" legislation took away by charging some customers a $5 monthly fee for debit-card use.
This final part will deal with Biden's rendition of how the "bank bailout" portion of TARP operated, which is quite different from the reality. The relevant excerpt from Oliphant, which necessarily overlaps the first two parts, follows (bolds are mine throughout):
If you only read Thursday's coverage of Bank of America's decision to impose a $5 monthly debit card fee by Associated Press Personal Finance Writer Candice Choi, you would have no idea that last year's "Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act" triggered BofA's decision. The legislation gave the Federal Reserve the power to limit debit card interchange fees. The Fed's limit -- 21 cents plus 0.5% of each purchase transaction -- basically cut the banks' fees by about half from their pre-Dodd-Frank level. CardHub.com estimates that the cap will reduce banks' fee income by $9.4 billion annually.
Ms. Choi only cited the existence of "a new rule" in her opening paragraph. She then waited until the ninth paragraph to vaguely cite the existence of "a regulation." It hardly seems accidental that most news consumers who didn't follow the fee fight a year ago will probably have the impression that banks are driving the fee increases, as the following excerpt will demonstrate (bolds are mine):
What if I told you that the government put out a report today which would lead one to infer that the economy might barely have grown last year, and that it even may have contracted -- and that the reporter who appears to have been the only one who covered it didn't grasp its potential significance (or, conceivably, chose to ignore it)?
Today the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual "Consumer Expenditures Survey" for 2010. As of 8:30 p.m., a Google News search on "consumer expenditures government" (not in quotes, past 24 hours, sorted by date, with duplicates) returned 72 items (the first page says over 2,400, but it's really only 72). All relevant results represent Associated Press reports filed by Marting Crutsinger (Yahoo Finance version here).
Here are the key paragraphs from Crutsinger's report which gave away the problem -- or at least should have, if the AP reporter had made one obvious comparison:
The Conference Board's September Consumer Confidence Survey came out this morning. Overall, it rose very slightly from a miserable 45.2 to a still-miserable 45.4. Consumers' assessment of near-term prospects slid from 34.3 to in August to 32.5, while their longer-term outlook improved from 52.4 to 54.0.
At the Associated Press (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio characterized the element of the report relating to jobs thusly:
Let's note the likely reason why what Julia Seymour observed earlier today is the case -- namely, that network news reports have taken to calling the Solyndra situation an "embarrassment."
The use of that term probably dates back to September 16, which is as far as I can tell the first time the Associated Press filed a beyond-perfunctory report about now-bankrupt Solyndra, the beneficiary of over $500 million in Energy Department loan guarantees. In January, the government also gave Solyndra's principal investors preferential treatment in advance of what was a clearly inevitable bankruptcy. Tuesday evening, the AP's Matthew Daly went to the E-word again in the final paragraph of the excerpt which follows:
UPDATE: BizzyBlog commenter "Rich in Iowa" notes that what the AP is criticizing is "a clearinghouse for employers and job seekers hosted by the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and this site pre-dates Walker’s Governorship by, oh, maybe a decade."
Boy, Scott Bauer and the Associated Press have really, really nailed Scott Walker this time -- not.
Bauer found that some of the jobs listed in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's "Job Center of Wisconsin" website are located in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan). Imagine that: The Badger State's governor is including jobs in neighboring states because he apparently believes that his state would be better off if some of its unemployed workers found jobs across the border. Oh the humanity.
The Solyndra scandal is certainly an "embarrassment" for the White House, as some network news reports have called it. But somehow those same reports have still failed to criticize Obama's green jobs programs for fiscal waste, even the government loan program that gave Solyndra millions.
To their credit, all three broadcast networks aired stories in September about the California solar company that declared bankruptcy in August after getting a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government in September 2009. But out of 11 network stories on Solyndra this year (most in September), not a single one used the company's failure to criticize the loan program it used to get more than half a billion taxpayer dollars.