Continuing the business press's slavish devotion to seasonally adjusted figures in government reports to the exclusion of looking at what actually happened, Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, began his Tuesday dispatch on May's new-home sales report from the Census Bureau as follows: "Sales of new homes rose in May to the fastest pace in five years, a solid gain that added to signs of a steadily improving housing market."
Except for two "little" things: Fewer homes were actually sold in May than were sold in April, and May's reported increase in seasonally adjusted annualized sales only came about because of a tax break which ended in April 2010:
When last seen at NewsBusters in February, the Associated Press's Liz Sidoti was talking down to the public about its "collective obsession with the trivial" less than a week after AP reporter Ken Thomas wasted 500 words of print and bandwidth on how Florida Sen. Marco Rubio took a sip of water during a speech.
Now Sidoti, who is the AP's National Political Editor, is quite worried -- actually, obsessed -- that the public might waking up and contrasting what President Barack Obama is delivering compared to what he has promised at a most inopportune time, and that "controversies" might overtake Dear Leader's second-term agenda (bolds are mine):
The most interesting thing (to me, at least) about Wednesday's report in the Los Angeles Times by Ricardo Lopez on how the author of an economic report out of UCLA has said that the U.S. economy's performance since the recession officially ended in June 2009 stinks -- "It's not a recovery. It's not even normal growth. It's bad" -- is how the Associated Press relayed it to its readers and subscribers. I don't recall ever seeing a 15-plus paragraph report go unbylined, but this one did.
Maybe whoever wrote the AP item didn't want to incur the wrath of his or her colleague Tom Raum, who early last week wrote that the economy is "clearly, if slowly" recovering. It's also somewhat likely that Christopher Rugaber, who wrote "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession" in early April, might be a bit miffed. Choice nuggets from Lopez's LAT lament follow the jump:
One particular sentence has recently become a virtual meme at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press.
Its latest appearance is at Christopher Rugaber's report this afternoon on April's seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent drop in consumer spending. Rugaber, who infamously wrote "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession" in early April, perhaps betraying a bit of nervousness, called today's news "a sign that economic growth may be slowing." Deeper into his dispatch, he rolled out the meme:
David Koenig's Wednesday coverage at the Associated Press of Exxon Mobil's annual meeting contained a predictable headline and related content telling us that the company wouldn't "explicitly ban discrimination against gays because the company already banned discrimination of any type and didn't need to add language regarding gays." Koenig's report apparently couldn't be considered complete without a contribution of misleading climate statistics and statements from the wire service's Seth Borenstein.
Borenstein's apparent input consisted of the following four paragraphs (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
“We are The East ... We want all those who are guilty to experience the terror of their crimes,” begins the trailer for a new Sundance Film Festival movie, set for limited release on May 31. One of the stars has said she thinks “there is an element of wish fulfillment” in the film, which depicts the group targeting businesspeople.
“The East” is a fictitious film that depicts the efforts of an anarchist environmentalist terrorist group that targets corporations and CEOs. Those terrorists appear to be the protagonists of the movie. In the minute and thirteen second trailer, there are depictions of the CEOs that this group will target with their eyes scratched out, and others with “GUILTY” stamped on their faces.
In "Go Ahead, Invade Their Phone Records: AP Reports Obama Has 'Alleged Scandals' and 'Alleged Misbehavior,'" Tim Graham at NewsBusters noted how Tom Raum at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, claimed that "Alleged misbehavior by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies gives the GOP something else to talk about and investigate as the economy clearly, if slowly, recovers on President Barack Obama's watch, robbing Republicans of a central argument against Democrats."
That this is an exercise in sheer fantasy on Raum's part can be quickly demonstrated in two graphics.
Usually movie makers strive to stay ahead of the cultural curve. It makes them “visionaries,” who are “cutting edge,” because they “push the envelope.” Two years ago, “Occupy Wall Street” was the hot fad, stoking the usual left-wing outrage at bankers and the finance industry, who were portrayed as greedheads never held accountable for their crimes. Businessmen just twirl their mustaches and laugh evil laughs.
But that was two years ago. Time for something fresh – and edgy. A new movie suggests that movement was for sissies. It’s time for someone to start a new campaign: Assassinate Wall Street.
It says something about the seriousness of the rest of the news during the past several days when a story about unethical spying by reporters working for a company founded and built by the current mayor of New York City barely makes a ripple.
It has been alleged, and now admitted, that Bloomberg reporters monitored terminal login activity to develop stories about possible Wall Street executive departures before anyone else outside the entities involved knew and for other news-gathering purposes. The practice appears to go back to when Gotham Mayor Michael Bloomberg was still at the helm of Bloomberg LP, as seen in the bolded sections in the excerpt from a Saturday CNBC news story which follows the jump:
Give Nancy Cook at NationalJournal.com credit for a generally well-written though somewhat naive report ("Forget the Unemployment Rate: The Alarming Stat Is the Number of 'Missing Workers'") on the unprecedented plight of the millions of adults who have dropped out of the labor force.
But in discussing the "glaring caveat" in Friday's employment report from the government, namely that "the 'labor force participation rate' held steady in April at 63.3 percent—the lowest level since 1979," she missed a major source of the rise in the rate to a record level in the late-1990s. She also left readers otherwise unaware of the actual history with the impression that the rate has been "on a gradual decline" since then, which is simply not the case.
Jan Crawford touted how ObamaCare going into full effect in early 2014 is "causing all kinds of concern and anxiety, especially with...small business owners" on Friday's CBS This Morning. Crawford also pointed out Senator Max Baucus' April 17, 2013 "train wreck" label of the upcoming implementation of the health care law. This was the first time that a Big Three morning or evening newscast mentioned Baucus' blunt remark.
The correspondent zeroed in on a California bakery whose owner asserted that he "can't make any decisions, because the federal government is giving no guidance" with regard to ObamaCare.
Previewing an upcoming story for NBC's Rock Center on Friday's Today, correspondent Ann Curry warned that tribes of the Amazon rain forest "are sharpening their spears and preparing their blow guns to fight Ecuador's new plan to auction as much as 8 million acres of the rain forest for oil drilling." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
She then cited Boston University biology professor Kelly Swing arguing that "America, a top importer of oil from Ecuador, shares responsibility for this coming conflict....And the toxic legacy of past oil drilling in other parts of the rain forest." A sound bite played of Swing declaring: "We're definitely guilty in this story."
You've got hand it to some (probably most) of the reporters at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. Their story is that the economy is all right, and by gosh, they're sticking to it.
Tom Raum's dispatch yesterday is a case in point. Along the way, he pulled out several of the tired spin-driven claims which have long since been taken down but which haven't yet penetrated the skulls of low-information voters. Raum and AP seem puzzled that the supposedly okey-dokey economy doesn't seem to be helping President Obama or Democrats' 2014 congressional and senatorial election prospects (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
At MarketWatch this morning, Paul Farrell's hostility towards Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Milton Friedman and especially free-market capitalism boiled over. Farrell claims that capitalism "is destined to destroy the world, absent a historic paradigm shift."
The problem he describes really has nothing to do with properly practiced free-market capitalism, but is instead a combination of rampant cronyism and the abandonment of capitalism's (and society's) Judeo-Christian moral underpinnings. But that's a long discussion outside the scope of this post. This post is about the opening claim Farrell makes: "Billionaires control the vast majority of the world’s wealth." No they don't.
On Friday, the government reported that the economy grew by an annualized 2.5 percent during the first quarter. Earlier today, in Part 1 of this series, (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) I showed that while most news organizations, including CNN, Bloomberg and Reuters, characterized that news as a disappointment, especially comparred to expectations of 3.0 percent or more following an awful fourth quarter of 0.4%, Martin Crutsinger and Chris Rugaber remained irrationally exuberant, not only about the "quickened" pace of growth but about prospects for higher growth in the second half of this year.
In Part 2 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), we saw how even others at the self-described Essential Global News Network disagreed with Crutsinger's and Rugaber's joint assessment. A "News Summary" item was headlined "STOCKS STALL AS GROWTH DISAPPOINTS." A report by AP Markets Writer Steve Rothwell was headlined "STOCKS STALL ON TEPID US ECONOMIC GROWTH," and forecasted slower growth during the rest of the year. There is one other key paragraph written by the pair of AP economics writers which deserves separate vetting. It follows the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
On Friday, the government reported that the economy grew by an annualized 2.5 percent during the first quarter. As I noted in Part 1 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), three establishment press outlets (CNN, Bloomberg, and Reuters) pronounced the result "disappointing" -- but not Martin Crutsinger and Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, whose headline read "AFTER NEAR-STALL IN LATE 2012, US ECONOMY PICKS UP," and whose content described the economy as having "quickened its pace" as "the strongest consumer spending in two years fueled a 2.5 percent annual growth rate in the January-March quarter."
It turns out that the AP pair's enthusiasm was not only not shared at other news organizations. It wasn't even shared within AP, as will be seen after the jump.
On Friday, the government reported that the economy grew by an annualized 2.5 percent during the first quarter. The awful 0.4 percent result seen in the fourth quarter was largely sloughed off as caused by a number of one-time factors. Analysts convinced themselves that reported first-quarter growth would come in at 3.0 percent or slightly higher in Friday's release. Instead, we saw what Zero Hedge noted was the biggest such expectations miss since September 2011.
As a result, at least three establishment press organizations pronounced the result disappointing -- except for two business reporters at the Associated Press whose names are virtual fixtures here.
The left's media-echo chamber just got louder. On Thursday morning in a claimed exclusive, the Politico reported that "(Former presidential adviser and campaign official David) Plouffe will appear regularly on Bloomberg Television to offer analysis and commentary on political and business issues as they impact the intersection of Wall Street, Main Street and K Street and will lend his expertise to the discussion of technology, demographic changes and crisis management."
That day at his new place of work, in response to a "kerfuffle" over errors in an academic paper which showed that, throughout history, government debt levels have held back economic growth -- errors which the authors insisted in a New York Times op-ed did not alter the fundamental validity of their conclusions, Plouffe delivered exactly what one would expect of a "former" lead Obama apparatchik:
The Obama administration has flushed almost $200 million of the American taxpayer's money down the drain on another green company failure but ABC and NBC have yet to report on it. On Monday, the electric car company Fisker Automotive failed to make a $10 million payment on a $192 million federal government loan, bringing it closer to bankruptcy. Only CBS, on Thursday's This Morning, mentioned it - and then only gave it 15 seconds.
Fisker joins Solyndra in what has turned into a long list of Obama administration supported green companies that have turned into boondoggles for the American taxpayer that the Big Three networks have virtually ignored.
It's no surprise that the liberal media are ignoring poll after poll showing widespread discontent, even among Democrats, with ObamaCare. But what's utterly inexcusable is the man-bites-dog story coming out of a labor union this week, which is now calling for ObamaCare's repeal.
Janet Adamy of the Wall Street Journal noted on April 16 that the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers is the first union to call for the repeal of Obamacare. Why? Because it could lead to members losing their existing coverage:
On April 4, the Associated Press' Christopher Rugaber wrote: "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession."
Having in effect announced the repeal of the business cycle for the foreseeable future, despite the fact that the economy's post-recession job recovery performance has been the worst since World War II by miles, it seems that Rugaber is now doing his best to prop up his assertion with shaky claims about the meaning of government economic reports. That would include the second sentence of his opening paragraph of his dispatch on Thursday's report on jobless claims from the government's Department of Labor (bolds are mine):
When the State Department held a hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline in Grand Island, Nebraska, the Associated Press displayed an obvious preference for one side: the pipeline-haters. They couldn't quote one Nebraska resident who might favor the job-creating project.
Grant Schulte’s report was 18 paragraphs long, and most of them obsessed over what the eco-protesters wanted. The only pipeline proponent quoted arrived in paragraph 12....after some newspapers might cut the article for space. Schulte began with a thrill over possible civil disobedience against Team Obama:
Your daily dose of inadvertent humor comes from an article by Annie Lowrey at the New York Times on Sunday evening ("Lew to Press for European Policy Changes"; also in today's print edition).
In "covering" (from Washington?) Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's four-day European trip for meetings with EU leaders encouraging them to pursue "growth" policies -- which in Keynesians' fevered minds always really means "stimulus" and not genuine growth-driven initiatives -- Lowrey wrote the following (bold is mine):
The disgraceful lengths to which writers in the establishment press will rewrite history to paper over the economy's awful performance during the past five years is perfectly illustrated in one paragraph found in an otherwise decent Associated Press "Big Story" report ("Dropouts: Discouraged Americans leave labor force") Saturday evening by Paul Wiseman and Jesse Washington, with help from Chris "No chance of recession" Rugaber and Scott Mayerowitz.
The statement: "The participation rate peaked at 67.3 percent in 2000, reflecting an influx of women into the work force. It's been falling steadily ever since." The "fall" has not been "steady," nor has been the decline in the employment-population ratio (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics data retrievable here):
After telling the world on Thursday that "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession," it seems that the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber needed some help explaining away Friday's weak jobs report from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The AP had four reporters on Friday evening's coverage, all seemingly in search of a viable excuse for another "unexpectedly" disappointing report: Rugaber, co-author Paul Wiseman, and contributors Jonathan Fahey and Joyce Rosenberg in New York. Several paragraphs from their report follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Well, we can stop worrying about the economy now. Write it down. Chris Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, tells readers today that the business cycle has been repealed. That's right. As of now, "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession."
Even giving him the benefit of the doubt that he only meant to refer to the short- or intermediate-term, it takes a mountain of chutzpah to make such a declaration after a quarter during the which the economy grew at an annualized 0.4%, i.e., an actual 0.1%. It's doubly hard to take because the press, led by the Associated Press, feared that a recession was around the corner virtually every month or quarter from the time I began blogging in early 2005 until mid-2008, when the National Bureau of Economic Research defied the normal person's definition of recession (i.e., two consecutive quarters of contraction) and decided that a recession began in December 2007, seven months before it really did.
Sometimes liberal bias goes so far it actually becomes absurd, like Roseanne Barr saying that she would bring back the guillotine in order to behead any rich people who wanted to keep more than $100 million of their own money. She set the bar (or the guillotine) higher than her $80 million net worth. But it wasn’t just extreme left-wing celebs like Roseanne and Michael Moore, news anchors and hosts have spewed anti-business, anti-wealth, or anti-capitalism nonsense too.
The Business and Media Institute hunted down some of the most outrageous anti-business, anti-wealth, or anti-capitalism comments by news and entertainment media people in the past year and came up with this list of eight individuals. After all, it is April Fools Day.
The latest estimate of economic growth for the final quarter of 2012 published by Uncle Sam's Bureau of Economic Analysis on Thursday told us that the economy grew at an annualized rate of 0.4%. Not annualized, that means it actually grew by 0.1%. A $100,000-a-year business doing that "well" during a quarter would have seen its sales increase by $25 (.001 times $100,000 divided by 4).
On Wednesday, Bruno Waterfield at the UK Telegraph relayed that "Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the eurozone, told the FT and Reuters that the heavy losses inflicted on depositors in Cyprus would be the template for future banking crises across Europe." That's "would," not "could." The Associated Press hasn't had the nerve to correctly characterize what Dijsselbloem said, and now Reuters itself has gotten cold feet.
On February 28, though he hedged a bit, Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, wrote the following about prospects for economic growth: "The only impediment may be the across-the-board government spending cuts that kick in Friday — especially if those cuts remain in place for months."
Having established the template, the self-described Essential Global News Network has apparently decided that they need to do all they can to promote it. After today's sharp decline in consumer confidence as reported by the Conference Board, AP reporter Marcy Gordon's related dispatch opened with a whine about "massive government spending cuts," tried to reinforce her claim in a later paragraph, and saved contradictory information for an even later one (bolds are mine throughout this post):