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:
Todays unemployment claims release from the Department of Labor reported that initial jobless aid applications for the week ended July 14 were 386,000 after seasonal adjustment. Business Insider's email this morning carried a prediction of 364,000. Bloomberg's consensus prediction was 365,000.
At the Associated Press, in his 8:45 a.m. dispatch (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Economics Writer Paul Wiseman was inadvertently correct when he wrote that "the figures may have been distorted by seasonal factors." Well yeah, Paul, but the seasonal distortion isn't the one you cited. As will be seen after the jump. today's number arguably should have come in at over 400,000.
Here's how a "Business Highlights" item at the Associated Press summarized the situation between Timothy Geithner and London banks whose officials had admitted to rigging the London Interbank Offered Rate ("Libor") on Friday evening: "The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released documents Friday that show it learned five years ago of big banks understating their borrowing costs to manipulate a key interest rate. The documents also show Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was then president of the New York Fed, urged the Bank of England to make the rate-setting process more transparent."
Today, Charles Gasparino at the New York Post called total BS such pathetic media spin (bolds are mine):
Over the weekend President Obama once again demonized wealth creators, downplaying the success of entrepreneurs as something that "[s]omebody else made... happen":
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
One might think that yours truly, who has been nagging the establishment press for years over its blind acceptance of seasonally adjusted data in government economic and employment reports, would be pleased to see that the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber finally got around to making such adjustments the primary focus of his final report on the most recently released unemployment claims numbers on Thursday. His story's headline at the AP's national site even noted that "Seasonal adjustments to economic data can mislead."
That's fine, but it's not yesterday's full story. Rugaber noted that Thursday's report from the Department of Labor (DOL) -- that 350,000 initial jobless claims were filed after seasonal adjustment -- was influenced by the relatively light level of summer shutdown-related layoffs in the auto industry. But he totally and all too conveniently missed the fact that this year's number looked better after seasonal adjustment than last year's comparable week primarily because, as will be seen later, this year's seasonal adjustment factor was so inexplicably different. First, some excerpts from Rugaber's report:
My, it was awfully nice of Marcy Gordon at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, to give Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner such excellent protection in her report on the New York Federal Reserve Bank's release of documents relating to its knowledge of the manipulation of the "Libor" (London interbank offered rate) used as the basis for the pricing of trillions of dollars of loans.
Her report's second paragraph only tells readers that Geithner, "who was then president of the New York Fed, urged the Bank of England to make the rate-setting process more transparent." What a helpful guy. Readers needed to go to Paragraph 12 to see more about Geithner, and even that information was given kid-glove treatment:
The title of a post at Business Insider crows, “Here's The Ballsy Businessweek Cover That's Going To Piss Off The Mormon Church.” In truth, it should anger anyone who finds it low and, frankly, un-American, to attack a candidate – directly or indirectly – through his religion.
But with Mitt Romney running neck and neck with Barack Obama, Bloomberg Businessweek saw the opportunity to further the Obama campaign’s jihad against Romney the super-wealthy tax-avoiding capitalist, while reminding readers that Romney belongs to this sort of strange, secretive cult that’s also a business empire of questionable legitimacy.
Not only is the Associated Press aptly currently described as the Administration's Press -- as least as long as the White House's current occupant remains there -- it also seems to be serving as the Administration's Protection.
In a story about the "Lie-bor" scandal, wherein British banks have admitted to colluding to set the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) -- arguably the world’s most important benchmark for interest rates -- artificially low, AP reporter Martin Crutsinger "somehow" forgot that current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was President of the New York Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank during much of the time period in which Congressional investigators are interested. Clearly, they want to know what Geithner knew, and when he knew it. The first three paragraphs of Crutsinger's writeup, followed by his sole context-free mention of Geithner, follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The establishment press often pays a price in lost credibility when it ignores important economic reports. The original omission is bad enough, of course. But when subsequent business coverage makes assertions which the ignored reports directly refute, it leaves you wondering why you should even try to believe anything they compose.
Such is the case with Martin Crutsinger's report today on the Institute for Supply Management's Non Manufacturing Index (NMI). Following on the heels of Monday's Manufacturing Index, which slipped into contraction (as perceived by surveyed purchasing managers) for the first time in three years, the NMI declined but at least remained in (perceived) expansion mode. In the course of describing current economic conditions, Crutsinger made the following erroneous statement:
At the Associated Press, Christina Rexrode placed the blame for Monday's mediocre performance in the stock market squarely and obviously where it belonged: "Stocks struggled to stay out of the red in quiet holiday-week trading after a trade group said American manufacturing shrank in June for the first time in almost three years." The trade group involved is the Institute for Supply Management. Its manufacturing index dropped from 53.5% in May to 49.8% in June. Any reading below 50% represents contraction. Analysts expected that it would come in at between 52% (per Business Insider's email) and 52.5% (according to Zero Hedge).
Apparently the people who write CNNMoney's emails didn't want their readers to know the truth, as will be seen after the jump.
I'll bet it would shake people up to know that all of the recent and steep decline in consumer confidence has occurred in households earning $75,000 or more per year. On Friday, the June Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers told us just that.
The key sentence in the U of M press release reads as follows (PDF; bold is mine): "Perhaps of greater importance was that the entire June decline was among households with incomes above $75,000." Look at how the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber recharacterized that direct, unmistakable assertion in his four-paragraph item on Friday:
Recent job cuts at Alabama newspapers have been steep. The Birmingham Business Journal, which (ahem) apparently is not among the participants, reports that "Three of Alabama’s largest daily newspapers, including the Birmingham News, will lay off about 400 employees as they cut back their printing schedules and increase their focus on digital." The other affected publications include the Huntsville Times and the Mobile Press Register. The job cuts are on the order of 50%-60%.
Across the Alabama border in Florida at the Pensacola News Journal, cartoonist Andy Marlette did not handle the layoff news well, as will be seen after the jump.
At the Associated Press today, trying to build an impression of momentum where there isn't very much, Martin Crutsinger, concerning today's Census Bureau release of May new-home sales data, wrote that, "Americans bought new homes in May at the fastest pace in more than two years. The increase suggests a modest recovery is continuing in the U.S. housing market, despite weaker job growth."
We've been through this before. The rest of Crutsinger's report quoted no expert to support his "modest recovery" claim as it relates to sales volume. Thus, it is his opinion. Readers don't care what your opinion is, Marty. As I suggested in connection with another AP report earlier this month -- "Stick to the facts, sir, and resist the urge to inject your thinly disguised perspective (I would say "shut up," but I'm trying to be nice)." Speaking of facts, the AP's headline is deceptive. Since it hasn't changed in about 12 hours, I assume that the wire service either doesn't understand why it's wrong, or doesn't care.
If this were a prize fight, it would have ended at the end of the sixth round in a knockout. In a post at the American Enterprise Institute's blog this afternoon, James Pethokoukis, who previously toiled at U.S. News and Reuters, made mincemeat out of Washington Post reporter Tom Hamburger's Thursday Mitt Romney-Bain Capital hit piece ("Romney’s Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas").
Just sit back and enjoy the pummeling. Since Hamburger didn't land any blows, I'll only deal with the punches Pethokoukis landed in explaining "Romney Reality" while refuting six "WaPo World" whines (italics are in original):
Financial reporter Nathaniel Popper made the front of the New York Times Sunday Business section using the language of Occupy Wall Street, in a populist crusade against high chief executive pay disguised as a news story: "C.E.O. Pay, Rising Despite the Din."
Popper talked in familiar terms of "revolution," "the 99 percent," and the "nation’s have-a-lots" versus "the have-lesses," and the term "hyperwealth," delivered without quotes, which seems to be code for "earning more than the Times thinks you should be."
It wouldn't quite be fair to say that the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber sugarcoated his dispatch on today's release of the April Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) by Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics. But it would be more than fair to say he missed several chances to tell readers how significant the setbacks BLS relayed really were (openings fell 8.7% from a seasonally adjusted 3.741 million to 3.416 million). That's especially true, given what we already know about May's employment situation.
What follows are several paragraphs from Rugaber's report, followed by contextual factoids the folks at Zero Hedge found which the AP reporter missed or ignored: