It was almost a month ago that the New York and New Jersey coastlines were mercilessly pummeled by Hurricane Sandy. Immediately following the storm, the liberal media spin went into overdrive commending the leadership and compassion Obama displayed in the aftermath. But reports have been surfacing since the election, revealing how conditions in the afflicted regions are still not much improved and the majority of the broadcast media's acknowledgement of their prolonged trials and tribulations has been minimal at best.
For their part however, Fox & Friends welcomed Donna Vanzant on Tuesday morning's program. She just so happened to be the woman President Obama was photographed consoling during his official visit to survey the damage in New Jersey. To say the least, she has not been pleased with FEMA's fickle response. [ video below the page break ]
Nuns on the Bus tour leader Sister Simone Campbell appeared on MSNBC's The Cycle on Thursday afternoon to discuss her ministry, which predictably led to her left-wing agenda becoming the focal point of the conversation. The only host to take issue with her talking points was token conservative S.E. Cupp, who was armed with facts and figures that the good sister could not rebut except by adamantly insisting they were "really wrong." That's when it started getting a little tense. [ video below, MP3 audio here ]
The Associated Press, Bloomberg and Reuters all eagerly told readers today that the seasonally adjusted annualized level of single-family home sales in September of 389,000 was the highest in 2-1/2 years and really, really good news for the housing market, the economy as a whole, or both. What they all "somehow" failed to mention was the fact that sales are still far below where they were during the 12-month recession in 2008 and 2009 (defining "recession" properly), when the market was screeching to a halt after overbuilding driven by subprime lending frauds by design Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The numbers reported by the Census Bureau since January of 2008, first expressed at seasonally adjusted annual rates, then as raw number of homes sold, follow the jump.
One really wonders if there is any adult supervision in the department where CNNMoney's business headline emails originate.
There certainly isn't much knowledge of the general business environment or of the recent history of the housing market present, because if there were, the following email would almost certainly never have been published -- or if the message had somehow escaped by accident, it wouldn't have taken more than a half-hour to "correct" it. The original and the "correction" follow the jump:
Once again, a reporter from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, has told a major fib about the situation in the new-home construction industry, thereby vastly exaggerating its degree of improvement -- claiming a 60% surge during the past nearly 3-1/2 years when it has been 15% at most.
Today's figures from the Census Bureau on housing starts weren't terrible, but they surely weren't cause for major optimism -- except at the AP, where Martin Crutsinger cited "steady progress in the housing recovery" and committed the same serious mistake other AP writers have made (examples here, here, and here), namely pretending that the term "housing starts" has the same meaning as "home construction."
The Associated Press's Anne D'Innocenzio is clearly mystified and possibly even upset that consumer confidence as reported by the Conference Board on Wednesday fell sharply to its lowest level since November of last year.
Get a load of the second paragraph's first sentence in the version D'Innocenzio posted late yesterday morning shortly after the report's release, followed by asinine assertions which in effect say that Americans don't understand that things are getting better -- and, as usual, it's all about Dear Leader's reelection (bolds are mine):
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:
USA Today's Web site features an Associated Press report with the headline "Housing starts, jobless claims in good shape." For the many readers who just scan headlines, that sounds encouraging. Yet by the second paragraph the article notes "that construction of single-family homes and apartments dipped 1.1% in July compared with June. . ." And by the third paragraph:
Housing has been making a modest comeback this year. But even with the gains, the rate of construction and the level of permits remain only about half the 1.5 million annual rate considered healthy.
For the past two weeks Barack Obama's media minions have been working overtime trying to convince the American people the President was taken out of context during his now infamous "You Didn't Build That" speech in Roanoke, Virginia.
CNN's Donna Brazile and the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus tried making that pathetic claim on ABC's This Week Sunday only to receive a much-needed education from George Will and Breitbart.com's Dana Loesch (video follows with transcript and commentary):
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):
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.
We at NewsBusters have been calling MSNBC's Chris Matthews a sycophant for Barack Obama since at least February 2008 when the so-called journalist bragged on the air about getting a thrill up his leg at the sound of the former junior senator from Illinois' voice.
It was therefore quite pleasing to hear former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele tell the Hardball host that to his face Thursday during a contentious exchange about the current White House resident's economics policies and who should be blamed for their failure (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Over a three year period, from 2007 to 2010, Americans saw their average net worth drop by 39 percent. CBS, however, wasn't interested in this dire economic news. The network skipped the new report by the Federal Reserve, ignoring it on Monday's Evening News and Tuesday's This Morning.
In contrast, NBC and ABC did cover it. But both made sure to avoid any mention of Barack Obama or how this grim revelation might impact his reelection campaign. In a news brief, Good Morning America's Josh Elliott vaguely explained, "Meanwhile, some stunning new information this morning on just how much the great recession has, in fact, cost us." On Monday's Nightly News, Anne Thompson fretted over the "stomach-churning" drop.
Peter Goodman, the business editor for the perilously liberal Huffington Post, has come up with a new highly-derogatory term for people on the right that believe there isn't an unlimited amount of money at the government's disposal.
Readers are strongly advised to remove food, fluids, and flammables from proximity to their computers prior to reading any further. You've been warned!
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said on ABC's This Week Sunday, "It's terribly unfair that [President Obama is] being judged on the failure of the economy to respond to policies that had been largely dictated by a hostile Congress" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As we approach Election Day, it's becoming more and more important for the Obama-loving media to give credit to the President for the economies of swing states governed by Republicans that are doing better economically than the rest of the country.
Candy Crowley did her part on CNN's State of the Union Sunday by asking Governor Bob McDonnell (R-Va.), "Don’t you credit President Obama at all for the good fortune that Virginia has?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
To be fair, the full text of what Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press wrote in the first sentence of what I believe was the final version of his report today on the Census Bureau's new-home sales release was that "Americans bought more new homes last month, the latest evidence that the U.S. housing market could be starting to recover." The other "evidence" he cited related to a small bump reported earlier this week in existing home sales and one homebuilder's improved financial results.
That's pretty thin gruel from which to paint a "could be starting to recover" scenario, especially when it's expressed by someone who isn't a housing expert, i.e., an AP reporter. The only expert Crutsinger cited told him that "Housing could be a pleasant surprise this year." Wow. How profound. Let's take a look at some quotes from experts Thomson Reuters was able to find. Readers will note that the variations on word "bottom" occur quite frequently (quotes are not in the same order as they appeared at the link):
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on Sunday continued his campaign to get Barack Obama reelected by misinforming the public about the economy.
Appearing on CNN's FareedZakaria GPS, the Nobel laureate falsely claimed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wants to enact Greece's failed economic policies here in America (video follows with transcript and commentary):
I just about knew it when I heard a top-of-hour radio report this morning. When the announcer intoned that there was a 3% increase in "home construction" in April, I said to myself: "There's the Associated Press again, up to its old tricks." That was indeed the case. When I went to the related AP reports, I found that they were, like the economic data coming out during the Obama administration, much worse than expected.
In this morning's coverage of the still bottom-feeding situation in new home construction, the AP's Christopher Rugaber indeed wrote that a 3% seasonally adjusted April increase in housing starts from an annualized 699,000 to 717,000 represented an improvement in "the rate of construction." But he was just warming up. In an afternoon report which can only be characterized both in tone and in detail as an attempt to blow smoke up the public's posterior, he falsely claimed that "Home construction is near a three-year high." I would call that assertion "horse manure," but that would be unfair to equine excrement.
In the first quarter of 2012, the federal government spent $966 billion. That's 10% more than the $877 billion spent during the previous quarter, and 2% more than the $949 spent during the first quarter of 2011.
Yet the party line Friday evening from Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is that economic growth in the first quarter, which the government preliminarily told us yesterday was an annualized 2.2% (trailing consensus estimates of 2.6%), was so mediocre because of "government budget-cutting." A closer look indicates that if anything, they should have tagged it as defense budget-cutting and never did; the rest of government spending continues to balloon out of control. The pair's opening six paragraphs follow the jump.
Yesterday the trustees who oversee Social Security announced that "the program's trust fund will be depleted by 2033 -- three years earlier than projected last year." "Never since the 1983 reforms have we come as close to the point of trust fund depletion as we are right now," trustee Charles Blahous said. But alas, the Washington Post shuffled that story over to page A3 rather than the front page.
So what actually made today's Post front page? Among other things, a highly parochial story about a lawsuit pitting neighbors against each other in a wealthy Northern Virginia community. "Plans for a Va. mansion modeled on Versailles irk neighbors," read the subheadline for Post staffer Justin Jouvenal's 30-paragraph story. Why on Earth is this worthy of front-page space? You have to wait until paragraph 14, when Jouvenal discloses that a former media executive is one of those filing the lawsuit against his neighbor, Young Yi:
Just 49 percent of homeowners in America now believe their home is worth more than they paid for it.
Rasmussen Reports has asked that question for years, and it has never before fallen below the 50 percent mark. This represents a sea change in personal finances that challenges core assumptions about the way our economy works.
After reading Derek Kravitz's final report of the day at 4:45 p.m. on the housing market at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, I just had to check the other wires to see if they were sipping from the same housing-market-in-recovery koolaid.
The answer is no. At Reuters, Jason Lange's 3:22 p.m. dispatch reported that "Output at U.S. factories slipped in March and builders started construction on fewer homes, offering cautionary signals for an economy that appeared to be gaining traction." At Bloomberg, Timothy R. Homan wrote: "While warmer weather may have spurred home construction at the beginning of 2012, a competing supply of cheap existing properties may be steering potential buyers away from purchasing a new home. That means home construction may not help boost the economy in 2012." Both of these assessments make Kravitz's take on housing, which included omitting very negative data on housing starts, seem that much more bizarre (my comments in italics follow each paragraph):
The stunts the folks at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, continue pulling to downplay, minimize, or whitewash bad or embarrassing economic and other news shouldn't surprise us any more. But they continue to disappoint nonetheless.
Last month, a consumer sentiment index reported by the Conference Board fell by a relatively modest amount. Headlines and descriptions at related AP reports went from “falls” to “dips slightly” to “roughly flat” to a “rosy outlook” in the course of a single day. Today's AP rewrite only involved one step. At 9:04 a.m., Derek Kravitz's dispatch on the Census Bureau's New Home Construction report gave equal play to the seasonally adjusted (and totally unexpected) fall in new housing starts and the also unexpected but more modest rise in building permits:
Derek Kravitz and Alex Veiga at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, must have doubled down on the energy drinks over the weekend. A Sunday morning report (HT to a NewsBusters tipster) telling readers that signs are "pointing to a long-awaited recovery" in the housing market went on, and on, and on, and on for over 1,350 words.
The factors the AP pair cited were primarily these: "Hiring has strengthened," "Loans remain cheap," "Homes are more affordable," and "Americans are more confident." They should have known that their first point has become questionable with March's mediocre jobs report and the recent spike in weekly initial unemployment claims to 380,000 (which so happens to be above his colleague Christopher Rugaber's already too-high benchmark for job-market improvement of 375,000), and that their last point should read: "Americans are less un-confident."
You've got to admire the determination of Derek Kravitz at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, to find lemonade among the lemons known as the monthly new-home construction statistics from the Census Bureau. Why, he was even able to find a guy who said that "housing permits-not the starts" are more relevant in gauging the health of the market. Did it ever occur to these guys that builders might be piling up permits in the hope that economic conditions will change for the better for real once it's clear that the country will have new leadership (which could conceivably happen even before the November general elections)?
Here are the first seven paragraphs from Kravitz's report, followed by a fuller rundown of the relevant stats (bolds are mine):
Over at the Associated Press in a report with a Tuesday morning time stamp, Christopher Rugaber produced yet another predictable lemonade-from-lemons story about how the economy is allegedly "improving faster than economists had expected. They now foresee slightly stronger growth and hiring than they did two months earlier - trends that would help President Barack Obama's re-election hopes." Because, after all, that's what it's all about.
The folks at AP, the economists they surveyed for their report, and the rest of the establishment press really need to get out more. Y'know, they used to, at least before November 4, 2008. If they did, they'd find something which it seems only the BBC among major original-source news organizations has found: well over 50 "tent cities." These are not Occupy movement encampments; instead they are places where one will find America's desperately poor:
Comedian Jon Stewart apparently thinks the economy is just fine and that any news outlet that says otherwise must be doing it because they don't want President Obama to get reelected.
Even more preposterous, on Tuesday's Daily Show, the host did an entire segment on how Fox News reporting the national debt, unemployment, and rising gas prices is all a Republican National Committee conspiracy (video follows with highlights and commentary):
The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, and designated drone Derek Kravitz clearly haven't tired of putting smiley-faces on the ongoing, relentlessly awful conditions in the new-home market.
As shown on February 17 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the number of single-family homes under construction is barely above its all-time low (since records have been kept), while January's figure for single-family units completed was absolutely the lowest on record. Yet Kravitz, as has been his habit, erroneously presented housing starts alone as a proxy for "construction" activity, made it appear to many typical readers that housing starts have been averaging about 500,000 per month (not per year), and pretended that the modest rise in starts "suggests builders are growing more confident that more buyers are ready to come off the sidelines." In his Friday report on new-home sales, Kravitz noted a seasonally adjusted January drop, but trumpeted a minuscule upward adjustment to fourth-quarter sales which was barely more than a rounding error: