CBS's "The Early Show," reported August 7 that a new stronger strain of the West Nile virus could spread across the country with help from the neglected pools found in foreclosed homes in California.
"Apparently ... as more and more homes are passing into foreclosure and there are many, and many of those homes have backdoor pools, these are being neglected," Dr. Alton Baron of Roosevelt Hospital Center told co-host Maggie Rodriguez. "They're not being maintained and this can become a ripe feeding ground and breeding ground for these mosquito populations."
Baron added that the new strain of the virus "invades the brain and spinal cord" and listed other horrific symptoms including nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, rashes, disorientation, severe muscle weakness, fatigue or even paralysis.
Mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant water, pass on West Nile to animals and humans when they feed off fowl that have the virus in their blood.
Foreclosures in the state of California may have hit a record high, but there are signs of a change-signs "The Early Show" ignored.
On Thursday’s "Early Show," correspondent Priya David reported on homeowners in Philadelphia trying to avoid foreclosure: "Yajaira Cruz-Rivera thought she was choosing a responsible mortgage plan. But dreams of remodeling crumbled just days after her family moved in...Yajaira fought with her loan company, saying her new mortgage was unfair and unaffordable." However, David then introduced the hero of the story: "That's when she saw an ad on TV for ACORN, a community organization committed to helping homeowners fight foreclosures. Together they rallied the city for change."
ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, in reality, is a left-wing activist organization that seeks to implement radical socialist policies. According to an August 6, 2006 article in the Wall Street Journal by Steven Malanga:
While ACORN now operates in more than 100 cities with a national budget of $37 million, it never truly left behind the welfare-rights mentality. One is hard-pressed to find in the organization's many antipoverty initiatives any programs that address social dysfunctions like illegitimacy and single parenthood. Instead, as ACORN's executive director, Steven Kest, said several years ago, "We are more focused on irresponsible behavior in the corporate sector. I don't think [illegitimacy] comes anywhere close to the irresponsible behavior of people running the largest businesses in this country."
In addition, Stanley Kurtz outlined Barack Obama’s involvement in ACORN in a May 29 article on National Review Online.
Don't blame Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., member of two influential banking committees - the Senate Finance Committee and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs - for IndyMac's collapse, says CNBC's Erin Burnett.
Burnett, host of CNBC "Street Signs," disagreed with a claim by MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough that a letter to regulators from Schumer caused a run on the beleaguered bank IndyMac, which eventually led to its failure and takeover by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"I don't think Chuck Schumer caused a run on the bank," Burnett said on MSNBC's July 24 "Morning Joe." "This is the new world of banking. Companies, banks come out and they say, and they say, ‘Oh my gosh - our stock's down 20 percent. It's being manipulated. Please come in and help us government. Oh my gosh, there's a run on our bank - let's blame it on a senator.'"
The massive housing bailout bill, meant to prop up beleaguered government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) and help homeowners refinance adjustable rate mortgages, was praised in a segment on the CBS broadcast. It passed in the House July 23 and won't face resistance from President Bush.
"This afternoon, the House passed a bill that throws an estimated $25-billion lifeline to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae - the backbone of the home mortgage industry," CBS chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod said. "The bill makes it easier for both to raise unlimited capital from the government if needed and would allow hundreds of thousands of homeowners to refinance rather than face foreclosure."
To CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" host, we live in a world of absolutes - because the potential of a government bailout of two publicly traded government-sponsored enterprises condemns the entire concept of free market capitalism.
On the July 22 broadcast of Dobbs' show, he attacked proponents of free-market capitalism because of the potential trouble of the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE).
"Well the - it's a, it's quite a mess, quite a mess indeed," Dobbs said. "And I love the idea that all these free traders, free marketeers now got to have the government to, to bail them out. If I hear one of these ignorant, hypocritical, sanctimonious free traders ever talk about free markets again, they should be pilloried. I mean they are absolutely - this is an administration of jerks and cowards and fools. I mean it's unbelievable."
Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has remained largely unhurt by the controversy over his "sweetheart" deal with mortgage lender Countrywide. But CNBC's "Squawk Box" co-host Carl Quintanilla finally bucked the media trend of ignoring the scandal and brought the loan up in an interview July 14.
In the wake of former Sen. Phil Gramm's statements earlier this week about this being a nation full of whiners, the good folks at ABC's "Good Morning America" brought on a consumer psychologist Sunday to discuss whether or not the McCain advisor had a point.
Shockingly, not only did Kit Yarrow tell host Kate Snow that "the way consumers feel about things is very emotional," but also these "emotions are trumping reality" thereby creating a snowball which makes the economy worse.
Yarrow not only believes that things are "not as bad as consumers feel like it is," but also that the media are at fault because "everything is described as a crisis."
What follows is a partial transcript of this rather shocking and refreshing exchange (video available here, photo courtesy ABCNews.com):
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to economic analyst Mark Zandi about the state of the economy and asked: "Oil's up, gasoline's up, food prices up, stocks, way, way, way, way down. Home owner -- home values are down. Is there an end in sight to all of this bad news?" Zandi replied: "You just made me depressed. No. It's just bad news. It really is...It's just a really tough time for many Americans."
Later, Smith commented on how all the bad economic news seems to contribute to bad economic events: "It just seems like we're in this cumulative cycle that, you know, once one threshold of bad news gets reached, we reach to yet another one." That comment sparked this exchange with Zandi:
ZANDI: Yeah, it's a self re-enforcing negative cycle. You know, that's what happens during recessions, and that's what we're in the middle of right now.
SMITH: Whoa, is this a recession?
ZANDI: You know that -- that's a debate among economists and policy makers. But in the minds of the average American household I think there's no debate, this is a recession. I mean they're worth less today than they were a year ago, they're purchasing power is lower. I mean, for most people that's the definition of recession. So, economists can debate it but I think most people think this is a recession.
Two June 23 Motor City newspaper reports -- one in the Detroit Free Press ("Group blasts subprime loans," by Amber Hunt), the other in the Detroit News ("ACORN focuses on vote," by Mike Martindale) -- portrayed the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) as a noble enterprise dedicated to helping troubled borrowers and increasing voter involvement in the political process.
Hunt and Martindale were either unaware, or perhaps didn't care, that ACORN has had myriad problems over several years, including but not limited to voter-registration fraud, employee mistreatment and intimidation, and home-loan irregularities. Days before the group's national convention in Detroit, the Consumer Rights League, a group whose stated mission is "protecting consumer choice," issued a scathing whistleblower report charging ACORN with "misusing taxpayer dollars for political ends and by attacking lending corporations for the same 'predatory' lending practices it regularly engages in."
Here are selected paragraphs from each reporter's virtual press releases (HTs to Michelle Malkin here and here):
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show, " co-host Julie Chen lead the show with a depressing segment on the economy: "...with the economic woes hitting the nation, we have your complete guide to surviving the big squeeze." Chen proceeded to highlight high gas prices, then explain how "...the crisis in the housing market is also a drag on the economy," and finally, "Completing this perfect storm of economic woes, the devastating floods in the Midwest and how they will directly impact food prices."
When discussing the housing crisis with correspondent Thalia Assuras, Chen asked in desperation: "Thalia can you tell us anything good? Is there any relief in sight?" Assuras then offered a small glimmer of hope: "Well, the Senate toady is actually going to consider a foreclosure prevention plan or rescue plan of looking at the numbers here. It's going to provide $300 billion in new cheaper mortgages for high risk homeowners." However she then made it clear that Bush Administration would soon crush such hope: "But you know Julie, there's going to be a lot of squabbling and the White House has threatened a veto."
Following Chen’s report, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to financial advisor Dave Ramsey and took the same pessimistic tone: "So with all this economic volatility, what are we supposed to do?...if there was ever a time to panic, is this it? It sounds pretty gloomy." In contrast, Ramsey was having none of it: "Absolutely not. I'm sorry I'm not with Chicken Little and we're not handing out helmets. There -- it is not a time to panic, there's lots of good things going on in our economy and for most people this may represent opportunity."
UPDATE: Hard to imagine, but it's even worse than originally thought. AP's go-to "historian" is, as Wikipedia shows, a shameless politically active far-leftist (HT Eric at Vocal Minority).
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Two Associated Press writers, with the help of accompanying photos at ABCnews.com, have dug down deep and reached a new low in dismal, depressive reporting.
You can be forgiven if, after reading the entire Saturday afternoon "report" by Alan Fram and Eileen Putman of the Associated Press, you worry that the two writers plan to jump from the nearest tall building -- and take their readers with them -- unless Barack Obama wins the White House.
This is how the pained pair's incredibly over-the-top report begins (note how the headline answers the question before the text begins; excerpted text is included here for fair use and discussion purposes, as are photos originally found at the ABC link that are included at the cross-post):
Everything seemingly is spinning out of control Out-of-control weather, gas prices, economy chip away at American self-confidence
Give Hanna Rosin at The Atlantic Online credit for investigating something most journalists wouldn't even think of touching. Her article is a long read, but an important one.
Rosin's report out of Memphis (HT Instapundit) chronicles how a criminologist husband and his housing-expert wife made a correlation that makes so much sense, you just know it will encounter fierce resistance from media and political elites (bolds are mine):
(Richard) Janikowski might not have managed to pinpoint the cause of this pattern (of spreading crime) if he hadn’t been married to Phyllis Betts, a housing expert at the University of Memphis. ..... Betts had been evaluating the impact of one of the city government’s most ambitious initiatives: the demolition of the city’s public-housing projects, as part of a nationwide experiment to free the poor from the destructive effects of concentrated poverty. Memphis demolished its first project in 1997. The city gave former residents federal “Section 8” rent-subsidy vouchers and encouraged them to move out to new neighborhoods. Two more waves of demolition followed over the next nine years, dispersing tens of thousands of poor people into the wider metro community.
While print media and cable news channels are all over the "sweetheart" mortgage deals given to two Democratic U.S. senators, network news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC are keeping mum even though the scandal involves one of their favorite targets: Countrywide.
"This is a huge story ever since Portfolio magazine broke with this story. Print media outlets have covered it, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, the cable networks are there," Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor told "Fox & Friends" June 20. "And then you look at the evening news shows: they're non-existent."
As we've noted at NewsBusters, there's been scant coverage of a new scandal involving Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.). Both senators chair committees with oversight of the financial industry and Dodd is behind a bailout package for mortgage lender Countrywide. Both senators got "VIP" treatment from Countrywide Financial for refinancing agreements on their respective mortgages.
So today I thought I'd check our internal records at the MRC and the transcripts at Nexis to see what sort of coverage the three broadcast networks have devoted to this story.
What I found was a big fat zero.
Countrywide did, however, pop up three times on NBC newscasts between the beginning of June and today. All three stories were about celebrity Ed McMahon's foreclosure woes.
How does a former reporter for The Washington Post score a 2,200-word column on the mortgage mess in her former publication? Never mention personal responsibility.
Kathleen Day took blame to a new level June 1 when she failed to mention personal responsibility even one time in her lengthy column. Day, now a spokeswoman for the left-wing Center for Responsible Lending, was a financial reporter for the Post until mid-2007.
Day blamed just about everyone else - from Wall Street to banks to brokers, to the White House, to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to Congress to credit-rating agencies - for the problems in the housing market. But she never hinted that borrowers might share some blame.
The economy plodded ahead at a 0.9 percent pace in the first quarter - slightly better than first estimated - but still underscoring caution on the part of consumers and businesses walloped by housing, credit and financial problems.
"The downward slide for home prices is only picking up speed," CBS correspondent Anthony Mason said on the May 27 "Evening News." "The 14 percent plunge nationally was led by Las Vegas, where prices have fallen more than 25 percent over the past year. Miami is down more than 24 percent, Phoenix - 23 percent. Among the 20 major cities surveyed, only Charlotte showed a meager gain and analysts can't see a bottom yet."
Paul Krugman is over in Berlin, and—surprise!—concludes that Europeans have things better figured out than we benighted Americans do. The gist of his Stranded in Suburbia in today's NY Times is that dense cities like Berlin, which offer good public transportation, are the solution to the high gasoline prices we are seemingly stuck with. Krugman contrasts Berlin and Atlanta:
Greater Atlanta has roughly the same population as Greater Berlin — but Berlin is a city of trains, buses and bikes, while Atlanta is a city of cars, cars and cars.
So why don't more Americans choose to live in big cities? After citing the current lack of good public transportation and the durability of suburban housing, Krugman points his accusing liberal's finger at his fellow Americans [emphasis added]:
The broadcast featured Maricopa, Ariz., a community near Phoenix where one in 10 homes is for sale.
"While existing homes go begging for buyers, builders continued putting up new houses," said ABC correspondent Brian Rooney. "As many as one in 10 of the homes in Maricopa are for sale right now, as builders, banks, homeowners with mortgages they can't afford all compete to sell at lower prices."
The April 23 "CBS Evening News" found a way to twist the turmoil in the housing markets into something that's stretch even for them - a rise in the homeless population.
"The Anticos are leaving their Bradenton, Fla. home because they have to," CBS correspondent Kelly Cobiella said. "The bank foreclosed on it in February after Sharon lost her job and fell behind on the mortgage. For the first time in her life, she and her kids are homeless."
The true culprit behind the Antico's loss wasn't a bad mortgage or lost home value; it wasn't an adjusted rate that put the payment out of reach. It was that Sharon Antico lost her job and the family could no longer afford the mortgage.
Today, talk-show heavyweight Rush Limbaugh picked up on a curious oversight by an AP business reporter whose negative spin in supposedly objective stories on the economy has frequently been noted here.
In a Friday story about a survey of top financial company executives, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger wrote the following (bold is mine):
Turmoil in credit and housing markets will be the most significant threat to growth this year, according to a survey of top financial company executives released Friday.
These executives believe there is a high probability — 88 percent — that the country will suffer a recession in the next 12 months.
..... After credit market tumult and troubles in the housing market, the executives listed the next biggest threats to the economy now as the possibility the government will impose higher taxes or raise protectionist barriers to foreign competition.
Rather than beating up on home lenders and accuse them of intentionally targeting borrowers who were in over the head, CNN took a more instructive approach.
The April 14 edition of CNN's new business show, "Issue #1," showed that there are ways other than whining and moaning about how you were victimized by an unscrupulous lender. A Brooklyn, N.Y., homeowner on the brink of foreclosure sent a letter to a lender asking for some leeway on her mortgage payments.
"I'm a single, divorced mother living alone with my children," Jillian Simmons said to CNN, reading the letter she sent to Fremont Investment and Loan (NYSE:FMT). "Please lower my rate from 7.95 percent I have at the moment so that somehow my payments will be more affordable and changed to a fixed rate. Thank you, Jillian Simmons."
Congratulations to The Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein - being on the "economy is destined for calamity" bandwagon early. It has won you a Pulitzer Prize.
Pearlstein was named as one of the recipients of the 2008 Pulitzer Prizes, for his columns on the nation's economic problems. Granted, Pearlstein called the fundamental problems with some of the shenanigans going on in the home mortgage early. But, he hasn't stopped there.
If you keep banging the downbeat economy drum, you'll be rewarded. According to the Pulitzer Prize citation for his award, Pearlstein was awarded the most coveted award in print journalism for "his insightful columns that explore the nation's complex economic ills with masterful clarity."
The April 3 "World News" featured a Staten Island family that managed to purchase a $335,000 home, but with only an annual income of $30,000.
"Karen and David Shearon, working people who made less than $30,000 a year at the time, refused to be intimidated and fought foreclosure - claiming the mortgage broker promised them a fixed-rate, low-interest loan on their $335,000 house, despite their income," ABC correspondent Jim Avila said.
As economic issues move to the front of the on-going presidential campaign, the mainstream media have given an increased amount of coverage to what is happening on Wall Street. However, they have portrayed Wall Street as something completely alien to what happens on "Main Street."
"Now to Wall Street, which, as you know, doesn't always like what Main Street likes, and by the end of the trading day, it was up," NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said on Oct. 31, 2007.
But something positive on Wall Street and something positive for Main Street are not mutually exclusive.
In a news brief on Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell reported: "Homeowners struggling to pay the mortgage may soon be getting help from Congress -- Congress, rather, but efforts may fall short." Correspondent Wyatt Andrews went to explain why the measures may not help enough people: "Senate leadership believes it finally has a tentative deal in place to help some, but certainly not all, distressed homeowners stay in their homes...Senate Democrats wanted a much larger package, reaching tens of thousands more homeowners, but compromised with Republicans to get this deal done."
Andrews went on to describe the overwhelming desire for a government bailout plan while also pitting Wall Street against main street: "As Congress took off for the last two weeks, both parties took heat at home for doing nothing, letting average Americans absorb the loss of their homes while losses at Bear Stearns, $29 billion worth, were being absorbed by the Fed." Andrews followed with a clip of Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney: "Wall Street has been helped. Now it's time to help main street."
Challenged by George Will during This Week of March 30th, liberal economics professsor Paul Krugman looks nervously to liberal economics professor Robert Reich. Krugman was one of four liberals at the round-table versus the sole conservative, Will.