In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, Walters asked few questions that put the Obamas on the defensive, in contrast with her January 2001 interview, aired on 20/20, with then-President-elect Bush in which she challenged him on a number of fronts. Most notably, she seemed to chide Bush for choosing John Ashcroft as Attorney General because he "openly opposes abortion," and claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights." She asked Bush about reports that, as governor of Texas, he "spent relatively little time studying specific issues," and "only does a few hours of work" a day. The ABC host also challenged Bush from the left on the trade embargo against Cuba, and even asked Laura Bush if her more "traditional" plans for her time as First Lady would be a "setback for women." It is also noteworthy that Walters asked Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam Hussein and cited "people in the know" who contended that the Iraqi dictator was "stronger than ever."
If you had any questions about how differently the economy will be covered with Barack Obama in the White House they were answered by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday when he credited the president-elect with causing the recent stock market rally as well as better than expected sales the day after Thanksgiving.
I kid you not.
During the panel discussion of the most recent installment of "This Week," Stephanopoulos said (video available here, relevant section at 11:05):
In yet another example of post-election continuing BDS (that's, er, "Bush Derangement Syndrome," natch) the Detroit Free Press's Rochelle Riley has called upon Speaker Nancy Pelosi to begin impeachment proceedings against George Bush "for [the] economy's sake."
Pelosi wouldn’t have to start from scratch: Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the bravest member of Congress, introduced legislation 11 months ago to impeach the president and vice president. Last January, the House gave a first reading of one of those articles of impeachment. Our own Rep. John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, joined 38 other representatives to sponsor HR 635, which would form a committee to look into whether there are grounds for impeachment. Revive that effort!
Last week, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, submitted a resolution demanding that Bush stop issuing “pre-emptive pardons of senior officials in his administration during the final 90 days of office.”
Less than 12 hours after George Stephanopoulos, on Good Morning America, glowed that “we have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes,” he popped up on World News to hail how Barack Obama's team recognized the Bush administration's “vacuum” and so decided to “step in and fill” it by showing “the President-elect taking action on the economy” day after day.
Anchor Charles Gibson set up Stephanopoulos by marveling: “George, I don't think I've ever seen a President-elect getting so involved in policy so early. It does seem like we've got, at the moment, two Presidents.” Stephanopoulos admired Obama's take charge actions:
I think what the Obama team saw -- starting last week with all of that uncertainty in the markets, in the dropping stock markets -- is they had to step in and fill a political vacuum. It began with that leak of Tim Geithner's name as Treasury Secretary on Friday, an announcement of a jobs plan on Saturday, carrying through to today, and there will be announcements both tomorrow and Wednesday to show the President-elect taking action on the economy.
Neil Cavuto and Ben Stein had quite an argument about bailouts on FNC's "Cavuto on Business" Saturday morning that nicely covered the issues people on both sides of this contentious debate will likely be discussing around dinner tables this Thanksgiving, though hopefully with less screaming:
Though given a perfect opportunity to do so, Tom Brokaw on Sunday chose not to discuss the similarities between Franklin D. Roosevelt's refusal to work with President Herbert Hoover on solving the Depression before he was inaugurated in March 1933 and president-elect Barack Obama doing the same thing today with George W. Bush.
For those not familiar with the historical reference, the financial crisis at the time of the 1932 elections was so bad that banks were failing on almost a daily basis. As a result, Hoover felt the country couldn't wait until March when inaugurations used to take place to hear what Roosevelt's plan was to solve these problems, and wanted FDR and his economic team to come to the White House in order to work some things out together.
Sadly, Roosevelt refused, and although he claimed it was so that his hands wouldn't be tied once he officially became president, some historians feel FDR's delay was designed to allow the crisis to deepen so that it would become easier for him to get his policy proposals passed.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," the fact that President Bush wants to work with Obama and his team concerning the financial crisis surfaced in discussion with former Reagan treasury secretary James Baker and former Clinton commerce secretary Bill Daley. Unfortunately, Brokaw chose not to address this seemingly-important historical comparison and precedent (video embedded below the fold, relevant section begins at 6:15, file photo):
Fox Business Network anchor Alexis Glick is frustrated by the way the government's $700 billion financial bailout is being used, and suggested on "Money for Breakfast" Nov. 21 that it was contributing to market declines.
"I mean, look, we are now at levels at least on the S&P that we haven't been since 1997. You know, people are pretty unhappy with how the TARP fund is going," Glick said in an interview with NYSE Euronex CEO Duncan Niederauer. "I mean, it's got to be - I'm frustrated, I mean I don't know about you."
It's not the first time that Glick has taken issue with the misuse of TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Remember the years of media flak President George W. Bush received for his alleged use for political gain of first the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and then the related Afghanistan and Iraq Wars?
Will the press be as vociferous now? Incoming Obama Administration Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking on Wednesday on and to the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, stated outright his desire to make political hay with the ongoing travails of the U.S. and global economy:
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
Wonder why President-elect Obama resigned from the Senate so early (while Vice President-elect Joe Biden remains an active member) and is hanging back, not wading into the debate over bailouts etc, and naming candidates for nearly every Cabinet post save Treasury (the man or woman who will have $350 billion to dispense when he/she walks through the door)?
"Well, we're not yet in anything remotely resembling the crisis, the scale of crisis of the Great Depression." When Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933, 13 million Americans were unemployed. "That was 25 percent of the work force," Kennedy told Bloomberg host Tom Keene.
The professor laid out exactly what has changed since the troubled 1930s:
So what exactly is the government doing with your money? Fox Business Network's Alexis Glick would like to know.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced Nov. 12 he would be redirecting the $700 billion bailout to focus on propping up financial institutions instead of buying troubled mortgage assets, which was the original intent of the rescue plan.
Glick, the host of FBN's "Money for Breakfast," told the CBS's "The Early Show" Nov 13 that the Treasury Department's move away from the original plan to buy up troubled mortgages "does not make sense" and was "actually pretty outrageous":
[T]he markets responded to that yesterday ... Look, the original intent of this Troubled Asset Relief Program was to purchase troubled assets. And I think the marketplace started to adjust several weeks ago when we started to see the size and magnitude of the capital injections.
"I agree with you," economics reporter Louis Uchitelle said, also pointing out that it took two years before the government really "stepped in and acted" during the Depression - referring to Franklin Roosevelt's action.
Norris said one of the first lessons of the 1930s was that bailing banks out would "limit the damage of the financial crisis."
"If you go back just two or three years ago, you had this powerful argument that government was the problem.So there is emerging from this an understanding that markets and government are married whether they like it or not," Uchitelle said.
Were John McCain to have won the election and the Dow have dropped the same extent it has in the immediate aftermath, it's highly unlikely the media would not draw the message that Wall Street was taking a nosedive due to the indefinite continuation "of the failed policies of the Bush administration." But with Obama as the victor, the media are not suggesting the markets may be wary of the incoming Democratic administration's tax, spending, and regulatory agendas.
Yet the "Conventional Wisdom" for Newsweek is that the Dow's record-breaking post-Election Day dive is simply a sign that "a new president alone won't settle [the] markets.":
Stockholders [down arrow]: Election Day euphoria gives way to harsh reality that a new president alone won't settle markets
The two-day loss in the Dow since Tuesday is roughly 10 percent, reports the Associated Press. As financial news wire Reuters noted on November 5, the 486-point drop the first day of President-elect Obama's victory lap "marked Wall Street's biggest loss ever on the day after a presidential election."
The MSM have already begun circling the wagons around their guy. Like a secular priest, Chris Cuomo this morning absolved Barack Obama of any responsibility for yesterday's stock market nosedive, the largest post-election drop in history.
Cuomo offered his absolution while chatting about the economy with Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer today.
DIANE SAWYER: First we've got to start with the market. Market went way down. Why?
CHRIS CUOMO: Well, not because it was Obama that got elected. That had already been figured into the markets. It went down because the news about the economy is not good.
Who's going to be the leader of the financial world in the role of Treasury Secretary under President Obama? It may be Democratic New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, who has pushed for an additional economic stimulus package to the tune of $300 billion to support infrastructure projects.
CNBC's Carl Quintanilla asked Corzine outright on "Squawk Box" if he would accept a job in the Obama administration as Treasury Secretary. "If it's offered, governor, will you say no?" Quintanilla asked.
"Squawk Box" co-host Joe Kernan encouraged Corzine to consider accepting the job if offered, even as the former U.S. senator expressed his contentment as governor. "You could save the world" as Treasury Secretary, Kernan said.
Perhaps this is coming a little late with the election already underway, but the idea the current economy is as threatened as it was during the Great Depression is unfounded, according to the Nov. 4 USA Today.
"Failed banks. Panicked markets. Rising unemployment. For students of history, or people of a certain age, it all has an all-too-familiar ring. Is this another Great Depression? Not yet," John Waggoner wrote for USA Today
Soup lines, Hoovervilles and other Depression-era imagery have become commonplace in the media. Journalists have compared the current downturn to the Great Depression hundreds of times. On the networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) alone, there were 70 comparisons in the first six months of 2008. Since July 1 that number more than doubled to 157. But as Waggoner pointed out - the similarities aren't even close.
"Periods of crisis often beget bad policies," Lee E. Ohanian, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) said in an interview with Reason.tv. The professor stressed that six weeks ago the fundamentals of the economy looked "pretty good," before bailout "rumors" caused "panic":
What I mean by fundamentals are the amount of factories and office buildings and capital equipment we have in place, there's no change in that. There is no change really in individuals' interest in working. We've got the same work force right now we had six weeks ago. Productivity is about the same as it was perhaps even higher. All those fundamentals of the economy are the same.
Ohanian said Gross Domestic Product growth over the last five to six quarters was "on average," and productivity growth was "very high"
It's obvious The Washington Post's "Style" section is broadening it horizons beyond fashion, music, books and other fluff, plus of course - Howard Kurtz's media column and the comics. The editors of that section are tackling important events that changed history by commemorating them as milestones.
Normally such attention is given to anniversaries that fall more under the definition of a landmark: the 25th, 50th, 75th, etc. But with the American public seeing the economy as the top issues in the presidential election - and the media tendency to compare current economic conditions to the Great Depression already well-established - the Post has deemed the 79th anniversary worthy of attention.
Sometimes former CEOs have a reason to be downbeat when they make predictions.
Former Chairman and CEO of Citigroup Sanford Weill told CBS's "The Early Show" Oct. 28 that unemployment would hit 9 percent and that Wall Street CEOs "didn't deserve bonuses this year." It went something like this:
Well, I think we've set in motion a whole series of events that is going to make the economy really, really bad over the short term. I think we are going to see the biggest drop that we've seen in GDP. I think we are going to see unemployment go up to about 9 percent.
Weill said that a year from now things would be a lot better, but still was critical of the Federal Reserve for not acting sooner:
In 2004, economists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), studied the policies of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and determined it actually prolonged the Depression by seven years.
Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian blamed anti-free market measures for the slow recovery in an article published in the August 2004 issue of the Journal of Political Economy.
Cole and Ohanian asserted that Roosevelt thought excessive business competition led to low prices and wages, adding to the severity of the Depression.
"[Roosevelt] came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies," Cole said in a press release dated Aug. 10, 2004.
"Societies in which the few are allowed to fatten themselves without limit on the labor of many are not just."
A. Friedrich Engels B. William Ayers C. Michelle Obama D. Timothy Rutten
Any of the answers would make sense, but the headline kind of gave it away. It was Timothy Rutten of the LA Times who penned that immortal line in his column of today. In doing so, Rutten echoes other in the MSM, as here and here, who in the wake of the financial markets' travails indulge in a certain anti-capitalist chic.
Let's have some fun deconstructing the intrepid class warrior's musings . . .
When at the beginning of the current financial mess John McCain declared that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong," he was roundly lambasted by the MSM, while the Obama campaign called his statement "an enormous mistake."
So, should we expect the liberal media and the Obama campaign to go after Barney Frank . . . now that he has said something remarkably similar? Discussing the markets with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC this afternoon, Frank declared: "I think it's clear that the fundamentals are better than the psychology."
"The deregulation of U.S. financial markets did not reflect only the narrow ideology of a particular party or administration," the editorial said. "And the problem with the U.S. economy, more than lack of regulation, has been government's failure to control systemic risks that government itself helped to create. We are not witnessing a crisis of the free market but a crisis of distorted markets."
When the Dow hit below 8,000, the media went nuts, crying the economy was on the brink of collapse. But a lot of that same economy is still doing quite well, despite the mainstream media. Businessman Dan Kennedy, a new columnist with the Business & Media Institute, shows how skewed the standard view really is.
Between 91 and 94 percent of all home mortgages in the United States are current, not teetering at foreclosure. The overwhelming number of banks, particularly community banks, have been managed responsibly and are not on the brink of collapse. The vast majority of public corporations with stock values depressed by 20 or 30 percent are in no way connected to the mortgage meltdown, Wall Street's house of cards or the collapsing auto industry. They are well-managed companies and their fundamentals are sound. And there are still productive, successful, optimistic people.
Kennedy ought to know. He is a successful entrepreneur, consultant, speaker and the author of 13 books. Kennedy is especially known for his seven "No BS" books and that is the title of his new BMI column. Kennedy reaches well over 1-million independent business owners annually with newsletters, speaking engagements and meetings around the country.
On Saturday’s Good Morning America, ABC ran an unusual report that placed some of the blame for the Great Depression’s length on government intervention by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as Herbert Hoover, and concluded by questioning whether the current plans could do harm. After an unidentified economist contended that "the government from Hoover to Roosevelt made it worse by intervening too much and too arbitrarily," correspondent Bill Blakemore concluded: "And now, is the Bush government intervening too much arbitrarily with its $700 billion bailout? That’s a million dollar question, so to speak, for those trying to guess when this crisis will end."
Blakemore’s attention to this often ignored take on government intervention came at the end of a report that looked back at the Great Depression. After giving Roosevelt credit for injecting America with a "can do" spirit, Blakemore noted that the Great Depression ended its 10-year run as a result of World War II. He then asked the question of why the Stock Market Crash of 1929 resulted in the Great Depression:
BLAKEMORE: So what made the crash of ‘29 lengthen into a depression?
WOMAN: Because the government from Hoover to Roosevelt made it worse by intervening too much and too arbitrarily.
The stock market is casting a vote of "no confidence" in Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and his Republican opponent is missing an opportunity to slam the freshman senator for an economic agenda that is a rehash of the worst of Presidents Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.
So argued on-air editor Charles Gasparino in an October 13 op-ed in the New York Post, where the CNBC talent mentioned that even Obama's Wall Street backers are nervously telling him to change course on his economic plans (emphases mine):
Overall, his [Obama's] plan includes some of the most lethal tax increases imaginable, including a jump in the capital-gains rate. He'd expand government spending massively, with everything from new public-works projects to increases in foreign aid to a surge in Afghanistan - plus hand out a token $500 welfare check that he calls a tax cut to everyone else.
This is clearly the wrong way to go in the wake of an economic meltdown- yet Obama, for all his talk of how willing he is to compromise, of how he'd bring people together, is sticking to his tax guns.
I know at least one top Wall Street executive, an Obama supporter from the start of his campaign, who has recently urged Obama to rethink his tax plan - and that was before last week's record losses on the Dow.
Given that the topic of this post is the Associated Press, I guess I should be pleased to report that one of its two reports tonight about the dive in the stock market last week is correct.
In one article ("Gov't eyes plan to take ownership stakes in banks"), AP's Harry Dunphy and Tom Raum correctly said that "the Dow Jones industrial average just completed its worst week ever, plummeting more than 18 percent." This is sadly true, at least if you "only" go back to 1921 (even I will give AP a pass for not wanting to dig through the muck of 1920, 1907, 1903 and 1901, which the New York Times was using as "hey, it's not that bad" benchmarks as Black Tuesday approached in 1929):
Poor Karl Ritter and Matt Moore of the Associated Press must have a lot of time to kill, a dearth of ideas, and a studied disinterest in accuracy as they await the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Economics in Stockholm, Sweden on Monday. A list of past winners is here.
Besides lamenting that no woman has ever won the Economics Prize (so?), the AP pair felt the need to relate the financial bailout passed by Congress and signed by the President a week ago, and the current steep stock market decline that followed it (or, as yours truly and Investors Business Daily would argue, occurred because of it), to who might win the award.
Along the way, they, as AP reporters are wont to do, erred, and quite seriously.
Here's how their report, weirdly entitled "Amid the meltdown, economics Nobel no easy pick," began (bold is mine):
There has been an unreality in the reports on the falling stock markets for at least the past 10 days. Each day's plunge seems to have been exclusively due to the "global economic crisis" and/or the supposed "freeze on credit."
Oddly enough, the admittedly small bank where I have my business accounts is having absolutely no problem funding mortgage, home-equity, and other loan applications from qualified borrowers -- a fact I confirmed just before posting this entry. With all due respect to the global business press, if there's truly a "freeze," how can that be?
I've put forth an alternative explanation to the media meme a couple of times this week myself, but an editorial at IBDeditorials.com yesterday brought out a major element of what I have been saying much more forcefully and articulately. Remarkably, though the possibility seems pretty obvious to me, and I suspect many others, I have seen no one in the business press covering daily market events even mention the obvious and quite likely alternative that follows.
The editorial, "Investors' Real Fear: A Socialist Tsunami," teases with the plaintive question, "What is it about the specter of our first socialist president and the end of capitalism as we know it that they don't understand?"
The story in question took the skilled labor of a grand total of four ABCNews staffers, chief among them Martha Raddatz. In her lede she noted the Dow dropped 107 points in the course of the seven minutes President Bush spoke from the White House on the ongoing financial crisis.
But it seems Raddatz, along with Lisa Chinn, Jon Garcia and Kate Barrett wrote too soon. The market rebounded from its deepest losses earlier in the day to close down only 128 points.