Bringing on yet another appearance of the dreaded "U-word" — "unexpectedly" (via Bloomberg) — the Labor Department reported today that initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 379,000. That's a nine-month high, and an increase from last week's also unexpected 369,000. This week's and last week's results were far above the 332,000 and 320,000, respectively, analysts had predicted.
The Department of Labor's excuse for the past two dismal weeks has been "holiday volatility." Though they mostly had a point last week, this week they don't. Last week was the week after Thanksgiving, while that holiday took place six days earlier in 2012. But the week ended December 14, 2013 and the comparable week from last year (12/15/12) are both sufficiently removed from Thanksgiving's influence on the numbers that the holiday has no meaningful impact. The business press is pretending that DOL is right.
On the Friday, December 13, PoliticsNation, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank joined host Al Sharpton in complaining that conservatives "demonize" people who receive welfare benefits as the two discussed efforts to restrain welfare spending.
ABC This Week viewers were treated to a classic conservative versus liberal debate Sunday.
When former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich tried to blame the increase in poverty in the past five years on Republicans, former Speaker of the House and current CNN host Newt Gingrich called it "baloney" firing back, "Every major city which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats" (video follows with transcript and absolutely no need for additional commentary):
On Tuesday's Nightly News, after news broke of a budget deal in Congress, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell announced: "...the usual Washington dysfunction is on hold tonight." She touted the agreement to anchor Brian Willams by noting: "It would also roll back some of the harshest automatic spending cuts, the sequester for the Pentagon and domestic programs." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
O'Donnell cautioned that the deal "does not extend jobless benefits for those out of work the longest..." On Wednesday's broadcast, fill-in anchor Ann Curry picked up on that point and fretted: "While the agreement avoids another government shutdown next month, it also sidestepped dealing with the crisis facing 1.3 million Americans who've been out of work for a long time. And that means their unemployment benefits will stop at the end of the month unless Congress takes action."
On Tuesday's All In on MSNBC, during a discussion of the federal budget and spending on poverty programs, host Chris Hayes suggesting reducing unemployment by having the government hire workers as he jokingly suggested having another census because unemployment dropped the last time census workers were hired.
After guest Tom Colocchio of Food Policy Action called for more "job training programs so they can actually get back to work," Hayes jumped in:
This month, the Boston Globe and the New York Times have published items on the growth of homelessness in the state of Massachusetts and New York City, respectively. Based on the content of each, it's clear that the topic was ripe for coverage in 2012, but received little if any. I wonder why? (/sarcasm)
The Globe's regular-length news story by Megan Woolhouse and David Abel cited the state's "record numbers of homeless families" as "another example of an uneven recovery" from a recession which officially ended almost 4-1/2 years ago. The Times published the first of what will ultimately five parts on the plight of one homeless family, with special emphasis on Dasani, their 11 year-old daughter. The Globe cites "federal budget cuts" and "a legacy of the Great Recession" as negative factors. The Times's Andrea Elliott needlessly marred her otherwise compelling profile by hyping newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio while taking swipes at "the wealthy" and "Reagan-era cutbacks," as excerpts after the jump will demonstrate (bolds and italicized comments are mine):
On her Monday 1 p.m. ET hour show on MSNBC, host Andrea Mitchell was shocked by Senator Rand Paul's supposedly "breathtaking" observation that continually extending government unemployment benefits can cause people "to become part of this perpetual unemployed group." She incredulously asked: "It's the unemployment insurance that creates the, quote, 'dependency'?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Teeing up liberal Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus to denounce Paul's comments, Mitchell urged her to "have at it." Marcus ranted: "Can you say Scrooge? Yes, thank you for letting me have at it. My mouth dropped open when I heard that....he just wins my Scrooge award of the year."
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan made some rather ominous economic observations Sunday.
Appearing on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, Greenspan said, “[T]he level of uncertainty about the very long-term future is far greater than at any time I particularly remember.” He blamed it on “government intervention [that] has been so horrendous that businesses cannot basically decide what to do about the future” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
In a mild surprise, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, hasn't totally ignored John Crudele's Monday evening blockbuster story at the New York Post about how fabricated Census Bureau information fed a pretty clearly cooked September 2012 Employment Situation report. But the wire service's Sam Hananel ruined the surprise by spending five terse paragraphs making sure that relatively disengaged readers would learn as little as possible.
Most crucially, Hananel never told readers that the alleged manipulation may have been the main reason why the reported September 2012 unemployment rate fell below 8 percent for the first time since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. At the time, former GE CEO Jack Welch was among those who strongly questioned the rate drop.
At the Associated Press Friday morning, economics writer Christopher Rugaber's story had a predictably sunny and incomplete headline ("LONG-LASTING US FACTORY GOODS ORDERS RISE 3.7 PCT.") followed by an opening paragraph which told readers that "orders for most other goods fell" and which speculated without basis that the substantively bad news was "a possible sign of concern about the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1."
That's a great reporting strategy if your goal is to keep busy news consumers inadequately informed. Those who only read the headline will believe that this economic element was unequivocally positive. Those who only get through the first paragraph will see the bad news and blame congressional Republicans, on whom the establishment media has successfully pinned the blame for the 17 percent shutdown — even though it objectively doesn't belong there. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
After consistently blaming Republicans for the government shutdown, on Sunday's NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Carl Quintanilla warned that while the budget stalemate ended days earlier, "Many people who were furloughed or otherwise affected are still paying the price, and will do so for some time." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, CNBC correspondent Bertha Coombs touted: "A new survey says about forty percent of consumers cut their spending because of the government shutdown. And store traffic was down seven percent compared to last year." She then proclaimed: "Retailers are hoping the shutdown doesn't become the Grinch that stole Christmas, but they're worried it will."
During the 2011-2012 controversy over Wisconsin's Act 10, the establishment press, led by the Associated Press, clearly took sides against Badger State Republican Governor Scott Walker and the GOP-led legislature. No one was more blatantly biased than the AP's Scott Bauer, who repeatedly insisted in 2011 and 2012 that the law "strip(s) most public employees of their union right to collectively bargain." It does not. While Act 10 sharply limits the scope of what can be negotiated, it does not eliminate unions' right to exist, or to negotiate.
Walker will be releasing a new book, "Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge," in November. Given the sustained national attention Act 10 received, the utlimately failed recall movement it inspired, and Walker's possible interest in seeking the nation's presidency in 2016, it's reasonable to believe that the AP would have wanted to carry Bauer's Monday morning review of the book as a national story. But thus far, it has not. I believe it's because Bauer comes across as a fundamentally dishonest and embarrassingly partisan sore loser.
The healthcare sector, particular hospitals, is hitting a wall. In a Sunday morning writeup, USA Today reporters Paul Davidson and Barbara Hansen considered this news "surprising," because Obamacare is supposedly going to bring hospitals so much new business.
Well, guys, that new business needs to be profitable. Odds are it won't be. The staff cuts also appear to foreshadow the rationing so many people have predicted would result, and which has resulted under state-run healthcare in U.S. states like Massachusetts and other countries, if Obamacare passed. Of course, the USAT pair didn't recognize that possibility. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
On Tuesday's Crossfire (HT commenter Gary Hall), liberal Democratic guest Bill Burton tried to impress the show's hostesses and guest David Limbaugh when he said of President Obama: "More people have jobs than they did when he took office."
Wow. That's about the most unimpressive statement I've heard in years, and it would be beyond pathetic but for the performance of one state. Let's look at the facts:
As I noted in a previous previous post today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), a CNNMoney.com email tried to spin a 0.4% decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and tiny drops of less than 0.1% in the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ into proof that the government shutdown and the "looming U.S. default" were having awful effects on investors. Given that the ADP Employment Report today was a disappointment and had significant downward revisions to prior months, that was an indefensible stretch.
Google News really needs to work on its results counter. The first page of its 10:15 p.m. search listings on [Obama "widespread evidence"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets) tells us that there are "about 90 results," but moving to the second page of listed results shows there are only 11 (technically 13, because the first listing on the first page has three items).
Those sparse results, none of which except for Fox News would be considered an establishment press outlet, show that the press, including Darlene Superville at the Associated Press in an onsite report, has ignored the following howler delivered by President Barack Obama in Largo, Maryland on Thursday: "There's no widespread evidence that the Affordable Care Act is hurting jobs."
Media mogul Mort Zuckerman had some harsh words for the President's signature piece of legislation Friday.
Appearing on PBS's McLaughlin Group, Zuckerman said, "88 percent of the jobs that have been created this year are part-time jobs. A large part of the reason for that number of part-time jobs which is unprecedented in American history is because people are apprehensive about the impact of ObamaCare on and the costs of ObamaCare on full-time jobs."
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: More Cruz on ObamaCare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TEXAS): When you have a law that is killing jobs, when you have law that is hammering small businesses, when you have a law that is forcing people into part-time work, into working 29 hours a week, when you have a law that is causing skyrocketing insurance premiums, when you have a law that is causing more and more people to lose their health insurance, you have a law that’s not working. You have a train wreck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: Question Mort Zuckerman, is Cruz right?
MORT ZUCKERMAN, US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Well, I checked with the Bureau of Labor Statistics just this very day and they said that 88 percent of the jobs that have been created this year are part-time jobs. A large part of the reason for that number of part-time jobs which is unprecedented in American history is because people are apprehensive about the impact of ObamaCare on and the costs of ObamaCare on full-time jobs. If they’re part-time jobs they don’t qualify under ObamaCare.
Now, I happen to support national medical service, national medical care, but we have to do something about its effect on the job market because this is a disaster for the average American family.
I guess the Associated Press's business and economics reporters feel they've done their jobs if they mention the relative donominance of new workforce entries by temps and part-timers once, while still denigrating the obvious validity of the latter — and pretend it never has to be mentioned again.
That's how the AP's Christopher Rugaber can produce a writeup, as he did today, telling readers that "The job market is sending signs that it may be strengthening," which contains no reference to part-timers or temps, obviously because that would disrupt the "improvement" meme. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
One thing which is almost as reliable as the sun rising in the east is the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, putting a better face on the federal government's fiscal situation than it deserves when a Democrat is in the White House. Almost as reliable is the arrival in a related report of some kind of statement about spending cuts which describes them as "deep," "steep," or some other awful adjective.
It's almost amusing to watch writers like Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, pretend not to understand why the economy isn't growing as much as one would "expect" based on the number of jobs being added each month and falling weekly unemployment claims.
In a Thursday story which was mostly worthless because the incompletely collected government data on weekly unemployment claims made it so, Rugaber and the "expert" he quoted pretended not to understand — well, I hope they were pretending because otherwise I'd have to conclude that they're dumber than a box of rocks — how all of this can be (bolds are mine):
I guess we should acknowledge a tiny improvement when an ordinarily in-the-tank apparatchik like Jim Kuhnhenn at the Associated Press expresses even the slightest bit of skepticism about a White House claim.
But let's not take it too far. Kuhnhenn is reporting in a brief "Big Story" item this morning that President Obama "is laying claim to an economic turnaround and warning Republicans not to risk a backslide by threatening a government shutdown or a debt default." Kuhnhenn's skeptical points are that "The economic scorecard is mixed. ... Growth has been tepid and unemployment remains high." His five-paragraph report, reproduced in full for fair use and discussion purposes, follows the jump.
The NBC Tonight Show host spent much of his opening monologue lampooning President Obama beginning with, “It's still a little warm, but you can tell fall is coming...The leaves are changing faster than the White House position on Syria” (video and transcript follow):
The Obama-loving media refuse to report the metaphysical certitude that the President's healthcare reform legislation is destined to end the 40 hour work week.
On PBS's McLaughlin Group this weekend, media mogul Mort Zuckerman predicted, "Part-time employment is going to grow from 25 percent of the workforce to close to 50 percent of the workforce in part because of the problems of healthcare obligations."
In a Saturday afternoon dispatch, the Associated Press marred a mostly decent presentation of the August employment situation reported by the government yesterday in three ways.
The first is the story's misleading headline: "The Job Market Fed Faces: Healing But Still Ailing." Whether there's genuine healing going on is highly debatable, given that the labor force participation rate fell to 63.2 percent, its lowest level since 1978, and the clear trend towards part-time work. AP Economics Writer Paul Wiseman's treatment of that trend and another related one represent the report's other three weaknesses, as seen in the following three paragraphs (bolds are mine):
Two months ago, NewsBusters asked when the Obama-loving media would get around to reporting the poor quality of jobs being created in this economy.
On Friday, the NBC Nightly News did just that in a surprising segment that included a reporter actually saying, "Of the eight hundred forty-eight thousand jobs created this year, nearly two thirds are part-time" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
In a Thursday morning speech, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka told of how surprised how he was, in the words of Time's Alex Rogers at it Swampland blog, "that employers have reduced workers’ hours below 30-a-week to avoid an employer penalty scheduled to go into effect in 2015."
Here's another "surprise" from Rogers' report, at least for those who think that lawmakers sit alone and draw up 2,000-page pieces of legislation on their own (except when the media relays claims by the left that evil industries write laws which evil Republican congressmen simply rubber-stamp them): Trumka admitted organized labor's direct involvement in in writing Obamacare. In other words, labor created the mess it is now denouncing (bolds are mine throughout this post):
If we're to believe Tom Raum's Friday afternoon report at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, the economy is humming along smoothly enough that we really shouldn't think about it that much any more, especially as something to consider when voting. And besides, it's being "eclipsed" by "other pressing events."
I'll stay away from those other "events" in the interest of concentrating on the 3-1/2 paragraphs Raum employed to convince readers that things really are okay, followed by a quote from a reliable leftist apparatchik (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
At the Associated Press, economics writer Christopher Rugaber used not seasonally adjusted data published by the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics on metro area employment and unemployment to crow about "widespread improvement in the job market." The predominance of part-time jobs among the new ones created and fact that houshold incomes have yet to recover from the recession apparently had no impact on his assessment.
The opening sentence of the government's report reads: "Unemployment rates were lower in July than a year earlier in 320 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 38 areas, and unchanged in 14 area, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today." But the second paragraph of Rugaber's AP report, headlined "Unemployment Rates Fall in Two-thirds of U.S. Cities," tells readers that "[U]nemployment rates fell in 239 of the nation's 372 largest cities in July from June."