In keeping with the tradition of the holidays - the minds at MSNBC, the place for politics if you're of the lefty persuasion, decided rate the top 10 political stories of the decade.
And leading this gang of masters of the political journalism universe was "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, who on the broadcast of his Dec. 24 program, announced that conservative activism, mainly the tea party movement was the eighth biggest story of the decade - but labeled "angry white voters" (emphasis added).
"Welcome back to ‘Hardball' - our number eight political story of the decade, angry whites at town hall meetings across the country," Matthews said. "Lawmakers heard the wrath of angry voters."
On December 8, Susan Gustafson at MLive.com proclaimed that "GM's announcement of no more layoffs is good news after years of hemorrhaging jobs":
General Motors' announcement this morning that it plans no further layoffs in the immediate future is huge news for both the automaker and Michigan as a whole after years of steady erosion in the ranks of hourly and salaried workers.
.... the company doesn't expect the numbers of hourly workers on indefinite layoff to increase.
Angry, frustrated, troubled, disappointed, disgust, disrespect - words not normally associated with holiday season. However, they were words Katie Couric used to describe where she sees the mood of country right now.
Couric, the anchor of the "CBS Evening News," in a live Facebook video chat on Dec. 22, took on illustrating her view of the populace - a not very sunny picture (emphasis added).
"I think more distant - I hate to say that, but I think, I think the economic situation in this country, I think, when people are struggling, that sometimes they need a place to vent their rage and to channel their rage and I think, I feel like right now in many ways, we're a very angry nation," Couric said. "Very frustrated, troubled and disappointed in many ways in terms of people feeling that the American dream just isn't within their reach. I mean I still think it's a place of incredible opportunity and entrepreneurship. But I just think that, I don't know - maybe it's because what I do for a living, I feel that the country is pretty polarized right now."
If you believe polls, current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke favorability has been slipping. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll indicates that only 21 percent of Americans favor his reappointment as the Fed chair.
And this hasn't gone unnoticed by some members of the Senate, where Bernanke's fate lies. Bernanke's reconfirmation passed through the Senate Banking Committee by a 16-to-7 vote on Dec. 17. But that margin calls into question how his reconfirmation vote on the Senate floor could go. And as CNBC "The Kudlow Report" host Larry Kudlow warned, that puts his reconfirmation in question.
"Look, ‘Helicopter' Ben passed the Senate Banking Committee vote on his reconfirmation," Kudlow said on his Dec. 17 program. "He got 16-to-7, but he lost seven votes. I think all the Republicans except Sen. Bob Corker voted against Bernanke, and they were joined by one Democrat, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Now the reconfirmation goes to the floor of the Senate. So, I think Bernanke's reconfirmation could be in some trouble when that Senate vote occurs. I'm going to bet that most, if not all, of the 40 Republicans are going to vote against Bernanke and that they are going to be joined by a number of Democrats."
In his 1981 inaugural address, former President Ronald Reagan said, "Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem." Nearly 29 years later, that still holds true according to CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.
Both Cramer and Greenspan were guests on NBC's Dec. 13 "Meet the Press" and although neither was making a vain effort to be nostalgic, but instead explained that Congress' deliberations over an "agenda" was creating uncertainty for business.
"I think the priority ought to be get rid of the agenda," Cramer said. "I hear the agenda over and over again from business people. In other words, Congress is stalled on health care. I favor universal health care, everyone does in this country. But Washington is killing job growth, not - and then trying to stimulate it small scale? How much does it cost to bring a new employee in? We don't know. We don't know what the health care will be. We don't know what the tax scheme will be."
Newsweek writer Kathleen Deveny found a strange way to spin the current economic recession as a blessing in disguise.
In a column published Friday called "Unemployed Families Need to Man Up," Deveny visited the topic of working mothers and the difficulties of raising children while juggling a career.
Conservatives who broach this subject are usually met with disdain from the liberal media for being anti-feminist. But when mitigating a recession under a Democrat president, it was suddenly okay to discuss reasons why a career would be a burden.
Yet Deveny didn't see a troublesome schedule as an obstacle for women - rather, it was a chance to complain that mothers could handle the workload just fine if not for Archie Bunker living at home:
This is the fifth year I have looked into how the establishment media treats these two topics:
The use of "Christmas shopping season" vs. "holiday shopping season" (the AP photo at right uses "holiday" and not "shopping," even though there is a C-C-, Chr-Chr-Christmas tree in the picture).
The frequency of Christmas and holiday layoff references.
I have done three sets of simple Google News searches each year -- the first in late November, followed by identical searches roughly two and four weeks later. The cumulative results of all three search sets during the past four years are in this graphic.
On November 24 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that references to this year's shopping season came up with just over 6% of references to the "Christmas shopping season," while the rest referred to the "holiday shopping season." That's a 9-point, roughly 60% drop from just four years ago.
Here are the results of the relevant Google News searches done late last night compared to roughly the same date in 2005 --
Each year the Business & Media Institute looks back on the year's news and selects the top 10 worst economic myths. Here is our 2009 list:
10. CBS, NY Times Support Ecuadorian Shakedown of U.S. oil company 9. Media Fail to Scrutinize Obama's Job Claims 8. Government Stimulus is the Answer to Our Economic Problems 7. No Tax Increases for the Middle Class 6. The Recession was Over ... by July. 5. Cash for Clunkers was a ‘Success' 4. Reagan vs. Obama on Jobs: Same Rate, Different Story 3. Health Care Reform will be ‘Deficit Neutral' 2. Tea Parties aren't made up of grassroots protestors; they're just ‘Astroturf.' 1. ClimateGate
10. CBS, NY Times Support Ecuadorian Shakedown of U.S. oil company.
Media myth: Chevron is responsible for abandoned oil wells across Ecuador.
A South American country is trying to squeeze $27 billion out of Chevron for environmental cleanup from discarded oil wells - all with the help of the U.S. news media.
CBS "60 Minutes" and The New York Times took the side of "eco-radicals" at the Amazon Defense Coalition who have filed suit against Chevron, even though the government of Ecuador signed off on the company's cleanup actions more than 10 years ago.
Comedy Central's Jon Stewart used crude sexual humor Monday to bash President Obama's jobs summit.
After playing a videotape of the President asking those in attendance at last Thursday's forum "for specific recommendations that can be implemented that will spur on job growth as quickly as possible," Stewart offered a somewhat vulgar idea.
Delicately paraphrased, "The Daily Show" host suggested that people masturbating or performing oral sex be included in the government's jobs statistics (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, vulgarity alert, h/t Story Balloon):
Responding to President Obama criticizing media coverage of the White House jobs summit, on Friday’s Hardball on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews wondered why the President wasn’t more appreciative of all the media’s help: “Why would you ride the ref when he’s calling all the plays for you? What’s he out there bashing the media for?”
During a town hall meeting in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Friday, Obama remarked: “I noticed the press yesterday, because we had this jobs forum at the White House, they said ‘Obama’s finally pivoting to jobs.’ As if what we haven’t been doing for the whole nine months from the day I was sworn in and we start talking about the recovery was all about jobs.”
Matthews skeptically asked Newsweek’s Howard Fineman: “Can he [Obama] credibly say he’s been worrying about jobs all year?” Fineman proved Matthews point about the media “calling all the plays” for the President: “Oh, I think he can in one way or another. Yeah, I think he can because he would argue that the whole health care push is related to the well being of people and so forth.” However, Fineman did point out: “But again, 17% total of people who are – don’t have enough of a job or if you count the people who are underemployed as well. It’s a huge number.”
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about all the problems facing President Obama: “it was Afghanistan, now it’s jobs...healthcare....Do you remember a time when a president had as many irons – critical irons – in the fire, as this one seems to have right now?” Schieffer replied: “Oh, I suppose during the dark days of World War II.”
Schieffer went on to lament that “...as we approach this Christmas season it doesn’t look like there’s going to be very much under the tree for this administration.” He referred to high unemployment numbers as a source of Obama’s difficulty: “...there just isn’t anymore money that the government has, even to try to stimulate this economy....people are out of work and that is what’s driving so much of this discontent right now.”
The coverage yesterday by the Associated Press's Stephen Bernard of payroll and human resources giant ADP's monthly jobs report for November focused on a relatively small reduction in the size of the decline in jobs lost and not on the fact that continuing to lose jobs is a bad thing.
That rhetorical sleight of hand enabled the AP reporter to tell us that ADP's reported private sector job loss during the month of 169,000 -- down from 203,000 in October -- was actually good news, because even though it was a decline in the number of people working, the decline of the decline "was not as much as forecast." The forecast was for 160,000 jobs lost.
Readers of a previous version of this post will note that I allowed myself to believe that Bernard had erred when he did not. I apologize for not getting that right. And here I thought I would make it through the whole year without a mistake. :-->
Serving as a stenographer to Obama operatives trying to magnify the import of the President's schedule for the week, CBS anchor Katie Couric on Monday night trumpeted:
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel saysthis will be an 'historic week in an already historic year,' with the Afghanistan decision, the Senate opening debate today on a health care reform bill, and the President's schedule jam packed.
“Jam packed” with fairly pedestrian activities and political gimmicks, though Couric treated them as consequential, starting with how “today the President met with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd” and “later in the week,” after Obama “shares his Afghan strategy” which is of some much-delayed consequence, he'll “host a job summit of business and labor leaders at the White House.”
Then, Couric touted how “on Friday he's taking his message of job creation and the economy directly to the American people, visiting Allentown, Pennsylvania, the first stop on what the administration is calling the 'White House to Main Street' tour.” A trip to Allentown is what Couric thinks constitutes an “historic week”?
The New York Times’s Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff published a long Saturday report on the Food Stamp program that went into print on Sunday.
This is the second of three posts on their coverage; the first went up earlier today at NewsBusters and BizzyBlog. It addressed the pair's seeming happiness with the massive increase in program participation, their apparent unhappiness that 15-16 million who could be getting Food Stamps aren't, and their sense of relief that the "stigma" attached to being on a form of government dole has significantly dissipated.
This post will deal with something that should have been right in front of the Times pair's faces: Even before considering loosened eligibility standards (the third post will deal with that), Food Stamp benefits (gross and net) have increased by much more than the rate of food inflation during the past couple of years, especially in the past year, during which the increase in net benefits has been a whopping 30%.
Here are a few article excerpts from the Times report that deal with benefit levels (the first excerpted paragraph originally appeared in between the two other sets of paragraphs presented):
"Unemployed, Underemployed Look to Jobs Summit for Help" is posted on ABC News's Web site today. Authored by senior Washington correspondent John Cochran, the piece is notable in that nothing in it supports the headline. Cochran writes:
Boosting confidence is at the top of President Obama's list at the Jobs Summit he is scheduled to host on Thursday. The invitation list includes business leaders, mayors, academics, and experts from the green jobs sector.
They will consider many proposals to boost the economy including:
In a long Saturday report on the Food Stamp program that went into print on Sunday, the New York Times's Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff:
Almost seemed to celebrate the program's explosive growth.
Bemoaned the fact that many who could participate do not.
Both in their title ("Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades") and text, cheered the loss of stigma that has long been associated with the program.
Failed to note not only gross and net benefit increases during the past two years that have far outpaced real inflation in food prices, but also the loosening of eligibility rules in many states, including Ohio.
Speaking of Ohio, omitted key facts and injected blatant bias into a situation from earlier this year in the Buckeye State's Warren County that outraged those who believe the program was meant only for those who would truly suffer if its benefits weren't available.
DeParle's and Gebeloff's work is part of a Times series that "examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades." My series of posts on the pair's report with have three parts. This first one will deal with the first three items listed above.
The day before Thanksgiving brought encouraging news on unemployment. CBS News.com reported "New Jobless Claims Plunge to 466K." Investors.com headlined "Jobless Claims Dive To 466,000." CNN Money.com issued a special report titled "Jobless claims plummet to 14-month low." And the Financial Times included a link to the Calculated Risk blog article "Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Decline Sharply."
Such good news, reported widely throughout the media, doubtless gave hope to many Americans. If some of them wished to attribute this dramatic turnaround to Barack Obama's stimulus program, so much the better. The truth, however, is that improvement in the number of jobless claims was less than electrifying. The numbers touted in the media are, according to the Department of Labor, "seasonally adjusted" with a statistical technique designed to accommodate fluctuations in the job market. Set that aside, and the numbers are not nearly as rosy. As DOL's Employment and Training Administration reported:
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 543,926 in the week ending Nov. 21, an increase of 68,080 from the previous week.
Here we go again. We've already seen how ineffective the previous $787-billion stimulus Congress and the President forced through earlier this year has been with curbing unemployment, as it has raced into double-digits over the previous months. But will there be an effort to force through another one?
"John, what would you say, I don't know, the chances of some sort of an additional jobs stimulus - however you'd like to characterize that, or whatever form it would take or price tag it might have ?" Burnett asked.
What’s hidden in health care reform that you haven’t heard about? Plenty. Without a news media interested in questioning the contents of the legislation, how could you know about the punitive taxes and job-killing provisions lurking in it?
My clients in the restaurant industry alerted me to the House bill’s mandate that all restaurants and retail establishments that are part of chains, franchise groups or multi-brand groups of more than 20 outlets be required to prominently post accurate calorie counts for most food items sold – including items on salad bars and buffets or self-serve counters.
Maybe this seems “healthy” on its face, until you consider the costs, the legal liability incurred in getting inaccurate information and posting it, the competitive disadvantage foisted on businesses with 20+ outlets vs. those with 19 or fewer, and the broader point of health care reform being used as means of creating new and expansive regulatory activity and interference in our lives.
(Incidentally, should you happen to own 20 restaurants, I advise shuttering the least productive one or ones and putting the staff on the unemployment rolls immediately. If you were thinking of investing in opening another restaurant and creating jobs, don’t.)
This is the fifth year I have looked into how the media treats these two topics:
The use of "Christmas shopping season" vs. "holiday shopping season" (note how the AP photo at right uses "holiday" and not "shopping," even though there is a C-C-, Chr-Chr-Christmas tree in the picture).
The frequency of Christmas and holiday layoff references.
I have done three sets of simple Google News searches each year in late November, followed by identical searches roughly two and four weeks later.
The cumulative results of all three search sets during the past four years are in this graphic.
Year-to-year changes have often been subtle. That is anything but the case with the results of the first set of searches I did at roughly 10 a.m. ET. In the context of the current economy, they are stunning, and very revealing:
As President Obama's approval rating dips below 50 percent, his devoted followers in the media also appear to be losing that loving feeling.
Over the weekend it was Chris "Tingles Up My Leg" Matthews calling the former object of his affection "Carteresque."
On Tuesday it was Arianna Huffington -- who has spent the entire year pushing for government-run healthcare as well as cap and trade! -- asking an astoundingly dangerous question for such an unashamed minion:
"Will The Unemployment Disaster Be Obama's Katrina?"
Yep. In her recent HuffPost column, Arianna used the K-word (h/t Hot Air):
Long after conservatives and the American people figured it out, CBS on Monday night came to the realization President Barack Obama has a “credibility” problem fueled by the “disconnect” between Obama's promise to reduce the deficit as he pushes for massive new spending. Back in August, the CBS Evening News denigrated the town hall questioners as “unruly protests,” but on Monday reporter Chip Reid warned:
The American people are increasingly questioning the President's credibility. He says the stimulus has saved or created 640,000 jobs, but only seven percent of Americans believe it has created any. And he's repeatedly promised health care reform will not increase the deficit, but a mere 19 percent believe him.
Reid proceeded to relay how CBS News analyst John Dickerson “says for many Americans there's a basic disconnect -- a President who promises to trim the budget but only seems to want to spend and spend.” More amazing for CBS, Reid noted how “highly respected foreign policy analyst Leslie Gelb” called Obama's just-completed Asia trip “'amateur hour' for failing to get deals locked in before the President left home.”
A "new consensus" has emerged on the success of the economic stimulus package, according to a New York Times headline. In touting the supposed success of the legislation, and hinting at support for another round of spending, the Times neglected to mention the widespread fraud that characterizes the administration's attempt at shoring up the economy.
As reported by P.J. Gladnick on Saturday, the Times made sure to attribute its claims to "dispassionate analysts," and asserted that the stimulus is "helping an economy in free fall a year ago to grow again and shed fewer jobs than it otherwise would." Gladnick thoroughly debunked this claim, and others, in his NB post.
In a further show of bias, the Times article makes no mention of the 76,779 jobs that were not actually "saved or created" by the package, but were added to the number touted by the administration (interactive map embedded below the fold - h/t Examiner's Freddoso, Spiering, and Hemingway). Given that this number is roughly 12 percent of the 640,000 jobs the administration claims to have "saved or created," it might merit a mention in the Times's story.
Citing a Democratic congressman who recently proposed a no whining day, on Friday’s Morning Meeting on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan asked: “...unemployment, health care, a couple of wars, Americans got plenty to be frustrated about these days...But some people say stop the whining....Is ‘shut up and deal’ the new American mantra?”
Ratigan made that question the topic of discussion for the ‘Trend or Talker’ segment near the end of 9:00AM ET hour of the show with correspondent Contessa Brewer and Financial Times U.S. managing editor Chrystia Freeland. Ratigan explained: “...the congressman, by the name of Emmanuel Cleaver, wants to declare the day before Thanksgiving complaint-free Wednesday.” He wondered: “Worthy proposition?”
Brewer replied: “Yeah, absolutely. Here you get a two-fer. No complaints on Wednesday and Thursday gives you something to be grateful for.” Freeland enthusiastically agreed with the idea: “I think the no whining day is a fabulous idea....What they say in preschools, you get what you get and don’t get upset.”
"[I] think we're building a stairway to heaven in Dow prices on the back of paper and I think that, you know it seems kind of dire to me that 8 percent - 8,000, 9 percent - 9,000, 10.2 - 10,000," Santelli said. "I shudder to think where the unemployment rate is going to be at 11 and 12,000 in the Dow."
President Obama lobbied for government stimulus almost as soon as he took office. In order to gain passage of that $787 billion spending spree, Obama warned of economic "catastrophe" including double-digit unemployment.
Roughly 9 months later, we now have proof that those billions of taxpayer dollars spent didn't stop the unemployment rate from soaring to 10.2 percent. Still, that failure didn't prevent one CNN anchor from asking if a second stimulus might be needed.
CNN business correspondent Christine Romans announced the latest jobs numbers on Nov. 6 during "American Morning. She said, "The unemployment rate is 10.2 percent. It is worse than economists had been expecting - 10.2 percent - we have hit double-digits on the unemployment rate now and this is the highest since the early 1980s. The number of jobs lost: 190,000 jobs lost in the month. That is a little worse than we had thought."
Following Romans' report, CNN anchors John Roberts and Kiran Chetry consulted author William Cohan, a contributor to The DailyBeast.com and Bloomberg, and Diane Brady, senior editor of BusinessWeek magazine. Both guests were concerned about the rising rate of unemployment and Cohan said he didn't see "anything optimistic about these numbers."
The October unemployment rate has just been released and it has jumped to double digits at 10.2%, the worst rate since 1983. Just a little over half a point higher would make this the worst recession since the Great Depression. So how is the Associated Press reporting the growing unemployment numbers? "The economy is rebounding." I kid you not.
This AP report by Christopher S. Rugaber was published earlier this morning before the official unemployment rate was released. Notice how AP tries to cushion the blow by speculating that it would probably just rise to 9.9% for October:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The economy is rebounding from its deepest slump since the 1930s, but it probably won't seem that way when the government releases its monthly employment report on Friday.
Employers aren't expected to start adding jobs for several more months. Many are skeptical about the strength and sustainability of the recovery,
The nation's economy probably lost a net total of 175,000 jobs in October, pushing the unemployment rate to 9.9 percent, according to a survey of Wall Street economists by Thomson Reuters. The Labor Department report is scheduled for release at 8:30 a.m. EST.
Most economists think the rate will eventually surpass 10 percent, a level last seen in June 1983.
On her segment of CNN Newsroom this morning, anchor Heidi Collins asked business correspondent Christine Romans about Senate action on extending yet again unemployment benefits:
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You're right. And Heidi, all of those things that you mentioned are incredibly important to your money and all of them could affect you very, very near-term here. This extension of the unemployment benefits, it would be the third.
The Senate has passed it. It goes to the House. It's expected to be voted on and passed very, very quickly here. Because, remember, your Congress member and your senator, they are being inundated in their offices with questions from people saying, wait, how am I going to survive when this check runs out? Seven thousand checks running out every week.
It would be a 14-week extension nationwide, 20 weeks of unemployment. More unemployment benefits for the states with 8.5 percent unemployment or more. And this would be paid by a two-year extension of an existing -- existing tax on employers. So this would be paid for by a tax on employers.
It would not come out of your pocket and my pocket. But it would be the third extension here, Heidi. And it's critically important. Like I said, so many people are losing their unemployment benefits right now. Some 200,000 have lost their jobless benefits just as the Senate has been negotiating this.
Laurie Kellman, call your office, check your e-mail, and tap in to your Twitter.
The Associated Press reporter didn't get the memo that recession is supposedly over, and that at a minimum you shouldn't be writing as if it will be with us for a while. She also erred in citing the weak economy as a bad thing for Democrats. The New York Times told us about a week ago that a bad economy is a good thing for Democrats who want to pass state-controlled health care and other freedom-restricting agenda items, because a bad economy increases personal insecurity. They're such pals of the little guy, you see.
Both busts against the conventional media wisdom are in Kellman's brief item from late this morning (bolds are mine):
Health care issues: Hold off for a better economy?