On Wednesday's The Situation Room, CNN used a slanted PolitiFact report to dismiss Mitt Romney's claim that "women account for 92.3 percent of the jobs lost under President Obama." CNN correspondent Jim Acosta aired a clip of Romney making the claim before adding that "the watchdog website PolitiFact rates that claim as 'Mostly False'."
PolitiFact even admitted that the campaign's numbers were "accurate," but added that "their reading of them isn't." According to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Romney campaign's claim is indeed factually correct.
On Friday (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Associated Press's headline at Paul Wiseman's dispatch after the release of the government's March jobs report was: "US job market takes a break after hiring binge." It was as if they just knew that March was an aberration, and that the "binging" would resume in April.
The markets weren't as convinced today: "Investors had a three-day weekend to brood over disappointing job growth in March. When they got back to work Monday and delivered their verdict, it wasn't good." Wiseman and AP regrouped today, identifying "5 reasons the US job market might be weakening":
Did you know that the economy was on a "hiring binge" until February? Gosh, neither did I until the headline to Paul Wiseman's report at the Associated Press yesterday afternoon informed of that.
I also didn't know that economies took breaks, but that's what the AP's headline said the economy did in March. And don't worry -- "few economists expect hiring to fizzle in spring and summer, as it did the past two years." Correct me if I'm wrong, but they weren't expecting to see fizzling in 2011 or 2010, and guess what happened (or maybe they were just extended "breaks")? What follows are the first five paragraphs from Wiseman's dispatch, plus selected others:
It would seem that Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press had his copy prepared in advance for today's jobs report.
The consensus was that today's report from Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics would show that 200,000 seasonally adjusted jobs were added in March. So it was a virtual lock that today's result would mean that the past four months were the best for net hiring in the past two years. Accordingly, after the report's release, Wiseman, despite the disappointing news that March's number was only 120,000, apparently just plugged in the four-month total and ran with it:
Each month before the jobs report is released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hosts and guests of CNBC make predictions about the payroll employment number and unemployment rate.
On April 6, when the March data was released Steve Liesman was the high end predictor, with 290,000, and former Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee was low, with 180,000. But everyone turned out to be wrong, when the BLS report showed gains of only 120,000 jobs. The unemployment rate dropped from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent.
You're going to have a hard time convincing me that Associated Press CEO Dean Singleton's lavish praise of President Barack Obama noted earlier this week by Matt Sheffield at NewsBusters hasn't trickled down to the beat reporters and affected their day-to-day coverage.
Take this opening sentence from the AP's Christopher Rugaber written shortly after the Department of Labor released its weekly unemployment claims report: "The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell to a four-year low last week, suggesting employers kept hiring in March at a healthy pace." Really, Chris? Exactly how does less firing translate to more hiring? It doesn't (historical correlation, to the extent that it's there, doesn't signify causation). There are any number of firms which are not letting people go but which are also not hiring. Several other paragraphs from Rugaber's report follow:
From what I can tell, no one in the establishment press yesterday attempted to quantify the total employment impact of yesterday's announcement by Best Buy that it will reduce its headquarters headcount by 400 and close 50 stores. One thing is certain: It's not just 400, as the headlines and verbiage in certain media reports might lead readers to believe -- and it's not excusable to say that the company itself didn't name a specific number of employees affected by the store closures.
An estimate of how many jobs will really be lost is after the jump, followed by a few misleading media examples. Note that the media review is based on reports from Thursday; today, we began learning which stores will be closing. They include five in the Twin Cities area where the company is headquartered.
Earlier this year, a reporter informed me of what is apparently a common belief in the business press, namely that "the Labor Department considers the (seasonally adjusted, or SA) numbers to be much more reflective of what’s actually going on in the economy" than the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted, or NSA) economic data. That's interesting, given that you can't even do seasonal adjustments without the raw data, but I digress. That expressed and almost blind belief in SA numbers explains why virtually no one in the press bothers to look at, let alone report, the NSA numbers.
But given this "seasoned" faith, why didn't the business press tell readers that today's revisions to SA figures for initial unemployment claims going back to 2007 released today by the Department of Labor increased the originally reported amounts for the past four weeks by an average of almost 4%? That's indeed what happened, and it hardly seems minor. Instead, Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press all celebrated today's number (359,000) as the lowest in four years -- which it will no longer be if it gets revised upward next week by 2,000 or more next week (the average seen during the past year has been a bit below 4,000). The specific changes are after the jump, followed by a rundown of the three wire services' coverage.
On Monday's NBC Today, Tom Brokaw reported on veteran Mike Wright returning from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan to continue work at New York's Indian Point nuclear power plant: "Entergy, Wright's employer, supported his deployments. Veteran hiring is a priority for the company, not out of sympathy, but as an investment in the bottom line....Mike Wright and Entergy, that's how it's supposed to work."
Now compare that praise for the plant's hiring practices, with NBC News fear-mongering almost exactly one year ago, shortly after the earthquake and nuclear crisis in Japan. On the March 20, 2011 Nightly News, anchor Lester Holt ominously warned: "A government report has found the plant with the highest risk of core damage from an earthquake here is just about 35 miles from our studios here in New York City at the Indian Point plant."
CBS's Allen Pizzey completely whitewashed the struggling European economy on CBS Sunday Morning to bash the Republican presidential candidates' attack on President Obama's economic policies. Pizzey zeroed-in on Germany's lower unemployment rate and cited left-leaning Professor James Walston, who claimed that "the candidates are dealing in caricatures of Europe that are about 90% wrong."
The journalist played clips from Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, who defended the U.S. Constitution and ripped "European socialism." He condescended in reply, "If you're a candidate who wants to move to the White House, why worry about details?" Pizzey also turned to a European woman who insulted the Republican candidates' intelligence: "I just hope that most Americans are just more intelligent than those politicians" [audio clips available here; video below the jump].
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose shamelessly boosted the Obama campaign's talking point about the economy: "The President will...say, things are in much better shape...so my policies are, at long last, working." When Haley Barbour replied that "the liberal media leads you to think that the economy's getting great," Rose sneered, "I didn't realize you think the Federal Reserve chairman is a liberal media elite" [audio available here; video below the jump].
The CBS anchor also raised Mitt Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom's recent "Etch-A-Sketch" comment with the former Mississippi governor: "You have a candidate who conservatives don't seem to be sure about. And now, you have this Etch-a-Sketch thing. Does that simply make their doubts deeper?"
Here's some good advice from Rush Limbaugh's opening monologue today: "If I were you, I would regard every AP story, particularly this year, as nothing more than a propaganda piece for the reelection of Barack Obama."
What occasioned Rush's rant is the thinly disguised propaganda today from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, concerning President Obama's visit to Cushing, Oklahoma to pretend that he's really a fan of the Keystone Pipeline, starting with the following headline:
The exercise of watching the press report on the current week's unemployment claims figure as if it's etched in stone and assessing it as if it's the last word -- only to see the figure get upwardly revised the next week virtually without media comment -- is getting extraordinarily tedious and predictable (but of course watching what they do remains necessary).
At the Associated Press, Bloomberg, and Reuters, this week's version of the shell game has a relatively unique twist. The three wire services respectively and all without qualification say that today's seasonally adjusted figure of 351,000 from the Department of Labor "matches a four-year low," "the lowest level in four years," and "back to a four-year low." As seen in the graphic which follows, based on the history of the past year, there's a 98% chance they will be wrong after subsequent revisions, almost all of which have occurred during the very next reported week:
An MSNBC political analyst on Tuesday actually said that Alabama women voting for Rick Santorum in the Republican presidential primary that just concluded in that state "really hurts" her.
Talking to Lawrence O'Donnell on The Last Word, Karen Finney arrogantly said, "It’s a little painful because I’m wondering if those women really heard the full message" (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
At the Associated Press as of 7:30 p.m., its Top Business stories (saved here for future reference) top headline read: "Strong 3 months of hiring as US adds 277,000 jobs." The headline at the underlying article (saved here) reads the same. Related pics are after the jump.
Yesterday was sort of "Pick on Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press Day." So when I came across a particularly reprehensible report he filed last night whining about the difficulty the economy may face in meeting heightened expectations -- with yet another reference to the wire service's obsession with its relevance to President Obama's approval ratings and reelection -- I let it go.
That changed when I learned about and then read Kyle Drennen's NewsBusters post today about CNBC's Carl Quintanilla, Friday's fill-in Today show host. Carl Q spoke of how "...we're in a situation where we're sort of managing expectations, especially for the White House." "We" are "managing expectations ... especially for the White House"? What Carl Q said seems to have been influenced by what Rugaber wrote yesterday. Especially note the last excerpted paragraph (bolds are mine):
"Fox News again buries the [monthly] jobs numbers," Politico media critic Dylan Byers groused this morning in a 10:23 a.m.-stamped post. Those numbers "appear in the lead or left-hand column atop the websites of the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and MSNBC, as of 10 a.m.," Byers noted.
Earlier today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted the press's ridiculously forgiving coverage of today's reported increase in unemployment claims while concentrating primarily on RTT News's assertion that the unemployment rate should continue to come down as long as weekly claims stay below 400,000. Three years ago, Christopher Rugaber's threshold at the Associated Press, also known to yours truly as the Administration's Press, was 325,000. He has since raised it (including in today's report) to 375,000.
This afternoon, Rush Limbaugh expanded on wire service's knee-jerk defense of mediocre-to-bad economic news, taking particular umbrage at the thoroughly misleading headline at Rugaber's report, as well as his first paragraph, which I will relay first before posting part of Rush's reaction:
The Department of Labor reported today that initial claims for unemployment benefits increased to 362,000 from an upwardly revised (as usual) 354,000 the previous week. Expectations were for a reading of 351,000 (Business Insider's email) or 352,000 (Bloomberg).
Over at the Associated Press, also known as the Administration's Press, the headlined reaction in its 9:17 a.m. report was: "Applications Hover Near Low Levels." As usual, it took a New Media source, in this case Zero Hedge, to point out something potentially troubling in the news, namely that "this is the first time we have seen three consecutive weeks of rises since August 2010." True, the rises have been modest, but next week will almost certainly see an upward revision to this week (the case for 51 of the past 52 weeks, averaging almost 4,000 and with no decreases). Modest or not, they run counter to presumptive press claims that the job market is "healing" (Reuters) and "improving" (Bloomberg). The howler of the day came from RTT News, which "offers custom news and information solutions" for which subscribers apparently pay at least $250 a month:
Over at the Associated Press in a report with a Tuesday morning time stamp, Christopher Rugaber produced yet another predictable lemonade-from-lemons story about how the economy is allegedly "improving faster than economists had expected. They now foresee slightly stronger growth and hiring than they did two months earlier - trends that would help President Barack Obama's re-election hopes." Because, after all, that's what it's all about.
The folks at AP, the economists they surveyed for their report, and the rest of the establishment press really need to get out more. Y'know, they used to, at least before November 4, 2008. If they did, they'd find something which it seems only the BBC among major original-source news organizations has found: well over 50 "tent cities." These are not Occupy movement encampments; instead they are places where one will find America's desperately poor:
Comedian Jon Stewart apparently thinks the economy is just fine and that any news outlet that says otherwise must be doing it because they don't want President Obama to get reelected.
Even more preposterous, on Tuesday's Daily Show, the host did an entire segment on how Fox News reporting the national debt, unemployment, and rising gas prices is all a Republican National Committee conspiracy (video follows with highlights and commentary):
An AP report by Rachel Zoll brought to our attention by a NewsBusters tipster headlines a truly weird assertion about GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum ("Santorum benefits from mistaken religious identity"), and submits as evidence an item in a Christian magazine which in turn has its own weird headline ("Catholic Politicians You Thought Were Evangelical").
It turns out that the Christianity Today item tells us that it's not evangelical Christians who misidentify Santorum, whose Roman Catholic faith is well-known. The entity which committed the misidentification by deliberately including the former Pennsylvania senator on a list of "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" while acknowledging that he is a Catholic was ... Time Magazine, in February 2005. Thus, there is no support for Zoll's headline claiming that many people "mistake" Santorum's "religious identity," and that he somehow "benefits." Zheesh.
Since when does a "few" mean thirteen? The answer appears to be: "When Barack Obama says it does, and when the press won't call him in it."
Rush Limbaugh today talked about a January 25 speech President Barack Obama made at Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and pointed to a particular segment demonstrating in his view that Obama was deliberately "downsizing the American Dream." When I went to the actual speech at the White House's web site, I found a statement the President made about his administration's jobs record which was quite problematic (i.e., false), and which, despite the press's rips at Republican candidates who dare question the specifics of Obama's economic performance or the legitimacy of the economic recovery in general, received no press coverage I could locate:
In “For London Youth, Down and Out Is Way of Life,” New York Times reporter Landon Thomas Jr. came up with a sparkling new solution to the looters and rioters who stole sneakers and cell phones in last summer's nationwide rampage: Taxpayer-funded job training!
Thomas last got Times Watch’s attention last December with his bizarre hypothetical of what might happen if Europe abandoned it’s euro currency scheme. He wrote on Thursday’s front page:
Today, President Obama visited Master Lock, a company he cited in his State of the Union speech on January 24 using the following words: "But right now, it's getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive. A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. Today, for the first time in fifteen years, Master Lock's unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity."
Now note how Ken Thomas's report at the Associated Press originally described (since revised) what Obama supposedly said:
According to the Heritage Foundation Barack Obama’s policies, in just two years, have resulted in the number of Americans who rely on a federal program spiking by 23 percent to 67 million. Yet there was no mention of this grim figure on the Big Three network (ABC, CBS and NBC) evening or morning news programs. Since the study was released on Wednesday only Fox News and CNN have mentioned the increase in government dependents was the biggest two year jump since Jimmy Carter was president. (video after the jump)
When I saw CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday tease an upcoming State of the Union segment saying she'd be discussing Friday's unemployment report after a commercial break, I was hoping to see a complete analysis of the data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Much to my shock and dismay, although she and her guests discussed the economy and the jobs market for eight minutes over two segments, there was not one single word said about the declining participation rate or the record 1.2 million one month increase in the number of people not in the labor force (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CNBC's Suze Orman bills herself as an "internationally acclaimed personal financial expert."
This "financial expert," appearing on HBO's Real Time Friday, said that in 2012, "We are average [sic] 200,000 jobs a month that are being created...[Obama's] done so much in the past four years I can’t even tell you" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
In this week's "Is He Really This Stupid or Just a Bald-Faced Liar" segment, HBO's Bill Maher Friday night once again proved that he is either one of the dumbest people on television or is way too dishonest to have his own show.
On the most recent installment of Real Time, the host emphatically claimed, "We've lost 500,000 public sector jobs since Obama took office and added 3.7 million private sector jobs" (video follows with transcript and commentary):