The third page of an unbylined report with an early Saturday time stamp credited to "USA Today" carried at the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion Ledger (like USAT, a Gannett Company) claimed that "Walmart heiress Alice Walton expressed solidarity with Walmart's striking workers."
Putting aside whether or not an action taken by what the company estimated may have been fifty associates is a "strike" or a "temper tantrum," the claim was not true. USA Today fell for a hoax. Following the jump are several paragraphs from the Clarion Ledger report and an LA Times writeup identifying the hoax. Additionally, I learned that Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum was the object of Occupy and union movement protests when it opened a year ago.
The April 22 New York Times lead story by investigative reporter David Barstow, using internal company documents to ouline how the retailer Wal-Mart bribed Mexican officials to facilitate their way into the country, had reverberations in the business and political worlds, and also managed to hurt Wal-Mart's stock price, which the paper eagerly noted the next day on the front of the Business section.
The attack is still going strong. The front of Tuesday's Business section featured investigative reporter Eric Lichtblau's "Wal-Mart's Good-Citizen Efforts Face a Test" (which the Times seems to think is synonymous with "cozying up to Democrats.") He even went after Wal-Mart's dealings with the American Legislative Exchange Council in order to make an extremely tenuous linkage of Wal-Mart to the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.
NPR's Nina Totenberg strangely cast doubt on the liberal credentials of Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor on Saturday's Early Show on CBS, claiming that "they're not nearly as liberal as justices were...thirty years ago." Totenberg also hinted that the other members of the Court were right-wing radicals: "Compared to the much more conservative members of the Court, they are liberal."
Anchor Russ Mitchell brought on the journalist for her take of the most recent term of the Supreme Court. Near the end of the interview, Mitchell noted how "this was the first full term for President Obama's two appointees, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor" and asked, "What do you think? Did we see a shift in the Court's philosophy this year at all?"
The Supreme Court on Monday unequivocally rejected the notion that courts should force power companies to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, but none of the major broadcast networks covered the unanimous decision on their evening newscasts or morning shows.
The New York Times teased the ruling on the front page of Tuesday's paper, directing readers to a thorough analysis of the 8-0 decision, but ABC's "Good Morning America" and "World News," CBS's "Early Show" and "Evening News," and NBC's "Today" and "Nightly News" all skipped a decision that prevents environmentalists from using the courts to impose greenhouse gas regulations on electric utilities.
Weighed in the balance and found lacking. That biblical admonition could well describe CNN.com's shoddy "breaking news" take on today's Supreme Court ruling in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes.
Simply put, CNN.com gave readers a woefully inaccurate and incomplete story on the case, chalking up the Court's ruling as holding that a "sweeping class-action status that could potentially involve hundreds of thousands of current and former female workers was simply too large."
Last Wednesday I wrote about a left-wing anti-Wal-Mart group in Washington, D.C. that published a flyer depicting a crosshairs on the Wal-Mart smiley face icon and called for a "march on the developer's house" in Northwest D.C. after dark on Thursday the 20th.
[That flyer has since been scrubbed from the WalMartFreeDC.org website, but you can see a screen capture of it below the page break]
Only about 25 people showed up at the protest, so it's not precisely front-page news, but a search of Nexis found not even a blurb about the event or the decidedly uncivil and race-baiting rhetoric the group's website espouses in a rap song that warns that Wal-Mart has a "plantation mentality" that "results in black and brown casualties."
The website for Wal-Mart Free DC prominently features the Wal-Mart smiley-face icon at the center of crosshairs in an advertisement for a "March on the Developer's House" in Northwest D.C. tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.
A march on a person's private residence after dark. A civil affair to be sure.
What's more, the Wal-Mart Free DC website auto-plays a song by rap artist Head-Roc that accuses the discount retailer of a "plantation mentality":
Shoplifting. Nudity. Explicit Lyrics. Nazi Symbolism. None are tolerated by Wal-Mart, and after Kanye West’s new explicitly sexual album cover for “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”was considered indecent by the store, Tina Brown’s website, “The Daily Beast,” threw a hissy fit on his behalf.
“In all honesty ... I really don't be thinking about Wal-Mart when I make my music or album covers #Kanyeshrug!” This tweet, from Grammy-winning recording artist Kanye West was met with open arms from the editors at The Daily Beast who lined up with West and reassured him that he wasn’t the only “victim” of Wal-Mart.
On Thursday’s Joy Behar Show on HLN, host Behar seemed to suggest that seeing poor whites might make Republicans more compassionate toward the poor as she hosted filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi to talk about her upcoming HBO documentary on the homeless who live in Orange County, California. Behar asked Pelosi – daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – if the reason she interviewed only whites for her film was to "make more of an impact" on Republicans:
JOY BEHAR: Did you deliberately only interview white families?
ALEXANDRA PELOSI: Well, they just happened to be at the school where I was interviewing, that`s who was there.
BEHAR: I`m only asking that because maybe you felt that that would make more of an impact on Republican congressmen and people who tend to, you know, veto any kind of help for people on the, you know, because the, oh, you know what I`m saying.
Pelosi later blamed the existence of the homeless problem in Orange County on Disneyland for not pushing the government to build more public housing:
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Americans were treated to a number of populist sermons on the "special interests" who would oppose "reform" at any cost to maintain the "status quo" from which they "profit financially or politically." The drug companies, the energy companies, the Wall Street bankers, and the health insurers were the corporate enemies of a just and harmonious America, or so one might have gathered.
Obama was at the vanguard of this populist charge. But since his election, he has proposed health care legislation that would subsidize Pfizer and PhRMA, a cap and trade plan that would drive profits to General Electric, and Wall Street bailouts that lined the pockets of the same Goldman Sachs bankers he so reviled during the campaign. What happened?
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney exposes and investigates this monumental disconnect in his new book "Obamanomics: How Barack Obama is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses." Carney explores the "political strategy of partnering with the biggest businesses in order to create new regulations, taxes, and subsidies." Those measures, he argues, actually benefit the biggest businesses by crowding out competition, consolidating market share, or giving billions in subsidies directly to those companies.
Although CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer has backed off his hyperbolic attacks on President Barack Obama ever since his "Daily Show" appearance, he's shown that he's not afraid to take on the Democratic-controlled Congress.
So, to give credit where credit is due, the "Mad Money" host dedicated an entire segment to the Employee Free Choice Act, aka card check and how its passage by Congress could be detrimental to Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) stock price on his April 3 program. And during the segment, Cramer used three references to Soviet/Russian communism to describe the Democrat effort pushing card check.
"Right now, in Congress - they're getting ready for what is essentially a referendum on Wal-Mart," Cramer said. "And the referendum's name is the Employee Free Choice Act, also known by slang as card check - a bill that will make it much easier for workers to form unions and much harder for employers to get in their way."
New York Times economics reporter Peter Goodman certainly can't be accused of dry writing. Goodman constantly draws attention to his economics stories (often well-positioned by editors) with sharp criticism of capitalism, and he reached a new level of leftist abstraction in his Sunday Week in Review piece on the early-morning shopping stampede at a Long Island Wal-Mart that resulted in the trampling death of an employee, "A Shopping Guernica Captures the Moment."
From the high-brow yet histrionic headline (here's some background on the German bombing of the Spanish city of Guernica) to the inflated prose, it's good, chewy bias in Goodman's favored Marxist professor mode (as prominently displayed in his December 2007 story headlined "The Free Market: A False Idol After All?").
Goodman is eager to paint the Wal-Mart rampagers as some species of victim -- if not of capitalism directly, then the marketing that is selling capitalism to the people in this time of crisis.
From the Great Depression, we remember the bread lines. From the oil shocks of the 1970s, we recall lines of cars snaking from gas stations. And from our current moment, we may come to remember scenes like the one at a Long Island Wal-Mart in the dawn after Thanksgiving, when 2,000 frantic shoppers trampled to death an employee who stood between them and the bargains within.
Wal-Mart is right up there with "Big Oil" as a left-wing bogeyman, and the mainstream media are often on the side of liberal activists screaming "Boo!" as our friends at the Business & Media Institute can attest. But today's Chicago Tribune laid out how "[b]ig city politics trumps low prices" with a labor union victory over Wal-Mart's plans to erect a store within city limits.
The paper's Web site featured a teaser headline, "Why Wal-Mart's not building here," [pictured at right] complete with a photo of the still-vacant lot that's been the subject of debate for over two years.
During a panel discussion on the April 9 edition of "The Situation Room," CNN’s Jack Cafferty described the Chinese government as "basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years." In response, according to a report from the Associated Press from April 15, "China demanded an apology from CNN." "‘We are shocked and strongly condemn the vicious remarks by Cafferty,’ Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. ‘We solemnly request CNN and Cafferty himself take back the malicious remarks and apologize to the Chinese people.’"
Cafferty had also blasted China for the substandard quality of many of the products that it exports from the U.S. "[W]e continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food and export, you know, jobs to places where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we're buying from Wal-Mart."
The deadline for talks between the United Auto Workers and the Formerly Big Three automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) theoretically looms on September 14.
No one has more at stake in a sweetheart deal than Ford, for reasons almost entirely of its own making.
Oh, the Dearborn-based company has the same daunting challenges as its other brethren at the bargaining table: a too-high cost structure, expensive retiree health-care costs, and a product line in need of serious work. That much is known.
What isn't as well-known, and rarely understood, is that Ford has embarked on a seven-year journey of uber-Politicial Correctness that now threatens to gut its core US vehicle business.
As if allowing this anti-American Bush-hater to have his own series wasn't enough, the brilliant folks at HBO decided to give Bill Maher another comedy special to rail against all things conservative.
For those on the left hoping for some truly vile attacks on the GOP, Saturday's "Bill Maher: The Decider" surely must have hit the spot.
In fact, of the 60 minutes Maher was given, upwards of 40 were spent eviscerating the President, his staff, Republican presidential candidates, and religious figures. In reality, this was a virtual campaign video for Democrats.
With that in mind, what follows are some of the lowlights in no particular order. However, the reader is cautioned that this is not edited for content, and contains some truly vulgar language.
On this morning's GMA, a classic bit of MSM advocacy for more government regulation of business that will drive up costs and drive out jobs. The occasion is the hearings today before the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), on a proposal to expand family and medical leave and impose mandatory sick leave.
Introducing the segment, ABC's David Wright lamented that "it's something that every parent struggles with: how to balance work and family. And the U.S. lags far behind other countries in helping parents to cope. Here on Capitol Hill today, Congress will take the first baby steps to try to address that situation."
While the relatively narrow Dow Jones Industrial Average has been achieving alltime highs for a couple of months, it took until last week for the broader S&P 500 index to beat its previous record of 1527. The index closed at 1536.24 last week.
Instead of writing up the big winners in the 77% of companies that have brought the index back from its 2000 low, USA Today writer Matt Krantz looked for dark clouds in on otherwise blue sky, taking an opportunity to focus on the index's losers who kept the index's recovery of value from happening sooner:
S&P's run leaves Wal-Mart, other big caps behind
For a quarter of the stock market, the celebration about the Standard & Poor's 500's charge back to record levels for the first time in more than seven years is an example of history being written by the victors.
Even though the benchmark S&P index last week finally took out its old high from March 2000, investors who own 23% of its stocks have completely missed out. A total of 115 stocks in the S&P 500-stock index are still below where they were in March 2000, according to data from Bridge Information and S&P. They aren't down just a little, either, but off 45% on average.
"At any given time, you're going to have companies that have one-off issues," says James Paulsen of Wells Capital Management.
Yeah guys, and that's why investing in a broad-based index of stocks in an index mutual fund is often a good idea for investors who don't have the time to evaluate and keep up with either individual stocks or actively-managed mutual funds. Zheesh.
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program repeated anti-Wal-Mart talking points from the liberal group Wake-up Wal-Mart. Reporter Bianna Golodryga explained that the segment, which discussed recent company woes, was based on a confidential memo given to the network:
Bianna Golodryga: "...Wake-Up Wal-Mart, a union financed group highly critical of the retailer has provided ABC News with a confidential memo from a former ad agency with a dire warning."
The memo, which is six months old and amounts to nothing more than an embarrassing behind the scenes discussion of Wal-Mart’s strategy to market high-end goods, seemed to simply be a pretext for GMA to bash the company. Golodryga piled on, noting that "the leaked memo is just another blow to a company which has experienced its share of blunders this year, ranging from sexual discrimination lawsuits to a recent war of words with a fired ad executive." The segment also featured a representative from the left-wing Wake up Wal-Mart group slamming the company’s "poor values," while having nobody on to defend it:
In an unusual move last Friday, Ford decided that it couldn't wait for the month to end before it told us how bad it was going to be -- for the whole industry:
Ford Motor Co. said on Friday that U.S. auto industry sales to date in April were "terrible" as consumer confidence was hit by a slow housing market and rising gas prices.
..... Pipas said industry volume appeared to be down 10 percent to date before seasonal adjustment, but expected Ford's U.S. retail share to hold steady around 13 percent.
After an entire weekend where Pipas's message was spread virtually without criticism, the April vehicle-sales reality turned out to be quite different (the first figure is adjusted for the two-day difference in the number of "selling days" in April 2007  vs. April 2006 ; the second figure in parens is not adjusted for that difference):
Of course there were many other newsmaking events this week, but the relatively silent treatment this story received from Old Media is still not a surprise (the link is to a story at a trade publication's web site; very few papers had a related story written by the Associated Press):
Friday, Wal-Mart dropped its bid to establish a federally insured bank. It's ridiculous that they had so much trouble getting approved, because as the linked article noted:
Industrial banks have been proliferating in recent years — Target Corp., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Harley-Davidson Inc. are among the nearly 60 that now exist. Critics say their growth dangerously blurs the line between banking and commerce, concentrating assets in the hands of a few big companies, stifling competition and hurting consumers.
I don't see where "critics," which I believe in this case really means "the unbylined author of the Associated Press article," have produced even the tiniest bit of evidence the current crop of industrial banks has stifled competition in any way, shape, or form. It's also pretty funny to see an AP writer worrying about "little guys" like Bank of America, Chase, and Citicorp, who are in an industry that itself is getting more and more concentrated (click on the "click to view data" box; the top 10 credit-card companies in 2005 had 92.4% of the business, up from 81.3% in 2004) getting some nontraditional competition.
That said, Wal-Mart's Plan B isn't going to make critics feel any better, and I don't see any "legal" or protest-driven basis on which it can be stopped:
Sometimes media bias can be found in what the networks don’t say. On Tuesday, Wal-Mart suffered a major blow when the liberal 9th Circuit Court in California ruled that a class action lawsuit claiming sex discrimination could proceed against the company. All three evening newscasts reported the story, with ABC and CBS noting that a "federal appeals court" had sided with the female plaintiffs. Over on NBC, "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams simply used the phrase "federal court."
However, the 9th circuit isn’t just any court. This is the group of judges that ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. And, according to a report by the Center for Individual Freedoms, 32 percent of the reversals by the United States Supreme Court in 2003 came from the 9th Circuit. And yet, none of the network anchors thought this a pertinent point. "World News" anchor Charlie Gibson instead chose to hype the enormity of the case:
Charles Gibson: "It is a lawsuit so large in scope and size, that it staggers the imagination.A federal appeals court ruled today that a gender bias suit against Wal-Mart can proceed in what is known as a class-action suit. That means a million and a half to two million women would-be plaintiffs arguing, as a group or class, that Wal-Mart discriminated against them in providing promotions and in paying them less than male employees. Here's our senior law and justice correspondent, Jim Avila."
Loyal NB readers might recall that on the eve of President Bush's recent address on the new way forward in Iraq, I had the chance to participate in a conference call for bloggers with White House press secretary Tony Snow and Brett McGurk of the National Security Council.
With the State of the Union Address just a few hours away, Tony Snow - after a long day making the media rounds - organized a similar event in which your faithful NewsBuster again took part.
I had a chance to ask a question this time around, and chose to focus on recent events in Iraq. After referring to the headlines that have been made by the recent arrest of some 600 militiamen in Iraq, I noted a lesser-publicized report that the Iraqi army had arrested a senior aide to Moktada al-Sadr, Sheikh Abdul al-Hadi Darraji. He was arrested last Friday in a raid on a Baghdad mosque near Sadr City.
I asked Snow whether those events signal that we have in some way turned the corner in obtaining the willingness of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki in going after Shia militias, and if so, how have we been able to achieve this?
It is amusing to me that the South was always considered by Democrats as "the people", the salt of the Earth, and the so-called rank and file in the "solid South" when the they had a lock on their votes from 1820 all the way until 1980. The South was the all-American region and the Democrats loved them dearly. Yes, for over 160 years the Democrats counted the Southern states as stalwarts and they loved them like brothers. But, now that the Southern states more often vote GOP they are a "problem" and are filled with Bible- brainwashed racists who pine for a return to slavery as far as the left is concerned.
For journalists, the answer depends on whether they are covering the shopping season or company layoffs. ______________________
Last year, I sensed that journalists in general prefer to call this time of the year in commerce that of "holiday shopping" instead of "Christmas shopping," but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to "Christmas."
My instincts were proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December (links to last year's related posts are here, here, and here):
I've decided to track the same items this year to see if there is any noticeable change or trend.
Based on the first set of Google News searches during this Christmas season, I would say there is:
Yesterday saw the opening day of the month-and-a-half-long re-enrollment period for Medicare Part D, also known as that damn $700 billion-over-10-years boondoggle.
In other news yesterday, Wal-Mart expanded its $4/month generic prescription drug plan to 11 more states. Oh, and BJ's Wholesale Club got in on the cheap drug action too, saying they'll offer $4 generics, and you don't even have to be a member of the Club.
Great news, right? So why were those stories left out of Charlie Gibson's "World News" in favor of footage of confused or angry seniors grappling with government red tape and prescription plan fine print?
ABC's "Good Morning America" picked up a new complaint by union organizers against Wal-Mart. The company actually wants its employees to show up on time for work.
GMA stacked the deck against the company with 3 of 4 man-on-the-street interviewees scoffing at the company's policy. Employees are allowed three late arrivals before being assigned a "demerit" and risk being fired for racking up demerits in a short period of time.