When President Bush gave his fifth State of the Union address on January 31, 2006, he sat at 43 percent approval in the Gallup tracking poll, in no small part because of public perception regarding his administration's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union last night, his Gallup approval number was lower a mere 41 percent, doubtless impacted in no small part by the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare and the public's disapproval of the health care overhaul. What's more, some 53 percent in a recent Quinnipiac poll slammed the administration as incompetent and 47 percent expressed the belief that President Obama doesn't pay attention to what's transpiring on his watch. As to more objective metrics, the job situation is worse at this point in Barack Obama's presidency than it was the same point in George W. Bush's with higher unemployment (6.7 percent to Bush's 4.9 percent) and a woefully low labor force participation rate (62.8 percent to Bush's 66 percent).
Yet when you compare the Washington Post's front-page treatments of Mr. Obama's January 28 speech and Mr. Bush's January 31, 2006 one, it becomes all too apparent that the Post is eager to help the former spin his way to resetting the narrative for the midterm election year while the paper was all too happy to pound out a drumbeat about how President Bush was an abject failure, a lame duck roasting in the waters of public disapproval. Here's how Post staffers David Nakamura and David Fahrenthold opened up their January 29 front-pager "Obama: I won't stand still" (emphasis mine):
Though this is a local story, I believe it deserves wider attention. That's because it likely reflects an attitude frequently found in local media around the nation.
A January 21 story at the Cincinnati Enquirer worried that fiscally conservative candidates who have begun winning local school board elections "may be philosophically opposed to the way public schools have been traditionally operated and funded" – as if that's automatically a bad thing. Here's some context the Enquirer's Michael D. Clark "somehow" forgot to include: "40% of Ohioans need remedial math or English in college." Gee, maybe "the way public schools have been traditionally operated and funded" isn't working. Clark also let a former local school board president engage in an unhinged rant about "those that have a goal to destroy public education." Excerpts follow the jump (a related video called "Radical School Boards" — how objective — is here; bolds are mine):
I guess when you've run out of anything meaningful to say, you revert to your tired old one-liners, even when they are — or should be — embarrassing.
In early 2009, five days after President Obama's first State of the Union speech, Alex Castellanos, who at the time was apparenty a "Republican strategist," said the following on a CNN Sunday show: "I think, as a friend told me once, that -- listening to Barack Obama give a speech is like sex. The worse there ever was, was excellent." Tuesday night, as Politico's Lucy McCalmont reports, Castellanos was at it again:
I paused a bit before putting this post up because the last thing an AP reporter needs is some guy on the right telling him he did a good job. I suspect that it's not a resume enhancer.
That said, there are two reasons not to to ignore Terence Chea's coverage of the Saturday's Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco. The first is how it contrasts with Brett Zongker's dismissive and incomplete coverage of the far larger DC March for Life the previous Wednesday. For starters, Chea appropriately described the San Francisco march as "massive"; Zongker's story covering a much larger throng in the hundreds of thousands had no comparable adjective. Put the two stories side by side, and the average reader might believe that the West Coast march was larger. Equally as interesting, Chea's accurate description of relatively minor legislative changes in abortion-related laws since Roe v. Wade make a mockery of the left's "war on women" battle cry. I'll compare the two stories after the jump.
There was another appearance of the dreaded U-word ("unexpectedly") this morning at Bloomberg News.
The Commerce Department's advance report on December durable goods orders and shipments showed a seasonally adjusted 4.3 percent decrease in orders from November, while November was revised down from a positive 3.4 percent to 2.6 percent. Economists' median prediction for December was for a 1.8 percent increase. Bloomberg's Victoria Stilwell had an excuse at the ready, and as will be seen, chose to use it even though she knew it was a stretch (bolds are mine throughout this post):
In a weird way, you have to love the blatant, in-your-face disingenuousness of MSNBC. On Saturday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, the program's host trotted out the newest liberal rallying cry – former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s (R) recent comments about the Democratic Party and women. As was the case on some other MSNBC programs last week, the network edited out all context from the former governor’s remarks, showing only the most embarrassing part.
After playing that edited, context-free clip of Huckabee, Witt remarked to Politico’s Juana Summers, “So Juana, Mike Huckabee has since said that the media distorted his comments. But why even open the door to that possibility?” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
We have a new word in the seemingly never-ending saga of "quirks," "oddities" and other sanitizing language the press is using when it identifies serious problems with Obamacare and Medicaid.
The word is "tricky." In describing a bureuacratic nightmare which is leaving some children without insurance (they aren't allowed onto their parents' Obamacare plan, but they also aren't eligible for Medicaid, so they have no coverage anywhere), the Associated Press headlined the situation as follows: "HEALTH LAW TRICKY FOR PARENTS OF MEDICAID KIDS." Those who go to the same article at the DC cbslocal.com web site will at least begin to get an idea of what's really going on thanks to their replacement headline: "Many Children Unable To Be Included In Parents’ Obamacare Family Plans." Content excerpts from Holly Ramer's otherwise fine report, including an unbelievable response from government officials — scratch that, it was unbelievable until Obamacare came along; but now anything's possible — follow the jump (HT to frequent commenter Gary Hall; bolds are mine):
Usually, when the Associated Press covers the Census Bureau's monthly new-home sales releases, its reporters will tell readers that a "healthy" market should generate about 700,000 sales per year (examples here and here). Though I believe that figure is insufficiently ambitious, given that pre-bubble annual sales averaged 776,000 from 1993-2000, it apparently has somewhat wide acceptance.
Of all the times to mention that benchmark, the bureau's final report for 2013 released this morning would be it. But AP's Martin Crutsinger failed to do so, possibly because astute readers would have noted that the year's actual sales of 428,000 units show that the industry, despite years of a media-hyped "housing recovery" which is supposedly leading the economy out of the wilderness (cough, cough), is still operating at a miserable 61 percent of capacity (428K divided by 700K). Excerpts from Crutsinger's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
When it comes to reporting on aspects of Obamacare, the press is really good at pretending to speculate about outcomes which have already happened in the real world, and at contradicting Obama administration assertions without telling readers that's what they've just done.
Case in point: Last Tuesday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Carla K. Johnson and Tom Murphy told readers that Obamacare "could touch ... people who have insurance through work," and that "The law may prompt some companies to drop coverage for their part-time workers" and to "start excluding spouses." The law has already "prompted" all of these things. Excerpts follow the jump.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose name has come up as a possible 2016 presidential contender, had his name splashed all over the nation by the establishment press three years ago when he largely succeeded in reducing the disproportionate influence of public-sector union members. That attention remained steady until Walker beat back a statewide recall in tbe spring of 2012.
One might argue that Walker's now-obvious success is boring and unworthy of national attention, except for the fact that the press still features Walker in national stories from time to time — really important stuff like the fact that he got selected for jury duty but didn't serve. Turning a projected $3.6 billion deficit into a surplus, bringing down the unemployment rate, and proposing an across-the-board tax cut? Forget about it. And what little coverage does occur is almost comical, especially from the mostly unionized Associated Press. Take the last sentence of the following excerpted paragraph from AP reporter Scott Bauer on Friday morning:
On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a one-paragraph order in Little Sisters of the Poor et al v. Sebeluis et al. It told the Sisters that for the case to continue with no enforcement of the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, they need only to inform the government in writing "that they are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services." That's easy, because that's what they are, and that's their position.
As a result, the government has been "enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition." In other words, the Sisters will get their way until the case is decided. After the jump, I'll present a bit of the sane coverage by the Washington Post's Robert Barnes, followed by portions of the reality-avoiding writeup of Jesse Holland found at the Associated Press.
On Friday, January 17, President Obama unveiled the rough outlines of his plan to modify but maintain the National Security Administration's ability to collect telephony metadata from American civilians. For its part on the front page the following morning, The Washington Post exulted that "Obama moves to rein in surveillance" as he "[o]rders limits on phone data." Another front-pager sought to flesh out "A candidate's promises vs. a president's duty," essentially justifying the president's departure from his pre-presidential rhetoric about civil liberties. [see screen capture below page break]
Fast forward to January 23 and scathing report by the congressionally-sanctioned Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, wherein the PCLOB attacked as unconstitutional, illegal, and ineffectual the spying agencies metadata collection program. Post editors opted to place Ellen Nakashima's story on the matter on page A2, pitched in such a way as to practically beg the reader not to dive in. "Obama disagrees with report on NSA," noted the headline, with the subhead adding, "Phone-collection program is legal, administration says." Well, there we have it. Nothing to see here. By contrast, Post editors opted to rake the Bush/Cheney administration over the coals with a front-pager examining "A CIA prison''s secret history in Poland." Staff writer Adam Goldman looked at a CIA "black site" in Poland that was, according to the subheader, "shrouded in mystery, though it cast a long shadow":
For the second straight evening, NBC stuck with Chris Christie's "Bridge-gate" on Thursday as CBS and NBC haven't mentioned the story since Tuesday. And NBC's Nightly News tacked on a story about a dilapidated Trenton high school and connected its disrepair to Governor Christie.
"For his part, Governor Christie tonight is responding to an issue that's been festering for years, right there in the shadow of New Jersey's state house," anchor Brian Williams noted of the school. Nowhere did NBC even wonder about the negligence of the city's Democratic Mayor Tony Mack, who currently is on trial for federal charges of corruption.
On Friday, as I noted on Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told public radio's Susan Arbetter that "extreme conservatives" – that is, people who are pro-life, understand the clear meaning of the Second Amendment, or wish to keep marriage as it has traditionally been defined – "have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are." Note well that Cuomo's remarks are still not news at the Associated Press's national site.
On Sunday, Cuomo's people sent and released an "open letter" containing a very inaccurate transcription of the original interview accusing the New York Post's Aaron Short of being "entirely reckless with facts and the truth" in his report ("Gov. Cuomo to conservatives: Leave NY!"). As I demonstrated on Monday, the only reasonable interpretation of what Cuomo said is that Republican Party members who hold any one of the three positions noted in the previous paragraph "have no place in the state of New York." In the past several days, the matter has escalated. The Post has continued to cover the story – that's what newspapers are supposed to do – while, in an extraordinary move, the Counsel to the Governor has entered the fray with what can only be interpreted as threatening language.
This is a "Can't Make This Up" item on two levels. The more obvious of the two is an incredibly tone-deaf statement issued by Texas Democratic guberatorial candidate Wendy Davis, whose Republican opponent is paraplegic Greg Abbott, that "I am proud of what I’ve been able to achieve through hard work and perseverance. And I guarantee you that anyone who tries to say otherwise hasn’t walked a day in my shoes."
The second "Can't Make This Up" aspect relates to Nia-Malika Henderson of the "She the People" blog at the Washington Post and Jon Herskovitz at Reuters. You see, they both failed to do what establishment press members usually do, i.e, they failed to filter out the damning sentence; maybe they didn't know better. A mini-grab of Davis's statement yesterday follows the jump:
Wow, I'd better get this post done quickly, because Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has been tweeting up a storm and has posted "an open letter" at her web site. If I blink, I might miss a half-dozen more tweets.
Davis apparently thinks that if she accuses Republican candidate Greg Abbott and his campaign of being behind the Sunday Dallas Morning News story which poked gaping holes in her picture-perfect bio often enough, it will somehow become true. It won't. Wayne Slater, the DMN reporter who authored the story, has tweeted that "I talked to no - zero - Abbott people." But sadly, in the current establishment media environment, the in-your-face "poor little girl fights back against bullies" tactic might work. A pic of the eight tweets from three hours ago and excerpts from her "open letter" follow the jump.
To be fair, it started with the original story broken at the Dallas Morning News, where Wayne Slater's substantive story about Wendy Davis's problems with the truth was headlined "As Wendy Davis touts life story in race for governor, key facts blurred."
"Blurred" is clearly a popular word with an establishment press which is determined to try to make this problem with Davis's basic credibility go away. The New York Times ("Accused of Blurring Facts of Stirring Life Story, Texas Lawmaker Offers Chronology") and NBCnews.com ("Off to the races: Wendy Davis' 'blurred' bio") have also gotten in on the "blurred" headline act (Perhaps surprisingly, the Associated Press and Politico, whose coverage I addressed yesterday, have not). So has CBS News, whose Rebecca Kaplan bent over backwards to try to keep Davis in a favorable light (links are in original; bolds and numbered tags are mine):
The administration of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tried to hit back at the press on Sunday for supposedly misunderstanding his Friday morning statement to Susan Arbetter on the public radio show "Capitol Pressroom" that "extreme conservatives ... have no place in New York." As I noted on Saturday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Governor made it clear that "extreme conservatives" include those who are right to life, understand the clear meaning of the Second Amendment, and believe in traditional marriage.
But to go after the press, Cuomo's people had to find a news outlet besides a public radio station which actually reported on what he said. Even though his Friday remarks were self-evidently newsworthy, that appears to have been pretty difficult. The Associated Press's national site still doesn't have a story; nor does the New York Times or the Politico. Cuomo's peeps chose to go after the New York Post, whose Aaron Short went to the next step in Cuomo's stated logic in running a story headlined "Gov. Cuomo to conservatives: Leave NY!." Team Cuomo's response in full follows the jump (bolds are mine; words Cuomo's people left out are in caps; other words Cuomo didn't say are crossed out):
Appearing on Monday's NBC Today, MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough acknowledged how eager his colleagues at the left-wing network were to take down Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: "I mean, listen, you can attack the network if you want to, there are a lot of people that go after him gleefully, that's not shocking." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Scarborough was responding to criticism from Christie's administration over MSNBC hyping claims from Democratic Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that the Governor withheld Sandy relief funds for political reasons. Co-host Savannah Guthrie cited a Christie spokesperson "pushing back not just on the facts of the story, but on the network that broke the story....'MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Governor Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him.'"
Much will be written, and should be, about President Barack Obama's whining that racism partially explains the year-long plunge in his popularity since his reelection in 2012. What's also worth noting about the ponderous and painfully long (18 web pages) January 27 writeup in The New Yorker ("Going the Distance; On and off the road with Barack Obama") is David Remnick's apparent obsessions with rewriting history and recasting reality.
But first, here's the paragraph where Obama, apparently feeling that the "it's Bush's fault I inherited all these messes" card may finally have worn itself out, goes for the race card (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
On Thursday, Stephanie Condon at CBS News reported ("Security chief: HealthCare.gov has passed security testing") that Teresa Fryer, who had recommended against allowing HealthCare.gov going live before its October launch but was overruled, "told Congress ... that the Obamacare website passed security testing in December, and she would recommend that its official Authority to Operate (ATO) be extended when the current ATO expires in March."
On Friday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, in an otherwise keister-covering dispatch apparently designed to show that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was really, really unaware of the web site's prelaunch security problems, claimed without qualification that "There have been no successful attacks on the site" — even though by law the government "need never notify customers that their personal information has been hacked or possibly compromised."
Presumed union member (the News Media Guild) and Associated Press reporter Sam Hananel's Sunday morning coverage of union threats against a pilot partnership between the U.S. Postal Service and Staples Inc. fails to deliver on at least three counts.
First, while noting that American Postal Workers Union (APWU) boycott threats ended a similar effort at Sears stores in the late-1980s, Hananel "somehow" forgot to note its aftermath, which resulted in even wider distribution of USPS products by non-union workers. Second, Hananel ignored the fact that USPS's main competitors, UPS and Fedex, both already have large networks of relatively convenient nonunion retail shipping outlets – compared to most post offices, which are separate-trip, standalone locations. Third, and most critically, he fails to note that the APWU's demand to have its members staff the Staples counters, even ignoring the wage differential, would be an extraordinarily counterproductive waste of labor. Excerpts from his coverage follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Imagine if Texas Senator Ted Cruz or Lone Star State Governor Rick Perry told a public radio show's host that "people who support abortion, gun control, and same-sex marriage have no place in Texas." There would be breaking news alerts on every cable news station. It would be a press obsession for weeks. More immediately, there would be intense pushback from the show's host.
On the public radio show "Capitol Pressroom" with Susan Arbetter on Friday morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is surely assessing the 2016 presidential landscape, asserted that "extreme conservatives" – that is, people who are pro-life, understand the clear meaning of the Second Amendment, or wish to keep marriage as it has traditionally been defined – "have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are." Arbetter just let Cuomo's remarks slide on by without meaningful follow-up, and arguably appeared to agree with their thrust. Audio and relevant portions of the transcript follow the jump.
Duck Dynasty returned to A&E last night with brand new episodes, the first since the row last month about Phil Robertson's comments regarding sin and homosexuality. The reality show, entering its fifth season, had strong numbers, but they were lower than the season 4 debut. That number was all MSNBC needed to seize on to see a moral victory for the gay-rights groups that had pressured A&E to fire Phil Robertson.
"'Duck Dynasty' ratings dip amid anti-gay flap," thundered the teaser headline on the msnbc.com landing page. Clicking the link brings the reader to Morgan Whitaker's January 17 article, "‘Duck Dynasty’ sees ratings drop in season premiere," which begins (emphasis mine):
It's hard to imagine how the Politico's Kyle Cheney could have written up his Thursday story about the government's dissatisfaction with soon to be (but not yet) former prime HealthCare.gov contractor CGI with a straight face. But it appears that he did.
The opening sentence of Cheney's report is an absolute howler. When you read it after the jump, keep in mind that the firm worked on HealthCare.gov for well over a year before its October 1 debut, and that it was obvious to everyone within hours of its launch that the web site's construction had been horribly botched. So guess when the government wants us to believe it finally figured out that CGI wasn't up to its assigned tasks?
In May 2009, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, announced that it would be "launching an index that will provide monthly, multi-format updates on the economic stress of the United States down to the county level." Not a bad idea, especially if you were concerned that evidence of an economic recovery under Barack Obama would not otherwise be convincing.
The AP likely believed that since an overwhelming percentage of U.S. counties lean conservative (remember those Bush v. Gore county maps?), a large majority of U.S. counties would likely recover in time for the 2010 congressional elections, or in the worst-case scenario, the 2012 presidential election — even if the nation as a whole did not. A statement that "most counties in the U.S. have recovered from the recession" would have been quite useful in defending congressional Democrats and Barack Obama's incumbency. But a recently released report from the National Association of Counties (NACo), which was covered poorly by the Wall Street Journal and virtually ignored by almost everyone else, shows that it hasn't happened.
A search at the national web site of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, on the name of Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker (not in quotes) returns only two recent relevant items. One relates to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, where Walker is described as saying, in AP's words, "that (last week) he didn't know enough about the situation to comment ... (and) has remained silent in the days since details emerged." The other relates to Walker's brief jury duty stint last week.
Giving items relating to Walker national attention makes sense, given that his name frequently comes up as a possible GOP 2016 presidential contender. But if the two items just mentioned merit national coverage, why doesn't the fact that an out-of-control Democratic Wisconsin prosecutor attempting to dig up "coordination" between interested outside parties and Walker's 2012 campaign to turn back a recall effort just had his hat handed to him in court? On Friday evening, a Wall Street Journal editorial had the news (bolds are mine throughout this post; the link to a previous WSJ editorial was added by me):
I agree with MSNBC. I find it hard to believe that Gov. Chris Christie knew nothing about his staff's plotting a massive traffic jam on the ramp to the George Washington Bridge for political retribution.
On the other hand, I also find it hard to believe that Obama didn't know his own IRS was auditing his political enemies. And I find it hard to believe that Obama didn't know you wouldn't be able to keep your doctor under Obamacare. But most of all, I find it hard to believe that MSNBC host Al Sharpton didn't know Tawana Brawley was lying when she claimed to have been gang-raped by rogue cops on the Wappingers Falls, N.Y., police force.
Before anyone seeks to level a criticism for picking on someone's mistake, let's imagine what the press, which is so desperate to pin anything on Ted Cruz that one of its members recently tried to hold him responsible for others' comments on his Facebook page, would do to him if he made the error recently elected New Jersey Senator Cory Booker made two days ago on Twitter — and has yet to correct.
MSNBC's Touré Neblett, who recently condoned consumers lying to corporations like Amazon to get discounts to which they aren't entitled, really needs to stay away from Twitter — or have someone screen his tweets.
On Tuesday, he tweeted (HT Twitchy) that "Many in poverty are working poor w two jobs. So 'jobs' is an ineffective anti poverty program." Note that he didn't indicate that "jobs" might not be the whole answer, which in some instances may be the case. He instead asserted that the idea of creating jobs and encouraging poor people to get them is "ineffective" as a way to get them out of poverty.