Agence France-Presse

By Tom Blumer | May 10, 2010 | 1:48 PM EDT
ObamaAtHamptonU0510Yesterday, in the midst of the commencement address he delivered at Hampton University, President Obama made a startling "admission" (readers will see why "admission" is in quotes shortly):
And meanwhile, you're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- (laughter) -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.

There are more troubling overtones inherent in the excerpt that many observers have already noted. I'll stay away from them for the purposes of this post.

Those matters aside, there are still a few pesky items that arise from the bolded portion of the excerpt.

By Tom Blumer | February 6, 2010 | 2:11 AM EST
APvidTeaseToyotaFix020410AFPlogo

In a post late Thursday afternoon (at NewBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the half of the teases (6 of 12) for the Associated Press's short videos in business stories at its web site were about Toyota, specifically its recent product quality issues and falling sales.

In that post, I noted a conflict of interest in the relationship between the U.S. government and Toyota, and wondered when someone in the press would bring the matter up:

To the extent the government is leaning hard on the company, somebody in the press should be questioning whether the motivations are purely related to safety or whether they also involve generating as much negative publicity as possible about the principal foreign-based competitor of government-controlled General Motors and Chrysler.

I didn't realize at the time that one wire service, AFP, actually had actually brought up the matter, complete with quite a provocative headline, Thursday morning.

Here are key paragraphs from Mira Oberman's AFP story (bolds are mine):

By Rusty Weiss | January 31, 2010 | 1:05 AM EST

Watching the media's inability to find relevant investigative news during the Obama era is like watching a bald-headed fellow named Fudd hunting for ‘wabbit'. 

Such is the case of the main stream media's complete and utter ignorance involving the administration recently steering a $25 million no-bid contract to a Democratic campaign contributor. 

While Fox News reporter James Rosen did an in-depth investigative report (and follow up) on the deal with Checchi & Company - despite working for what the administration considers a non-news network - the entire media establishment had ignored a significant reneging of campaign promises, right up until that deal was canceled.

Doing his best impersonation of a crystal ball, NewsBuster Tom Blumer correctly foretold the future when he questioned the media response to the story:   

"Will the rest of the establishment press risk the tattered remnants of its credibility, follow the White House's suggestion, and ignore the story because it's coming from Fox?"

The answer...

By Tom Blumer | January 10, 2010 | 6:33 PM EST
HugoChavez0110Four recent stories out of Venezuela each give readers brief glimpses at how Hugo Chavez's brand of authoritarian socialism is critically wounding what could be a resource-rich, financially prosperous country:
  1. January 9, Associated Press -- "Venezuela weakens currency for 1st time in 5 years."
  2. January 10, Bloomberg -- "Chavez Says He’ll Seize Businesses That Raise Prices."
  3. December 22, AFP -- "Chavez announces new discount 'socialist' stores."
  4. January 9, AP -- "Venezuela faces risk of devastating power collapse."

Collectively, however, they depict a country in the early stages of a headlong free-fall into Cuban-style financial ruin. No U.S. establishment media enterprise appears interested in making the accelerating decays in financial well-being and personal freedom in that country understandable to the average person.

AP's headline at the first item noted seems designed to avoid attention. This isn't a mere "weakening" of the currency; instead, it's a bizarre bi-level devaluation of up to 50%:

By Noel Sheppard | December 1, 2009 | 5:12 PM EST

Almost a year ago, the media had a field day with the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush.

On Tuesday, Muntazer al-Zaidi was in Paris promoting his campaign for what he calls "victims of the US occupation in Iraq," and a fellow journalist threw a shoe at him.

Given the media's fascination with Zaidi's highly-publicized demonstration last year, it will be very interesting to see how the press will respond when the shoe is literally on the other foot (video embedded below the fold with additional commentary, h/t Story Balloon):

By Tom Blumer | November 21, 2009 | 10:37 AM EST
taxes

At this point, there should be little doubt that there is a concerted attempt underway to use the war in Afghanistan as a justification for punitively taxing high earners.

Last weekend (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the New York Times discovered that wars cost money. It cited Wisconsin Democratic Congressman David Obey's concern that funding the Afghanistan effort at the level requested months ago by General Stanley A. McChrystal would "devour virtually any other priorities that the president or anyone in Congress had."

Thursday, as reported by AFP (noted last night at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), House Democratic heavy-hitters Barney Frank, John Murtha, and (no surprise) Obey announced the "Share The Sacrifice Act of 2010," an income-tax surcharge that overwhelmingly targets high-income earners.

Now Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin has weighed in. Bloomberg dutifully carried his water, as seen in this graphic containing the first four paragraphs of the report:

By Tom Blumer | November 20, 2009 | 10:59 PM EST
AfghanWarAFPphoto1109

You've got to hand it to the propagandists at the AFP. When heavy-hitting members of the party they favor announce an idea whose main purpose is, as the New York Times suddenly "discovered" last weekend, to remind people that wars cost money and distract from supposedly more important priorities, the wire service leaps into action.

Even AFP acknowledges that the tax proposal by several top-tier Democrats has no chance of becoming law. But again, that's not the point. Their proposal's purpose is to remind people that spending money on wars supposedly takes money out of the mouths of children and other living things, even those in non-existent congressional districts, and to attempt to make the climate for increasing taxes in the near future more favorable.

Here are key paragraphs of the unbylined report (bolds are mine):

By Noel Sheppard | November 10, 2009 | 10:21 PM EST

A British study has found a new area of sea off the coast of Antarctica, supposedly caused by global warming, that is soaking up carbon dioxide climate alarmists like Al Gore and his media minions believe is responsible for -- wait for it! -- global warming.

You really can't make this stuff up!

Professor Lloyd Peck, a near-shore marine biologist from the British Antarctic Survey, marvelously said about the find, "It shows nature's ability to thrive in the face of adversity."

With obviously little fanfare, this supports the view of much-maligned climate realists who maintain that fluctuations in global temperatures are largely cyclical, and that nature typically balances such changes over the course of time.

As Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday:

By Noel Sheppard | October 26, 2009 | 12:53 AM EDT

If Fidel Castro and Sean Penn are in the same room, which one do you think hates America more?

Such a question doesn't seem to concern Vanity Fair who according to the website TMZ has hired Penn to write an article about how Barack Obama and his administration have impacted Cuba.

As reported by Agence France-Presse Sunday (h/t Big Hollywood):

By Noel Sheppard | September 15, 2009 | 10:11 AM EDT

All together now: "I'd like to teach the world to stop global warming."

Though such likely won't be the lyrics, a group of the world's leading celebrities have joined together to create a new song to draw attention to climate change.

After all, with an Oscar-winning film, a Nobel Peace Prize, and all the focus on Al Gore's now completely debunked schlockumentary "An Inconvenient Truth," there certainly hasn't been enough attention given to what is indeed becoming one of the biggest scams in history.

Despite all that, folks who regularly fly around the world emitting more carbon dioxide in a year than most people on the planet will all of their lives feel the need to scold those barely making ends meet.

As reported by Agence France-Presse Monday (h/t reader Rod Richardson):

By Tom Blumer | August 7, 2009 | 5:39 PM EDT
AFPpicSidebarOnObamaPollStory080409About the only thing you can conclude about the Agence France-Presse wire service's August 4 "news" item about a health care poll result ("Majority back Obama on health care reform: poll") is that they couldn't find anything more recent than three weeks old to provide the result they were looking for. So AFP went back to a poll done between July 9-13 -- an online one no less. As NewsBusters colleague Noel Sheppard would say, "I kid you not."

The House Democrats' 1,018-page health-care plan wasn't even released until late in the day on Tuesday, July 14. To say that AFP's report and the related poll results are worse than worthless to any current discussions is almost to praise them too much.

Here is a mini-pic of the first several paragraphs presented for fair use, discussion, and repudiation purposes:

By Tom Blumer | June 20, 2009 | 1:50 AM EDT
AFPlogo

Question: How do you water down the possible significance of a statement by an Iranian diplomat?

Answer: Wait for an AFP journalist to revise a previous raw report.

A short unbylined dispatch from the wire service reported that the diplomat "apparently misspoke" when he said that Iran has "the right to a nuclear weapon" not long after the incident occurred. (Dictionary.com tells us that "Used before a noun, apparent means 'seeming.'")

In a later full story ("Iran denies wants nuclear weapon as insurance"), AFP's Simon Morgan reassured readers that the statement by Ali Asghar Soltanieh "was clearly a slip of the tongue."

How can he be so certain?

Here is most of the brief early report after the incident (note that the headline, "Bombshell: Iran envoy in nuclear weapon slip-up," already had the excuse down pat; bolds are mine):