Months after her death, the Associated Press has reopened the tragic story of Terri Schiavo, this time giving its huge audience the big news that her husband has launched a Political Action Committee:
Michael Schiavo, whose effort to end life support for his brain-damaged wife divided a nation, is launching a political action committee that will challenge candidates based on where they stand on government's reach in private lives.
In rehashing the story, the AP continues just as it left off, lying. Terri Schiavo was no more on “life support” than is an infant child who cannot feed itself. But just to keep the ball rolling--in an AP-ish sort of way--they couldn’t resist jabbing you know who:
A recent report published by the Gallup Organization stated:
“a majority of U.S. investors continue to describe the current economy as being ‘in a slowdown’ or ‘recession’ as opposed to being ‘in a recovery’ or ‘sustained expansion.’”
Regardless of continuously strong economic reports, such bearish assessments have been regularly portrayed by public opinion polls for several years. During this period, economists and politicians – including the Bush administration – have wondered what is responsible for this disconnect between perception and reality.
A detailed look at how unemployment numbers are shared with the public by mainstream media outlets gives us some clues. The Labor Department on Friday announced very strong employment gains for the month of November. In fact, this was the largest number of job creations since April. However, this news was reported to the public in a fashion that largely downplayed its significance. A 3.2 percent annual increase in wages was characterized as employees “basically treading water.” Although energy prices have been steadily declining since September, jobs market stories included references of this still being a “huge concern.” Other news accounts referred to the unemployment rate being “stuck at 5 percent,” as if a 5 percent unemployment rate is a bad thing, while one cable news outlet told viewers to take the numbers “with a grain of salt.”
Yesterday Lester wrote, "U.S. Allies Oppose Torture, Polls Show", but instead of focusing on the torture poll, the article focuses on American allies that don't want the United States conducting secret interrogations of terror suspects on their soil.
About two-thirds of the people living in Canada, Mexico, South Korea and Spain said they would oppose allowing the U.S. to secretly interrogate terror suspects in their countries. Almost that many in Britain, France, Germany and Italy said they feel the same way. Almost two-thirds in the United States support such interrogations in the U.S. by their own government.
WASHINGTON - A spy-agency analysis released Thursday contends a second attack on U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin never happened, casting further doubt on the leading rationale for escalation of the Vietnam War.
Much as faulty U.S. intelligence preceded the invasion of Iraq, the mishandling of intercepted communications 40 years earlier is blamed in the National Security Agency paper for giving President Johnson carte blanche in the conflict.
There's more than one parallel here, and it goes to the blinders the AP is wearing when it reports on either war. The idea that America was going to go to war over the Gulf of Tonkin alone is absurd. Unless there was a much more serious threat, like the notion that Communists were going to overrun southeast Asia (which they did), a couple of bullet holes in the side of a ship weren't going to goad this country into a 10-year, 500,000-man commitment half a world away.
The media’s pessimistic holiday shopping forecasts fail to register with reality.
Don't miss my latest at the Free Market Project: Contrary to the media’s pessimistic forecasts for the Christmas shopping season reported by the Free Market Project in late October, strong retail sales this Thanksgiving weekend got the annual end-of-the-year buying bonanza off to a bang. In fact, the economic data available prior to this weekend looked so strong that the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, actually raised its sales forecast for 2005 holiday shopping from a 5 percent year-over-year increase to 6 percent.
Regardless of this upgrade in expectations by retailers themselves, and the fabulous start to the shopping season, the media continued to rain on everybody’s parade.
The Chicago-based organization - supported by several Protestant denominations that believe Christianity forbids all war-making and violence - has sent activists into war zones, including Bosnia and Haiti, since the late 1980s. It has about 160 members around the world and about a dozen in Iraq.
Don't miss my latest writing for the Free Market Project: Media claims about a “housing bubble” are nothing new. Since before the 9/11 terror attacks, the media have been calling the housing market a “bubble” while predicting an imminent, devastating decline. Not only have they been wrong in forecasting such a top, they have thoroughly mischaracterized what an investment bubble is. Now that the market for homes has finally slowed a bit, the media are declaring the bubble has burst.
A Bubble?: Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has denied the existence of a national housing bubble for several years, but the media have used the term repeatedly.
Strong Gains: The increase in real estate values the past five years has not resembled the rapid rise typically seen in a bubble. In 2000, the national median existing-home value was $139,000. This grew to $215,900 by the third quarter of 2005 – a 55-percent nominal increase but a 34-percent inflation-adjusted gain.
Home Sales Still Going Up: New home sales jumped another 13 percent in October. While sales of existing homes were down 2.7 percent from September, the median national price rose to $218,000, a 16.6 percent increase since October 2004.
Associated Press reports today that routinely wacky CNN founder Ted Turner lectured at Kansas State University and echoed Howard Dean's line as a presidential candidate: "Media mogul Ted Turner said Monday that Iraq is 'no better off' following the U.S.-led invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003."
Turner also said he thinks it's plausible that President Bush will launch a nuclear war:
He warned that a nuclear war could "kill everything on the planet" and said it could take place in an afternoon. Turner said he was afraid someone in power could make the mistake to launch a nuclear war, including President Bush, based on his previous decisions.
Dave Huber explains at Oh, That Liberal Media that the Boston Globe erred in its headline in an AP story with the words "Teacher Under Investigation for Alleged Liberalism":
The school superintendent whose district includes Mount Anthony Union High School has labeled "inappropriate" and "irresponsible" an English teacher's use of liberal statements in a vocabulary quiz.
"I wish Bush would be (coherent, eschewed) for once during a speech, but there are theories that his everyday diction charms the below-average mind, hence insuring him Republican votes," said one question on a quiz written by English and social studies teacher Bret Chenkin.
The Associated Press and United Press International are reporting that another Democratic hawk, Norm Dicks (D-Washington), has changed his position on the Iraq war. They are both quoting from and referencing a Seattle Times article first published about 16 hours ago entitled “Defense hawk Dicks says he now sees war as a mistake.” Yet, they are conveniently ignoring previous statements made by Dicks concerning the war that were also reported by the Seattle Times.
For those who missed it, the Federal Open Market Committee released minutes from its November 1 meeting on Tuesday, and the stock market rallied as a result. Yet, depending upon which Associated Press story you read, you were either elated or despondent.
For instance, the AP’s Michael J. Martinez began his report: “Stocks extended their rally yesterday after the Fed's latest take on the economy raised hopes that the central bank's string of a dozen interest rate hikes are coming to an end.”
By contrast, Jeannine Aversa began her article: “Worried that high energy costs could spread inflation throughout the economy, Federal Reserve policymakers this month decided they should keep pushing interest rates higher.”
The Associated Press is at it again. In its continuing crusade against the Catholic Church, Richard Ostling has come up with a piece titled, “Catholics Disagree Over New Vatican Decree,” in which he attempts to use priests to chastise the church for the Vatican’s decree forbidding gay men to enter seminaries. A few samples:
"I have no idea how they will apply it. It will just be a nightmare," said the Rev. Eugene Lauer of the New York-based National Pastoral Life Center.
"Our seminaries are likely to be depopulated to a significant extent," said the Rev. Donald Cozzens of John Carroll University.
The Associated Press has its problems with religion. Newsbusters has documented many examples of the AP mentioning conservatives’ religious affiliations when they are actually irrelevant to the stories they publish.
Today however, they ran a piece called, Disasters Heighten Habitat's Profile, which dealt with the growing popularity of Habitat for Humanity, a group previously most known for its involvement with former president Jimmy Carter.
Around twelve hours ago, NewsMax broke a story about Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) having urged former President Clinton to remove U.S. troops from Somalia in 1993:
“Clinton took the advice and ordered the withdrawal - a decision that Osama bin Laden would later credit with emboldening his terrorist fighters and encouraging him to mount further attacks against the U.S.”
At this point, a Google news search identified only a handful of media sources – including Rush Limbaugh, The American Thinker, and Village Soup – as having picked up this story. Yet, there are a number of articles from September 1993 that appear to confirm the NewsMax story, so many so that one has to wonder if and when any mainstream press outlets are going to report this.
For instance, Rowan Scarborough with the Washington Times at that point reported on September 6, 1993:
The liberal press of late has been enamored of late of collecting gaffes from Pat Robertson on his "700 Club" broadcasts, with an assist from that liberal opinion-show watchdog website. But AP's Kristen Hays is reporting -- without any disagreement or comment from conservatives within the article -- that "The leader of the largest branch of American Judaism blasted conservative religious activists in a speech Saturday, calling them 'zealots' who claim a 'monopoly on God' while promoting anti-gay policies akin to Adolf Hitler's."
What? A major Jewish leader comparing conservatives to Nazis? Here's the money quote from Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism: "We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations," Yoffie said. "Yes, we can disagree about gay marriage. But there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric that fuels the hellfires of anti-gay bigotry." For his smear in Houston before a gathering of Reform Jews, AP reports, "The audience of 5,000 responded to the speech with enthusiastic applause."
The AP on Sunday significantly misrepresented President Bush's public statements on pre-war intelligence. It's not the first time, it won't be the last, and it long ago ceased being surprising. But it is unacceptable journalistic malpractice. This story begins in earnest about a week and a half ago, when after months of being hammered by critics on the left as having "lied," the President finally stood up and addressed the issue of pre-war intelligence. His speech, addressing the reality that he's been constantly under attack for the past two years, represented an attempt to defend himself and his administration. It was, of course, immediately called an "attack" by the Associated Press, and others of their stripe. But they apparently didn't listen to, or read, what he actually said. Otherwise, they'd never have been able to write the following:
After fiercely defending his Iraq policy across Asia, President Bush abruptly toned down his attack on war critics Sunday and said there was nothing unpatriotic about opposing his strategy. "People should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about Iraq," Bush said, three days after agreeing with Vice President Dick Cheney that the critics were "reprehensible."
The President "abruptly toned down" nothing. In the speech that caused all of the initial uproar, he said the same things. He said "when I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it." He said "it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war." So the comments that the AP is portraying as "abruptly toned down" are the same comments that he made at the time of "his attack on war critics." Those comments are nothing new. There's just another opportunity for the AP to misrepresent the President, and cast him in a negative light. And that's nothing new, either...
This headline from AP yesterday seemed accurate: "Iraq War Criticism Stalks Bush Overseas." But who are the stalkers? It's another way of saying "Reporters Stalk Bush Overseas." They are the black clouds following him everywhere, touting the death toll and his poll ratings for dishonesty in every story. As in this paragraph: "An AP-Ipsos poll earlier this month found a significant drop in the share of Americans saying Bush is honest. Also, with the U.S. death toll now above 2,080 in Iraq, nearly two-thirds of the country disapproves of Bush's conduct of the war." AP reporter Jennifer Loven's first words are "His was policies under siege at home..."
It's good to remember, as Powerline pointed out last year, that Loven is married to an environmentalist advocate who was touted by John Kerry's campaign as a major supporter.
Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, in a new article entitled “Bush at the Tipping Point,” joined an expanding list of media representatives that have not only completely ignored statements made by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) concerning his disappointments with the Iraq war that came before his Thursday call for troop withdrawals, but also thoroughly misrepresented the level of support that Murtha gave to the initial war resolution back in October 2002:
“Murtha was the one-man tipping point. Initially a strong supporter of the conflict, he had voted for it and the money to pay for it. But on his last trip to Iraq, he had become convinced not only that the war was unwinnable, but that the continued American military presence was making matters far worse.”
As reported by NewsBusters here, Congressman Murtha first voiced dissent for this war in September 2003, and then again in May 2004. However, maybe most important, the record before the war resolution passed on October 11, 2002 shows Murtha as having initially been against invading Iraq, and only getting onboard when a revised resolution was proposed on October 2. Prior to those revisions authored by Democrats in the House to assuage dissenters like Murtha, the Congressman was quite vocal against an invasion:
The headline, “US Has Detained 83,000 in War on Terror”, greeted me when I logged on the Internet on Wed. Nov. 16 after lunch. I was stunned. Where were all the prisoners being held? Was this another leak from the CIA? I clicked on the link without thinking twice.
Surprise, Surprise – another AP story extolling the negatives from Iraq. Another day, another negative story from the AP.
The article opens with the statement “The United States has detained more than 83,000 foreigners in the four years of the war on terror, enough to nearly fill the NFL’s largest stadium”. Since when do we equate the war on terror and terrorists with the size of football stadiums? I have yet to see an article where the writer compared the number of Coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians killed by the terrorists in Iraq to the capacity of a sports arena. I was at a loss trying to understand why such a comparison was necessary or appropriate.
In August 2005, the Associated Press was put on notice by readers and editors that the stream of negative AP reports from Iraq needed to be balanced with positives from Iraq. The AP responded by posting FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) on their website explaining how the war is covered. Based on a review of Associated Press articles in October 2005, the FAQ’s should be renamed the “falsely answered questions”.
The AP claimed their stories focused on “political developments in Iraq, writing daily about both political success and stalled efforts”. Based on Internet searches, the AP published approximately 207 articles about the war in Iraq during October 2005. Out of the 207 articles, 127 began with negative titles. In addition, titles of 65 articles referred to deaths in Iraq.
As is their practice, the Associated Press once again demonstrates that some of their writers will often use quotes by Republican conservatives out of context to damage them; even if that context is one of their own reports. In addition, they will distort and even mis-report facts when it suits their purposes.
In his latest, GOP's Legislative Agenda Losing Steam, the ever-reliable David Espo doesn’t disappoint. He opens his gloom and doom piece explaining the GOP agenda is in trouble due to, “President Bush's sagging poll numbers, an unstable leadership lineup in the House and growing concern about congressional elections less than a year away.”
The Associated Press, in coordination with IPSOS, conducted a poll from November 7 through November 9, 2005. The poll questions revolved around President Bush and the direction that the United States was headed. The poll results were reported by Will Lester in the AP article, “Poll: Most Americans Doubt Bush’s Honesty”.
According to the IPSOS report on the poll, 1000 adults were interviewed. Only 837 were identified as registered voters – 78% according the percentages cited in the report. Out of the 1000 adults, only 40% were identified as Republicans – either strongly or moderately Republican. Those identified as Democrats constituted 51% of the total adults interviewed. Independents and those “not sure” made up 9% of those polled. This puts President Bush and his administration at a 60% disadvantage from the beginning. So much for a true picture of opinions as President Bush garnered 51% of the popular vote in November 2004.
Media Wrong About Dollar: As the frequency of pessimistic reports increases, their accuracy seems to decline.
Since the stock market’s collapse between March 2000 and October 2002, the Free Market Project media have continually been making gloomy and bearish economic forecasts, from predictions of a housing bubble implosion to gasoline prices heading to $5 per gallon and even an economic downturn due to Hurricane Katrina. As The Free Market Project has reported, none of these have panned out.
Other examples of media gloom and doom that ended up being inaccurate were the press’s opinions of the falling dollar at the end of last year, and what they believed were the likely consequences. Tom Fenton of CBS News went so far as to link the decline to the start of the Bush presidency. “Since the end of the Clinton administration – or to put it another way, since the beginning of the Bush administration – the dollar has been heading south at an alarming rate,” he argued in a Dec. 6, 2004, piece.
The media storyline from yesterday's election results has been, for the most part, that Democrats picked up big victories, and that it was all bad news for the Republicans. And that President Bush, bogged down in incompetence (Hurricane Katrina) and malice ("he lied - people died!"), pandering to the right-wing (Alito) and heading an out-of-control criminal White House (Libby and Rove) is acting as an anchor, dragging down the Republican Party, leading to these spectacular Democratic wins. We see it in the New York Times:
After months of sagging poll ratings, scandal and general political unrest, the Republicans badly needed some good news in Tuesday's elections for governor. What they got instead was a clear-cut loss in a red state, and an expected but still painful defeat in a blue one.
The Republican loss in Virginia, which President Bush carried with 54 percent just a year ago, came after an 11th-hour campaign stop by Mr. Bush and the kind of all-out Republican effort to mobilize the vote that reaped rich rewards last year.
The Associated Press continued the media crusade against Scooter Libby continued today by clarifying the aims of his enemies, but revealed a typical omission instead. The cleverly-titled piece, “Democrats Don't Want Libby to Be Pardoned,” speaks volumes about its bias.
AP special correspondent David Espo began by quoting a letter from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to the White House:
"We also urge you to state publicly whether anyone in the White House -- including White House counsel Harriet Miers or Vice President Cheney -- has already discussed the possibility of a pardon with Mr. Libby."
The Associated Press has found a unique way to ensure that negative statements and comments regarding Iraq get wide circulation.. Just have two writers do similar pieces with different titles and release them on the same day. The articles should contain the same negative comments and talking points. Throw in a few token positives, rearrange the flow of the articles and you have a hit. It’s a given that someone will read at least one of the articles and come away with an idea of bad things in Iraq. If the AP strikes the mother lode and a reader is exposed to both pieces, the repeated negatives work like a subliminal message.
Such is the case with 2 stories released by the AP on October 25, 2005. The subject was the failure to find any fraud in the Constitutional referendum in Iraq. The 10-day audit was completed and the citizens ratified Iraq’s Constitution. Thomas Wagner’s article, “Draft Constitution Adopted by Iraq Voters”, was posted at 0928 EDT. Mariam Fam’s article, “Iraq’s Constitution Ratified by Voters”, came later in the afternoon at 1600 EDT.
Regardless of economic data, press accounts are typically negative and pessimistic.
The economy has been growing at a very strong clip since October 2001. Real estate prices are at their highest levels in history, as are homeownership and Americans’ average net worth. Unemployment also is lower than the average during any of the past three decades. Yet Americans are very down, and one third even think the economy is in a recession. Is consistently negative media coverage influencing public attitudes? Might headlines like “Job growth less than expected” and “Jobs come up weak” have something to do with the gloom being felt across the country?
The Labor Department announced unemployment numbers for October on November 4, and despite a decline in this rate and an addition to payrolls, the media reported the gains as “surprisingly meager,” “stalled,” “damped,” and “disappointing.”
Our friends at the Associated Press have once again reminded us why any of their releases that contain the name ‘Bush’ must always be viewed skeptically. Their latest entry, “Bush Diplomacy Means Settling for Less” is one such example.
While praising their efforts to work with the UN on Iran and Syria, AP writer Anne Gearan takes the Bush Administration in general and Condi Rice in particular, to task for their former unapologetic unilateralism:
In showdowns over Iran, North Korea and now Syria, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seemingly agrees that half a loaf is better than none -- an unexpectedly pragmatic streak for a Bush administration better known for going its own way in international affairs.
The AP proves once again that it can take a poll and create any conclusion about the findings that it wants.
So naturally, it was all doom and gloom for recent Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito in the latest AP-Ipsos poll. The headline: "Poll: Early Public Support for Alito Weak." (Via Times Argus.) Adding that "The survey put public sentiment for Alito closer to the level of early backing for the failed nomination of Harriet Miers." Interestingly enough, the AP Could have also run the headline "Early Public Opposition to Alito Weak - Fewer People Opposed to Alito than were opposed to Roberts, Miers." Obviously, the AP did not go that route.
WASHINGTON - The 14 centrists who averted a Senate breakdown over judicial nominees last spring are showing signs of splintering on President Bush's latest nominee for the Supreme Court.
That is weakening the hand of Democrats opposed to conservative judge Samuel Alito and enhancing his prospects for confirmation.
The unity of the seven Democrats and the seven Republicans in the "Gang of 14" was all that halted a major filibuster fight between GOP leader Bill Frist and Democratic leader Harry Reid earlier this year over Bush's nominees.