The media’s tendency to use the Pope to criticize Republican candidates and officials was on display Wednesday afternoon as MSNBC’s Live with Thomas Roberts and Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect took shots at the 2016 GOP presidential field and, specifically, Catholics Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum (in the case of the latter show) for opposing Pope Francis’s upcoming encyclical on global warming.
Today's release from the Federal Reserve on industrial production (including mining and utilities) told us that it declined by a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in May. It was the sixth consecutive month showing a decline or no gain, during which time output has fallen by 1.1 percent (not annualized).
Bloomberg News, which reported that economists and analysts expected an increase of 0.2 percent, described the result as "unexpected." Reuters gave us the adverb version of the U-word: "U.S. industrial production unexpectedly fell in May." In covering the news, Associated Press reporter Josh Boak failed to note the length of the protracted slump, and even went into a light version of "Happy Days Are (Still, Probably, We Really Hope) Here Again," using a sentiment survey to argue against the hard information collected by the Fed.
On Thursday, the Census Bureau's report on May retail sales said that seasonally adjusted sales came in 1.2 percent higher than April. The press almost universally cited that result as demonstrating that the economy's rough patch earlier this year is likely over.
Yours truly and the contrarians at Zero Hedge both noted that the result is highly suspect, and doesn't adequately reflect the raw data behind it. The business press won't question it, because it hardly ever bothers to look at the raw data.
The business press has gotten really excited about the possibility — some of them are even treating it as a probability — that the first-quarter's recently reported annualized economic contraction of 0.7 percent will go positive if it gets revised for so-called "residual seasonality."
"Residual seasonality" is "the manifestation of seasonal patterns in data that have already been seasonally adjusted." (Supposedly, the way to fix this is add more "seasoning.") On April 22, CNBC's Steve Liesman contended that it's been a chronic 30-year problem. As far as I can tell, no one in the press has followed up on that claim. If they had, they would have found that it has not been a 30-year "problem," and that it's a "problem" remarkably unique to the presence of Democratic Party presidential administrations and policies:
In a contest for the most consistent media fool of the year, Bloomberg's Mark Halperin would be an early favorite to take the top prize for 2015.
This year, Halperin has already had at least three instances of outrageous hackery. As will be seen, for sheer hypocrisy, his most recent is arguably his worst.
As we have seen, members of the mainstream media met to complain about the "excessively tight grip on information" by the Hillary Clinton campaign. So what was the reaction? As relayed by Texas Southern University where Hillary will be appearing tomorrow, "There will be NO opportunities to interview Hillary Clinton; her speech will be her interview." Got that? Yet another lesson from the Clinton Obedience School for Wayward Press Puppies as posted in a tweet from Bloomberg Politics correspondent, Jennifer Epstein. Oh, and don't think the press can write secret notes on papel de tush in private because restroom precautions on that have also been taken.
This shouldn't be a trick question, but to the nation's establishment press business reporters it apparently is: What is the current length of the U.S. economy's expansion?
The answer, after yesterday's reported 0.7 percent annualized contraction in U.S. Gross Domestic Product, is obviously zero. But that's not what Bloomberg News and reporter Sho Chandra, who has used her full first name of Shobhana in previous reports, would say. Despite three separate quarterly contractions since the recession officially ended in the second quarter of 2009, they, like the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger two months ago, want us to believe a fairy tale, namely that we're still closing in on six straight years of expansion.
Dem strategist Steve McMahon prefaced his remarks with the standard tongue-in-cheek disclaimer about not intending to hurt, by praising him, the prospects of someone from the other party. On this evening's With All Due Respect, McMahon then proceeded to gush over Marco Rubio, saying that listening to him recount his life story as the son of immigrants "melts my heart." McMahon predicted that Rubio would be the Republican nominee.
So . . . does McMahon's praise mean anything? Is Rubio really the Republican the Dems fear, or is it a don't-throw-us-in-the-briar-patch pitch on McMahon's part?
During a presidential campaign visit to Beaumont, Texas, on Tuesday, U.S. senator Ted Cruz finally became so exasperated with the constant barrage of reporters' inquiries about homosexuals' rights that he suggested Kevin Steele of KMBT-TV refrain from getting his questions “from MSNBC. They have very few viewers, and they are a radical and extreme partisan outlet.”
Cruz also referred to the U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming decision on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage and said that Democrats are “so devoted to mandatory gay marriage that they've decided there's no room for religious liberty.”
On May 1, the Associated Press's Paul Wiseman was pleased to tell the wire service's readers and subscribing outlets that "The University of Michigan's sentiment index rose to 95.9 from 93 in March," reaching "its second-highest level since 2007." Among other things, the survey's chief economist said that the result reflected "improving prospects for jobs and incomes."
What a difference two weeks makes. Today's preliminary U of M survey for April dropped to 88.6, completely missing expectations of 95.9. Zero Hedge notes that it's the biggest expectations miss on record, and the largest single-month drop since December 2012. Naturally, a search at its national site indicates that the AP prepared no story on the U of M report.
Today, Bloomberg TV's Mark Halperin inadequately apologized for his conduct and line of questioning during an April 30 interview of GOP presidential candidate which came off as rude and racist to many who saw it — well, basically because it was.
As Tim Graham at NewsBusters noted on Sunday, and as will be seen in the video following the jump, Halperin engaged in a "prove-you're-a-Cuban" line of questioning, and did so with "a grim visage during these questions, like ... an interrogation, not a friendly chat":
It appears that someone might need to schedule an intervention with the Associated Press's economics writers.
In his dispatch published a half-hour after the government's March release on international trade at 8:30 this morning, the wire service's Martin Crutsinger quoted a normally upbeat economist who was singing the blues about the result's effect on previously reported first-quarter economic growth. Now, he said, the economy "undoubtedly contracted slightly in the first quarter" by an estimated 0.3 percent. But about an hour later, the AP's Christopher Rugaber ignored this assessment — and that of many others — in his writeup covering the 10 a.m. release of the Institute for Supply Management's Non-Manufacuring Index. Don't these guys talk to each other?