Appearing on NBC’s Today on Friday, Bloomberg Politics editor Mark Halperin offered a laughably naive explanation for Bill Clinton’s controversial meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch: “The most obvious explanation and probably the right one, is Bill Clinton is a really social guy...” He cast Clinton and Lynch as celebrities who just ran into each other: “And we’ve all seen situations where famous people on the tarmac, the two planes, it's kind of fun, ‘Hey, let's go over and visit.’”
On Thursday morning in Shanghai, Walt Disney Company Chairman Bob Iger and “a phalanx of Chinese Communist Party officials” cut the ribbon on the $5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort, the company's first theme park in mainland China.
The celebration included fireworks over the resort's castle -- Disney's "largest and most technologically advanced castle in the world” -- a dancing Mickey Mouse, dignitaries and messages of support from two presidents. "This is one of the most exciting and important moments in the history of the Walt Disney Company," Iger proclaimed.
However, according to an article by Patrick Brzeski of the Hollywood Reporter website, the Disney executive “drew gasps of surprise from the mostly Chinese crowd as he began reading a letter from U.S. President Barack Obama,” who has taken a far more lenient stand on gay rights and same-sex marriage than China's government.
In case you didn't get the message the first or second time around, the Washington Post wants you to hear it again: Cool your complaints about the weak U.S. economy, because it's your fault.
To be clear, the problem is primarily with the Post's headline — "The economy’s real drag: Us" — than with Robert J. Samuelson's content, which at least gave American consumers credit for having "sobered up" as the reason for the increased savings rate which is supposedly holding the economy back. That said, the longtime Post writer missed a number of other key factors explaining why consumers aren't spending as they did in the decades before the recession.
Almost any time a government agency or program fails to perform, those involved complain that they don't have enough money to properly do their jobs. Unless the matter involves national defense, the press gullibly swallows their contentions.
The Transportation Safety Administration is the latest case in point. Lines at airport security checkpoints are already getting noticeably longer, and we haven't yet hit the summer travel season, with "all signs" predicting that "queues will far surpass those of years past." Items at, among other places, the New York Times ("tight budgets"), Bloomberg News ("budgetary limits"), and WABC News in Newark ("budget cuts") are all trying to help the agency get its hands on more taxpayer money. A Tuesday editorial at Investor's Business Daily — as usual, reporting facts beat journalists somehow never get around to reporting — tells us that more money hasn't solved the problem before, and that there's a better answer (links are in original; bolds are mine):
With the Indiana primary a day away the liberal media is franticly pushing the narrative that Ted Cruz is going to lose and Donald Trump is destined to be the nominee. “It's hard to think of Ted Cruz as a human being in the same week when Boehner called Lucifer,” smeared Nicolle Wallace on Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect. Co-host of the show John Heilemann declared Indiana was the end of line for Cruz, “this was the last stand for the Never Trump movement.”
That the establishment press despises New Media isn't exactly breaking news, but a lesser-known subset of that tension has just become more visible. As usual, an Old Media outlet is the smear merchant, and the New Media site has the upper hand on the truth.
Mainstream business journalists really despise the financial and economics blogs which puncture the insufferable "the economy is just fine" meme the financial wires have relentlessly foisted on us during the past seven years. When leading contrarian blog Zero Hedge had a recent fallout among its top authors, Bloomberg News sensed a chance to smear a site it has had to grudgingly recognize as a genuine competitor. Instead, the wire service committed the types of journalistic errors which explain why only six percent of Americans "say they have a lot of confidence in the media."
Venezuela's hyperinflationary economic crisis has gotten worse in one very important and apparently unprecedented sense than even the one seen in Weimar Germany in the 1920s. Yet the Associated Press and the New York Times apparently have no interest in telling their readers, listeners or viewers about it.
In the post-World War I German Weimar Republic, the situation became so out of control that people needed wheelbarrows to carry around the money they needed to pay for basic everyday purchases. A Bloomberg News story published early Wednesday morning, i.e., in plenty of time for the rest of the world's press to notice the story by now, has a similar "wheelbarrows" reference to Venezuela's crisis. But there's more. Venezuela doesn't even the money to pay to keep those wheelbarrows stocked with ever more worthless cash.
Just in time for tomorrow's first-quarter economic growth announcement from the government, Bloomberg Businessweek's Economics Editor is telling readers: "Don't Sweat America's Upcoming Microscopic GDP Growth."
Besides, Peter Coy writes, people need to get used to the supposedly inescapable fact that "Normal growth for the U.S. economy is just a lot lower than it used to be." Americans shouldn't worry, even if tomorrow's GDP figure shows a small contraction (perhaps indicating that Mr. Coy has been tipped to the fact that it will be). The key, the glib Mr. Coy contends, is to understand that "Happiness is all a matter of lowering expectations."
Today's stories at the business wires covering this morning's disastrous durable goods report from the Census Bureau ranged from good to absolutely horrid. March orders only increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent, less than half of the 1.7 percent to 2.0 percent increase that was expected. Additionally, February's originally reported decline of 2.8 percent was revised down to -3.1 percent.
Victoria Stilwell's dispatch at Bloomberg News earned a B-minus. Lucia Mutikani's writeup at Reuters rated a C-minus. As usual, the coverage at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, delivered by Martin Crutsinger, the nation's unofficial "Worst Economics Writer," brought up the rear and earned an "F."
In another blow to the U.S. and worldwide economy, chipmaker Intel announced today that it is reducing its worldwide workforce by 12,000 people, a cut of 11 percent.
Of course, there are tech-related reasons why the company made the move, most notably the shift by some users to tablets and smartphones, where the company's market penetration has been weak and almost non-existent, respectively, as their everyday "computing" devices. But the press is completely ignoring why so many users of aging PCs are holding out against buying a new one until their current units die: they don't have the money to replace them. Why? Because economic growth throughout the world, including the U.S., has been stagnant and is showing signs of getting weaker — possibly much weaker.
The government reported this morning that seasonally adjusted March housing starts and building permits fell by 8.8 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively, far worse declines than analysts and economists predicted.
After the report, the business wires at least communicated the facts accurately, but continued to insist almost to the point of editorializing that there's no reason to be worried about the long-term direction of housing market or the overall economy.
Today's report from the government on retail sales was awful — "unexpectedly" so, according to both Bloomberg and Reuters. Following on the heels of a 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted decline in January and a flat February, March sales fell by 0.3 percent.
Two of the three main U.S. business wire services blamed the American people, not the worst post-recession economy since World War II during the Obama administration — an economy which is clearly weakening even further — for these results.