According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, retail sales were up 3.6 percent during the holiday season - 2.4 percent excluding gas prices. But because it's not as big an increase as recent years have produced, the media reported it as bad news.
On NBC's "Nightly News," reporter Savannah Guthrie announced a "dramatic" 2.4 percent decrease in women's clothing sales. She didn't think the same percentage increase was "dramatic," however. Instead, she referred to the overall sales increase as "disappointing."
Other media labeled the figures "dismal," "small," "weak," "bleak" and "a clear sign that the economy is slowing down." Most made sure to point out, like "Good Morning America's" Ryan Owens, that the increase is "the smallest in four years."
When Larry Summers suggested in early 2005 that, as paraphrased by Slate's William Saletan, "innate differences between the sexes might help explain why relatively few women become professional scientists or engineers," the outcry was immediate, furious, and went to saturation level virtually overnight. The controversy ultimately led to his resignation a year later as Harvard President.
On Wednesday, Mr. Summers, a Democrat who was once Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, made a recommendation in his area of expertise -- that is, that a tax cut would be a good idea to protect against a possible recession. (Yours truly doesn't believe that a recession is anywhere near occurring. But hey, I've said since May, and several times since [here, here, and here, among others] that a tax cut is needed anyway to keep the economy chugging along at a good rate. So if panicked pols want to enact a tax cut for the wrong reason, I'll take it.)
Old Media reaction to Summers has been virtual silence.
From the no-news-is-good-news department (and Instapundit) comes news that the media have suddenly decided to start covering Iraq less. Investor's Business Daily explains:
Ever since the Sept. 10 testimony of Gen. David Petraeus, we've heard less and less from the mainstream media about the war in Iraq. The old adage "no news is good news" has never been truer.
That the media are no longer much interested in Iraq is a sure sign things are going well there. Instead, they're talking about the presidential campaign, or Burma, or global warming, or . . . whatever.
Why? Simply put, the news from Iraq has been quite positive, as Petraeus related in his report to Congress.
David Shuster's tasteless game of "gotcha," that we reported here and here, in which the MSNBC "correspondent" exploited the name of a fallen American soldier to put Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on the spot, is getting considerable media attention. Brit Hume featured it in last night's "Grapevine" segment of "Special Report."
Bloggers have caught a politician saying one thing in a speech, while carrying a very different rendering of a critical passage at a supposed "transcript" of that speech.
The difference is significant.
The transcript whitewashes a slander on the performance of US troops in Iraq delivered by a United States senator.
Specifically, New York's Charles Schumer gave a made a speech on the floor of the Senate last week ascribing the turnaround in the Anbar province in Iraq to the locals, and discrediting the notion that American troops could have had anything to do with it.
Here is the relevant portion of Armchair General Schumer's speech you will hear at the YouTube video:
And let me be clear. The violence in Anbar has gone down in spite of the Surge, not because of the Surge.
The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from Al Qaeda said to these tribes, "We have to fight Al Qaeda ourselves."
However, that section of the "transcript" of Schumer's speech posted at his Senate web site (a backup screen cap, in case the transcript gets revised at a future date, is here) reads thusly: