UPDATE: Henry Blodget at Business Insider reports that a "source, who is an analyst at the Department, " has told him that "the number of California claims that were not processed totalled about 15,000-25,000."
Today's release of the Department of Labor's weekly unemployment claims report showed 339,000 initial claims filed during the previous week -- a sharp decline of 30,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised 369,000. Shortly after that, the Wall Street Journal reported that "one large state didn't report additional quarterly figures as expected, accounting for a substantial part of the decrease." The Associated Press's framing: "... spokesman said one large state accounted for much of the decline." At Reuters: "one state ... reported a decline in claims last week when an increase was expected."
So you would expect caution in assessing the meaning of the report, right? Wrong -- At the AP and Reuters, they apparently just can't help themselves.
The Associated Press, after an initial acknowledgment in a Tuesday evening timeline from Bradley Klapper, has consistently failed in several subsequent reports to cite State Department officials' unmistakable assertion that there were no protests whatsoever at the Benghazi, Libya U.S. consulate on September 11 before the lethal terrorist attack which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Instead, later reports create the impression that protests did occur.
It's even getting carried into coverage of different events. In his story (link is to early paragraphs of original version) about the Thursday morning murder of a security official at the U.S. embassy in Yemen, the AP's Ahmed Al Haj (identified as the reporter in the item I originally saw, since revised) betrayed the wire service's uninterrupted obsession with "an anti-Islam video," and wrote as if nothing learned in the past two days has any validity (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The headline writers for Bradley Klapper's story early Wednesday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, about the September 11 attack which destroyed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and killed four Americans, including Libyan ambassador Christopher Stevens, had a real problem on their hands: How do we make our headline so boring that people who see it won't feel like clicking over to the story itself (or, if they're reading a newspaper, not moving on to it)? Their answer, which was pretty effective given their apparent goal: "State Dept reveals new details of Benghazi attack."
Zzz ... zzz ... Oh, excuse me, I needed a second cup of coffee to get past that snooze of a headline. Klapper's story wasn't any better, as he atrociously buried the lede -- that there never was a protest over the 14-minute anti-Mohammed video before the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya took place -- and was incredibly vague in his reference to this breathtaking story change when he finally did bring it forth (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Okay, Steven Spielberg said what he said about Democrats and Republicans at his prerelease press conference promoting "Lincoln," his next movie which will be released just after Election Day. And of course he's spectacularly wrong in claiming that the country's two major political parties have "traded political places over the last 150 years."
If that were the entire story and Reuters reporter Christine Kearney (pictured here at LinkedIn) had simply relayed what Spielberg said, this post wouldn't be about media bias. But is, because Ms. Kearney herself took a journey into the land of make-believe with this subsequent sentence:
Earlier today, when I wasn't in a position to save what I was viewing, I came across an Associated Press item about Venezuela's Sunday election results that I knew I would have to find again at the first opportunity. Readers will see why shortly.
Because the AP has a habit of quickly replacing items at its national site while failing to leave the original behind -- especially true when the originals contain embarrassing giveaway sentiments -- I had to look elsewhere for the original story by Frank Bajak and Ian James, and found it at the Lakeland, Florida Ledger. The pair's slavering, slavish coverage of a tyrant's continued consolidation of power, arguably an even worse example of statist-supporting bias than Kyle Drennen cited earlier today at NewsBusters originating from NBC, is almost too much to bear:
As Matt Vespa at NewsBusters noted earlier this morning, MSNBC's Howard Fineman was extremely unhappy with Jim Lehrer's performance as moderator in last night's first presidential debate. Vespa reports that Fineman "seemed agitated to the point of calling Lehrer 'useless' and equated his moderating of the debate to 'criminal negligence.'"
In what may be seen as a surprise, the same network's Laurence O'Donnell didn't share that sentiment, as Mackenzie Weinger reported this morning at Politico:
As of 2 PM ET, various searches at the national web site of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press (on "furious"; on "Univision"), Reuters ("furious"; "fast and furious"; "univision"), and United Press International ("furious"; "Univision") indicate that the three wire services have given no coverage to reports from Univision exposing the wider geographic scope and far more fatal fallout of the deliberately untrackable guns-to-cartels operation known as Fast and Furious.
I wonder how the leading U.S. Spanish network's broadcasters and audience feel about getting the same treatment the establishment press gives center-right blogs? (A lengthy yet partial transcript of Univision's broadcast with details which will shock all but those who have immersed themselves in the evolving scandal follows the jump.)
The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, has been running a series of "Why It Matters" items in the run-up to the presidential election purporting to educate readers about important issues.
Reporter Stephen Ohlemacher's contribution to the series concerning Social Security opens with a bald-faced fib, omits the fact that the system's benefit payments and costs have exceed payroll tax collections for several years, and doubles down on the fib at the end. His opening sentence and other excerpts follow the jump:
At the Associated Press on Saturday, Gosia Wosniacka did something one rarely sees any more in wire service coverage, actually blaming a government policy for an industry's financial problems -- in this case, state-imposed price controls on the California dairy industry.
But price controls in the highly tarnished Golden State, while very relevant, have been around for decades. Ms. Wosniacka ignored the most recent cause of farmers' difficulties, namely the government-mandated diversion of much of the corn crop towards ethanol production. Several paragraphs from her report (also carried at CNS News) follow the jump:
From the "I thought Social Security was supposed to have solved this decades ago" Dept.: The State of California has just passed a law mandating opt-out pension plan contributions of 3% of earnings for six million workers in the private sector, or roughly half of its private sector workforce.
The targeted population is the cadre of those working at employers of five or more who do not offer a retirement plan. It has the distinct aroma of a bailout, because of who gets to manage the money. Excerpts from a predictably dreadful Associated Press report by Judy Lin follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
In a dispatch today, an unbylined AP report headlined "Romney: Benghazi a 'Terrorist Attack'" seems to act as if this is some kind of revelation to the GOP nominee even though everyone except Obama administration insiders desperately trying to bring life to the corpse formerly known as the Arab Spring have been saying that for well over a week. It gets much worse than that in the report's third paragraph:
Even though it was near the top of the raw news wire at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, when I saw it, I had to check the date on Tom Raum's item entitled "Why It Matters: Debt." Sure enough, it really does have a September 24. 1:36 p.m. time stamp.
That is intensely ironic and somewhat delicious, because the final sentence of Raum's dispatch directly contradicts something President Barack Obama said in his appearance on David Letterman's show last week -- something I believe (but can't prove, due to frequent wire service revisions) the AP originally failed to report.
On Saturday, President Obama spoke at a campaign rally in Wisconsin. As I noted on Sunday, contradicting a local Milwaukee Sentinel crowd size estimate of 5,000, Politico, the Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press reported that 18,000 were on hand, with the AP further claiming that the event was "the largest yet of Obama's reelection campaign."
Charles Spiering at the Washington Examiner believes he has learned why the national press reported that the crowd was 18,000. It's because Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told them it was, and the press's pool reporter took his word for it:
Saturday, Joel Pollak at Breitbart's Big Journalism observed that President Obama is having some trouble drawing big crowds these days, and that the national press is exaggerating the turnout at his events.
He specifically cited the situation this weekend where Politico and the Wall Street Journal claimed there were "18,000 people inside a 5,000-seat arena at an Obama event in Milwaukee on Saturday." I looked at the Associated Press's national site, and the AP did the same thing, while adding that the crowd with the made-up size was "the largest yet of Obama's reelection campaign." Really.
Gosh, those were the good old days. Or so Meghan Barr at the Associated Press apparently believes.
As what's left of the Occupy Wall Street mobs from last year staged a pathetic anniversary protest in New York on Monday, Barr, in one of the most embarrassing reports I've seen emanate from the self-described "essential global news network," described them as "celebrating" and "giddy." At the end, in a desperate attempt to show that the movement actually accomplished something, Barr cited vague and I believe completely unrelated statements from two banks about "working with their customers." For those with strong stomachs, the first five and final paragraphs of Barr's beclowning follow the jump.
"Nearly 6 million Americans -- significantly more than first estimated -- will face a tax penalty under President Obama's health-care overhaul for not getting insurance" according to analysts for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, reported the Associated Press's Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar yesterday. That's 50 percent higher than the 2010 prediction -- when ObamaCare was passed -- of 4 million facing the ObamaCare penalty, which the Supreme Court has declared is really, well, a tax. "The average penalty... will be about $1,200 in 2016," Alonso-Zaldivar noted. That's roughly $100/month in new taxes.
Both the Washington Post and the New York Times ran the AP story in their print editions, but the former placed the 786-word story at the bottom of page A4 with the headline "6 million uninsured expected to face health-care penalty," while the latter ran a condensed 270-word version on page A18 entitled "More Expected To Face Penalty In Health Law." A search of Nexis and NewsBusters/MRC DVR recordings shows that none of the three major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- mentioned the story on either their September 19 evening newscasts nor September 20 morning programs.
Patricia Zengerle's coverage of U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine at Reuters assumes that the Democratic former Virginia Governor committed the mother of all gaffes today. I'm not so sure. It may be that David Corn's secret video of Mitt Romney commenting on the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes and are dependent on the government is sending polling data in the opposite direction from what was intended and is starting to rattle Democrats.
Both the headline and opening sentence at Christopher Rugaber's Associated Press report on today's unemployment claims release from the Department of Labor tell readers that initial unemployment claims fell by 3,000 during the most recent week. Though Rugaber acknowledged that last week's initial figure was revised up, he didn't say by how much (3,000, from 382K to 385K), and of course didn't note that based on the track record of the past year, there's a 98% chance that this week's figure will also be revised up.
A graph posted at Zero Hedge compares headlined changes in weekly claims to actual weekly changes after revisions. The differences are significant.
As of midnight, Real Clear Politics showed Barack Obama with a 2.9-point lead over Mitt Romney in the average of the most recent six presidential election polls. One of those polls is a P-U production of Pew Research Center which shows Obama up by 8 points among 2,343 registered voters. The preposterous weighting of the sample is 37.1% Democrats, 30.6% Republicans, and 32.3% independents.
Any time a poll reveals the Romney v. Obama breakout in each of those three categories, I can run the results through what I'll tentatively christen the NewsBusters/BizzyBlog Poll Decoder, showing what the result would be using party affiliation results found by Rasmussen as of early September and Gallup as of before the Democratic National Convention. Here's what happens when one removes the stench from Pew's poll:
Once again, a reporter from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, has told a major fib about the situation in the new-home construction industry, thereby vastly exaggerating its degree of improvement -- claiming a 60% surge during the past nearly 3-1/2 years when it has been 15% at most.
Today's figures from the Census Bureau on housing starts weren't terrible, but they surely weren't cause for major optimism -- except at the AP, where Martin Crutsinger cited "steady progress in the housing recovery" and committed the same serious mistake other AP writers have made (examples here, here, and here), namely pretending that the term "housing starts" has the same meaning as "home construction."
It was probably an accident, but the Associated Press's headline writers, in framing the wire service's story about Fedex's quarterly results and economic outlook released earlier today, created a headline that the Obama administration will find completely unhelpful: "FEDEX SAYS ECONOMY IS STALLING, CUTS OUTLOOK."
Most U.S. readers and probably most of AP's subscribing print, online, and broadcast outlets will, if they only see the headline, believe that it primarily refers to the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, AP Business Writer Samantha Bomkamp, with the help of Martin Crutsinger, mimicked Fedex's odd spin on its result, making sure that those who bothered to get to the verbiage understand that the company believes that the world economy is what is really stalling by using the word "global" five times in her first five paragraphs. The trouble is that if one looks at the company's revenue in detail, it's clear that that the bigger slowdown is actually occurring in the U.S (the company's press release, which has a link to the longer PDF release, is here).
Let's see. The supposed consensus at Real Clear Politics shows Mitt Romney trailing Barack Obama by less than three points. As shown yesterday, one of the most recent five polls used in RCP's calculations from CBS and the New York Times is so cooked that it weighted registered Democrats over registered Republicans by 35%-22% -- so you can easily knock more than a point from Obama's lead for that item alone. Rasmussen has Romney up by two, and Gallup has gone from Obama +6 to Obama +1 in just a week.
So naturally, according to John Whitesides at Reuters, it's Romney's campaign which is "reeling" (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
On September 10, in a writeup which should qualify them for immediate entry into the Journalistm Hall of Shame, the Associated Press's Julie Pace and three other assisting reporters, acting as virtual stenographers for the Obama administration and water-carriers for his reelection campaign, declared that "It will be a rare day on the campaign when terrorism, or national security for that matter, will be a center of attention," while insisting that Obama has the presumptive upper hand in such matters.
Oops. Excerpts from their write-up follow the jump. It would be funny if it weren't so tragically sad (bolds are mine):
A report yesterday in the Toronto-based Globe and Mail ("Obama’s reaction to Benghazi will be muted") concerning the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya caught my eye. Right there in its third paragraph, Alan Jamieson said that "On Wednesday, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was destroyed by Muslim militants."
"Destroyed"? I hadn't read that anywhere else. CNN and many other U.S. news outlets described what happened in Benghazi as an "attack" -- as if the damage done, even if serious, was not in effect a demolition. The distinction seemed particularly germane to a report yesterday in the Associated Press about Marines being dispatched to Libya:
Whoever wrote the Associated Press's brief dispatch yesterday on the results of the government's auction of 10-year Treasury notes seemed to be stunned and on the defensive about its result.
The item, entitled "Weak Demand at Auction of 10-Year U.S. Treasury Debt," began as follows: "U.S. Treasury prices dived Wednesday after an auction of 10-year notes drew very weak demand, signaling a lack of appetite for ultra-safe investments." Gee, I wonder why there's a "lack of appetite"?
In her writeup covering the Census Bureau's latest release of income and poverty data, Hope Yen at the Associated Press quoted University of Michigan economist Sheldon Danziger, who specializes in "Applied Policy, Labor Markets, Poverty and Social Welfare," describing the news that the official poverty rate was statistically unchanged, moving from 15.1% of all Americans to 15.0%, as "good news and surprising."
Mr. Danziger should consider moonlighting as a stand-up comedian. With laugh lines like that and another one which will be seen in the excerpt after the jump, he's a can't-miss prospect, even if his delivery is as deadpan as Steven Wright's. But, as will also be seen shortly, he has stiff competition from White House bloggers. In both cases, audiences will be laughing at them, not with them (bolds are mine):
If you tried to get a handle on the showdown between Chicago Public Schools and its teachers' union based on picture captions from the Associated Press, you would think that the teachers' strike has nothing to do with money.
The reality is that Chicago's teachers are, depending on the figures quoted, either the highest-paid cadre of K-12 educators in the nation or so darned close to it that their current demand for a 16% increase over the next four years (down from an original 35%, as Ken Shepherd at NewsBusters noted earlier today) will put them easily 10% ahead of any group of teachers anywhere else in the nation. With that in mind, let's look at the content of the various picture captions I located as I reviewed the wire service's latest strike-related stories.
A NewsBusters tipster found a perfect example of why those who monitor journalists' original news coverage should look at all iterations of stories they file. Doing so reveals whether coverage of a story improves or degrades over time. It also occasionally exposes biases reporters otherwise try to cover up.
The Associated Press's Ben Feller, tasked with writing a story immediately following President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night, appears to have done the latter as he wrapped up a very early version of his story ("Obama's convention evolution complete"; time-stamped at 11:16 p.m. September 6 at the AP's hosted2.ap.org site and at the Rutland Herald):
Less than 48 hours from now, Chicago's teachers, whose union head insists, as quoted by the Associated Press, that "we are here to negotiate for better schools in Chicago," may walk off the job, leaving the children entrusted to them to languish in half-days of activities unrelated to learning "staffed by non-union and central office workers."
There seems to be an unwritten rule that news coverage of these matters not discuss the current earnings of those who are threatening to strike. In a writeup of over 900 words, AP writers Tammy Webber and Don Babwin stuck to that script, and also failed to tell their readers the size of the raise union negotiators initially requested. Those two figures follow the jump.