The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has released its 2013 pity party -- er, annual report -- on the State of the News Media (home page; full overview).
Two things struck me in my initial scan-through: First, the whining about newsroom cutbacks, which are largely related to pervasive bias and misplaced priorities; second, the characterization of newsmakers' improved ability to take their cases directly to the public "without any filter by the traditional media" as some kind of automatically negative trend.
There's a reason why Media Research Center sister site CNS News had to put out a story about how much the government has spent so far this year -- $1.505 tillion -- after Wednesday's release of the February Monthly Treasury Statement: Two of the three major wire services failed to report that obviously important number, and the third saved it for their writeup's final sentence.
What follows are excerpts from the respective Wednesday reports at Bloomberg, Reuters and the Associated Press.
The official Monthly Treasury Statement for February came out Wednesday showing a deficit for the month of $204 billion, basically the same as the Congressional Budget Office predicted several days earlier. The reported deficit through five months of the fiscal year is $494 billion, down from $580 billion a year earlier.
That February result was an "improvement" of $28 billion over the $232 billion deficit seen in February 2012. Unfortunately, the two main reasons for the difference demonstrate that the economy really isn't any better than it was a year ago. $20 billion of the difference occurred because the IRS was slower in sending out tax refunds than it was in 2012 because of the late passage of tax-related fiscal cliff measures in early January. The rest of the improvement can be traced to the repeal of the 2-point payroll tax cut which had been in place during calendar 2011 and 2012. Since February 2013 outlays were almost $9 billion lower than February 2012, one could argue that the economy actually did a worse job of generating taxes for the government than it did a year ago. Nevertheless, as would be expected, Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, cited "an improving economy":
We should give credit to the Associated Press's Calvin Woodward, with help from AP Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta and writer Alan Fram, for calling out politicians and other gun-grabbers who have been abusing a two decades-old gun-related statistic and passing it off as if it's still factual.
That's nice, but Woodward could have saved many words, mountains of paper, and tons of bandwidth by telling readers in plain English that claims such as one made President Barack Obama that "as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check" have never, ever been true. Instead, the AP reporter used 13 paragraphs, at one point excusing researchers who came up with a 30-40 percent estimate even "with a clear picture eluding them." There was never any defensible basis for their "estimate." Excerpts from Woodward's Wednesday item following the jump:
In a mild shock -- mild because it's mentioned before the elections, but probably won't be when it really matters after the polls close -- Frank Bajak and Jorge Rueda at the Associated Press, in a story about how the last opposition TV station in Venezuela is being sold to an insurance magnate who is reportedly "friendly with government," noted the extraordinary handicaps that Venezuela's opposition presidential candidate faces as he attempts to unseat the Chavista successor to the late dictator Hugo Chavez in April's upcoming elections.
Crutsinger described the past four months as a "hiring spree," and the job market as "accelerating." Even sticking with the seasonally adjusted figures, that doesn't stand up well, given that there was a big revised dip in job additions in January. Second, he contended that "Hiring would be rising even faster if governments weren't shrinking their workforces, as they have been for nearly four years" -- as if government hiring and the higher taxes which would accompany it at the state and local levels or the higher amount of deficit financing required at the federal level would have no effect on private employers' rate of hiring. And no establishment press report would be complete without moaning about how goverment employment continues to contract ever so slightly and how impending spending "cuts" which aren't cuts at all threaten the current wondrous conditions. That's not all, of course.
It's as if Associated Press reporter Paul Haven saw colleague Frank Bajak's pathetic obituary of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez earlier today (covered by Matthew Balan at NewsBusters) and said: "Oh yeah? I can outdo you."
That he did, in an execrable report excerpted after the jump which should be saved to the hard drive and shown as evidence that anyone who calls the wire service "the Authoritarian Press" is not at all out of line (bolds are mine):
Naomi O'Leary's Tuesday article for Reuters about a piece of "artwork" blasting Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI could have been mistaken for a press release, as the journalist merely gave a platform for the same-sex couple behind the display to voice their anti-Catholic views. Most of the quotes in O'Leary's write-up came from artists Antonio Garullo and Mario Ottocento, "the first Italian gay couple to be married when they wed in Holland in 2002."
The correspondent emulated a publicist as she spotlighted how the exhibition is supposedly a "life-size model of Benedict in a confessional box, his sumptuous red and cream-colored robes spread about him."
President Obama's sequester-related press briefing on March 1 contained the usual fibs. Examples include but are certainly not limited to the following: "We've already cut $2.5 trillion in our deficit," when the entire amount involved is something which might happen in the future; his claim that his State of the Union laundry list "is the agenda that the American people voted for," when many of the items involved were never mentioned during the 2012 campaign; and that the sequester is "happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made," despite the fact that his advisers with his personal approval originated the idea in 2011 and the reality that he was under no compulsion when he signed the bill setting it in place last week.
Since then, while the establishment press has largely ignored it, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler has twice honed in on a relatively small but clearly refutable statement Obama uttered that day: "Starting tomorrow, everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol ... they're going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they've got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real." No it's not.
CNN, which if I recall correctly severed formal ties with the Associated Press some time ago, quoted former congressman Joseph Kennedy II's reaction to the death of Venezuela's authoritarian leader Hugo Chavez as follows: "President Chavez cared deeply about the poor of Venezuela and other nations around the world and their abject lack of even basic necessities, while some of the wealthiest people on our planet have more money than they can ever reasonably expect to spend" ... There are close to 2 million people in the United States who received free heating assistance, thanks to President Chavez's leadership. Our prayers go out to President Chavez's family, the people of Venezuela, and all who were warmed by his generosity."
Here is how Christine Armario at the AP, with the help of Steve LeBlanc in Boston, sanitized Kennedy's remarks:
Frank Bajak of the AP lionized Venezuelan autocrat and "fighter" Hugo Chavez minutes after his death on Tuesday, playing up in the second sentence of his item how the "former paratroop commander and fiery populist...outsmarted his rivals time and again." Bajak later hyped Chavez as a "master communicator and savvy political strategist."
Readers here can attempt to fill in the blank, and will get to the the correct answer after the jump.
In their coverage of U.S. vehicle sales in February, Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin at the Associated press, aka the Administration's Press, wrote the following in an item headlied "US AUTO SALES POWER AHEAD IN FEBRUARY": "Americans want new cars and trucks, and they're not letting higher gas prices or political dysfunction stand in their way. New car and truck sales were up ___ percent in February as rising home construction and cheap financing kept the U.S. auto recovery on track." So by how much did car sales in February 2013 exceed the level seen in February 2012?
According to the first paragraph of Alicia's Caldwell's report today at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, Homeland Security Secretary Janey Napolitano told attendees at a Politico breakfast this morning (Politico's coverage is here) that, in Caldwell's words, "U.S. airports, including Los Angeles International and O'Hare International in Chicago, are already experiencing delays as a result of automatic federal spending cuts." Additionally, again in Caldwell's words, "she expects a cascading effect during the week, with wait times expected to double in worst cases."
Well, either someone forgot to tell airport spokesperson and the travel industry to fall in line, or said officials are refusing, according to follow-up stories at the Politico and the UK Telegraph. Notably, the AP had no such follow-up story at its national site as of 10 p.m. ET tonight, but did have a story by Pauline Jelinek ("HOW BUDGET CUTS COULD AFFECT YOU") published at the about the same time as the two follow-ups just noted dutifully echoing Napolitano's talking points. Excerpts from both follow-up stories are after the jump.
On Thursday, the government reported that the economy didn't contract by a tiny annualized 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 as originally reported. Instead, the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by an equally tiny 0.1 percent. Expectations had been that the revision would go positive by an annualized 0.5 percent.
According to Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, "the only impediment" to the economy resuming annualized growth of 2 percent or so (which is actually unimpressive in historical context) "may be the across-the-board government spending cuts that kick in Friday - especially if those cuts remain in place for months." In Crutsinger's world, the payroll tax increase which kicked in on January 1, gas prices which have risen nationally to about $3.70 per gallon from $3.25 in the past 45 days, and troubling January and early-February sales results at Wal-Mart don't matter. There's also an obvious problem seen in his third and fourth paragraphs (bolds are mine):
Did you know that the mortgage interest deduction was a major contributor to families' distressed circumstances leading to the housing bubble? Or that George W. Bush's (really modest) tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, not the Internet bubble of the late-1990s led the nation from fiscal surplus to deficits?
The reason you don't "know" these things is that they're not true. But the Associated Press's Tom Raum thinks they are, and said so as if they are indisputable facts in an AP analysis piece (or at least I hope it was meant to be that) yesterday. In over 850 words, he also failed to note, while barely acknowleding their existence, that Republicans in the House already acquiesced to $620 billion in tax increases in return for a "whopping" $15 billion in spending cuts during the fiscal cliff deal at the end of last year. Excerpts from Raum's risible writeup follow the jump.
On Friday morning, Milwaukee County District Attorney, a Democrat, announced that an investigation into illegal campaigning and other illegal acts while current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was the county's executive had concluded nine days earlier. Three former Walker aides, a political appointee, and two private citizens were sentenced. Two county officials pled guilty to crimes relating to campaigning on government time; two others stole money, one from a not-for-profit group and another from a county commission. One private citizen was sentenced for exceeding campaign contribution limits and laundering contributions; the other pled no contest to importuning a 17 year-old boy.
Walker himself was not charged. A top state Democratic Party official was so angry that he tweeted Jeffrey Dahmer analogies. It is pretty obvious, based on word choices he made in his related writeup, that the Associated Press's Scott Bauer, whose biased coverage of Walker has been clear for at least the past two years (previous NewsBusters posts with his tag are here), was also extremely displeased (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Did you ever mean to say "If you are shy then I have an acre of land in the Everglades." and have it come out "If you're bashful I got a snake sitting under my desk here"? I mean, those sentences are so close to being identical, and these kinds of misstatements happen all the time, right?
Well, that's what you have to believe if you're still a defender of Connecticut legislator Ernest Hewett, who said the latter on February 20 to a 17 year-old girl at a public hearing and is now saying he meant to say the former. Most press covereage of Hewett's obviously lewd remark has done an acceptable job of tagging him as a Democrat, with a notable exception being Ken Dixon at the Connecticut Post (HT Hot Air via Instapundit; bolds are mine throughout this post):
On Monday, the Insitute for Illinois' Fiscal Sustainability (IIFS), an outfit associated with the Civic Federation, a "nonpartisan" organization which appears to have leftist instincts and funding, warned that the state government's $8 billion stack of unpaid bills will grow to $22 billion in five years. IIFS correctly blames out of control pension costs, and recommends several reforms which don't seem to match the urgency of the situation.
One thing the report doesn't do, concerning which the press appears to be completely incurious, is estimate how long it will take vendors in President Barack Obama's Democrat-dominated home state to get paid if the backlog of unpaid bills really becomes that large. The answer, in brief, is: "so long that no one with a brain will want to do business with the state, likely causing its government to completely collapse."
I presume everyone remembers how when the New York Times published information about a classified program designed to track the movement of alleged terrorist funding through the international banking system Bush administration officials threatened to prosecute Times reporters and management over what they had done? No you don't, because although some conservatives and Republicans thought it might be a worth considering it didn't happen. You can guarantee that if it had, it would have become a TV-radio-newspaper-Internet establishment press obsession for days on end.
Tonight, Washington Post's Bob Woodward alleged that because he is sticking to his guns in insisting that sequestration was the brainchild of the Obama White House, that it was personally approved by Obama, and that bringing up tax increases now to try to resolve the current sequestration impasse is "moving the goalposts," he has been threatened by "a very senior person" in the White House. Woodward said so on CNN's Situation Room earlier today. What's even more troubling is that Woodward told two Politico reporters the same thing yesterday, and that they appear to have sat on the revelation until this evening when the CNN interview forced their hand. Relevant portions of the CNN transcript and Politico column follow the jump.
The rogue collection of bureaucrats known as the Environmental Protection Agency continues its lawless ways. The establishment press continues to serve as enablers.
In January, a federal court vacated the EPA's regulations mandating the use of cellulosic biofuels which weren't produced at all until last year, and barely exist now. In response, the agency, directly defying the court, increased the production requirement of these fuels for 2013. In covering the story, as I noted at NewsBusters on January 31, the Associated Press's Matt Daly only wrote that "An oil industry representative said the Obama administration was thumbing its nose at a ruling last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia" -- as if the agency's action was only a matter of some eeeevil oil guy's opinion.
At the Hill on Monday, Pete Kasperowicz, employing the establishment press's usual "mean Republicans attack" spin, is packaging something first aggregated on Friday at Michelle Malkin's Twitchy.com exclusively as an accusation coming from GOP Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas.
Malkin's credit-denied crew, with the help of citizen activists who did much of the dirty work, detected what I will call "Astro-Tweets," a Twitter-driven variant of the campaign tactic known as "astroturfing," which aims, using a variety of means, to create the illusion of public support for a cause where little or none exists (bolds are mine throughout this post):
It's hard to imagine that Nicholas Confessore and his editors at the overwhelmingly Obama-friendly New York Times were just making things up when he reported over the weekend in a Page A1 story that the Obama campaign's Organizing For America operation, now "rebooted" as the supposedly independent Organizing For Action, "will rely heavily on a small number of deep-pocketed donors ... whose influence on political campaigns Mr. Obama once deplored," granting them quarterly access to the Obama if they raise $500,000 or more.
According to Charlie Spiering at the Washington Examiner, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, when asked about the story, in Spiering's words, "asserted that OFA was an 'independent organization' that just happened to support the president’s policy agenda," "refused to address the New York Times reporting," and "ended the press briefing as reporters were still asking questions and fled the podium." If the late Tony Snow had done this while serving as press secretary under George W. Bush, we'd be seeing a continuous loop of the walkout on network TV all day long. The key paragraphs from the Times story, the reaction of MSNBC's Chuck Todd follow the jump, and the Associated Press's non-denial denial firewall follow the jump.
You've got to hand it to the headline writers at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. They sure know how to abuse their power to shape public perceptions.
The headline at Martin Crutsinger's report this morning on projected economic growth for 2013, which the wire service is treating as this morning's "Big Story," reads: "ECONOMISTS PREDICTING MODERATE GROWTH IN 2013." Many people using computers, tablets and smartphones will see that headline, conclude that the economy's not so bad, and move on without clicking through. Too bad Crutsinger's first two paragraphs directly contradict that headline.
In attempting to make the case that "Even as the private sector has been slowly adding jobs, governments have been shedding them," a chart from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, shows how public-sector employment (not labeled as "seasonally adjusted," but that's what it is) has declined from a peak of 22.3 million in May of 2010 to 21.3 million in January 2013.
There's only on "little" problem -- That May 2010 peak occurred in the midst of the federal government's decennial census.
At the Associated Press yesterday, Michael Kunzelman managed to write a 500-word story about the arraignment of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on bribery charges without once mentioning that Nagin is a Democrat.
That's probably not a "Name That Party" record for "Most Words Used in an AP Story about a Democratic Politician Tainted by Scandal and/or Corruption," but it's especially galling, given the mayor's culpability (along with then-Governor Kathleen Blanco) for failing to ensure that New Orleans was evacuated on a timely basis in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina, and given the national press's non-stop blaming of President George W. Bush for the death, destruction and mayhem which followed. Excerpts from Kunzelman's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Yesterday, the Department of Labor announced that it had certified "more than 18,000 former Hostess workers around the country as eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance." I'll save excerpts from DOL's inane announcement for after the jump.
The story has garnered some local coverage in areas affected by Hostess plant closures late last year, including a couple of regional Associated Press stories. But the AP, based on a search on "hostess," did not have a story at its national site as of 9 a.m. today, even though former Hostess workers in 48 states are affected. Additionally, virtually every story found in a Google News search on "Hostess trade adjustment" (not in quotes) is local in nature. Could this possibly be because doling out tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to workers whose unions thought the company was bluffing when it said it would throw in the towel without acceptable labor contracts is more than a little embarrassing, especially when President Barack Obama is simultaneously claiming that the federal government will have no choice but to lay off and furlough employees if sequestration takes place?
This goes back about ten days, and I originally missed it. Fortunately, though, an Investor's Business Daily editorial got around to mentioning Rick Perry's visit to California last week in an effort to lure businesses to the more commerce-friendly environs of Texas.
Associated Press report Juliet Williams and her story's headline writer were not amused by Perry's aggressiveness. Williams seemed to be bucking to have her picture placed next to the words "petty" and "vindictive" in the dictionary. Several paragraph from her February 11 coverage of Perry's visit to the formerly Golden State follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Robin Pomeroy did her best impression of a publicist in a nearly one-sided article for Reuters on Tuesday that spotlighted homosexuals in Rome "toasting the departure of the worst Church leader they can imagine" – Pope Benedict XVI. Pomeroy quoted extensively from LGBT activist Franco Grillini, but failed to mention his radical left wing politics, which included a run as a Communist Party candidate in Italy in the 1980s.
Grillini decried the outgoing pontiff as "the most reactionary pope ever, who made homophobia one of his battle cries." The far left politician must not have heard of the past four bishops of Rome who took the name Pius. In particular, Pius XI prophetically foresaw the current push to redefine marriage in a 1930 encyclical and issued the strongest condemnation of this course:
Following up on an item posted yesterday -- 48 hours after it issued an order to subscribing publications and outlets to "kill" a story it filed on Sunday ("Sen. Paul: Voters want to round up immigrants") claiming that Kentucky Republican Senator Rand "sees voters wanting, quote, 'somebody who wants to round people up, put in camps and send them back to Mexico,'" the story is still present on web -- at several sites whose URL begins with hosted2.ap.org. These are sites belonging to AP itself. Additionally, the story is still present at the widely read Yahoo.com.