This goes back eleven days, but the entertainment value is too good to let it slide by without notice.
On the Thursday after Christine O'Donnell defeated Mike Castle in the GOP primary for Delaware's open U.S. Senate seat, the Associated Press's Philip Elliott apparently felt the need to seek out an one-time Republican (or at least that's what he said) -- one of only a very few Republicans whose positions were or have been to the left of Castle's.
That would of course be former Rhode Island senator Lincoln Chafee (pictured at top right). To pick just one example to demonstrate Chafee's liberalism, during 2006 and 2005, his final two years as a Senator, his grades from the Club for Growth came in at 27% and 26%, respectively. Castle's grades in the House during those same two years were 48% and 43%.
Gosh, Phil, was there any doubt over how Chafee would feel about Castle's defeat and O'Donnell's win? Is this news?
Here are a few paragraphs from Elliott's brief report, including a Chafee prediction that may be disproven in 5-1/2 weeks:
In the earlier paragraphs of a Friday report on the recently passed small business lending bill at the Associated Press, reporter Pallavi Gogoi gave readers the impression that Congress's allegedly noble intentions might be thwarted because banks and businesses who should apparently be grateful for the "help" don't want it.
Gogoi gives no direct indication that the bill involves government "investment" in (i.e., partial state ownership of) participating financial institutions.
The AP reporter didn't have to look very far to see what's really involved. The defined purpose of the bill, which weighs in at over 40,000 words (full text here), is right there at its beginning (bold is mine):
An Act -- To create the Small Business Lending Fund Program to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to make capital investments in eligible institutions in order to increase the availability of credit for small businesses, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax incentives for small business job creation, and for other purposes.
This is not very different from what ended up happening with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) enacted two years ago. In fact, two lawyers writing on the law's potential impact describe it as a "mini-TARP." You'd never know that from Gogoi's report (one cryptic reference to the underlying state control involved is in bold):
So what's more important: The fact that independents are as "upset" as Republicans, or that Americans' disapproval of how President Obama is handling the economy is at an all-time high?
Here's another priority-related question: Is it more important that "independents and Republicans were half as likely as Democrats to be inspired and less prone to be hopeful, excited and proud," or that Republicans are now more trusted than Democrats in handling the economy, representing a 10-point swing (from -5% to +5%) in just three months?
If you're the Associated Press's Alan Fram and Jennifer Agiesta reporting on your own poll -- an AP-GfK poll found in full at this link (click on "September 8th - September 13th 2010 - AP-GfK Poll Topline" when you get there) -- you would apparently say that the first alternatives in each question are more important, even though terms like "upset," hopeful," excited," and "proud" are subjective, and the items that trigger these emotions will vary widely among survey respondents.
Why, if I didn't know better (I think I do), I'd say that Agiesta and Fram filtered out the worst of the bad news for Democrats in favor of the touchy-feely stuff.
I suspect that headline writers at the Associated Press would be pleased as punch if readers stopped at their capsulization of Randall Chase's story and didn't read it.
The headline at the AP's main site currently reads: "Surprise Del. primary winner seeks GOP support."
Perhaps they're hoping that Christine O'Donnell's Tea Party base will be disappointed at the impression the headline gives, namely that O'Donnell is going to the Republican Party establishment for help, and in the process presumably compromising sensible conservative principles.
Well, that hope naively assumes that informed readers trust the factual basis of AP headlines. If they trust AP headlines as much as the rest of the press's and Big Three TV networks' output, that's mostly not true (i.e., only 25% have a great deal of trust). Chase's report makes it pretty clear that a lot of heavy hitters and strategists in the GOP are actually coming to her:
I tried to find a nicer way to put it in the headline. But I can't.
At the Associated Press, Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger's apparent plug-and-play report less than an hour after the issuance of Uncle Sam's August Monthly Treasury Statement on Monday (his item is time-stamped at 2:56 p.m., which follows the Treasury Department's 2:00 p.m. release by less than an hour) contains three obviously false statements that a news organization which really subscribes to its own "Statement of News Values and Principles" would retract and/or correct.
The specific AP standard in question is whether it has violated its promise not to "knowingly introduce false information into material intended for publication or broadcast." The only conceivable excuse at this point is that Crutsinger and his employer don't realize what they have done. The three falsehoods involved are not arcane or open to interpretation. Rather, they are significant, obvious, irrefutable, and in need of correction.
What follows are the three statements, the first of which contradicts itself in the report's own subsequent sentence:
It seems reasonable from their coverage in anticipation of the Census Bureua's release of income and poverty statistics this week that Hope Yen and Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press have a roof over their heads and aren't particularly worried about where their next meal is coming from. If so, good for them; may those circumstances continue.
What's remarkable, though, is how a government report that the media, especially the AP, has traditionally treated as an indicator of society's alleged failure to take care of its neediest --with the blame often directly aimed at Republicans and conservatives -- is now primarily a political problem for the party in power. Yen and Sidoti engage in a presidential pity party, and in the process come off as indifferent about what the numbers, for all their imperfections (and they are substantial), might mean in human terms -- again, something the press normally obsesses over, especially when a Republican or conservative is president. This time, it seems that if Ms. Yen and Ms. Sidoti had their way, this unfortunate information would be held until at least November 3.
What follows are graphic capture's of the pair's first four paragraphs, followed by paragraphs 12-16:
Adopting language and tactics more typical of tyrants, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday sent a public letter to the head of a health insurance industry group demanding that carriers stop "falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act," and that "that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases."
She reinforced her short-term threat with a longer-term one:
We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014. Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections.
When Sebelius threatens exclusion from the "Exchanges," she is really saying: "Shut up and eat your costs, or you'll be out of business in a few years."
Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggested continued growth in national economic activity during the reporting period of mid-July through the end of August, but with widespread signs of a deceleration compared with preceding periods.
... However, the remaining Districts of New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, and Chicago all highlighted mixed conditions or deceleration in overall economic activity.
It may be fair to describe the detail in Atlanta's section of the report as "mixed" (it's a borderline call; the opening paragraph from that District's report will appear later). But Richmond's section is clearly one of deceleration, which brings us to today's clearly needed geography lesson for Jeannine Aversa and/or a headline writer at the Associated Press.
What follows is a graphic containing the headline at Aversa's 2:45 p.m. story (since updated here), and her first few paragraphs:
In a Tuesday evening report, Associated Press Writer Jesse L. Holland engaged in a great deal of word massage which appears to have been designed to mislead relative newcomers to discussions about stem cell research.
The news concerned Federal Judge Royce Lamberth's refusal of the federal government's request that he lift his August 23 order blocking federal funding for embryonic stem cell research during the appeals process.
Less-informed readers could be excused for believing, at least through first nine of the eleven tortured paragraphs in Holland's report, that stem cells can only be obtained from human embryos. In Paragraph 10, Holland finally acknowledged the existence of adult stem cells, but then dubiously implied that the litigation was brought solely because the plaintiffs don't want competition from embryonic research. The AP writer also ignored a fine piece written in early August by wire service colleague Malcolm Ritter (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), who accurately reported that "Adult stem cell research (is) far ahead of embryonic."
What follows are several paragraphs from Holland's horror, including a ridiculous title falsely implying that no federal funds are going into any kind of stem cell research (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Looks like the Huffington Post is buying into the “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation” meme this election cycle, based on a story out today.
The HuffPo item is by Liz Sidoti. But Sidoti is a national politics writer for the Associated Press, and what Holt really read was what AP would like us to believe is a supposedly "objective" analysis of the electoral situation in Ohio right off the wire. Word for word, the item at HuffPo is the same dispatch as found at the AP's main site. The only clue as to its origin, which Holt missed (and it's easy to see how), is the teeny-tiny AP logo where Sidoti's byline appears.
In other words, Sidoti's stridency and Democrat-sympathetic viewpoint are so obvious that she passes the HuffPo zealotry test.
Here are some examples of how Sidoti "successfully" came off as a budding HuffPo pundit:
Mr. Slater (picture at right is from his Facebook page) is the JetBlue flight attendant who reportedly "grabbed the plane's intercom and made an expletive-laced speech, grabbed a beer from the galley, opened the door and slid down the emergency evacuation chute." Slater was charged with "criminal mischief and reckless endangerment."
Three weeks ago (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Associated Press writer Samantha Gross rhapsodized over how Slater's actions had fulfilled "a working man's fantasy ... rekindled memories of workers' liberation ... (and) sparked wistful excitement among workers who have long fantasized of choosing pride over pay."
Before getting to the AP's latest sympathetic piece, let's take a look at something originally associated with a magazine report about Slater that is not currently present in that story.
That break comes in an AP email to staff from "Standards Editor" Tom Kent. He must have or at least should have known that its contents would get out. Jim Romenesko at Poynter Online (HT Legal Insurrection) appears to have posted it first, about 16 hours after Kent hit the "send" button:
Subject: Standards Center guidance: The situation in Iraq
... we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.
The news out of Government/General Motors during the past couple of days hasn't been particularly good.
First, August sales results were disappointing. Second, it become known today that GM will attempt to go public on November 18, a later than originally hoped post-election date chosen to hopefully allow for another reported quarterly profit to boost investors' appetite for its shares.
As so often has been the case during Democratic administrations when unfavorable developments arise, the UK press has seen potential problems with the IPO, while the Associated Press has been acting as if all is well.
In two separate items, AP reporters couldn't even bring themselves to tell readers what the company's real August sales decline was.
In a report yesterday on the industry's awful August, reporters Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher were appropriately gloomy overall, but they massaged GM's reported result (bolds are mine throughout this post):
In a short item about a Democratic Governors Association election complaint about Ohio GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich, the Associated Press's Julie Carr Smyth showed that she is willfully ignoring Buckeye State reality, or has been living a hermit's existence for the past few months.
In describing Kasich's standing against Democratic incumbent governor Ted Strickland, Smyth claimed that Kasich "is keeping pace with Strickland in polls and fundraising" (a picture of the relevant paragraph is here).
As you can see, that's sort of like a baseball writer claiming that "The Cincinnati Reds are keeping pace with the Chicago Cubs this year":
Meanwhile, the NBC, ABC and CBS evening newscasts combined for a dubious record last week: the average of 18.7 million people who watched one of the three shows last week was the smallest audience those three telecasts have reached collectively on record, since the infancy of television, Nielsen said.
During the slow news period of late August, the broadcasts broke their previous record — set just last week.
Little did I know that my post last week (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) also covered a negative record-breaker.
This past weekend, intrepid journalists at the New York Post and NorthJersey.com released information they unearthed about proposed Ground Zero Mosque "organizer" Sharif El-Gamal and frontman Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, respectively, that the wire services, the New York Times and the national TV networks would likely have run with by now had the items related to a major church or synagogue.
But since the news has to do with what has turned into the PC crowd's cause celebre and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's personal pet project, you may not see the stories covered anywhere else.
The arguably more important story of the two concerns the tax problems of Mr. El-Gamal (pictured above via the Post) and his company, because they directly related to the GZM's property. The story by Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein went up early Sunday morning:
It would appear that the development of persuasive rhetoric began and ended during the 2007-2008 presidential campaign of now-President Barack Obama.
That's the nearly inevitable conclusion one must reach based on a breathtakingly absurd contention in a (I can't believe I'm typing this) "Breaking News Update" that appeared at the Associated Press at 3:40 p.m. yesterday.
When Glenn Beck spoke yesterday at his "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, he told his audience: "One man can change the world. That man or woman is you. You make the difference."
The AP's reaction was to assert that "Beck is borrowing some lines from President Barack Obama." By using the word "borrowing," AP in essence arrogantly, ignorantly and insultingly contended that Beck couldn't possibly have come up with those sixteen words on his own, and that Barack Obama is the only historical repository of such profundity. From here, it looks like the wire service might be accusing Beck of plagiarism. My goodness, "The Essential Global News Network" should be thoroughly embarrassed.
When you take a look at the full AP item, you further realize that whoever prepared the unbylined story didn't even bother to try to prove that Barack Obama has ever used the words Beck allegedly "borrowed":
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's first full day as the only person in the whole wide world with any kind of influence over what happens in the economy didn't go too badly.
That's the impression one might get from consuming two Friday Associated dispatches and a related AP Video.
Bernanke apparently took full charge of anything and everything having to do with the economy on Thursday evening. As noted early Friday morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), two Thursday afternoon dispatches from the wire service in advance of the government's Friday morning GDP report widely predicted to contain news of a significant downward revision to second-quarter economic growth placed surreal importance on the content of a speech he was to give Friday morning shortly after that report's release. The names of President Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Tim Geithner, and Larry Summers were totally absent from both reports.
Friday, in the wake of the downward revision of second-quarter GDP from an annualized 2.4% to 1.6%, AP's primary economic report about Bernanke's apparent first day as Emperor-in-Chief again failed to name the five folks just mentioned, as did a one-minute video from Mark Hamrick found here (after a 30-second commercial).
Here is some of what Christopher Rugaber, with assists from Jeannine Aversa and Alan Zibel, wrote about Ben's big day:
Sometimes you just have to chuckle at the transparent motivations of business writers in the establishment press.
Two Associated Press reports from this afternoon, one from Stephen Bernard and another much lengthier piece from Jeannine Aversa, attempt to set the template for Friday morning's reportage: Despite all the bad news, including a serious downward revision to second-quarter economic growth, it's up to Big Ben Bernanke to calm everyone down, and magically return the economy to some kind of even keel.
July's bad news in new home sales is even worse than it first appears.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 276,000 units is bad enough. That is an all-time low since records have been kept and 12% lower than June's annual rate. It's also lower than what analysts predicted by about the same percentage. The lazy business press is running with those figures.
But, as has been the case so many other times, it takes a trip to the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) data, this time at the Census Bureau (large PDF), to fully comprehend the extent of the new-home market's collapse during this big, fat failed "Recovery Summer."
The raw data shows that 25,000 new homes were sold in the U.S. in July. That's not a typo, and it really is the figure for the entire country. Worse, that figure, the lowest July since records have been kept, is down by over one-third from July of last year, when the economy supposedly bottomed out, and by 42% from July 2008. I don't think you'll see those facts reported today.
Here is a graphic cap of a 10:07 a.m. report at Reuters carried at CNBC.com. It contains a jaw-dropper of a quote from an economist (red box is obviously mine):
File this under "Fascinating Things You Learn When Researching Other Things."
The Associated Press's infamous memo huffing and puffing about how it will henceforth describe the 13-story mosque/community center/kumbaya center that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf would like to have built on a site two blocks away from where the World Trade Center Towers once stood opened with this sentence:
We should continue to avoid the phrase "ground zero mosque" or "mosque at ground zero" on all platforms.
Obviously the publicly announced editorial decision was news, but how about the lack of uppercase letters in "Ground Zero"?
It turns out that both the AP and the New York Times routinely do not capitalize "Ground Zero," making them grammar outliers. Here was one grammarian's take on the matter in 2007 (bolded in final sentence is mine):
Former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod says she will meet Tuesday with agriculture secretary
Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA rural development director for Georgia, said today she plans to meet Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to discuss a new job offer.
... Sherrod today spoke in the Sumter County town of Epes at an event hosted by the Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund. Ben Jealous, executive director of the NAACP, shared the stage with Sherrod during a panel discussion.
Sherrod said she had no ill feelings toward the NAACP or President Barack Obama.
It the meeting does indeed occur, it will be an interesting test of establishment media credibility, given the accusations leveled at Ms. Sherrod and her husband Charles by Ron Wilkins at the leftist publication Counterpunch several weeks ago. Here are some of the specifics:
In an unusual move, the Associated Press has publicly released an advisory memo to its reporters on how to cover the Ground Zero mosque story - and the first rule is that journalists must immediately stop calling it the "Ground Zero mosque" story.
"We should continue to avoid the phrase ‘Ground zero mosque' or ‘mosque at ground zero' on all platforms," reads the advisory, which was issued by the AP's Standards Center.
Instead of the "Ground Zero mosque," AP recommends that reporters use the terms "mosque 2 blocks from WTC site," "Muslim (or Islamic) center near WTC site," "mosque near ground zero," or "mosque near WTC site."
The AP suggests that it might "useful in some stories to note that Muslim prayer services have been held since 2009 in the building that the new project will replace." In addition, the news service offers a "succinct summary of President Obama's position" on the mosque, but doesn't include the positions of any other politicians.
Here's how the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger and Daniel Wagner reported the housing portion of their Tuesday report on the day's economic news ("Factories aid bumpy recovery, housing still weak"):
Single-family home construction, which represented nearly 80 percent of the market, fell 4.2 percent. And requests for building permits, considered a good sign of future activity, slid 3.1 percent.
... The July increase in housing construction pushed total activity to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000 units. Building activity in June was weaker than first reported. It fell 8.7 percent to an annual rate of 537,000 units, the slowest pace since October of last year.
"The bad news is that activity is likely to remain depressed for several years," said Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics. "The good news, however, is that housing is so depressed it is hard to see activity falling much further from such a severely depressed level."
Well, okay, but the situation is already closer to a zero-out than it is to the levels we were seeing just a few years ago--or any time in the 50-plus years such records have been kept. Looking at the raw data on a historical basis, one finds that July 2010 was the worst July on record for the both stats the AP pair cited:
Here's yet another example illustrating why one must treat the editorials at the Wall Street Journal as a primary source of hard news during Democratic presidential administrations.
On Monday, President Obama visited ZBB Energy Corp, a maker of high-tech batteries in Menominee, Wisconsin. Helene Cooper at the New York Times, where a larger version of the picture at the right appeared, reported that "The company received a $1.3 million federal stimulus loan, which officials said would triple its manufacturing capacity and could lead to 80 new jobs." Note the word "could."
At least the Times mentioned the existence of ZBB's stimulus loan. In three brief reports citing Obama's visit during the past week, the Associated Press didn't even do that.
Memo to Alan Fram and Trevor Tompson of the Associated Press and two other writers who contributed to this report ("AP-GfK polls show Obama losing independents"): You should have taken the weekend off.
When I saw a shorter, earlier version of the referenced AP report this morning, it didn't mention when AP's polling arm AP-GfK Roper had done their work. When I went to the polling home page and found that the most recent entries were from June 9-14, I figured I'd come back later and give the group time to post fresh underlying details.
Little did I know that AP's gaggle of writers were treating the June 9-14 "Poll Politics Topline" as fresh. It gets worse. It turns out that Fram, Tompson et al wasted about 875 words on a report based on polling data that gave equal weights to results from mid-June, mid-May, and mid-April.
Considering the primary topic of discussion, independents' take on the Obama presidency and performance of Congress, this AP report is laughably irrelevant -- unless its primary purpose, especially given that earlier versions of the story didn't identify when the polling took place, was to present data designed to make readers and listeners think that things are better than they really are right now for Democrats heading into the midterm elections.
Don't they usually wait until after Labor Day to do this?
Ten days ago, I asserted that that the administration's cynical use of Andy Griffith for a patently political promo on behalf of Medicare ("This year, as always, we’ll have our guaranteed benefits, and with the new healthcare law, more good things are coming: free check-ups, lower prescription costs") was "the foundation for the biennial Democratic scare-the-seniors campaign."
Well, the Social Security portion of that scare campaign kicked in this morning.
President Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address to glorify Social Security's accomplishments (he "somehow" forgot to mention the program's $7.7 trillion unfunded liability) and to rip unnamed Republicans for proposing to privatize the program. The President, who has used so many straw-man arguments in the past 19 months that he ought to have a scarecrow sitting next to him every time he speaks, framed active GOP proposals as all-or-none privatization ("You shouldn't be worried that a sudden downturn in the stock market will put all you've worked hard for, all you've earned, at risk"), when they're not. For example, what President Bush proposed five years ago involved giving those who wished the opportunity to invest 2% of their pay -- out of the 12.4% of their pay that currently goes into the system -- in one or more of a limited number of investment funds.
But wait until you see how the Associated Press and Erica Werner fanned the flames even further. I found the headline that follows at both the AP's main site and at the same story at USA Today, so what you're about to see is clearly their preference:
File the news in this report filed late yesterday afternoon by Michael Calderone and John Cook at Yahoo's Upshot Blog under "D" for Double Standards:
White House reporters mum on Obama lunch, even as papers back transparency
White House reporters are keeping quiet about an off-the-record lunch today with President Obama — even those at news organizations who've advocated in the past for the White House to release the names of visitors.
But the identities of the lunch's attendees won't remain secret forever: Their names will eventually appear on the White House's periodically updated public database of visitor logs.
... The Obama White House began posting the logs in order to settle a lawsuit, begun under the Bush administration, from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sought the Secret Service's White House visitor logs under the Freedom of Information Act.
... And guess who filed briefs supporting that argument? Virtually every newspaper that covers the White House.
It would seem that what JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater did earlier this week was the stuff that some small-minded people's dreams are made of. Would all of you out there who think that way please remove yourselves from jobs that involve contact with the public?
One has to wonder, based on her sympathetic paean to the "take this job and shove it -- but first, I'll get my revenge" crowd, if Associated Press Writer Samantha Gross should be among those who deserve involuntary removal from such positions. Ms. Gross's grotesque near-admiration for others concocting their own supposedly grand exits is my nominee as Exhibit A exemplifying the media's "strange fascination" with the Slater incident and its meaning noted at this morning's open thread at NewsBusters.
Here are some less than exemplary excerpts from Ms. Gross's gruel, including a few paragraphs exemplifying people the AP writer apparently intended to portray as nearly noble (bolds highlighting leftist phraseology and boorish behavior are mine):