This paragraph from an Associated Press report by Christopher Rugaber on today's economic news should at a minimum strike readers as odd:
A third report noted that prices at the wholesale level remained tame outside a sharp rise in food and energy costs. Excluding those two volatile categories, core wholesale prices rose just 0.1 percent, the Labor Department said.
So we're left hanging. Gee Chris, what was the overall change in the Producer Price Index? He never says, at least not in the 11:44 a.m. version of his report.
Michelle Malkin picked up on this vibe yesterday, and it has become more obvious in the intervening day: The establishment press, or at least parts of it, are downplaying the American exceptionalism -- and the exceptional Americans -- involved in the Chilean mine rescue.
Reports early this morning at the Associated Press and New York Times exemplify the point. Times reporters Alexei Barrionuevo and Simon Romero even chose to deliberately cast the rescue in brazenly cynical political terms.
It was one thing when the United Auto Workers agreed many years ago to temporary "two-tiered" wage structures at the plants of Detroit's Big Three automakers. After all, it was argued, they'll be brought up to a level of full pay and benefits in several years, and new employees aren't as productive as the veterans.
UPDATE:A 12:16 p.m. AP report gets to details the initial report (not labeled "breaking") should have contained.
In an unbylined Associated Press story about the wife of incumbent Democratic Massachusetts Congressman John Tierney pleading guilty in a federal tax case, the wire service fails to mention which district Tierney represents. Far worse, it only reports that Tierney "is facing a Republican challenger in next month's election," and doesn't even name him.
Gosh, we wouldn't want actual voters to react to the news that a Democratic Congressman's wife helped her brother evade taxes on millions of dollars of income by possibly identifying Tierney as their congressman, identifying his opponent, and actually voting for that opponent, now would we? No, that just wouldn't be right. It would seem that "AP" stands for "Absolute Protection" -- of Democratic incumbents.
The National Football League is whistling incumbent Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's campaign team for illegal use of film.
The campaign has been playing a commercial which includes footage of former Minnesota wide receiver Randy Moss's pretend-mooning of Green Bay Packer fans during a 2004 playoff game, and is apparently doing so without the express written consent of the league.
During the course of his coverage of the situation, the Associated Press's Dinesh Ramde demonstrates that he doesn't really know the score of the game that is progress, namely the electoral contest for Feingold's U.S. Senate seat. In that game, the scoreboard at Real Clear Politics has Feingold's Republican opponent currently ahead by an average of nine points over four polls. The latest, from Rasmussen, has Johnson ahead by 12.
To Ramde, these polls indicate that Feingold is "slightly trailing" Johnson.
UPDATE: Did AP read this post and react? An updated AP story time-stamped at 6:35 p.m. reports the following: "He (Shahzad) said the Pakistan Taliban provided him with more than $15,000 and five days of explosives training late last year and early this year, months after he became a U.S. citizen."
(Original post follows)
The Associated Press's Tom Hays did not report who trained Faisal Shahzad in his coverage of the failed Times Square bomber's sentencing in a New York courtroom today.
The best Hays could do in his 11:25 a.m. report was to make references in his second and seventeenth paragraphs to how Shahzad went "to train in Pakistan" and "received explosives training in Pakistan," respectively. Readers not fully aware of story developments since Shahzad's arrest in May should be receiving this information. For all we know from Hays's report, Shazad may attended the Pakistani branch of the Acme School of Bomb-Making, or perhaps experimented in Uncle Abdul's attic.
The fact is that there is no ambiguity about who trained Shahzad (thankfully, not successfully). On May 9, Attorney General Eric Holder said that it was the Pakistani Taliban:
Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was no lone wolf - the Pakistani Taliban "was behind the attack," Attorney General Eric Holder asserted Sunday.
Do the science writers and political reporters at the Associated Press ever compare notes? Based on their divergent coverage of stem cell research, it seems doubtful.
On Sunday, AP science writer Milan Rising reported that a Japanese scientist was under probable consideration to win this year's Nobel Prize in medicine:
A Japanese researcher who discovered how to make stem cells from ordinary skin cells and avoid the ethical quandaries of making them from human eggs could be a candidate for the medicine award when the 2010 Nobel Prize announcements kick off Monday, experts said.
Several prominent Nobel guessers have pointed to Kyoto University Professor Shinya Yamanaka as a potential winner of the coveted award.
Though the prize, announced this morning, went to another gentleman, the question remains: How could this be? As a court case over President Obama's executive order permitting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research has been progressing through its various appeals during the past several weeks, AP's political writers have been giving readers the clear impression that it is the research involving the destruction of human embryos that holds the real promise of scientific progress. Uh, not exactly. In fact, not at all.
At about 3 p.m. Saturday, one version of the reportage from the Associated Press's Philip Elliott concerning the "One Nation" rally in Washington opened as follows (saved here at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes; bold is mine):
Tapping into the same anger that fuels the tea party movement, a coalition of progressive and civil rights groups marched Saturday on the Lincoln Memorial and pledged to support Democrats struggling to keep power on Capitol Hill.
Elliott must have realized he had gone way over the top with that one, as he watered it down a bit an hour later (also saved at host): "Tapping into anger as the tea party movement has done ..."
There are so many problematic items in the establishment press's treatment of yesterday's "One Nation" rally in Washington that it's difficult to know where to begin.
So let's start at the very beginning. Among the many howlers in the coverage is a claim the Associated Press's Philip Elliott pass without response towards the end of his 12:21 p.m Saturday report (saved here at my web host for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; bold is mine):
One Nation organizers said that they began planning their event before learning about Beck's rally and that their march is not in reaction to it.
It would appear that either Elliott felt that this statement would easily withstand scrutiny, and thus performed none himself, or that he knew better, and let it get into his report anyway.
Given the fact that so-called progressives have been continually monitoring Beck's activities and pronouncements for several years, One Nation's organizers would have to prove that they began substantively "planning their event" before November 21, 2009. Good luck with that.
Government/General Motors saw its total vehicle sales fall in September to 173,031 from 185,105 in August. At the same time, Ford's sales increased from to 157,327 to 160,375.
Thus, what was an almost 28,000-vehicle lead for GM in August shrank by more than half to less than 13,000 in September. No one has a crystal ball, of course, but if GM falls and Ford surges by similar amounts in October, Ford will become the top-selling brand in the USA.
Associated Press reporters Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin apparently believe that Ford's move to within clear striking distance of taking over GM is not news that anyone can use. They had their opportunities to mention the situation in their coverage today, and blew right by them.
Oh, and wait until you see what GM is doing to try to keep from losing its Number 1 status.
When news broke in August that News Corporation, the media conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdoch, had donated a million dollars to the Republican Governors Association, liberals howled that Murdoch's personal political views - reflected in that donation - compromised the neutrality of News Corp's subsidiaries. The same arguments are being offered today, as news emerges that Murdoch's company gave another million to the Chamber of Commerce.
But Murdoch testified before a congressional subcommittee on Thursday in support of amnesty for illegal immigrants. Almost immediately, the left began asking why Murdoch had not incorporated his own views on the issue into Fox News's programming.
So now that liberals may have some common ground with Murdoch on the immigration issue, they are pleading for him to do exactly what they criticized when it benefitted Republicans: inject his own personal political views into reporting by News Corp. outlets.
It is truly remarkable to observe how press outlets continue to misreport and misinform the public in the area of stem cell research.
One of the latest examples came yesterday at the Associated Press. In a report covering a court ruling on government funding of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), the AP's Nedra Pickler completely failed to acknowledge that there are any other kinds of stem cells. Every single use by Pickler of the terms "stem cell" or "stem cells" has no modifying adjective, except the very first, whose modifier is "embryonic."
It's as if there are no other avenues besides ESCR for "scientific progress toward potentially lifesaving medical treatment." In fact, Pickler's less-informed readers would have no reason to believe that there is any form of stem cell research besides ESCR. The reality, which will be shown later for the umpteenth time, is that non-embryonic stem cells, often referred to as adult stem cells, have already shown that they can do virtually everything embryonic cells can with far less potential for side effects and, of course, no loss of human life. The word "adult" does not appear in the AP report.
Here are several paragraphs from Pickler's pathetic piece, which also includes a deeply deceptive quote (is there any other kind?) from Obama White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (bold is mine):
Today's report from The Conference Board shows that consumer confidence fell steeply in September:
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had improved in August, retreated in September. The Index now stands at 48.5 (1985=100), down from 53.2 in August.
In a report issued in the run-up to the Board's release (go to the text which follows the "Breaking News Update" here; saved at my web host for future reference), the Associated Press's Stephen Bernard revealed economists' consensus prediction (52.5) and helpfully told readers the level of result (90) that would represent "a strong, healthy economy."
In his 10:36 report consolidating the breaking news with info presented before its release (saved here), that useful information disappeared. In fact, even though it was in the "Breaking News Update" of the earlier report, Bernard omitted the Board's specific reading from his revision. Amazing.
You would think someone in the U.S. establishment press would be following Uncle Sam's progress or lack thereof in getting out from under its investment in Citigroup, especially since the government promised that it would be fully divested from the bank holding company by the end of this year. From all appearances, you would be wrong.
It looks like the government may not be able to keep that year-end divestiture promise. For a fair number of news followers to learn that, the UK's Financial Times had to take an interest (link may require registration), and Drudge had to link to it:
US Treasury stumbles selling Citi shares
The US government is in danger of missing its deadline of divesting all of its Citigroup shares by the year-end after a fall in stock market trading volumes prompted authorities to slow down sales in July and August.
The lull could prompt the US Treasury, which has a stake of about 17 per cent in Citi, to consider a share offering instead of selling the stock in small quantities in the market, according to bankers and analysts.
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: