What follows was eminently predictable, but noting it is nonetheless necessary.
Shirley Sherrod, and to a lesser extent her husband Charles, were media celebrities for a while in late July. Readers might have noticed their near absence from establishment media news reports during the past seven days. It would be easy to think that this has occurred because the story played itself out, with nothing newsworthy to add.
That stopped being true on Monday, August 2, when a column by Ron Wilkins ("The Other Side of Shirley Sherrod") appeared in the leftist alternative publication Counterpunch.
Wilkins is currently a professor in the Department of Africana Studies (not misspelled) at Cal State University. He claims in the final sentence of his column that he is knowledgeable concerning what he is writing because "I was one of those workers at NCI." "NCI" is New Communities, Inc., described at a RuralDevelopment.org link as "the land trust that Shirley and Charles Sherrod established, with other black farm families in the 1960's."
Here's part of what Wilkins alleges (excerpted items are not in the same order as they originally appeared; out of order verbiage is identified):
In what I believe is the first direct acknowledgment by the wire service of what so many have known for so long, the Associated Press's Tom Krisher wrote the following in an August 5 story about plans for an initial public offering by government-controlled General Motors (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Ever since the Obama administration gave the automaker a $50 billion dollar survival loan last year, many drivers have scorned the company and bought cars from rivals. Even though GM has cut costs, changed leadership, and reported its first quarterly profit since 2007, the resentment will linger as long as taxpayers have a 61 percent stake in the company.
Actually, the "resentment" goes back to December 2008, when the Bush administration bowed to pressure to use Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to "temporarily" loan a combined $13.4 billion to GM and Chrysler. Also, the total bailout dollars involved are at least $63 billion when GMAC is included, as it should be.
If you have relied exclusively on AP reports and its news feeds to subscribing publications since then, Krisher's assertion that "drivers have scorned the company" would more than likely be the first time you have seen an AP reporter record that observation.
Initial requests for jobless benefits rose last week to their highest level since April, a sign that hiring remains weak and some companies are still cutting workers.
The Labor Department said Thursday that new claims for unemployment insurance rose by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 479,000. Analysts had expected a small drop. Claims have risen twice in the past three weeks.
The AP's Larry Margasak ran with the Democrats' latest talking point in a Tuesday article which carried the headline, "Democrats Declare Swamp of Corruption Drained." The writer, referring to a line by Nancy Pelosi, explained that the remark "might seem odd, but it's an emerging strategy: Separate Democratic-initiated ethics from the cases of Reps. Charles Rangel...and Maxine Waters."
Despite naming Rangel and Waters in his article, Margasak completely omitted other Democratic ethics scandals since they took control of Congress in 2007, such as the case against former Louisiana Representative William Jefferson and the three members of the party linked to the scandal surrounding the PMA Group (former Rep. John Murtha, Virginia's Jim Moran, and Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana).
The AP writer expanded on the headline in his lede: "Democratic leaders say they've emptied the swamp of congressional corruption. Never mind the ethics trials to come for two longtime party members. 'Drain the swamp we did, because this was a terrible place,' Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week of the Republican rule in the House that ended in January 2007."
UPDATE, 6:20 p.m. ET: AP now has a 5:28 p.m. item on the bounty. It's enough to make you wonder if the item below shamed the wire service into covering it.
A look at the Associated Press's raw national feed (saved and stored here at about 1:30 p.m. ET for future reference) informs us that the wire service considers the following items worthy of at least some countrywide attention:
We're No. 1! UGA tops party schools ranking
Lindsay Lohan released from jail, goes to rehab
(Football Player Albert) Haynesworth again doesn't pass conditioning test
Vuvuzelas silenced for basketball worlds
The fact that the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona has had a $1 million bounty placed on his head by a Mexican drug cartel, an offer that is being treated as a credible threat? Sorry, that doesn't make the cut. An AP search on Sheriff Joe Arpaio's last name confirms it:
There's a big "surprise" in the ObamaCare legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the President in late March. Imagine that.
This morning, the Associated Press's Stephen Ohlemacher reported on the status of one of them, namely an IRS-related provision in the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" that has nothing to do with patient protection or providing affordable care. The AP reporter does a decent job of explaining the current situation, but doesn't tell readers how or why the problem arose in the first place. He also gives Democrats cover for what appears to be a half-hearted effort at repeal.
The key point Ohlemacher avoided is that no almost no one in Congress had any idea that the provision, which extends Form 1099 filing requirements to virtually all vendor payments exceeding $600 in a calendar year, was in the bill. It's also clear that very few outside of Congress were aware of the provision during the run-up to the final votes, as the result of a Google News Archive search on "Obamacare 1099 $600" (not typed in quotes) shows:
Thanks to Shirley Sherrod, Andrew Breitbart, and the NAACP, political journalists have supposedly discovered the importance of "context" (though they strangely seem to lost interest once fuller context items like this and this became known). It would be helpful if such an interest in full context would legitimately and consistently spread to business reporting.
Full context would include looking at the raw business and economic data before it gets seasonally adjusted and reporting it when it is significant. Given the information the press would then have to report in the current economy, I'm not holding my breath waiting for journalists to even look at it, let alone report it. (Update: See this comment below for another important contextual element.)
Take the housing market, particularly housing starts and new single-family home sales. During the past week, the Census Bureau released statistics on each of these important metrics. Let's look at an excerpt from reports about each.
Many readers may already be familiar with recent exposure of the treasury plunderers disguised as public officials serving up hefty salaries to themselves while allegedly serving their constituents in the LA suburb of Bell, California.
Here's some of the latest from the Associated Press, carried at the Los Angeles Times, which broke the original story, for those who need a quick catch-up. Almost as night follows day, the news doesn't answer a question many readers here and elsewhere will naturally have:
Several hundred angry residents from a modest blue-collar Los Angeles suburb marched Sunday to call for the resignation of the mayor and some City Council members in a protest sparked by the sky-high salaries of three recently departed administrators.
The residents of the city of Bell marched to Oscar's Korner Market and Carniceria, owned by Mayor Oscar Hernandez, then to his home, demanding that he reduce his own six-figure compensation or quit.
They then did the same with some members of the City Council, with many marchers wearing T-shirts that read "My city is more corrupt than your city."
During his visit to Holland, Michigan on Thursday, President Obama spoke with NBC's Chuck Todd. NBC aired the interview on the NBC Nightly News and The Today Show. (On Friday morning, NB's Geoffrey Dickens covered a separate aspect of that interview relating to the recess-appointed Donald Berwick.)
In reporting on that interview, the Associated Press quoted the President as telling "NBC" (i.e., Todd) that midterm congressional election results could come down to "a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and my policies that got us out of this mess." I prepared a post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) that relied on the AP's quote. It turns out that the AP misquoted the President. I'll get to what Obama really said shortly.
But there is a also a significant omission in the transcript of the interview carried at the Page, Mark Halperin's blog at Time/CNN. I wouldn't know whether NBC, its transcription service, or the White House is responsible for it, but portions of Todd's questions relating to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's acknowledgment that Democrats could lose control of the House in this fall's congressional elections are missing.
Both errors are visible in revisions I have a made to the relevant portion of the transcript that follows (the original video is here for those who wish to hear it for themselves; excerpted portion begins at about the 7:55 mark):
It's not a stretch to believe that the folks at the Associated Press would rather not report bad news from that communist workers' paradise known as Cuba.
Just look at how the wire service has dealt with clearly significant news about the island nation's economy. Though the news, carried originally at the Miami Herald, is three months old, the AP as best I can tell finally got around to writing a story about it late Friday, the beginning of a summer weekend when few are following the news closely. How convenient.
Here is some of what the Herald's Juan O. Tamay reported on April 19:
Raúl Castro admits that Cuba has one million excess jobs The figures on unproductive workers in the government and its enterprises surprised even some Cuban economists.
The stunning figure was revealed by Cuban leader Raúl Castro himself: The Cuban government and its enterprises might have more than one million excess workers on their payrolls.
The Associated Press is among many news organizations which have been ignoring the now-sworn testimony of J. Christian Adams, the whistleblowing lawyer who first asserted almost three weeks ago that there is "profound hostility by the Obama Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department towards a race-neutral enforcement of civil rights laws."
Adams resigned from the DOJ after the following sequence of events:
On Election Day 2008, armed men wearing the uniforms and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were posted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the entrance to a polling site. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters. After the election, the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice brought a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and these armed thugs. I, and other Justice lawyers, obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the case against them.
Before a final judgment could be entered, however, our superiors ordered dismissal of the claims.
A search on "Christian Adams" (not in quotes) at the AP's main site returns nothing relevant. Sadly, that alone is not exceptional.
Given the above background, what is shocking, even to those of us who think they've seen it all from the wire service, is AP reporter Meg Kinnard's coverage of a South Carolina murder and "group" that wants it declared a hate crime. Guess who (bolds are mine):
There are two different ways of defining a recession. The Associated Press is using one of them to define its beginning, and the other to define its end. Using the former makes George Bush look bad; using the latter makes Barack Obama look good. Imagine that.
The traditional definition of "recession," which is used as the official metric in the vast majority of countries around the world, is that it is "a decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for two or more consecutive quarters." Using that metric, the U.S. recession began in July 2008, the first month of the first quarter during which economy contracted, and ended in June 2009, the last month of the final of four consecutive quarters of contraction. Positive economic growth resumed during the third quarter of 2009.
The other definition of "recession" is "a period of economic contraction as defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)." For reasons I'll never understand, but which I believe have their origins in political considerations, the government ceded the "official" definition of "recession" to the NBER several decades ago, moving this metric from the purely objective realm to the clearly subjective.
UPDATE, JULY 18: This post was based in an Associated Press's quote of a statement President Obama made to NBC News that "my policies ... got us out of this mess." Subsequent review of the video and transcript of that interview shows that the President really said "my policies ... are getting us out of this mess." I have prepared a follow-up post dealing with this matter and a separate significant omission in the transcript at BizzyBlog and NewsBusters.
What follows are the first three paragraphs from this short AP report on President Obama's interview with NBC:
It's bad enough the federal government's official budget deficit has topped $1 trillion for the second year in a row, according to the just-released June 2010 Monthly Treasury Statement. But, focusing only on receipts for the moment, a closer look makes it obvious that the situation is even worse than it appears. Don't expect the establishment press to take any interest in the annoying but revealing details that follow.
Here is what Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press wrote about federal collections in his Tuesday report on Uncle Sam's current month and fiscal year deficit:
Through the first nine months of the current budget year, government revenues have totaled $1.6 trillion, up 0.5 percent from the same period a year ago.
In October 2007, I put up a BizzyBlog post (also cross-posted at the Cleveland Plain Dealer's short-lived Wide Open Blog) about William Garner (pictured at right), the Ohio man who killed five children (three of them and the lone survivor also pictured at right) to cover up a burglary in 1992.
At the time, it appeared that Garner's date with the executioner had been indefinitely called off, for specious Miranda-related reasons that you have to read to believe (and even then, it will be difficult).
On Tuesday, Garner's attempts to avoid his death sentence ultimately failed. Sadly, the Associated Press's unbylined coverage of his execution by lethal injection Tuesday allowed Garner and his lawyers to put forth one final batch of half-truths and untruths that require refutation (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
An Ohio man said he was "heartily sorry" for his carelessness (1) before he was executed Tuesday for the murders of five children in a 1992 Cincinnati apartment fire he set in an attempt to destroy evidence of a burglary. William Garner, 37, died at 10:38 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, 18 minutes after the lethal injection began.
One reason to hope that the Big 3 networks continue to muddle through their awful evening news ratings and somehow hang around is that there's an alternative out there that would be much worse.
If any of the networks ever considered outsourcing their nightly newscasts to the Associated Press, the likely result could be bad enough to make some long for the (relatively) good old days of Brian, Diane, and Katie.
An object example of the AP's pathetically one-sided, biased and completely not-transparent video reporting came last Tuesday when it covered the Department of Justice's lawsuit against Arizona's illegal immigration enforcement measure. The 1070 law tells police to verify citizenship status in "contact" situations (e.g., traffic stops and other routine matters) if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person or persons involved aren't here legally.
AP's go-to "expert" acts as if it's a given that the United States government has decided that being here illegally ("without documentation") isn't a crime. Seriously. During the 104-second report (first go here, then type "Arizona immigration" in the search bar near the bottom, and select "Fed. Suing to Block Ariz. Immigration Law"), AP reporter Brian Thomas interviewed no one who defended the law's constitutionality.
I was quite surprised to see the difference in tone between two different Associated Press reports on retail sales Thursday.
The earlier article, unbylined and time-stamped at 10:43 a.m. at MSNBC (HT Hot Air), has the headline "Nation’s retailers post tepid June sales" and this subheadline: "Concerns about back-to-school shopping, health of recovery." It is decidedly downbeat.
The later AP item, with Anne D'Innocienzio's byline and time-stamped at 4:59 p.m. at the AP's main site, is headlined "Retailers post choppy June, deepen discounts." Compared to the morning story, this account is largely sanitized of macroeconomic negativity and dour words.
Imagine my surprise when I found a bylined version of the earlier report -- time-stamped at 9:37 a.m. Mountain Time (11:37 ET) at an Idaho TV station's web site -- and learned that Ms. D'Innocenzio also wrote that report. Who fed this woman happy pills during the afternoon?
Here are some key paragraphs from the AP retail writer's morning offering (bolds and number tags are mine):
The Associated Press gave voice to a Repuiblican Congressman today to bemoan what he sees as "poisonous 'demagoguery'" from the usual suspects, including, by the AP's own account, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.
Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., who lost in a primary for the GOP nomination last month, went so far as to claim that heated political rhetoric is "dividing the country into partisan camps that really look a lot like Shia and Sunni." The AP did not feel the need to qualify this absurd statement (and it is absurd, given that a few years ago Sunni and Shia tribes in Iraq were "systematically trying to assassinate moderates").
And while the AP now feels the need to unquestionably parrot claims that conservatives are dividing the nation into potentially murderous political sects, just last year it ran an article headlined "Obama spokesman says sharp tone is justified." By the AP's unquestioning accounts, heated conservative rhetoric is dangerous, but heated liberal rhetoric is necceary for the health of the nation.
Rush has spent a considerable portion of today's broadcast ripping into this article by Christine Stapleton of Cox Newspapers, and rightly so, for the first three of the four opening paragraphs that follow:
Despite the warnings of Dick Cheney, George Will, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, the Russians are not drilling for oil off Cuba. Neither are the Chinese. In fact, no one — not even Cuba — is drilling for oil off Cuba.
The pesky and persistent rumor, bubbling back up with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, is still nothing more than a pesky and persistent rumor — aired in 2008 by former Vice President Cheney (who got the misinformation from conservative columnist Will), repeated on Fox News and recently revived by conservative radio commentator Limbaugh, who told his listeners 10 days after the spill: "The Russians are drilling in a deal with the Cubans in the Gulf. The Vietnamese and Angola are drilling for oil in the Gulf in deals with the Cubans."
However, as oil from BP's exploded well continues surging from the Gulf floor and washing onto Panhandle beaches, the rumor is poised to become fact.
The first six words (bolded by me) of Deb Riechmann's report from Kabul, Afghanistan for the Associated Press are refreshing:
"We are in this to win," Gen. David Petraeus said as he took the reins of an Afghan war effort troubled by waning support, an emboldened enemy, government corruption and a looming commitment to withdraw troops - even with no sign of violence easing.
It would have been even more refreshing if the AP's Riechmann, who obviously felt compelled to tick off as many of the reasons Petraeus and the troops he leads may not meet the goal as quickly as possible, would have reminded readers that Petraeus's boss, President Barack Obama, has been decidedly allergic to using the words "win" and "victory" in Afghanistan since his inauguration. One of her later paragraphs presented a perfect opportunity to remind readers of the president's aversion. She passed; she shouldn't have.
Petraeus, thankfully, feels no need to hold back, as noted later in Reichmann's report (bolds are mine):
Those looking for evidence that there is a move afoot in the establishment press to lower the bar for whatever economic accomplishments might be accomplished during the Obama administration will be interested in how the Associated Press's report on the government's June jobs report defined "normal" unemployment.
Perhaps it's valid for reporters Jeannine Aversa and Christopher Rugaber to refer to 6% unemployment as "normal," if by that they mean "typical non-recessionary" or "long-term average" unemployment. But I couldn't help but remember that during the Bush 43 and Reagan years, unemployment rates just above and occasionally even below that level were described by wire service reporters and other journalists as "persistent unemployment" -- i.e., decidedly not "normal." I quickly found several AP and other reports from those eras that confirmed my recall of what is now a demonstrated double standard.
Here is the opening sentence from the AP report, followed by the term-redefining paragraph (bold is mine):
At the Associated Press, Kelli Kennedy's Thursday report on fraud and abuse in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is well done in several aspects, nonetheless significantly understated its losses.
The AP dispatch deals with a now-released Government Accountability Office report on the results of investigations in nine states.
Here are the first four paragraphs of Kennedy's report (HT David Freddoso at the Washington Examiner), including reference to a woman who is LIHEAP's version of a welfare queen:
A federal program designed to help impoverished families heat and cool their homes wasted more than $100 million paying the electric bills of thousands of applicants who were dead, in prison or living in million-dollar mansions, according to a government investigation.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is admonishing the leaders of other countries attending the G-20 summit in Toronto to keep spending like there's no tomorrow, because if they spend like there's no tomorrow, there will still be a tomorrow. But in the gospel according to Geithner, if they don't spend like there's no tomorrow, there really won't be a tomorrow.
With such blubbery logic, is it any wonder that America's stature with the rest of the world is plummeting?
Earlier this evening, Brent Baker at NewsBusters pointed to an ABC report warning that a second recession might be on the horizon if the G20 nations don't follow the spend-spend-spend recommendations of the Obama administration.
In his attempt to convince the rest of the world of the folly of being fiscally responsible, Geithner has invoked a supposed "lesson" from the 1930s. Back in mid-May, I happened to stumble on the fundamental untruth of his assertion, and will demonstrate it shortly.
The Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa let Geithner's contention pass without challenge in her Saturday report on the summit. Here are the three relevant paragraphs from her report:
To refresh, as posted at NewsBusters and Eyeblast.tv, Pennsylvania Congressman Paul Kanjorski said the following on Wednesday while he was defending what Investors Business Daily has called "Financial Deform":
We’re giving relief to people that I deal with in my office every day now unfortunately. But because of the longevity of this recession, these are people — and they’re not minorities and they’re not defective and they’re not all the things you’d like to insinuate that these programs are about — these are average, good American people.
This isn't too tough to decipher, no matter how many House Democrats try to give him defensive cover -- If the people Kanjorski "deal(s) with in my office everyday" are "average, good American people" because "they're not minorities and they're not defective," then those who are minorities and "defective" in some way are not "average, good American people." Kanjorski uttered an objectively racist (embodying "the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others") statement.
According to this report, Kanjorski is not apologizing. Therefore, one must conclude that the congressman is comfortable with his objectively racist statement.
The Associated Press is still failing to tag the currently imprisoned former Detroit Mayor and former beneficiary of President Barack Obama's high praise Kwame Kilpatrick as a Democrat.
I know, same-old, same-old. And Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead. But there's more to this particular chapter in this ongoing "Name That Party" narrative.
The wire service kept its near-perfect Kilpatrick non-labeling track record intact in two shorter items and a lengthier treatment of the latest development in Kwame's calamaties, all published in roughly the past 24 hours. The closest Kwame got to being tagged as a Dem occurred in an otherwise detailed report turned in by Ed White, where he described Kilpatrick's mother, Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, as "D-Mich." The link to White's report doesn't contain his byline; I'll explain why later in the post, where I will also suggest that there is reason to believe the AP has attempted to bottle up White's full report.
A six-paragraph story carried at the Toledo Blade last night (HT to Maggie Thurber in an e-mail) described the latest and by far most serious development in this sickening saga:
In an indictment filed Wednesday, he’s accused of failing to report at least $640,000 in taxable income between 2003 and 2008, which includes money, private jet flights and personal expenses paid by the (Kilpatrick) Civic Fund.
A federal judge in New Orleans has blocked a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects that was imposed in response to the massive Gulf oil spill.
The White House says President Barack Obama's administration will appeal.
Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium.
This later paragraph from AP's breaking news report explains why I believe Ken Salazar's dissenting experts from the National Academy of Engineering may have influenced the judge's outlook on the case:
Feldman says in his ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium. He says it seems to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.
Feldman's take seems to mirror the language of the dissenting experts.
Late last year, a story carried by the wire service AFP reported on an announcement by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez that his government would launch "a new chain of government-run, cut-rate retail stores that will sell everything from food to cars to clothing." Chavez reportedly said that these "discount socialist stores" would show people "what a real market is all about, not those speculative, money-grubbing markets, but a market for the people."
This initiative was on top of Chavez's creation of Mercal (link is to the Venezuelan home page, complete with "The Bolivarian Government of Venezuela" logo), a state-run network of grocery stores, seven years ago.
How is this great leap forward into state control working out? A June 18 Reuters dispatch carried at CNBC reports that the government can't even keep its food fresh. But that's okay. The wire service takes a while to get there, and even then a bit of interpretation is necessary, but eventually we learn that the Chavez "solution" to that thorny problem is to seize replacement goods from private merchants:
Hugo Chavez Spearheads Raids as Food Prices Skyrocket
Mountains of rotting food found at a government warehouse, soaring prices and soldiers raiding wholesalers accused of hoarding: Food supply is the latest battle in President Hugo Chavez's socialist revolution.