Is this what Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd meant when he said (on camera) Venezuelan thug dictator Hugo Chavez (take that, Sean Penn) had begun "to take very seriously the media in his country"- while praising Chavez's "incredible...democratic revolution?"
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday defended the arrest of a major TV channel owner, calling him a criminal and denying the government is carrying out an assault on press freedom.
The back-to-back arrests this week of two government opponents - including the owner of Venezuela's only remaining anti-Chavez TV channel - have drawn accusations that Chavez is growing increasingly intolerant and authoritarian as his popular support has slipped.
Opposition leaders and human rights groups condemned Thursday's arrest of Globovision's owner Guillermo Zuloaga, who was detained at an airport and released hours later after a judge issued an order barring him from leaving the country.
Zuloaga is accused of spreading false informationand insulting the president at an Inter American Press Association meeting in Aruba last weekend, Attorney General Luisa Ortega said.
As the piece indicates, this is but the latest example of Chavez taking "very seriously the media in his country," in Lloyd parlance. Which is woefully at odds with freedoms of speech and the press. Which is fine with Lloyd, because so's he.
Doing work the Associated Press refused to do -- or more specifically, providing context the AP refused to provide -- Sweetness & Light's indefatigable blogger Steve Gilbert gave readers the back story behind the order by U.S. District Judge James Robertson (pictured at right) to release Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Salahi. Salahi is said to have, in the words of the wire service's Pete Yost, "provided advice to three of the Sept. 11 hijackers."
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has announced that it is disbanding.
Though the hard-leftists that formed or were running it are likely to show up in some other venue and perhaps in a successor organization down the road (Update: or perhaps burrow themselves into the government, as NB commenter "Hunter 12" suggests), this is a moment to savor. Two twenty-somethings, acting entirely on their own, assisted later by a skilled mentor who knew the value of their work and how to maximize the mileage to be gained from it, brought down what had turned into a pretentious, intimidating, fraud-riddled wing of the Democratic Party's get out the vote effort. All that remains -- frankly more than should be allowed to remain -- is ACORN Housing Corporation. According to USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, whose related article is behind its subscription wall, is saying that ACORN Housing "has a separate budget and board."
In one last act of sympathy, most of the press is giving ACORN's leaders a chance to vent without rebuttal and in some cases supplying their own sour grapes. Here are some examples:
Following up on a post earlier today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) -- a 16 year-old in southern New Jersey was arrested and charged with "harassment and bias intimidation" for getting onto an area Wal-Mart store's intercom and saying, "Attention, Walmart customers: All black people, leave the store now."
Though the company had told the local press Friday evening that it believe that a non-employee had been responsible for the incident, the Associated Press did not report that critical fact (see picture of 7:03 a.m. report here) until mid-morning on Saturday, leaving its readers up to that point to infer that a company employee had perpetrated the act.
Now, even though the worst you could say about the company is that it didn't protect its public address system from customer access Associated Press writer Bruck Shipkowski is citing the incident as "the latest in a series of problems the retailer has had in its dealings with minorities and women." How disgusting.
Here is the Associated Press's report on an intercom incident at a southern New Jersey Wal-Mart store as of 7:03 a.m. Saturday (text at link will likely change):
Naturally, most readers will believe that some Wal-Mart associate thought he was being "cute." That's because "somehow" the wire service "forgot" to reveal a key element of the story that as of 7:03 a.m. Saturday had been known for at least eight hours:
In a Friday piece of presidential protection prose promulgated by the Associated Press, writer Erica Werner correctly identified a number of significant "unfulfilled commitments" relating to proposed health care legislation, and then attempted to make excuses for why they didn't happen.
Werner's work was conveniently accompanied by a heavily downplaying headline -- "Final health bill omits some of Obama's promises" -- while her rundown of the specifics in reality ended up being "all but two":
It was a bold response to skyrocketing health insurance premiums. President Barack Obama would give federal authorities the power to block unreasonable rate hikes.
Yet when Democrats unveiled the final, incarnation of their health care bill this week, the proposal was nowhere to be found.
In a week that has been chock full of lame claims, it would not be correct to say that the howler propagated by Sharon Thiemer of the Associated Press on Tuesday is the worst. But it's definitely in the upper echelons.
In an item about government bureaucrats' increased volume and increased level of excuse-making for denying Freedom of Information Act requests, Theimer acts as if the guy in charge of the entire enterprise -- that would be President Obama -- has stood by helplessly while things got worse. One can be reasonably assured that the problems described below would not be treated with such kid gloves if a conservative or Republican occupied the Oval Office:
PROMISES, PROMISES: Is gov't more open with Obama?
Federal agencies haven't lived up to President Barack Obama's promise of a more open government, increasing their use of legal exemptions to keep records secret during his first year in office.
The Associated Press's timing couldn't have been better for those who still want to pretend that Social Security is really not in serious trouble. Stephen Ohlemacher's item ("Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs") originally appeared on Sunday, in the midst of most of the major college basketball conference tournament championships, then followed by the evening's announcement of the selections for the NCAA Division I Men's basketball tournament. (The AP has issued minor revisions several times since its original appearance, up to and including today.)
The wire service's timing, while convenient for the Washington establishment, as it minimizes the possibility of distractions from its statist health care obsession, couldn't have been worse for those of us who wish the American people would get a grip on the gravity of the situation -- which is why I saved this post for today.
What is about to occur is the event that as little as a year ago, according to the Social Security Trustees' 2009 Report, wasn't expected to arrive until 2016. Ohlemacher tells us that it's right here, right now, and gets the reporting right until his seventh paragraph (bolds are mine):
The Associated Press seems to have two unwritten rules on how and when to write stories about leftist controversies and setbacks:
Rule Number 1 -- Do little or nothing with the story until you can figure out a way to make center-right critics or victors look like the bad guys.
Rule Number 2 -- If you're thinking about covering the story any other way, refer to Rule Number 1.
On Thursday, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in Columbus, Ohio, which describes itself as "an independent legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse," announced a significant legal victory for Buckeye State residents interested in clean elections:
The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law achieved victory in its state RICO action against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). ACORN has agreed to settle the case and will cease all Ohio activity as a result. In its settlement with the 1851 Center, ACORN agreed to surrender all of its Ohio business licenses by June 1, 2010. Further, the organization cannot support or enable any individual or organization that seeks to engage in the same type of activity.
That seems like a pretty clear-cut result, doesn't it? Not if you're the Associated Press's JoAnne Viviano, whose brief item on Saturday followed the rules above, fabricated a supposed loophole in the settlement, and gave an unnamed spokesman an open mic to despicably play the race card:
Two reports linked by Instapundit earlier today demonstrate at a macro and micro level how weak the claim that Toyota has deliberately jeopardized consumer safety in connection with "sudden acceleration" complaints may ultimately turn out to be.
The macro piece comes from Megan McArdle (pictured at left; "How Real are the Defects in Toyota's Cars?") at her blog at the Atlantic. The magazine's business and economics editor dissected case-by-case detail originally compiled by the Los Angeles Times, which was also analyzed to an extent by Washington Examiner op-ed writer and Overlawyered blogger Ted Frank, to make important points about the likelihood of driver error in many of them.
The micro item comes from Michael Fumento, whose Forbes column takes apart the recent James Sikes "sudden acceleration" incident in California as it rips the establishment media for its total lack of skepticism about the driver's claims and his credibility.
First, to McArdle, who also has nicely done graphs at her post:
One thing you can say about the Apparatchik Press -- er, the Associated Press -- is that it's leaving no stone unturned in its attempt to prop up their guy Barack Obama.
In the tenth paragraph of an AP report today by Ben Feller on President Obama's stack of priorities ("For Obama, big agenda and small window for results"), the wire service's Ben Feller bitterly clings to an AP-GfK Roper poll result that is sharply at variance with others, and assumes that it gives Obama a level of clout that doesn't exist outside the grounds of the White House:
Obama has a key edge in setting the agenda: public approval. His job-performance rating is holding mainly steady at 53 percent, while a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that fewer people approve of Congress - a mere 22 percent - than at any point in Obama's presidency.
Well, of course his approval is 53% in AP-GfK la-la land. The poll's sample, as you can see at the top right (found at Page 31 of the 42-page PDF, consisted of 33% declared Democrats and 23% declared Republicans.
Rush mentioned this on the air as his show opened.
It comes from the Associated Press, in a later paragraph of an Obama cheerleading item ("Obama pitches health plan in spirited appearance"; AP picture at right is from that story) by Julie Pace and David Espo.
The paragraph in question opens by giving readers the impression that either Pace, Espo, or another AP person has actually seen language in whatever iteration of ObamaCare happens to be floating around House chambers these days. But then it backs down and says it's only "described by a Democratic aide," meaning that the wire service is willingly serving as a trial-balloon enabler:
In a new change sought by House Democrats, the fix-it bill would require businesses to count part-time workers when calculating penalties for failing to provide health coverage for employees. Smaller businesses would be exempt. The Senate bill would count only full-time workers in applying the penalties, but under the change, described by a Democratic aide, two part-time workers would count as one full-time worker. Businesses say that's unduly burdensome, but Democrats contend it would prevent businesses from avoiding penalties by hiring more workers part-time.
Former Birmingham, Alabama mayor Larry Langford (pictured at right in AP photo), who is a Democrat, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Friday for bribery.
In reporting the story, Reuters did what a competent wire service should do, informing readers of Langford's party affiliation early on:
The former mayor of Alabama's largest city, Birmingham, was sentenced on Friday for his role in corrupt bond deals that threaten to mushroom into a massive U.S. bankruptcy case.
Larry Langford, a 63-year-old Democrat, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Prosecutors had sought a term of at least 24 years after Langford's conviction on an array of fraud and bribery charges last year.
As has sadly come to be expected, the same cannot be said for the Associated Press. Though it eventually got around to identifying two associates of Langford as "former Democratic Party" officials, it avoided tagging Langford. In the process, the wire service may have set a "Name That Party" record for most felony convictions (60) handed to a politician whose party affiliation was never identified.
This one's a particularly egregious example of party-ID dodging, even for those of us who are used to seeing the establishment media avoid mentioning the political party of almost any disgraced or troubled Democratic public official.
Former Racine, Wisconsin mayor Gary Becker, a Democrat, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for child enticement and attempted sexual assault of a child.
Headlines can be an excellent window into the biases, albeit sometimes subtle, of editors. An AP story about a gun rights case, McDonald v. Chicago, challenging the Windy City's handgun ban before the Supreme Court today is one such example.
The AP's headline is pretty straightforward and unbiased. As Sherman reported in his story, the controversy in question is whether the ruling in Heller extends to the states or if the ruling only forbids the federal and D.C. governments from infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.
Yet at least two media outlets picking up on Sherman's story opted for more loaded headlines.
LoHud.com reports (HT to an NB e-mailer) that White Plains, New York Mayor Adam Bradley "turned himself in to police headquarters ... (Sunday) morning after his wife filed a complaint with police that he jammed her finger in a door around 9:30 a.m. Bradley was then arraigned on a third-degree misdemeanor assault charge at White Plains City Court."
The web site does not identify Bradley's Democratic party affiliation, which is perhaps forgivable under a belief that most local readers might know it already.
The Associated Press has no such excuse, at least once one of its stories goes over the national wires, as this one has:
That's pretty "clever" headlining, isn't it? Given that many "suburban" mayors, even in the Empire State, are Republicans, quite a few readers will naturally believe that the city's mayor is a GOP member.
There's no reason to believe that whatever readers attempt to discern from the headline will change after they read the unbylined story, which repeats the "suburban" theme and also fails to identify Bradley as a Dem:
Yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted Fannie Mae's $72 billion loss announcement and the ward of the state's simultaneous $15.3 billion handout request.
Late Friday was also the occasion for the release by the Treasury Department of the "2009 Financial Report of the United States Government." The report shows how seriously the government's financial situation deteriorated during the fiscal year that ended September 30. The coverage of the report prepared by the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger demonstrated how weak the press's communication of that seriousness is.
After presenting the first several paragraphs of Crutsinger's composition for the purpose of providing the basic facts, I'll concentrate on the AP writer's three worst paragraphs that followed (there is also a summary table from the report at the end of this post):
After the closing bell on Friday, just in time for everyone to stop paying close attention, mortgage behemoth and ward of the state Fannie Mae ("Fan") released its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results. Its press release (PDF) informs us that its $74.4 billion loss in 2009 (inclusive of dividends paid to the government) followed a $58.8 billion loss in 2008.
Oh, by the way, Fan also told us yesterday that it will need another $15.3 billion in cash by the end of March. That would bring the total of Uncle Sam's combined Fan-Fred cash infusions to $126 billion.
These outrageous results are made even more maddening by Zibel's kid-glove treatment of the problems at the two entities in paragraphs 8 through 10 of his report:
Earlier this afternoon, NB's Tim Graham noted how NPR's Robert Siegel and Pew Research pollster Andrew Kohut spoke approvingly of "Millennials" as being "less 'militaristic' and less religious" than their elders.
At end of his post, Graham noted that Siegel and Kohut "somehow" forgot to discuss the key political finding in the poll, namely that the demographic's 32-point favoritism towards Democrats (62% to 30%) has declined by more than half (to 54% to 40%) in just one year of living in Obamaland. Shoot, if that trend continues for another nine months, it will be almost all even by Election Day in November.
The adverb that begins with a "U" made yet another appearance yesterday in connection with an economic report. The related noun that begins with an "S" came along for the ride.
The news concerned sales of new homes. They fell "Unexpectedly" to their lowest level since 1963, when the U.S population was about 40% lower. The decline was a "Surprise" to economists, who had predicted an increase.
It continues to fascinate that the "Unexpected" news that came as a "Surprise" to economists during a large portion of the Bush 43 administration more often than not was to the upside, while the trail of "Unexpected Surprises" during the current administration is littered with downers.
Ahead of the news, the Associated Press appeared ready to play up what it thought would be good news, and then exiled its reports to remote corners when things didn't go as expected.
In a Thursday afternoon story on the small rise in the Case Schiller home price index, the AP's Adrian Sanz was talking of recovery, while inventing a new economic concept (bold is mine):
At age 50, Bill Ayers called himself a "radical" and a "communist." As recently as 2001, Ayers had himself photographed for a magazine story trampling an American flag. But that's not good enough for the Associated Press. In an article today, AP describes Ayers as a "former radical."
AP's de-radicalization of Ayers appeared in an article about a forthcoming biography of Barack Obama, entitled The Bridge, by New Yorker editor David Remnick. Here's the line [emphasis added]:
If the goal of whoever leaked the contents of a presentation originally made internally at Toyota's Washington, DC offices and turned over to congressional investigators was to drum up an intense level of negative press coverage against the company, they can sit back and say, "Mission accomplished."
It seems to have started Sunday with David Shepardson of the Detroit News, who reported that the company had "bragged" about avoiding recall costs. Though he appears to have erroneously believed that he had the whole thing, Shepardson's "evidence" consisted of only ten of that presentation's sixteen (or possibly more) pages with a couple of references to "wins." His report was picked and spread widely by the Associated Press's Ken Thomas, who turned "bragged" into "boasted."
How coincidental. A Detroit News item by David Shepardson supposedly indicating that Toyota is more concerned about saving money than driver safety surfaces less than 48 hours before congressional hearings are to begin. His story's basis is a presentation that appears to have been leaked by someone either in Congress or working there, or who is involved with the Department of Transportation.
Lo and behold, Associated Press writer Ken Thomas is right behind him to make sure the story goes national and to mimic Shepardson's breathtaking cultural ignorance in time for the wee-hours press runs for Monday's newspapers and for the writers at the morning news shows.
Shepardson and Thomas, absent any other evidence they chose to make readers aware of, believe that four documents in what was originally an internal company presentation somehow prove that Toyota "bragged" and "boasted," respectively, about saving money in connection with the potential "sudden acceleration" problem in many of its models.
Further, and crucially, Shepardson seems to be a bit numerically challenged, while Thomas appears to have relied on Shepardson's innumeracy. The Detroit News writer told readers that he obtained a "10-page" presentation, but the page numbering on the actual documents indicates that its full length was at least 16 pages. I'm not kidding.
Between its January 31 and February 20 reports on developments in the "interrogation memos" saga, the Associated Press may have learned a lesson in basic journalism from a NewsBusters commenter. I'll describe; readers can decide.
The wire service's unbylined report three weeks ago opened with this paragraph:
In his report ("Federal deficit at $430.69 billion through January") following yesterday's snow-delayed release of Uncle Sam's most recent Monthly Treasury Statement, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger informed readers that through the first four months of the fiscal year, "outlays total $1.12 trillion, down 3.9 percent from the spending through the same period in 2009."
He further explained that:
The huge deficits are being caused by the impact of a severe recession, which has trimmed the government's tax receipts and raised spending on such programs as unemployment insurance and food stamps. The deficits also reflect the billions of dollars being spent from the $787 billion stimulus program passed in February 2009 and the $700 billion financial bailout program Congress passed in October 2008 to stabilize the banking system.
The items I bolded in the excerpted paragraph are far from the only ones showing big increases. More to the point, two vaguely described spending line items in the report showing huge year-over-year spending decreases are masking big increases at many federal agencies.
Here is a rundown of the major offenders and line items through the first four months of the current fiscal year (from Page 2 of the Monthly Treasury Statement; percentage increases are derived from unrounded figures):
UPDATE, 6:15 P.M.:An unbylined 11:57 a.m. AP report (i.e., 54 minutes after the time stamp of the original post at BizzyBlog) contains two paragraphs about Delahunt's involvement. Based on a search on Delahunt's last name at about 6:15 p.m., this version of AP's report is either still not at its main site, or has not been indexed by its search engine.
Democratic Congressman Bill Delahunt's far from minor role in the 1986 release of Amy Bishop, the University of Alabama in Hunstville biology professor implicated in the murder of three colleagues on Friday, has garnered significant press attention in the past 24 hours or so. Some reports have noted Delahunt's party affiliation; others, mostly but not entirely out of New England, where Delahunt's party affiliation may be common knowledge, have not.
In late August 2009, Toyota announced that it would close its New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) factory in Fremont, California at the end of March. The plant had been a joint venture of the company and General Motors until June, when GM withdrew.
Almost six months later, in the wake of a series of Toyota product recalls, and roughly seven weeks before the plant's scheduled shutdown, the UAW and the AFL-CIO on Friday began an attempt to gin up a campaign to convince the company to reopen the plant, and to encourage the public to refuse to buy its products it if doesn't.
Since there is virtually zero chance of the plant remaining open (the company said at the time of the closure that "it will close the plant, regardless of financial incentives offered by the state"), you'll have to excuse me if I question the overall timing, and even if there might be just a wee bit of government and union coordination going on here -- especially given some of the people involved and some of the statements made at a rally outside the plant and at the UAW's nearby union hall yesterday.
In terms of press coverage of yesterday's events, you have to wonder if Brooke Donald of the Associated Press and George Avalos of the Oakland Tribune were actually in the same place. Donald's AP coverage made what was going on appear relatively benign, while Avalos included important details to the contrary.
Since the AP science reporter wrote his December 12, 2009 defense of the alleged scientists who have promoted the alleged perils of human-caused global warming, the scandal known as ClimateGate has inexorably widened. It has deeply tarnished never-deserved reputations; revealed the entire premise to be based on fraudulent, corrupted, manipulated and/or nonexistent data; and taken the entire enterprise to the point where it is utterly without objective credibility.
Thus, it would be understandable if poor Seth might be looking for some way, any way, to inject in his two cents yet again without being forced to defend the indefensible.
He found a bit of an outlet on Friday in his coverage of this year's virtually unprecedented U.S. snowfalls. How unprecedented? This may be the first time 49 out of 50 states have snow on the ground at the same time.
Here are key factual paragraphs relating to the U.S. situation in Borenstein's report, followed by his veer-off into global warming near its end (bolded by me):