February's retail sales as reported may have been expectations of a 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted rise, but the 0.3 percent increase turned in was still far from impressive, especially after considering that the Census Bureau revised January's result down to -0.6 percent from an originally reported -0.4 percent.
Naturally, that didn't stop the Associated Press's Josh Boak and his story's headline writer from celebrating the news as a "rebound." Even more absurdly, Boak claimed that "Last month's rebound almost brought retail spending back to its December levels." Excerpts follow the jump:
Last night, I noted that the Associated Press had not deigned to consider Republican David Jolly's victory over Democrat Alex Sink in the FL-13 Congressional race a "Top U.S. Story" as of 10:13 p.m. To AP's credit (or perhaps because of yours truly's and others' razzing?), a story about the race was at the Number 6 spot in Top U.S. Stories as of 8:15 this morning.
CNN.com, on the other hand (HT to NewsBusters commenter "Jon"), is clearly playing "hide the story" with the Jolly-Sink race. Its worldwide home page as of 8:38 a.m. had one line item titled "GOP wins year's 1st election showdown" halfway down the page, and a tiny picture in the "Politics" section near the bottom of the page headlined "GOP Scores First 2014 Win." Could they be any more vague? Its U.S. home page as of 7:37 a.m. had no reference to the race at all.
We all know that if Democrat Alex Sink had defeated David Jolly in FL-13's special Congressional election tonight, the morning news shows would have been all over the story, crowing that her victory represented a convincing verdict in favor of Obamacare.
Well, that didn't happen. David Jolly won, despite being badly outspent and forced to survive a bruising January primary. He also had to deal with running against Sink, a former Sunshine State gubernatorial candidate with far greater name recognition, and a libertarian candidate who siphoned off almost 5 percent of the vote. Though the Associated Press has a fairly balanced and lengthy story on the outcome, it somehow wasn't important enough to be carried as one of its Top 10 U.S. stories at 10:13 PM tonight. One story which did make the "Top 10" cut was (not kidding) about "Oregon owners of a 22-pound housecat that trapped them in their bedroom after attacking their baby." The AP story itself also didn't present the result as quite the referendum on Obamacare the left was predicting when they thought their candidate would prevail.
On Friday, the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy created 175,000 seasonally adjusted jobs in February, with 162,000 of the additions occurring in the private sector.
That result exceeded expectations of roughly 150,000, and caused the business press to sing odes of high praise to an economy that was amazingly overcoming this year's difficult winter weather. Unfortunately, as readers will see after the jump, February's raw results demonstrate that it was all an illusion.
In the past week, Radio Shack has announced that will close 1,100 stores, or over 20 percent of its U.S. outlets. Staples is shuttering 225 stores, or roughly 12 percent of theirs. Smaller downsizings earlier this year have been reported at Macy's (involving store and other personnel) and J.C. Penney.
One gets the impression from press reports that these are occurring primarily because of poor management or the ongoing trend towards more online sales. Though those two factors are obviously relevant, the fact that the economy began weakening during the fourth quarter, especially so in December, rarely gets a mention. When it does get noted, it's usually something mild, along the lines of "disappointing holiday sales." A Thursday afternoon Associated Press article by business writer Tom Murphy illustrates the kid-glove approach (bolds are mine; my responses to certain of Murphy's points are in italics):
Early Wednesday morning, Josh Lederman at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, opened a report on President Barack Obama's upcoming afternoon trip to Connecticut by writing that "Obama wants the U.S. to follow Connecticut's lead by raising the minimum wage." In a dispatch after Obama's speech in New Britain, Lederman wrote of "a show of support from like-minded governors," including those from the Nutmeg State, Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island, all of which have minimum wages higher than the federally mandated rate of $7.25 per hour.
Correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation, but the four states Obama highlighted as examples to follow have economic performances ranging from mediocre to horrid during the past several years arguably tie to poor policy choices like high minimum wages — something Lederman should have noticed and didn't.
You don't even need to know the specifics to realize that today's economic reports were weak. All you need to know is that there was no mention of them in the Associated Press's list of Top 10 business stories as of 3:35 p.m. Among stories considered more important: a product review of Apple's tiny market-share program called iWork and three dozen passengers suing Carnival Cruise Lines.
This morning's release from ADP on February private-sector employment growth reported 139,000 jobs added; the previous four months were revised down by a total of 138,000. The Institute for Supply Management's Non-Manufacturing Index came in at 51.6%, showing relatively slow expansion (anything above 50% indicates expansion) compared to January's 54.0%. The reports missed expectations of 155,000 jobs added and 53.5%, respectively. AP coverage of these two reports somewhat understated their weakness, one quantitatively and the other qualitatively.
It appears that Aron Heller at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's press, might have been applying lessons learned from the wire service's U.S. business and economics writers in his coverage of Israel's settlement activity. Heller also seems strangely fond of this mythical thing known as the "international community."
AP business and economics writers like Martin Crutsinger and Christopher Rugaber have regaled us with the wonders of the alleged housing recovery during the past two years, but haven't been quite as good at telling us that over 4-1/2 years after the recession officially ended, new home sales and construction activity is still only about 60-65 percent of what is seen as healthy by most economists and analysts. Heller pulled an analogous trick in his report; fortunately Evelyn Gordon at Commentary (HT Powerline) was astute enough to catch his misdirection, one in which President Obama has also engaged.
The people who pretentiously call themselves journalists at the News Media Guild-represented Associated Press are really having a hard time getting over the representation election the United Auto Workers union lost two weeks ago at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The latest whine came from Erik Schelzig Friday afternoon. He must have believed he was being really hard-hitting in trying to hold Volunteer State Senator Bob Corker to his word that "If the UAW is voted down they're going to come here ... and affirm they're going to build a line here" within two weeks. Well, Erik, Corker clearly miscalculated. The Senator never dreamed that the UAW would appeal a secret-ballot vote it lost by 6.4 percent of the ballots cast, and also underestimated the chances of retalation by the U.S. government and the company's German union. Several paragraphs from Erik's execrable essay follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The Obama administration's most recent abuse of the English language late last week involved its reluctance bordering on refusal to call Russia's military move into Crimea an "invasion." The press, unlike in 1970 when Richard Nixon sent U.S. troops into Cambodia for under three months, is largely following suit.
CNN (HT Hot Air) began the Team Obama-driven festivities on Friday by reporting that "According to the latest U.S. assessment, there has been an uncontested arrival of Russian military forces by air at a Russian base in Crimea. They are believed to be Russian land forces, CNN was told."
In December, NPR, the New York Times, National Journal, and other establishment press platforms gave the Republican National Committee grief over the following tweet: "Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism." The tweet erronseously shortened the following sentence from a longer GOP statement: "“We remember and honor Rosa Parks today for the role she played in fighting racism and ending segregation." Juliet Lapidos at the Times noted that the tweet was corrected in 3-1/2 hours, and seemed to lament that it took so long.
Perhaps I'm being too kind in describing the Associated Press as "The Administration's Press." Based on Jim Kuhnhenn's ridiculous "Don't worry, be happy" Saturday report on how unimportant he says the still growing national debt and the still historically large federal budget deficits supposedly are, maybe I should start calling the wire service "The Administration's Publicists" instead.
Kuhnhenn stopped just short of writing that the national debt ($17.41 trillion as of Wednesday, up from $10.63 trillion when Barack Obama took office 61 months ago, an average increase of $111 billion per month) and the annual federal budget deficit (on track to be over $500 billion for the sixth year in a row, four of which saw deficits of over $1 trillion) aren't worthy of attention, but it's clear that he believes we shouldn't be concerned about them in making electoral choices (bolds are mine):
Patrick Moore is one of the early members of Greenpeace, and was an important official in that organization from 1971 to 1986.
Moore is among the last people one might expect to be a "climate change denier," as those who irritate us with the idea that human-caused global warming is "settled science" like to characterize people who disagree with them. But he is, as seen in Congressional testimony earlier this week. The establishment press is ignoring Patrick; the few identified results at the link come from British newspapers and center-right outlets. An Investor's Business Daily editorial yesterday highlighted what Moore had to say (bolds are mine):
The news in two government reports on the economy today was not good. One showed that initial unemployment claims last week rose to a seasonally adjusted 348,000; raw (not seasonally adjusted) claims were virtually identical to last year's comparable week. To avoid the dreaded U-word ("unexpectedly"), a pair of Bloomberg News reporters described the result as "exceeding all forecasts." In the other report, durable goods orders in January fell by a seasonally adjusted 1.0 percent, while December's steep decline of 4.3 percent was revised down even further to -5.3 percent.
In separate reports at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Christopher Rugaber and Josh Boak did their best to excuse away the results and to find something positive to say. As readers will see, they had to dig pretty deep, and their efforts were unconvincing.
Double standards in the establishment press's treatment of Republican and Democrat politicians is an unfortunate reality. Evidence that it's getting worse — to the point of begging the question, "At long last, have you no shame?" — can be seen in the disparate treatment of Florida's two major-party March 11 congressional special election candidates, Republican David Jolly and Democrat Alex Sink.
At the Associated Press, it is headline-making national news, via reporter Tamara Lush, that Jolly "was not charged and not at fault in a 1989 car crash in which he fatally struck a pedestrian, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report." Again: "NOT at fault." Meanwhile, it is not news at AP's national site that less than 30 hours ago, Sink, in a televised debate, resorted to offensive stereotyping in advocating changes in immigration law when she asked, "Where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotel rooms or do our landscaping?" Excerpts from Townhall.com's story, plus a video containing Sink's statement, follow the jump.
This morning at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Martin Crutsinger reacted predictably to the Census Bureau's January new home sales release by commenting primarily on the forest while mostly ignoring the widely divergent health of the trees. Though he compared January to December for the country's four regions, he failed to note that three of them reported the same or fewer sales than January 2013.
This caused him to spin an unsupportable assessment of today's news as "offering hopes that housing could be regaining momentum after a slowdown last year caused by rising interest rates." Maybe in the South, Marty, but nowhere else. Several paragraphs from Crutsinger's report, followed by a regional breakdowns, are after the jump.
At the Associated Press on Friday, Chris Tomlinson wrote a story of national significance ("State officials investigating Democratic activists") which the wire service appears not to have ever carried at its national site.
It is nationally significant because the establishment press, both in print and over the airwaves, has chosen to make the Lone Star State gubernatorial candidacy of Democrat Wendy Davis a national matter. However, continuing a pattern going back several months (examples here and here), when negative matters relating to her campaign or to those assisting it surface, all of a sudden we're supposed to believe nobody outside of Texas cares.
Michigan Congressman John Dingell announced his retirement today. The Democrat's career as Congress's longest-serving member will end with this session.
With the help of a related statement by President Obama, press coverage predictably placed great emphasis on Dingell's decades-long advocacy of universal health care coverage and his involvement in the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, which used to be the law governing the scope and implementation of state-controlled health care until the Obama administration's regime of pre-implementation waivers and post-passage changes turned it into the mush which should now and forever be called "Obamacare." That emphasis on Obamacare "somehow" overlooked an infamous but truthful statement Dingell made to WJR Radio's Paul W. Smith shortly after the original law's passage in March 2010. It's the kind of statement the press would have covered when Dingell originally made it (they didn't), and would never have forgotten if it had been made by a Republican or conservative.
In a complete non-surprise given their officials' reactions last week, the United Auto Workers union has filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board of the election they lost at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant.
As would be expected for an organization whose journalists are members of the News Media Guild, a Friday evening report by Associated Press reporters Tom Raum and Erik Schelzig emphasized the "outside intervention" of First Amendment-protected statements made by Volunteer State politicians, including Senator Bob Corker, in the runup to the balloting, while ignoring and minimizing thuggish behavior and statements by UAW supporters and sympathizers. They also saved assessments that the effort is a long-shot at best, at least on the merits, for much later paragraphs — but with President Barack Obama's NLRB, you never know. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The AP's White House correspondent, surely at the suggestion of the group she is supposed to be covering objectively, writes that President Barack Obama's forays into unilateral executive action have been good for his soul. The President's authoritarian moves have apparently also been "cathartic" for the White House staff, now reportedly "buoyed by a new sense of purpose." Isn't that sweet? Excerpts from this piece of journalistic junk follow the jump (bolds are mine):
On February 10, in a rare moment of candor which was quickly edited away in subsequent revisions, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, wrote that President Obama had unilaterally instituted delays and revisions in Obamacare's employer mandate because he was "angling to avoid political peril."
Of course he was. Postponing and revising the requirement that firms cover their employees "or face a $2000 fine per employee, after the first 30," delays the decidedly negative impact of the statist healthcare scheme until after November's elections. But in a Friday evening report, Politico's David Nather essentially tried to claim that Obama really acted against his own best interest (links are in original; bolds and numbered tags are mine):
On Thursday, Kyle Drennen at NewsBusters noted that none of the three broadcast networks had covered the intent of the Federal Communications Commission, in the words of Byron York at the Washington Examiner, to "send government contractors into the nation's newsrooms to determine whether journalists are producing articles, television reports, Internet content, and commentary that meets the public's 'critical information needs.'"
Given that the nets take many of their new prioritization cues from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, and to a lesser extent from the New York Times, it shouldn't surprise anyone that searches at the self-described "essential global news network" and at the Old Gray Lady indicate that neither outlet has covered it. The FCC has supposedly backtracked, but not really, as Katy Bachman at AdWeek noted yesterday (bolds are mine throughout this post):
That attention makes the press's virtual inattention outside of the Nutmeg State itself to what has since been learned all the more difficult to justify. It turns out that there are now three types of so-called "assault weapon" owners in Connecticut: those who registered by the deadline, those whose registrations came in after the deadline, and those who defied the state's registration demand. As J.D. Tuccille at Reason.com reported on Tuesday, the second group is on track to having their guns confiscated, and the number of people in the third group dwarfs those in the first two — a situation which has greatly upset the political establishment, particularly the editorial board at the state's largest newspaper (HT Instapundit; bolds are mine):
According to a USA Today item carried at ABC News, "Sixty percent of adults can't drink milk." In July 2012, the New York Times ran an item entitled, "Got Milk? You Don't Need It." But the last time I checked, everyone uses electricity to some extent.
I'm bringing up these points because, as a friend showed me earlier today, the establishment press has run stories galore in the past several weeks about increases in the price of milk, but, as I noted a couple of days ago, has paid virtually no attention to coming increases in wholesale electricity costs of up to 80% which are due solely to Environmental Protection Agency regulations requiring the use of unproven and not commercially available "carbon capture" technology.
The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, had an interesting pair of headlines near the top of its raw feed yesterday.
The first headline used the typical "Republicans attack" approach any time President Obama does something objectionable, which has been quite often. The headline was "Issa Rails Against Obama's 'Imperial Presidency.'" Of course, reporter Steve Peoples didn't let readers see the exact statement Issa made, perhaps because it would have shown that he wasn't "railing" (uttering a "bitter complaint" or a "vehement denunciation") at all. The current headline at the story at AP's national site doesn't have quote marks around "imperial presidency." Clearly, Peoples doesn't think much of Issa's claim, which makes the raw feed's next headline about Obama all the more ironic:
The January 2014 New Residential Construction report released by the Census Bureau this morning was very weak. Building permits fell from December by a seasonally adjusted 5.4% (-1.3% for single-family homes). Housing starts fell by 16.0% (-15.9% single-family. The annualized single-family starts figure of 573,000 was the lowest in 17 months.
Naturally, Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, blamed it on the weather, and promised that prosperity is coming soon in his very first paragraph. Too bad some of the data he cited clearly refutes the "blame the weather" meme.
You might think that journalists would consider the prospect of sharply rising electricity costs in a nation blanketed by an extraordinarily cold, snowy winter and buffeted by its accompanying high utility bills hugely newsworthy.
You would be wrong. Searches on the last name of Julio Friedmann, the deputy assistant secretary of the Energy Department who testified at a congressional hearing on energy costs and technology last week, return very few results (here and here), none from a major general circulation establishment press outlet. One business-oriented outlet, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, covered Friedmann's testimony on the impact of the EPA's new "carbon capture" rules. In doing so, reporter Mark Drajem included some incoherence and misdirection (bolds are mine):
The folks at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, are really having a hard time processing the UAW's failure to gain the ability to represent Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee workers in an election held last week. AP journalists, who themselves are members of the News Media Guild, are exhibiting characterstics of still partially being in Stage 1 (Denial) but mostly Stage 2 (Anger) of the grieving process.
A Monday evening report by Tom Krisher and Erik Schelzig comes off more as a "put up or shut up" dare to those who opposed UAW representation than anything resembling objective reporting. The pair wants to know what Republicans are going to do achieve job growth in the wake of the UAW loss. The obvious response is that despite well-known federally-imposed regulatory barriers to job growth, Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam and the Volunteer State's GOP-controlled legislature have been doing a far better than average job, if you will, of creating a conducive atmosphere for payroll employment growth in the state. But first, let's visit our in-mourning AP reporters and headline writer (bolds are mine):
NOTE: Go to the end of this post to see my reaction to an email NB received from OpenSecrets.org.
The web site OpenSecrets.org has done a great deal of useful work. Especially helpful are its lists of high-dollar political campaign donor organizations.
The web site's 1989-2014 and 2012-specific lists, to name just two, demonstrate that the hyperventilating on the left and in the establishment press about the eeeevil Koch Brothers is completely out of line:
The three Associated Press reports I've seen on the UAW's failure to win the right to represent hourly workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee — the first two were covered in NewsBusters posts here and here; the wire service's 3:52 p.m. report is here — all mention in one way or another what UAW President Bob King is now calling "unprecedented outside interference" in the runup to the election. (VW, which can only run the factory with the kind of "workers councils" it has at its other worldwide plants in the U.S. if its workers are represented by an outside union, supported the UAW's efforts.)
But AP reporters Tom Krisher and Erik Schelzig, as well as panelists discussing the aftermath on Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC program this morning, "somehow" ignored the "outside interference" of the person who holds the most powerful political office on earth. That's right. President Obama, whose National Labor Relations Board conducted the election, weighed in on Friday morning with statements at a "closed door" meeting which were clearly designed to be leaked. Here is what Richard Cowan and Bernie Woodall at Reuters reported on Friday morning (HT Gateway Pundit):