Actor and former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson is close to forming a presidential exploratory committee, according to numerous media outlets, citing people close to the TV star. Reporting that news, CBSNews.com ran with a less-than-flattering AP photo of Thompson, pictured at right.
"Former Sen. Fred Thompson attends the Prescott Bush Awards Dinner in Stamford Conn., on May 24, 2007," read the caption.
By contrast, ABCNews.com ran an AP photo that features a stern-looking Thompson. With skyscrapers in the background, it evokes his current TV character incarnation, New York County District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC's long-running court drama "Law & Order." You can see that screen cap pictured below:
"The Anchoress" had an excellent item yesterday about how some news wires are downplaying the authoritarian, anti-free speech nature of Hugo Chavez's move to shut down a private television network that often criticized the Venezuelan thugocrat. She notes that the bland headlines give little reason for the casual reader to sit up and take notice:
Hugo Chavez is simultaneously acting as Bull Connor (fire hoses/water cannons) and Gustav Husak (deploying tanks against his own people), yet what little Old Media coverage there is seems to want to avoid those elements of the story.
At 11:00 a.m. Sunday, Gateway Pundit blogged on Venezuela's virtual dictator sending in tanks to intimidate opponents demonstrating against a government-planned closure of one of the country's last independent TV outlets. An underlying post at Publius Pundit that GP linked to shows the tanks in place, and has a time stamp of 2:09 a.m.
Editor's Note (May 29 | 14:35 EDT): Reaction from AP's Minnesota news editor added at bottom of post.
May 28 Note: See the Update below, which notes different timing, but no change to the fundamental premise of this post.
That there has been no love lost between the Associated Press and leading center-right blog Powerline for quite some time is not exactly a secret. The mutual distaste goes back at least as far as the 2004 presidential campaign, when Powerline caught AP reporter Scott Lindlaw telling others that his "mission" was to see that George Bush would not be reelected, and exposed the AP's Jennifer Loven's conflict of interest in reporting environmental stories while her husband was the Kerry campaign's environmental consultant.
Readers rarely get the truth about the US economy's performance from Old Media business reporters without having to sift through a litany of "yeah, buts" and "what ifs" designed to water down anything that might make the Bush economy appear successful. But if you look hard enough, you sometimes stumble across stories in other areas that indicate how things really are.
Stories on the environment are good candidates for finding economic truth, because the writer has to establish that continued economic growth without what the writer believes are appropriate environmental constraints is a bad thing. That means that the writer has to somehow acknowledge that economic growth exists.
Such is the case in a story buried on Page A14 of Thursday's Washington Post about lower CO2 emissions in the US last year (you read that right). In it, writer Juliet Eilperin let the reality of how the economy is performing slip in (bold is mine):
U.S. Carbon Emissions Fell 1.3% in 2006
U.S. carbon dioxide emissions dropped slightly last year even as the economy grew, according to an initial estimate released yesterday by the Energy Information Administration.
The 1.3 percent drop in CO2 emissions marks the first time that U.S. pollution linked to global warming has declined in absolute terms since 2001 and the first time it has gone down since 1990 while the economy was thriving. Carbon dioxide emissions declined in both 2001 and 1991, in large part because of economic slowdowns during those years.
Whoa. At what other time has the Post informed its readers that the economy is "thriving"?
Reuters wants us to know that Republican Senators who block honors for “environmentalist pioneers” are bad but they don’t want to just come right out and say so, of course. So, they write a story that presents the environut in question as akin to a saint and the Republican Senator as somehow “arbitrary” and mean. This particular story from Reuters is a classic example of advocacy on the sly by presenting the “wrong” side of the issue as the uninformed or mean protagonist to the innocent and well meaning good guys.
In question is an honorific for what many imagine is the Godmother of the environut movement, Rachel Carson, the woman responsible for destroying the reputation of DDT, a life-saving insecticide that once helped control a killer called malaria all over the world. A resolution to honor Carson’s 100th birthday was to be introduced by Maryland’s Democrat Senator Ben Cardin, but Cardin put the brakes on his plans when it became clear that Senator Tom Coburn (R, OK) would use Senate rules to oppose the effort.
David Espo of the Associated Press appeared to be unhappy with the result of the House vote on Iraq war funding, and to be offering an excuse for the House Democratic leadership (bolds are mine throughout this post):
WASHINGTON - Bowing to President Bush, the Democratic-controlled House reluctantly approved fresh billions for the Iraq war on Thursday, minus the troop withdrawal timeline that drew his earlier veto.
The 280-142 vote sent the bill to the Senate for final passage, expected later in the evening.
..... Five months in power on Capitol Hill, Democrats coupled their concession to the president with pledges to challenge his policies anew. "This debate will go on," vowed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, announcing plans to hold votes by fall on four separate measures seeking a change in course.
A later unbylined AP report about President Bush's impending signature on the funding bill after Senate passage almost seems to have been written by the DNC, while providing cover for the party's two leading presidential candidates:
The Associated Press imagines itself a “news” organization. Ordinarily, “news” does not convey opinion, but only facts… at least that’s the ideal. That being the general understanding of what comprises news, it is interesting when we at Newsbusters find odd bits of opinion encased inside any particular AP “news” story. But, it is really odd to find a story that is predicated almost entirely on opinion. Such is the case with the AP’s ”Frozen federal tax on gasoline leading to more toll roads, higher state fuel taxes”, a story that bemoans the fact that Federal gasoline taxes have stayed stagnant for 14 years.
Why is the AP worried about stagnant Federal gas taxes? Because the “falling” revenue prevents high spending on roads and bridges by the states. The AP worries that “A cash crunch is fast approaching for the government trust fund that pays to build and repair highways and bridges” and broadly hints that the taxes must be raised to save our roads.
That's right. Bubble, shmubble, despite this picture from Matt Drudge, who got snookered on this one:
Fire sales, schmire sales.
The Chief Snookerer in the latest search for the elusive housing bubble is Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press, with a significant assist from the Commerce Department (link is to a PDF), which inexplicably did not, and apparently does not, report the regional sales data needed for a more detailed look.
Crutsinger took Commerce's housing report showing a significant decline in the nationwide median selling price of a new home, both in the past month and year over year, and ran with it at an all-out sprint (bold is mine):
National Review contributor John Derbyshire has been a favorite whipping boy of snarky left-wing bloggers for a while, but perhaps most noticeably after some controversial postings he made on the heels of the Virginia Tech shooting.
But now a blogger at Wonkette is portraying Derb as a crotchety bigot on the basis of a blog post whereby Derbyshire notes Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) both insists on voters judging him on the basis of his leadership and agenda, not race, but then goes back to pandering to a crowd on the merits of his Hispanic heritage:
Outraged over Big Bill’s public admission of Mexican-ness during a time
when Americans are supposed to be united against the Mexican Menace,
Derbyshire bravely decides to use that very Mexican-ness against
"Gay bishop snubbed by Anglican conference" reads the headline for the May 22 Reuters article by Luke Baker. But take a look at the lede and second graf and you'll see there are two bishops to be excluded from the gathering of Anglican prelates:
LONDON (Reuters) - The Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual head of 77
million Anglicans worldwide, has not invited two wayward bishops to a
major conference next year, a move likely to stir controversy in the
deeply divided communion.
Archbishop Rowan Williams has sent
invitations to more than 800 Anglican bishops asking them to attend the
Lambeth Conference in July and August 2008, but has not invited two
American bishops, Gene Robinson and Martyn Minns.
It has been over three weeks since the fundamental claim of the "Food Stamp Challenge" was debunked, first by Mona Charen in her syndicated column, then in more detail by yours truly (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). Yet the "Food Stamp Challenge" has spread.
As noted in this NPR report from April 23, it all started in Oregon. That state's governor, Ted Kulongoski, joined in and put on quite a show, getting plenty of Old Media attention (Associated Press; New York Times [may require free registration]) as he tried to buy a week's worth of groceries with $21, because that was said to be what "the state’s average food stamp recipient spends weekly on groceries."
The Challenge's claim that the average Food Stamp recipient's benefit of $21 per person per week is all that beneficiaries have available for purchasing food is incorrect, as anyone visiting the USDA's web site could have learned very easily.
As I noted in late April, the Food Stamp Program’s "Fact Sheet on Resources, Income and Benefits" provides a table of "Maximum Monthly Allotments" (i.e., benefits), and says the following about benefit levels (bold is mine; I converted the Monthly Allotments to weekly allotments per person by dividing by the average number of weeks in a month [4.345], and then by the number of people):
The Formerly Mainstream Media is favorably transfixed on the proposed immigration "reforms" being whipped through Congress -- legislation that opponents characterize as "amnesty."
"Somehow," they have managed to virtually ignore immigration-related legislation that has actually become law in Oklahoma.
Perhaps it's because Oklahoma's reforms have nothing to do with "amnesty," and everything to do with enforcement.
Specifically, from a May 8 Associated Press story on the bill's passage:
Governor Henry today signed a sweeping immigration reform bill that was passed overwhelmingly by the Oklahoma Legislature, but described it as a stopgap measure until the federal government takes action on the issue.
Among other things, the bill contains employment, labor law and civil rights provisions to protect citizens and legal immigrants who lose their jobs at companies that employ illegal immigrants to perform the same or similar work.
Beginning in November, public agencies will be required to use a program that screens Social Security numbers to make sure they are real and that they match up with a job applicant's name.
A One News Now story provided more detail. It also makes it clear that the sponsor of the legislation believes that the states have more power to enforce immigration law than the "it's the Feds' problem" types would like us to believe (bold is mine):
The passing of the Reverend Jerry Falwell will give those who opposed him in life an opportunity to criticize him again. A glimpse of what might be expected appeared in the McClatchy Washington Bureau's obituary today.
Mr. Falwell, it says, "once criticized the children's show 'The Teletubbies' because he thought one of the four colorful, non-human characters - Tinky Winky, the purple one with the red bag - might be gay."
That is inaccurate. In 1999, that Tinky Winky story did appear in a publication that the minister published, but an editor submitted it, not Jerry Falwell. Moreover, it was certainly not the first time that the character's sexual orientation was the subject of media speculation:
Perhaps you read this week that in April, the US Treasury reported all-time-record tax collections of $383.6 billion.
If you did, you didn't read it in the dead-trees version of the New York Times. The Old Grey Lady did not deem Thursday afternoon's news "fit to print" on Friday (requires free registration), even choosing not to carry the related Associated Press report that is the main topic of this post (even though the Time posted it online Thursday evening). A Times search on "April treasury" (not in quotes) shows no evidence of any other coverage since then, nor does Sunday's Business home page.
So, unless you happened to read a brief report from MarketWatch (requires registration) or subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (requires subscription), odds are that anything you read or heard about April's Monthly Treasury Statement came from the aforementioned AP report, written by good old Martin Crutsinger (some previous examples of Crutsinger's demonstrated bias and ignorance are here, here, here, and here).
Crutsinger's full report is here. Before I get to his biggest oversight, here are the report's relatively minor (I'm not kidding) shortcomings:
The weak female support is a bitter personal blow for Royal, who had
played up her feminist credentials throughout the campaign, frequently
defending policies she would want "as a mother" and accusing critics of
Yet Gehmlich noted that the Sarkozy-Royal split among women voters in general was 52-48, according to an Ipsos exit poll. That closely tracks the 53-47 split among voters generally and is not far afield from 54 percent of men who voted for Sarkozy.
Indeed, younger female voters were about evenly split while elderly female voters broke heavily against the Socialist Royal, suggesting that generation, not gender, may have been a stronger determinant in the election outcome.
Royal's support among older voters was particularly poor, with 64
percent of women above the age of 60 supporting Sarkozy, and only 36
percent voting for Royal, according to the Ipsos survey. Women under 35
were split between her and Sarkozy.
Those numbers come from an Ipsos exit poll. Meg Bortin of the New York Times gave more data in her May 7 article that points to age differences in voting for the candidates. (Emphasis mine):
On Friday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) spilled the beancounters' beans (PDF report is available at the link) in advance of this next Thursday's release of the Monthly Treasury Statement. The coverage of CBO's report has been very light.
Impressive tax receipts bring in 'low' deficit of $150 billion
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Washington- The federal budget deficit could go as low as $150 billion this year, congressional analysts said Friday.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had earlier seen a deficit for 2007 of about $200 billion, but continued strong revenue growth has led CBO to lower its estimates.
..... Impressive tax receipts during the April filing season prompted the more optimistic estimates. This year's April receipts ran $70 billion higher than last year's. CBO says receipts are likely to grow at a 9 percent pace over the first months of the budget year.
Through the first seven months of the budget year, which ends Sept. 30, the government posted an $83 billion deficit, about $100 million less than during a comparable period last fiscal year.
The $70 billion revenue increase and the $83 billion deficit mentioned in Taylor's report, plus CBO's note in its report that April's surplus was $176 billion, are enough info to enable an update of a chart of what has happened during the first seven months of the government's fiscal year (the final numbers will differ by very small amounts):
Answer: When the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) keeps on issuing monthly reports, such as the one yesterday covering April, telling us that manufacturing is in expansion mode.
On February 28 (second item at link), Times Business writer David Leonhardt wrote the following:
For Manufacturing, a Recession Has Arrived
The nation’s manufacturing sector managed to slip into a recession with almost nobody seeming to notice. Well, until yesterday.
To this day, Leonhardt appears to be the only person to "notice" the recession in manufacturing -- because it doesn't exist.
The TimesSelect current tease for Leonhardt's article, which is now behind the Times' subscription firewall, is even worse, leading one to think that it tells us that the whole economy is in recession (bolds are mine):
In an unusual move last Friday, Ford decided that it couldn't wait for the month to end before it told us how bad it was going to be -- for the whole industry:
Ford Motor Co. said on Friday that U.S. auto industry sales to date in April were "terrible" as consumer confidence was hit by a slow housing market and rising gas prices.
..... Pipas said industry volume appeared to be down 10 percent to date before seasonal adjustment, but expected Ford's U.S. retail share to hold steady around 13 percent.
After an entire weekend where Pipas's message was spread virtually without criticism, the April vehicle-sales reality turned out to be quite different (the first figure is adjusted for the two-day difference in the number of "selling days" in April 2007  vs. April 2006 ; the second figure in parens is not adjusted for that difference):
In 1995, Bill Clinton said this to a Houston fund-raising audience about the 1993 tax increase his administration is infamous for:
Probably there are people in this room who are still mad at me at that budget because you think I raised your taxes too much. It might surprise you to know that I think I raised them too much too.
John Edwards, on the other hand, must think that the Clinton Administration and the congress at the time raised taxes too little, because he said on Sunday that he wants to go beyond what was done in 1993 (link requires registration; HT Colorado Right):
Journalists in Washington are supposed to be public watchdogs. But when it comes to the crisis facing Social Security, they act more like lapdogs for politicians determined to shirk their responsibility.
The Washington Post, New York Times and Associated Press all led off their stories on the latest Social Security and Medicare trustees' projections by pointing out that Social Security isn't expected to deplete its trust fund reserves until 2041. This supports the contention of Democratic politicians and the AARP that the day of reckoning is more than three decades away, so reform is not an urgent need .....
Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski got lots of attention earlier this week as he tried to show us how allegedly inadequate the Food Stamp program is (bold is mine):
Ore. gov. starts week on food stamps
By Julia Silverman, Associated Press Writer | April 25, 2007
SALEM, Ore. --If Gov. Ted Kulongoski seems a little sluggish this week, he's got an excuse: he couldn't afford coffee.
In fact, the Democratic governor couldn't afford much of anything during a trip to a Salem-area grocery store on Tuesday, where he had exactly $21 to buy a week's worth of food -- the same amount that the state's average food stamp recipient spends weekly on groceries.
Kulongoski is taking the weeklong challenge to raise awareness about the difficulty of feeding a family on a food stamp budget.
The governor put on quite a show trying to stay within that $21:
A troubled newspaper industry is beset with a raging journalistic debate around using the Internet to bolster the bottom line for the nation's broadsheets.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Faced with declining circulation, many U.S.
newspapers are trying to engage readers by allowing them to respond to
news stories online. But the anonymity of the Internet lets readers
post obscenities and racist hate speech that would never be allowed in
the printed paper.
LaShawn Barber lays out her thoughts in an April 26 post to her eponymous blog, suggesting that newspapers are misguided to attempt to co-opt the blog format. Rather than allowing anonymous comments that can encourage trolls that cheapen honest debate and discussion, Barber suggests another strength of the blogosphere that is easily adaptable to newspapers' online versions.:
In his report last Thursday (HT Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em) on Congress's passage of a bill that would grant congressional representation for the District of Columbia, Associated Press writer Jim Abrams opened with nearly celebratory language. He also noted the existence of a constitutional objection to the law but failed to explain how ironclad that objection most likely is:
The people of the District of Columbia moved a step closer Thursday to gaining voting rights denied to them for more than 200 years.
But the legislation passed by the House on a 241-177 vote faced a veto threat from the White House, which said the bill was unconstitutional.
In recounting a previous such effort and its results at the end of his report, Abrams missed an easy opportunity to explain why what the House did should be irrelevant:
Of course there were many other newsmaking events this week, but the relatively silent treatment this story received from Old Media is still not a surprise (the link is to a story at a trade publication's web site; very few papers had a related story written by the Associated Press):
In addition to asking ABC's chief climate alarmist Sam Champion about the snow-laden wind farm he
surveyed today and what it says about "global warming," NewsBusters would love to
hear the "Good Morning America" personality chalk 100 trapped sealing boats in Canada up to Americans who use too much fossil fuel and thereby warm the planet.
Here's just a few news sources covering the story:
PARIS, April 12, 2007 (AFP) - France shows a harsh, intolerant face to the thousands of illegal immigrants it deports every year under tough new policies adopted by Nicolas Sarkozy, the man tipped to become the nation's next president.
For the last few weeks I have been watching two stories that, were they about Conservatives or Republicans, would have been scandals that would have shaken the rafters of the MSM. But, since these stories are about two favored Liberals, one old and one newly minted, we have seen no faux outrage, no shocked commentary, no calls for heads on pikes to be posted at the entrance to Congress, and no calls for resignations. Oh, the stories were reported all right, but all sensationalism was eschewed with the usual extrapolation to the level of a “culture of corruption” cast aside for a straight, newsy style atypical to their normal means against Republicans.
These two stories and the lack of passionate coverage of them by the MSM shows that the MSM employs as much liberal bias in what they chose not to cover as they do in what they chose to go ahead and focus upon.
Agence France Presse has published a whopper about Global Warming, titled "Climate refugees -- the growing army without a name", in which we get the claims of a UN Climate Committee that "50 million" will be homeless because of Global Warming "by 2010". But the report is so filled with could be's, might be's and the ever popular "some experts say" that it is hard to take the claims seriously. It is, in fact, downright impossible to believe a word in the report unless you suspend all faculties of disbelief and merely accept as a matter of faith that they "could be" right. Of course, that is the nub of the Globaloney debate in the first place; the willing suspension of disbelief.
The first paragraph of this report sets a dichotomy that the rest of the report tries hard to refute with their "expert" testimony.