Usually, when the Associated Press covers the Census Bureau's monthly new-home sales releases, its reporters will tell readers that a "healthy" market should generate about 700,000 sales per year (examples here and here). Though I believe that figure is insufficiently ambitious, given that pre-bubble annual sales averaged 776,000 from 1993-2000, it apparently has somewhat wide acceptance.
Of all the times to mention that benchmark, the bureau's final report for 2013 released this morning would be it. But AP's Martin Crutsinger failed to do so, possibly because astute readers would have noted that the year's actual sales of 428,000 units show that the industry, despite years of a media-hyped "housing recovery" which is supposedly leading the economy out of the wilderness (cough, cough), is still operating at a miserable 61 percent of capacity (428K divided by 700K). Excerpts from Crutsinger's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
When it comes to reporting on aspects of Obamacare, the press is really good at pretending to speculate about outcomes which have already happened in the real world, and at contradicting Obama administration assertions without telling readers that's what they've just done.
Case in point: Last Tuesday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Carla K. Johnson and Tom Murphy told readers that Obamacare "could touch ... people who have insurance through work," and that "The law may prompt some companies to drop coverage for their part-time workers" and to "start excluding spouses." The law has already "prompted" all of these things. Excerpts follow the jump.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose name has come up as a possible 2016 presidential contender, had his name splashed all over the nation by the establishment press three years ago when he largely succeeded in reducing the disproportionate influence of public-sector union members. That attention remained steady until Walker beat back a statewide recall in tbe spring of 2012.
One might argue that Walker's now-obvious success is boring and unworthy of national attention, except for the fact that the press still features Walker in national stories from time to time — really important stuff like the fact that he got selected for jury duty but didn't serve. Turning a projected $3.6 billion deficit into a surplus, bringing down the unemployment rate, and proposing an across-the-board tax cut? Forget about it. And what little coverage does occur is almost comical, especially from the mostly unionized Associated Press. Take the last sentence of the following excerpted paragraph from AP reporter Scott Bauer on Friday morning:
On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a one-paragraph order in Little Sisters of the Poor et al v. Sebeluis et al. It told the Sisters that for the case to continue with no enforcement of the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, they need only to inform the government in writing "that they are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services." That's easy, because that's what they are, and that's their position.
As a result, the government has been "enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition." In other words, the Sisters will get their way until the case is decided. After the jump, I'll present a bit of the sane coverage by the Washington Post's Robert Barnes, followed by portions of the reality-avoiding writeup of Jesse Holland found at the Associated Press.
This is a "Can't Make This Up" item on two levels. The more obvious of the two is an incredibly tone-deaf statement issued by Texas Democratic guberatorial candidate Wendy Davis, whose Republican opponent is paraplegic Greg Abbott, that "I am proud of what I’ve been able to achieve through hard work and perseverance. And I guarantee you that anyone who tries to say otherwise hasn’t walked a day in my shoes."
The second "Can't Make This Up" aspect relates to Nia-Malika Henderson of the "She the People" blog at the Washington Post and Jon Herskovitz at Reuters. You see, they both failed to do what establishment press members usually do, i.e, they failed to filter out the damning sentence; maybe they didn't know better. A mini-grab of Davis's statement yesterday follows the jump:
To be fair, it started with the original story broken at the Dallas Morning News, where Wayne Slater's substantive story about Wendy Davis's problems with the truth was headlined "As Wendy Davis touts life story in race for governor, key facts blurred."
"Blurred" is clearly a popular word with an establishment press which is determined to try to make this problem with Davis's basic credibility go away. The New York Times ("Accused of Blurring Facts of Stirring Life Story, Texas Lawmaker Offers Chronology") and NBCnews.com ("Off to the races: Wendy Davis' 'blurred' bio") have also gotten in on the "blurred" headline act (Perhaps surprisingly, the Associated Press and Politico, whose coverage I addressed yesterday, have not). So has CBS News, whose Rebecca Kaplan bent over backwards to try to keep Davis in a favorable light (links are in original; bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, who is considered a hero of the pro-abortion crowd yet declared herself "pro-life" in November as her people attempted to bully the local media into twisting stories her way, is blaming her opponent for a Sunday Dallas Morning News story which pointed to significant discrepancies between her campaign biography and the truth.
It's pretty bad when I have to say that the Politico's Katie Glueck did a far better job with this story than Will Weissert at the Associated Press, but that's the case. Glueck at least challenged Davis's contention of an Abbott connection – getting a mushy, meaningless answer – and carried the unconditional denial of any contact from the Abbott campaign by DMN reporter Wayne Slater. Weissert delivered neither. Both missed something important Steve Ertelt at Life News noticed in a series of pathetic Davis tweets.
The administration of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tried to hit back at the press on Sunday for supposedly misunderstanding his Friday morning statement to Susan Arbetter on the public radio show "Capitol Pressroom" that "extreme conservatives ... have no place in New York." As I noted on Saturday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Governor made it clear that "extreme conservatives" include those who are right to life, understand the clear meaning of the Second Amendment, and believe in traditional marriage.
But to go after the press, Cuomo's people had to find a news outlet besides a public radio station which actually reported on what he said. Even though his Friday remarks were self-evidently newsworthy, that appears to have been pretty difficult. The Associated Press's national site still doesn't have a story; nor does the New York Times or the Politico. Cuomo's peeps chose to go after the New York Post, whose Aaron Short went to the next step in Cuomo's stated logic in running a story headlined "Gov. Cuomo to conservatives: Leave NY!." Team Cuomo's response in full follows the jump (bolds are mine; words Cuomo's people left out are in caps; other words Cuomo didn't say are crossed out):
On Thursday, Stephanie Condon at CBS News reported ("Security chief: HealthCare.gov has passed security testing") that Teresa Fryer, who had recommended against allowing HealthCare.gov going live before its October launch but was overruled, "told Congress ... that the Obamacare website passed security testing in December, and she would recommend that its official Authority to Operate (ATO) be extended when the current ATO expires in March."
On Friday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, in an otherwise keister-covering dispatch apparently designed to show that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was really, really unaware of the web site's prelaunch security problems, claimed without qualification that "There have been no successful attacks on the site" — even though by law the government "need never notify customers that their personal information has been hacked or possibly compromised."
Presumed union member (the News Media Guild) and Associated Press reporter Sam Hananel's Sunday morning coverage of union threats against a pilot partnership between the U.S. Postal Service and Staples Inc. fails to deliver on at least three counts.
First, while noting that American Postal Workers Union (APWU) boycott threats ended a similar effort at Sears stores in the late-1980s, Hananel "somehow" forgot to note its aftermath, which resulted in even wider distribution of USPS products by non-union workers. Second, Hananel ignored the fact that USPS's main competitors, UPS and Fedex, both already have large networks of relatively convenient nonunion retail shipping outlets – compared to most post offices, which are separate-trip, standalone locations. Third, and most critically, he fails to note that the APWU's demand to have its members staff the Staples counters, even ignoring the wage differential, would be an extraordinarily counterproductive waste of labor. Excerpts from his coverage follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Imagine if Texas Senator Ted Cruz or Lone Star State Governor Rick Perry told a public radio show's host that "people who support abortion, gun control, and same-sex marriage have no place in Texas." There would be breaking news alerts on every cable news station. It would be a press obsession for weeks. More immediately, there would be intense pushback from the show's host.
On the public radio show "Capitol Pressroom" with Susan Arbetter on Friday morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is surely assessing the 2016 presidential landscape, asserted that "extreme conservatives" – that is, people who are pro-life, understand the clear meaning of the Second Amendment, or wish to keep marriage as it has traditionally been defined – "have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are." Arbetter just let Cuomo's remarks slide on by without meaningful follow-up, and arguably appeared to agree with their thrust. Audio and relevant portions of the transcript follow the jump.
In May 2009, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, announced that it would be "launching an index that will provide monthly, multi-format updates on the economic stress of the United States down to the county level." Not a bad idea, especially if you were concerned that evidence of an economic recovery under Barack Obama would not otherwise be convincing.
The AP likely believed that since an overwhelming percentage of U.S. counties lean conservative (remember those Bush v. Gore county maps?), a large majority of U.S. counties would likely recover in time for the 2010 congressional elections, or in the worst-case scenario, the 2012 presidential election — even if the nation as a whole did not. A statement that "most counties in the U.S. have recovered from the recession" would have been quite useful in defending congressional Democrats and Barack Obama's incumbency. But a recently released report from the National Association of Counties (NACo), which was covered poorly by the Wall Street Journal and virtually ignored by almost everyone else, shows that it hasn't happened.
A search at the national web site of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, on the name of Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker (not in quotes) returns only two recent relevant items. One relates to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, where Walker is described as saying, in AP's words, "that (last week) he didn't know enough about the situation to comment ... (and) has remained silent in the days since details emerged." The other relates to Walker's brief jury duty stint last week.
Giving items relating to Walker national attention makes sense, given that his name frequently comes up as a possible GOP 2016 presidential contender. But if the two items just mentioned merit national coverage, why doesn't the fact that an out-of-control Democratic Wisconsin prosecutor attempting to dig up "coordination" between interested outside parties and Walker's 2012 campaign to turn back a recall effort just had his hat handed to him in court? On Friday evening, a Wall Street Journal editorial had the news (bolds are mine throughout this post; the link to a previous WSJ editorial was added by me):
A few hours ago, the folks at Twitchy.com caught the following headline at Reuters at a story about Pope Francis: "Pope, in nod to conservatives, calls abortion 'horrific.'" At roughly 11:45 Eastern Time, the headline at Philip Pullella's story carried at Yahoo News ventured even further into the unreal: "Pope, after conservatives' criticism, calls abortion "horrific.'"
Phil, the Pope is Catholic. Abortion is and always will be a grave, i.e., mortal sin in the Catholic Church. Alleged "conservative" influence is utterly irrelevant. As would be expected, Pullella's content isn't any less ignorant (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Following up on Friday's awful jobs report from the government (only 74,000 seasonally adjusted jobs added, with the unemployment rate dropping to 6.7 percent only because adults continued to leave the workforce), the Asssociated Press's Christopher Rugaber tried to search for excuses.
To its credit, the headline at Rugaber's report didn't blatantly dissemble like the one at Bloomberg, which, in revising the title of an underrated Stevie Wonder song from the 1970s ("Blame It on the Sun"), blamed it on the cold and snow: "Old Man Winter Put a Chill on U.S. Labor Market at End of 2013." But the AP reporter predictably failed to entertain the possibility that Obamacare's virtual chaos, plan cancellations, and impending 2014 premium hikes might have thrown a great deal of sand into the job market's gears, even though a virtual halt in healthcare hiring stuck out like a sore thumb. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Bullying by staffers of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has denied knowledge of their actions when they were taken, is a national news obsession. Bullying by staffers of Colorado Senator Mark Udall — which the Senator has acknowledged and is defending — is barely a blip.
The story, first reported in the Colorado blogosphere at Complete Colorado, is that Udall staffers "worked assiduously to revise press accounts that 249,000 Coloradans received health care cancellation notices" by pressuring the state's Department of Insurance to change the definition of "cancellation." There is no dispute that the cancellations as normal people understand the word occurred (links are in original; bolds are mine):
Discouraging headlines are appearing about the deterioration of the situation in Iraq, the war U.S. troops won in 2008. Bloomberg News notes, "Al-Qaeda Fighters Take Fallujah as Iraqi Army Attacks." The Washington Post reports that an "Al-Qaeda force captures Fallujah amid rise in violence in Iraq."
At the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, the headline writers are apparently more interested in making sure that as few readers as possible take an interest in the story, based on the non-descriptive headline they have chosen to employ:
Obamacare's designers appear to have assumed that life is completely static. As far as they're concerned, people who are single don't marry, women don't have children, married couples don't sometimes divorce, individuals and families don't move, and workers don't change jobs. I say that because HealthCare.gov will from all appearances not accommodate any of the aforementioned common life changes. Seriously. (I'm not about to test that assertion myself; the site is still hopelessly not secure, remember?)
A very weak headline at an Associated Press report by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar carried at Yahoo News attempted to limit the damage, perhaps in hopes that smartphone users and others won't click through and see how awful and far more sweeping the problems are (bolds are mine):
Bloomberg Businessweek and others are trying to capitalize on the difficulties United Parcel Service and to a lesser extent Fedex had in delivering packages in time for Christmas to claim that the U.S. Postal Service is coming out of it smelling like a rose ("An Unlikely Star of the Holiday-Shipping Season: The U.S. Postal Service").
Not so fast, people. Let's be extremely generous and take it as a given that the Post Office didn't have any late arrivals, and that it deserves props for delivering 75,000 packages on Christmas Day. It's hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison, but based on the quoted number of packages UPS planned to deliver on Christmas Eve, the private company's package volume, particularly its air package volume, dwarfs that of the Post Office, and would overwhelm it if it tried to pull off what UPS routinely does:
Remember when George W. Bush was intensely criticized in 2004 for using a couple of seconds of footage from the World Trade Center attacks in a campaign commercial? He was "exploiting" 9/11. Let's talk about an example of really crass exploitation which the press has largely ignored.
As reported by Politico's Joseph Delreal, recently elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's daughter Chiara recently opened up "about her struggles with depression and substance abuse and for her decision to seek treatment." White House National Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske, "in a statement issued by the White House," praised "her and the entire de Blasio family for addressing this important public health issue." Fair enough. But he went one step further, as seen after the jump:
In a Monday, December 23 write-up, Associated Press National Writer Jocelyn Noveck went so over-the-top in her awe at Miley Cyrus's ability to attract attention during 2013 that she called her "this year's pop-culture prom queen," and included a mention of Cyrus in her rundown of "pop culture moments" during every month of the year.
As I noted earlier this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), a few days after Noveck went all-Miley, all-the-time, an AP report noted that the wire service could only round up 70 responses from thousands of subscribing news organizations to its "Entertainer of the Year" survey. Though actress Jennifer Lawrence "won" the award by getting 15 votes to Cyrus's 14, the real winner was clearly either "None of the Above" or "Who Cares?" Had she known, it seems that Noveck would still have engaged in the nincompoopery which follows the jump (bolds are mine):
According to its Frequently Asked Questions page, the Associated Press "currently (has) around 1,400 U.S. daily newspaper members and thousands of television and radio broadcast members."
The wire service attempted to identify 2013's Entertainer of the Year by sending out an "annual survey of its newspaper and broadcast members and subscribers." Based on the response rate, it should have either called the whole thing off, or named "None of the Above" or "Who Cares?" as the year's hands-down winner. Wait until you see how many responses AP got to its survey, as noted in Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen's report after the jump (bolds are mine):
It seems that Associated Press reporter Maggie Michael and Sarah El Deeb, her partner in distortion, can hardly believe that Egypt's military-backed government is calling terrorists "terrorists."
The Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization. Even if one believes, as Michael asserts, that "The Brotherhood, founded in 1928, denounced violence in the late 1970s," that alleged repudiation was rendered null and void after hard-line Islamist Mohammed Morsi, who lost his legitimacy when he took dictatorial powers in November of last year, was ousted from power in July. After that, the Brotherhood, as I noted at the time, with evidence, "rededicated itself to terrorism." Egypt's government is recognizing the obvious, and the in three process thumbing its nose at the Obama administration, which as far as I can tell has never backed away from its position that the Brotherhood should have a role in Egypt's government.
Though it certainly isn't a hard news item, a montage of identical story openings at roughly two dozen local TV stations assembled by Conan O'Brien's staff early last week shows us that their news readers will often parrot whatever their national news script services provide them.
The primary and perhaps dominant purveyor of such scripts is more than likely APTN, the video division of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. It's clear from the video after the jump that many subscribing outlets just read what they're given without applying any thought (HT HyScience):
Not to worry, people. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Medicare Part D got through "technical glitches, political hostility and gloom-and-doom denouncements." So will Obamacare.
That's the Christmas love letter delivered to the left by Tom Raum of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, late this morning. Raum "somehow" failed to note that the size and scope of Obamacare's screw-ups, errors, and from all appearances deliberate omissions (e.g., no system for paying subsidies to insurers after a 42-month head start) dwarf that seen in any previous major rollout. Though other programs had their share of broken promises (e.g., Walter Williams ran down Social Security's original lies in a November column), no program has been handicapped by anything near the equivalent of the President's false guarantee ("if you like your insurance plan-doctor-medical provider, you can keep your insurance plan-doctor-medical provider"). Of course, Raum didn't mention that bitter reality. Excerpts from Raum's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
In a Monday dispatch about Obamacare's really bad year and future prospects at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, reporter Calvin Woodward took as a given the left's assumption that Republicans and conservatives take pleasure in the suffering of real people as long as it furthers their political aims when he wrote that "Republicans, of course ... feigned indignation that the law many of them despise wasn't working out so well." That's pure lefist projection.
The genuine indignation has two sources, Mr. Woodward. The first is that much of what has transpired as a result of the deeply flawed Affordable Care Act was predicted or known and ignored. The other is that there were red flags galore ahead of the debut of the HealthCare.gov web site that it wasn't ready. They were deliberately ignored. To name just one instance, those in charge of security wouldn't sign off on the idea of going live on October 1; of course, Team Obama launched anyway. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Concerning the Christmas shopping season, the Associated Press's Anne D'Innocenzio and CNBC's Krystina Gustafson agree: It has stunk.
D'Innocenzio noted that "sales at stores have fallen for the third consecutive week as Americans continue to hold back on spending during what is traditionally the busiest buying period of the year." Gustafson, apparently looking over the same ShopperTrak data as D'Innocenzio, added that "store traffic in the final week before Christmas posted the third straight week of double-digit declines." Neither noted that combination of much lower traffic and relatively slight sales declines appears to indicate that the well-off are splurging, while many families of average means are AWOL. Though it's hard to see how, the keepers of Christmas data at ShopperTrak the National Retail Federation and the International Council of Shopping Centers still believe they will end up in meaningfully positive territory when all is said and done.
Let's get it out of the way up-front, and excuse the "too much information" element via the New York Post: New York State Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak is a Democrat who has been accused of having "tormented three workers with lewd antics such as sending a video of himself supposedly receiving oral sex, suggesting they shack up with him in hotels and ..." — sorry, readers who really want to know the final item will have to go to the link.
At the Albany Times Union, which appears to have been the paper which broke the story, reporter James M. Odato waited until the last of his 20 paragraphs to inform readers that "The Erie County Democrat represents the densely populated town of Cheektowaga." Naturally, the Associated Press's far briefer unbylined report did not note Gabryszak's party affiliation. Party ID-free excerpts from Odato's report follow the jump (HT JWF; bolds are mine):
Friday morning, CBS News's Sharyl Attkisson reported that Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), "told Congress there have been two, serious high-risk findings since the website’s launch." Further, Fryer "told congressional interviewers that she explicitly recommended denial of the website’s Authority to Operate (ATO)" in late September, "but was overruled by her superiors." Fryer's statements make sworn assertions by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that "no senior official reporting to me ever advised me that we should delay" at best difficult to believe.
While the press properly devotes attention to serious security breaches at leading retailer Target, the arguably more serious problems at HealthCare.gov continue to get scant attention. Searches on Fryer's name (not in quotes) at the Associated Press, the New York Times, and Politico all return nothing relevant. Excerpts from Attkisson's startling, read-the-whole-thing report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
As would be expected, Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger Wednesday treated Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's announcement that the nation's central bank will reduce the amount of money it creates out of thin air from $1.02 trillion per year to $900 billion, i.e., from $85 a month to $75 billion, as "its strongest signal of confidence in the U.S. economy since the Great Recession." As will be shown, it's a sign of continued serious weakness.
The pretense inherent in all of this is comparable to teaching a child how to ride a bike, raising the training wheels by one-eighth of an inch, and pronouncing him or her ready to roll. What should be troubling is that the tiny reduction means that the Fed will be financing a much higher percentage of next year's projected deficit and increase in the national debt than it has in previous years. That would seem to indicate that the nation is running out of other buyers who might be interested in purchasing Treasury securities, and that Bernanke's own words in July, namely that "the economy would tank" if he wasn't so obviously and artificially propping it up, are truer than ever.