There's a reason why Media Research Center sister site CNS News had to put out a story about how much the government has spent so far this year -- $1.505 tillion -- after Wednesday's release of the February Monthly Treasury Statement: Two of the three major wire services failed to report that obviously important number, and the third saved it for their writeup's final sentence.
What follows are excerpts from the respective Wednesday reports at Bloomberg, Reuters and the Associated Press.
Liberal columnists don't need much information to brand Republicans as extremists. Among their meager requirements are an analogy taken out of context or a false extrapolation of something a GOP official said.
A recent example of this is an article by Bloomberg News Washington editor Al Hunt, who twisted a remark made by Rep. Steve King to declare the Iowa Republican a “fringe fanatic” because he said the United States gets “the cream of the crop” of legal immigrants and compared that to getting “the pick of the litter” when choosing a bird dog.
Appearing on Friday's Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC to discuss the upcoming budget sequestration, Bloomberg View columnist Margaret Carlson touted President Obama's ability "to manipulate some of these cuts so that they're going to hurt and people are going to see them," in order to put pressure on congressional Republicans. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Carlson then proclaimed: "I think we'll start hearing, you know, squeals, when, as [Transportation Secretary] Ray LaHood predicts, you know, we see those first lines at the airport. And it may even hurt, you know, those wealthy Republicans who don't have private jets, when air traffic control and the transportation security lines grow longer."
On Friday, Renee Dudley at Bloomberg News exposed the contents of February 12 internal emails revealing that Walmart executives are worried -- very worried -- about sales during the first 10 to 14 days of the its most current fiscal period (mostly likely either the first 10 days of February if the company works with calendar months, or 14 days if it began the second period of the fiscal year on Monday January 28).
Their primary concerns are the payroll tax hike and delayed tax refunds, but they may also need to start worrying about higher gas prices (bolds are mine):
While they told their readers of the number of jobs supposedly added in total (157,000) and in other sectors, the fact remains that in the real world, before seasonal adjustment, the government told us, as is the case every January, that employment declined steeply. In January 2013, the government estimates that 2.84 million jobs were lost.
For the second week in a row, actual (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) unemployment claims as reported by the Department of Labor came in greater than the analogous week in 2012.
At the same time, and also for the second week in a row, the department's seasonally adjusted claims number -- the only one the business wire services ever specifically identify in their reports -- came in lower. In today's instance, raw year-over-year claims were almost 5 percent higher than the same week a year ago, but the year-over-year seasonally adjusted figure came in 11 percent lower. That's bad enough, but then the wires compounded the problem by running with indefensible conclusions based on DOL's contradictory data.
None of the three major wire services covering today's report from the Department of Labor on initial unemployment claims is reporting the major news: For the first time in a long while, actual claims filed during the most recent week ended January 12 were almost 6 percent higher than the number filed during last year's comparable week, an indication that the current employment market may be worse than it was a year ago. Instead, all three are headlining how today's questionably created seasonally adjusted claims number is the lowest in five years.
Both weeks had five business days. Both weeks represented the first such week in the new year. So how did higher raw claims result in the lowest seasonally adjusted claims number in five years, a number which is 8 percent lower than last year's comparable week? The answer, as will be seen after the jump, is that the seasonal adjustment factor used this year is sharply higher than the one used last year.
There has been no shortage of deceptive ads, factually-distorted statements, and outright fabrications from the political left over the campaign year to choose from, but leave it to the Tampa Bay Times's PolitiFact to give its "Lie of the Year" award to the Romney campaign. The now infamous "falsehood" in question was Romney's claim that Jeep was planning on moving production of some of its vehicles to China. This was in fact technically true, but PolitiFact trademarked it as its "Lie of the Year."
In a fit of glee, multiple left-leaning news outlets have promoted the proclamation, including of course, MSNBC. [video below, MP3 audio here ]:
Today's news from the Department of Labor on initial weekly unemployment claims was supposedly good -- as long as one doesn't scratch beneath the surface. Journalists used to do that. Today they didn't.
All one had to do is reach the third paragraph of DOL's release to realize that today's seasonally adjusted claims number of 343,000, touted as the lowest in two months in several news reports, was suspect. That paragraph told us that the 428,814 actual claims filed during the week ended December 8 were barely lower than the 435,863 claims seen in the week ended December 10, 2011, last year's comparable week; today's result only occurred because this year's seasonal adjustment factor was significantly different from last year's. I believe that this year-over-year drop of less than 2% in raw claims is the smallest weekly difference in a week not affect by storms or holidays this year. In other words, it really is news -- but not in the business press, which runs with the government's seasonally adjusted data and almost never looks any further. Examples follow the jump.
The first entirely post-election reading from the University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer confidence survey came out on Friday. It was awful. As reported at MarketWatch, the overall index "fell to 74.5 from 82.7 in November," far below expectations of 82.0, representing "the biggest one-month drop since March 2011." Zero Hedge noted that it's the "biggest miss on record" compared to expectations.
Of course, in Establishment Medialand and with the analysts they chose to consult, the plunge has everything to do with the "fiscal cliff," and nothing to do with the reelection of President Obama to a second four-year term or his intensely partisan conduct since then. Sure, guys.
CEO Sergio Marchionne of Fiat, the parent company of the U.S. government bailed-out Chrysler, got two unexpected and undeserved breaks from Craig Trudell at Bloomberg yesterday.
The first was the story's presidential election-driven focus in its headline ("Chrysler CEO Reiterates Jeep Production Staying in U.S.") and first five paragraphs on Fiat's plans to manufacture vehicles in China for the Chinese market and Marchionne's insistence that this move won't reduce U.S. employment at Chrysler. Trudell waited until the sixth paragraph of his report to convey the real news, noted by yours truly yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), which is that the company plans to make a new model of Jeep, Chrysler's signature nameplate, in Italy for export to Europe and the U.S. The second undeserved break the Bloomberg reporter gave Marchionne credited him with five times more future employment growth than he deserves (if it really occurs), and is in the paragraph which follows the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post)::
Yesterday, Bloomberg News reported that Fiat "is considering building Chrysler models in Italy, including Jeeps, for export to North America." Today, that news became real when company CEO Sergio Marchnionne announced, in Bloomberg's words (in paragraph 6, subtitled "Italy's Jeep"), that it will "build a small Jeep in Italy for export beginning in 2014 ... a new model for Europe and the U.S. that isn’t currently in production."
Of course, today's Bloomberg report led with Marchionne's clever denial about the company's plans for manufacturing in China: "Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China." No, he has instead set the stage for newer Jeep models exported to the U.S. to gradually supplant older models made in the U.S. over several years. This should be an embarrassment to those who engineered the Obama administration's bailout of Chrysler in 2009, ripping off secured creditors in the bankruptcy process and thereby giving Fiat a larger initial share of the company than it deserved. But don't worry, Colleen Barry at the Associated Press is there with vague language to ensure that this news doesn't become general knowledge (bold is mine):
The Associated Press, Bloomberg and Reuters all eagerly told readers today that the seasonally adjusted annualized level of single-family home sales in September of 389,000 was the highest in 2-1/2 years and really, really good news for the housing market, the economy as a whole, or both. What they all "somehow" failed to mention was the fact that sales are still far below where they were during the 12-month recession in 2008 and 2009 (defining "recession" properly), when the market was screeching to a halt after overbuilding driven by subprime lending frauds by design Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The numbers reported by the Census Bureau since January of 2008, first expressed at seasonally adjusted annual rates, then as raw number of homes sold, follow the jump.
Let's get the easy part out of the way first. The New York Times and the Associated Press are only covering the outrages emerging in Solyndra's bankruptcy in the vaguest of terms. The only related Times item I could find was a sentence at the end of an October 11 Green blog post indicating that "the I.R.S. and the Energy Department argue in court papers" against the company's bankruptcy plan. The AP's Randall Chase was a bit more specific that day, writing that "The plan allows for two private equity funds that control Solyndra to potentially reap hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks after Solyndra emerges from bankruptcy, using net operating losses." Beyond that, the details are news only in the business press, and even then not to a great extent.
Are the private equity funds (you mean they're sort of like the eeeevil Bain Capital?) getting hundreds of millions in "tax breaks" as in tax deductions or tax reductions? Unbelievably, it's the latter (the former is almost $1 billion), as an October 15 Wall Street Journal editorial and an October 17 Bloomberg News item which seemed to be simultaneously trying to catch up to but then cover up what the Journal revealed.
(See Updates re President Obama's statement in 2010 and money the State of Michigan flushed down the drain.)
Eric Savitz at Forbes relays news this morning that "A123 Systems has filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court ... Late yesterday, the battery company had warned that it was about to default on several loan issues, noting that a bankruptcy filing was a possibility; but it still seems startling to see them file just hours later."
What does (or did) A123 do? It "makes rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for electric cars." Savitz can't resist casting the bankruptcy in political terms in his third paragraph:
In an op-ed at "Bloomberg View" on Wednesday evening, editor and columnist Michael Kinsley's headline teased that "Maybe President Romney Wouldn’t Be So Bad," before twice urging readers to vote to reelect President Obama, including in the final paragraph after an alleged parenthetical (and obviously mythical) "Pause for reflection." Ha ha.
What came in between wasn't very funny at all -- and since he's an editor, his view of things presumably has impact beyond his columns. The worst whoppers came in the following paragraph:
UPDATE: Henry Blodget at Business Insider reports that a "source, who is an analyst at the Department, " has told him that "the number of California claims that were not processed totalled about 15,000-25,000."
Today's release of the Department of Labor's weekly unemployment claims report showed 339,000 initial claims filed during the previous week -- a sharp decline of 30,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised 369,000. Shortly after that, the Wall Street Journal reported that "one large state didn't report additional quarterly figures as expected, accounting for a substantial part of the decrease." The Associated Press's framing: "... spokesman said one large state accounted for much of the decline." At Reuters: "one state ... reported a decline in claims last week when an increase was expected."
So you would expect caution in assessing the meaning of the report, right? Wrong -- At the AP and Reuters, they apparently just can't help themselves.
From the "I thought Social Security was supposed to have solved this decades ago" Dept.: The State of California has just passed a law mandating opt-out pension plan contributions of 3% of earnings for six million workers in the private sector, or roughly half of its private sector workforce.
The targeted population is the cadre of those working at employers of five or more who do not offer a retirement plan. It has the distinct aroma of a bailout, because of who gets to manage the money. Excerpts from a predictably dreadful Associated Press report by Judy Lin follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Completing a two-month full reversal of a tiny decline which began earlier in the year, the USDA reported on Friday that participation in the Food Stamp program, which the government wants everyone to call SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), reached an all-time record high in June. The program's had 46.67 million participants that month, eclipsing the previous record of 46.51 million in December 2011.
Only the business press seems interested in covering the story. What follows are excerpts from the story at Bloomberg Business Week, where the most important story element for reporter Alan Bjerga was the impact on Dear Leader's reelection effort:
First, the bad news from a media coverage standpoint. All three major wire services covering today's report from the Department of Labor on initial unemployment claims characterized the seasonally adjusted result of 374,000 as "unchanged" from last week, but failed to note the 98%-plus probability based on the last 75 weeks of history (only one exception during that time) that the number will be revised upward by 1,000 or more, changing today's "unchanged" number to an increase.
That's bit ironic, given that all three wires at least told readers that last week's 372,000 claims was revised up to 374,000. Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press had different takes on the meaning of today's results, as will be seen after the jump (bolds are mine):
The Associated Press's Anne D'Innocenzio is clearly mystified and possibly even upset that consumer confidence as reported by the Conference Board on Wednesday fell sharply to its lowest level since November of last year.
Get a load of the second paragraph's first sentence in the version D'Innocenzio posted late yesterday morning shortly after the report's release, followed by asinine assertions which in effect say that Americans don't understand that things are getting better -- and, as usual, it's all about Dear Leader's reelection (bolds are mine):
If we're to believe a report by Heidi Przybyla at Bloomberg News on August 13, the country might be operating under bipartisan deficit-reduction framework instead of being without a budget for over three years if it weren't for Wisconsin Congressman and GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Her lead: "Representative Paul Ryan was a pivotal figure in killing the 2010 Bowles-Simpson agreement, which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney now holds out as a model for putting America’s fiscal house in order."
There are many deceptions and unsupported assertions in Przybyla's report, but before getting to some of the others, many of which relate to her inability to recognize objective truth, the two most important related to her treatment of President Obama's role in the rejection of Simpson-Bowles:
No matter how inane or damning his comments and answers to inquiries, it appears that Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can continue to count on favorable coverage from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, aka the Administration's Protection.
The AP's Marcy Gordon, with the help of her story's headline writer, made Geither's appearance before the House Committee on Financial Services all about partisanship until near the very end. Incredibly, she also relayed a very important question committee members asked about Geithner's use of an interest rate he knew was being lowballed by British banks as the basis for determining the interest rate on Treasury bailout loans while he was still head of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve Bank -- but didn't tell readers what his answer was. Excerpts follow (bolds are mine):
Todays unemployment claims release from the Department of Labor reported that initial jobless aid applications for the week ended July 14 were 386,000 after seasonal adjustment. Business Insider's email this morning carried a prediction of 364,000. Bloomberg's consensus prediction was 365,000.
At the Associated Press, in his 8:45 a.m. dispatch (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Economics Writer Paul Wiseman was inadvertently correct when he wrote that "the figures may have been distorted by seasonal factors." Well yeah, Paul, but the seasonal distortion isn't the one you cited. As will be seen after the jump. today's number arguably should have come in at over 400,000.
A study released Wednesday from accounting firm Ernst & Young, which estimated that the U.S. would lose 710,000 jobs if the Bush-era tax cuts on the highest income earners aren't renewed, apparently isn't newsworthy to CBS. The network's Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning newscasts omitted the study, which also predicted that the nation's already struggling economic output would decline another 1.3 percent.
By contrast, on the July 9, 2012 edition of CBS Evening News, White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell played up a supposed $850 billion "cost to taxpayers" over 10 years if the current tax rates are extended.
One might think that yours truly, who has been nagging the establishment press for years over its blind acceptance of seasonally adjusted data in government economic and employment reports, would be pleased to see that the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber finally got around to making such adjustments the primary focus of his final report on the most recently released unemployment claims numbers on Thursday. His story's headline at the AP's national site even noted that "Seasonal adjustments to economic data can mislead."
That's fine, but it's not yesterday's full story. Rugaber noted that Thursday's report from the Department of Labor (DOL) -- that 350,000 initial jobless claims were filed after seasonal adjustment -- was influenced by the relatively light level of summer shutdown-related layoffs in the auto industry. But he totally and all too conveniently missed the fact that this year's number looked better after seasonal adjustment than last year's comparable week primarily because, as will be seen later, this year's seasonal adjustment factor was so inexplicably different. First, some excerpts from Rugaber's report:
My, it was awfully nice of Marcy Gordon at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, to give Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner such excellent protection in her report on the New York Federal Reserve Bank's release of documents relating to its knowledge of the manipulation of the "Libor" (London interbank offered rate) used as the basis for the pricing of trillions of dollars of loans.
Her report's second paragraph only tells readers that Geithner, "who was then president of the New York Fed, urged the Bank of England to make the rate-setting process more transparent." What a helpful guy. Readers needed to go to Paragraph 12 to see more about Geithner, and even that information was given kid-glove treatment:
Despite several updates to the story first reported by Bloomberg last night that the Democratic National Convention's "move" of its "celebration" originally scheduled to take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway is really a cancellation likely driven by money problems, the Associated Press has not updated its virtual relay of the DNC's related press release published late last night.
Additionally, in its brief story on Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill's decision not to attending the convention, the AP made no reference to the nine other prominent Democratic Party politicians who have decided they'd be better off not being seen in the same convention venue with their party's incumbent presidential candidate.
The stenographers at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, were apparently only too glad to relay the spin about the Monday night decision by organizers of the Democratic National Convention to move a "celebration" on September 3 from the Charlotte Motor Speedway to an unspecified (in the coverage) location in downtown Charlotte.
The AP's virtual press release follows the jump, after which I'll excerpt an item from Bloomberg a few hours ago containing the probable real explanation for the move -- money.