Yesterday, in a different post about long-term unemployment, I wrote: "Of all the reality-denying aspects of Obama administration press coverage, the usually implicit but occasionally explicit assertion that he and his people are just helpless bystanders in an economic calamiity is easily among the most annoying."
Bloomberg's Mike Dorning triggered the annoyance meter today with an "analysis" contending that President Obama's move from being a "conciliator" (quoting an alleged "expert") to supporting "populist causes" and sympathizing with the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street assemblage "may provide some inoculation" against the continuing bad economy -- as if Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the their party bear no conceivable responsibility for current economic conditions. Here are the first seven paragraphs of Dorning's dreck (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
The juvenile bashing of Chris Christie's weight hit a disgraceful low on PBS's "Inside Washington" Friday when a panel absent the guiding sanity of syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer chuckled and guffawed over the size of the New Jersey governor.
What posterity will certainly view as one of the more embarrassing episodes on this political talk show stalwart came when PBS's Mark Shields quipped, "When you sit in the bathtub, and the water level in the toilet does rise, it’s a pretty good indication that you probably ought to cut the second dessert" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The Conference Board's September Consumer Confidence Survey came out this morning. Overall, it rose very slightly from a miserable 45.2 to a still-miserable 45.4. Consumers' assessment of near-term prospects slid from 34.3 to in August to 32.5, while their longer-term outlook improved from 52.4 to 54.0.
At the Associated Press (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio characterized the element of the report relating to jobs thusly:
Sometimes, I think that we wouldn't have a useful press at all if it weren't for the British press.
The big news out of the International Monetary Fund this weekend was, as reported by the UK Telegraph, that it "may need billions in extra funding." Specifically, it "may have to tap its members – including Britain – for billions of pounds of extra funding to stem the European debt crisis."
In other words, the IMF doesn't have enough money to address the potential problems it sees on its own:
So I figure that I need to catch up on the LightSquared saga. This is the company which, as Fox News reported on Thursday (the URL date is September 15, though the time stamp is the next day) is building "a nationwide, next-generation, 4G phone network."
The problem is, as Fox further noted, that there are concerns that "many, including (General William) Shelton, think (the network) would seriously hinder the effectiveness of high-precision GPS receiver systems, a product used most commonly by the United States military." Shelton told a congresspersons "in a classified briefing earlier this month" that he was asked by the Obama administration to change (but apparently didn't) his testimony about said dangers.
So I went to the Associated Press's main page at 9:50 this evening, did a search on the company's name, and got back the following:
The public learned on September 3 from William McQuillen at Bloomberg (possibly earlier elsewhere) that now-bankrupt Soyndra's private investors restructured the company's finances in January by lending the company "$75 million." As a condition of doing so, they convinced the government to give the new loan senior status over all other creditors. Now taxpayers face a likely loss of hundreds of millions in Department of Energy loans, perhaps over $500 million.
But if you haven't stayed with or are unfamiliar with the story and read the Associated Press report this evening by Matthew Daly and Jack Gillum, you would think that the wire service did all of the dirty work to learn these things (credit-hogging language in bold):
The next time I plan to escape reality for an extended time, I won't go to the trouble of forwarding the phones to voicemail and swearing off the Internet and TV for a few days. I'll just take whatever the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger must be consuming.
Crutsinger's 11:45 report this morning claims that "The better-than-expected retail sales report is the second strong signal on the economy in as many days." Strike 1: It was far from unanimously considered better than expected. Strike 2: It wasn't that strong regardless, considering that it was likely achieved on borrowed money. Strike 3: The report that he thinks was strong yesterday wasn't strong either. You're out, bud. Oh, and there's Strike 4 in reserve: Though he referred to consumers being "a little more confident," Crutsinger "somehow" ignored (and AP on the whole almost completely ignored) a devastating report showing consumer sentiment at a three-decade low released well before the time stamp of his report.
For the second week in a row, Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson got a much-needed education from Charles Krauthammer on PBS's "Inside Washington."
After Carlson gave the typical Keynesian response to Friday's unemployment report - "We’re cutting spending at a time when we should be adding spending to stimulate the economy and jobs" - Krauthammer without skipping a beat quipped, "The way it worked in ’09 and in ’10" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
For a second straight day CNN ignored the newest phone hacking accusations made against its 9 p.m. host Piers Morgan. Major media outlets, including Bloomberg News, msnbc.com, and CBS have reported the story, but Morgan's current employer, CNN, has remained mum on the allegations.
On Wednesday, the ex-wife of Paul McCartney accused a journalist from a British newspaper group of hacking her phone back in 2001, while CNN's Piers Morgan was the editor of one of the group's papers. That prompted a statement by Morgan labeling her claims as "unsubstantiated" and again denying that he hacked phones or ordered anyone else to do so during his time as editor.
Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson on Friday accused the Tea Party of wanting "to burn the place down" and having figuratively "strapped explosives to the Capitol" during debt ceiling negotiations.
Sitting beside her on PBS's "Inside Washington" was Charles Krauthammer who smartly replied, "I thought post-Tucson we weren’t supposed to accuse our political opponents of being terrorists" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
One might be an accident. Two indicates a bit of a trend.
Yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that an early dispatch from Bloomberg on a disappointing consumer confidence report opened by telling readers that "Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in June to a seven-month low ..." A later version purged the dreaded U-word ("unexpectedly"), opening with "Consumer confidence dropped to a seven-month low in June ..."
It seems that hypersensitivity about use of the U-word -- which during the Obama administration has come to mean "unexpectedly bad" far more often than not -- is also present at the Associated Press. Recently, it seems that the AP has generally avoided the problem by ignoring analysts' predictions when reality reveals that they were far too optimistic. Yesterday, in a more obvious revelation of the wire service's mindset, a pair of Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio's consumer confidence dispatches repeated the U-word purge seen at Bloomberg. What follows are graphic grabs of the early sections of both reports and a related subsequent paragraph within each.
It would appear, according to the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber, that something unusual had to explain why initial unemployment claims as reported by Uncle Sam's Department of Labor rose to a seasonally adjusted 424,000 during the week ended May 21 when they were expected to decline. In previous weeks, poor performances have been explained by DOL spokespersons as due to the unusually late Easter, the weather, Japanese supply interruptions, and Jupiter not being aligned with Mars (okay, I'm kidding about the last one).
Apparently, one thing is for certain in AP-Land: The troubling 400,000-plus plateau in weekly initial claims can't possibly have anything to do with Obama administration's economic policies (or lack thereof).
Today, as Bloomberg noted, the Department of Labor offered up no excuses: "There were no special factors behind last week’s increase, a Labor Department official said as the figures were released."
Rugaber wasn't satisfied with that answer, and decided he would roll out one of his own without any evidence. The AP reporter has also developed a strange obsession with reminding everyone on a weekly basis when initial claims peaked (bolds are mine):
Yesterday afternoon, the Bloomberg financial news service picked up on a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers showing that U.S. companies pay the sixth highest effective corporate tax rates in the world.
"The tax rate for the largest U.S. companies between 2006 and 2009 was 27.7 percent, compared with a non-U.S. average of 19.5 percent, according to the study," reporter Richard Rubin noted. "Excluding the U.S., companies based in industrialized countries had an average rate of 22.6 percent."
But when the Washington Post picked up the story, it condensed the 15-paragraph Bloomberg story to a two-sentence squib on the Economy & Business page on A17 (see screencap of print edition PDF below):
Last Friday, in what one would think would be a bombshell story headlined "Foreign Banks Tapped Fed’s Secret Lifeline Most at Crisis Peak," Bloomberg's Bradley Keoun and Craig Torres reported that foreign banks secretly and routinely tapping the Federal Reserve's "discount window" lending program, primarily in 2008 and 2009. Some specifics:
"(The) loans protected a lender to local governments in Belgium, a Japanese fishing-cooperative financier and a company part-owned by the Central Bank of Libya."
Dexia SA (DEXB), based in Brussels and Paris, borrowed as much as $33.5 billion through its New York branch ..."
"Dublin-based Depfa Bank Plc, taken over in 2007 by a German real-estate lender later seized by the German government, drew $24.5 billion."
"...foreign banks ... (accounted) for at least 70 percent of the $110.7 billion borrowed during the week in October 2008 when use of the program surged to a record."
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke fought for two years to keep the information secret after Bloomberg filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2009. The Bloomberg report quotes Bernanke as claiming in April 2009 that disclosure "might lead market participants to infer weakness."
In the Bloomberg report, Congressman Ron Paul is quoted making a prediction that has sadly been way off the mark:
On Friday’s Political Capital show, Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson lavished praise on President Obama has having "negotiating skills" like the recently deceased diplomat Richard Holbrooke - known for facilitating a ceasefire in Bosnia in the mid-1990s - as host Al Hunt asked Carlson and the National Review’s Kate O’Beirne to describe what Christmas gifts they would figuratively give to various public figures. Carlson: "I’m going to give him an inscribed copy of the late, great Richard Holbrooke’s memoir, in honor of Obama’s negotiating skills in this lame duck session. All he had to do was give up tax cuts - for which the Republican Party stands - to the wealthy who don’t need it in exchange for everything else he got."
She went on to trash Tea Party Republicans recently elected to Congress as "blowing off steam." Carlson: "I’m afraid that they might succumb to earmarks and lobbyists. They give every sign of that. So I’m going to give them a tea kettle because all they’ve done so far is blow off steam."
Bloomberg News has taken an unorthodox step in the world of wire services, and created an opinion section that it says "will embrace a diversity and variety of opinion."
But early signs suggest a liberal tilt to"Bloomberg View", as it's called. It will be edited by David Shipley, former deputy editor of the New York Times opinion page, and James Rubin, who was an Assistant Secretary of State under President Clinton.
Furthermore, Bloomberg employees are quite open about the fact that the views of the company's president, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, will be reflected prominently in its content.
Shortly after the Labor Department announced a very disappointing jump in the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent, Google News featured as its top story an Associated Press article published Thursday predicting "the tight job market may be easing at last."
Here's a screen cap of Google News from about an hour ago:
They're back, they have their media water-carriers in place, and the Obama administration is smack dab in the middle of it.
The United Nations is pushing for countries in the developed world to keep their "promise" to, in the worlds of Charles J. Hanley at the Associated Press, "raise up to $100 billion a year in new money for poorer countries to cope with climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions."
It's as if ClimateGate never happened (link is to NB's 120-plus posts on the topic). It's as if the IPCC and others associated with the scandal and the evidence-impaired claims of global warming -- er, climate change -- uh, make that climate disruption -- still have their reputations totally intact.
In a zinger that roused the indignation of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Bloomberg columnist Margaret Carlson cast Christine O'Donnell as Sarah Palin's protege – but "with not a fully-functioning human brain." But in 1992, Carlson gushed over the primary victories of current Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein. Does she hold a double-standard?
Co-host Mika Brzezinski was taken aback when the panel had to discuss Carlson's piece for The Daily Beast, "Watch Your Back, Sarah." She silently mouthed the word "bitchy" to Carlson to describe the article, adding that it was "searing."
Carlson's piece focuses on the emergence of the Republican Delaware Senate nominee as the next Sarah Palin protege, predicting a political catfight of sorts between the two female GOP stars. Carlson labeled O'Donnell an "obvious knockoff" of Palin, "hawking her wares on the shores of the Delaware."
Appearing on "Morning Joe" Wednesday, Carlson sneered that O'Donnell lacks a "fully-functioning human brain."
Of course, there was a time when she smiled upon the emergence of female Senate candidates.
Today, eight city council members were arrested in Bell, California for what Los Angeles County District Attorney labeled "corruption on steroids." Thus far, every major news outlet that has reported on the story has omitted the fact that all eight individuals arrested are Democrats.
These glaring omissions come only weeks after NewsBusters reported that of the 351 stories on the then-brewing controversy, 350 had omitted party affiliations, and one had mentioned they were Democrats only in apologizing for not doing so sooner.
What if reporters hunting and pecking for happy economic news are playing up incomplete government reports? Take this AP story by Jeannine Aversa on hopes rising over jobless claims:
The number of people signing up for unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level in two months, an encouraging sign that companies aren't resorting to deeper layoffs even as the economy has lost momentum.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that new claims for unemployment aid plunged last week by a seasonally adjusted 27,000 to 451,000. Economists had predicted a much smaller decline of just 2,000.
But wait, we have an asterisk alert: did the Labor Department really get data from all 50 states? Bloomberg News explained, ahem, that nine states did not report actual numbers:
In recent days, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has become a beloved press figure as a result of his unshaking support for the Ground Zero mosque.
Isn't it fascinating how in this environment where rich people are being demonized at every turn all you need to do is a support a popular liberal cause and your financial sins are instantly forgiven?
With this in mind, the good folks at Big Journalism have uncovered some rather startling financial connections between this media mogul and the Arab world that haven't raised any eyebrows from journalists that love to follow the money when there's a conservative at the other end of the smoking wallet.
Consider the uproar last week surrounding News Corporation's contribution to the Republican Governors Association.
As you read Mondo Frazier's marvelous piece "Follow the Money: Could Mayor Bloomberg's Media Business Interests in the Middle East Have Anything to Do with His Support of the Ground Zero Mosque?" ask yourself why the seemingly always curious press have ignored any examination of this billionaire's motives:
File the news in this report filed late yesterday afternoon by Michael Calderone and John Cook at Yahoo's Upshot Blog under "D" for Double Standards:
White House reporters mum on Obama lunch, even as papers back transparency
White House reporters are keeping quiet about an off-the-record lunch today with President Obama — even those at news organizations who've advocated in the past for the White House to release the names of visitors.
But the identities of the lunch's attendees won't remain secret forever: Their names will eventually appear on the White House's periodically updated public database of visitor logs.
... The Obama White House began posting the logs in order to settle a lawsuit, begun under the Bush administration, from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sought the Secret Service's White House visitor logs under the Freedom of Information Act.
... And guess who filed briefs supporting that argument? Virtually every newspaper that covers the White House.
Wednesday evening, Brent Baker at NewsBusters noted that two of the Big Three television networks failed to tag Dan Rostenkowsi, the former long-time congressman from Chicago who was ousted from his seat in 1994 over corruption charges and ended doing prison time, as a Democrat. Rostenkowski (RIP), who was 82, died yesterday.
At the five major wire services whose reports I reviewed -- The Associated Press, Reuters, UPI, AFP, and the business-oriented Bloomberg News -- Rosty's Democratic affiliation made at least one appearance. But the prominence and directness of those appearances varied widely.
Not surprisingly, the Associated Press and writer Don Babwin did the worst job of identifying Rosty's party, waiting until the eleventh paragraph to directly tag him (the eighth paragraph contains a generic reference to the "Chicago Democratic machine"), and poured it on the thickest when referring to the supposedly beloved bygone days of bipartisanship:
CNN's Rick Sanchez again hinted that Fox News wasn't a legitimate news organization during his Rick's List program on Monday. When colleague Ed Henry mentioned that several news outlets were petitioning for a front-row seat at White House press briefings, Sanchez replied, "I understand the Associated Press. I even understand Bloomberg, but don't have you to be a news organization to get that seat?" [audio clips available here]
The anchor discussed the fight over the front-row seat with Henry and correspondent Brooke Baldwin during a segment 42 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour. Baldwin brought on the CNN White House correspondent to comment, as he's on the board of the White House Correspondents Association, which voted on the matter. Henry explained that "Fox, Bloomberg, and National Public Radio were vying for it- all made strong cases. In the end, Fox [was] unanimously moved up to the front row, but did not get the seat Helen Thomas was in. We voted unanimously to move the Associated Press over to where Helen Thomas was."
Sanchez responded to the White House correspondent's explanation with his Fox-bashing remark, to which Henry replied, "Oh! Are you saying Fox is not a news organization?" The anchor retorted, "Yeah. I'm just wondering."
Many readers may already be familiar with recent exposure of the treasury plunderers disguised as public officials serving up hefty salaries to themselves while allegedly serving their constituents in the LA suburb of Bell, California.
Here's some of the latest from the Associated Press, carried at the Los Angeles Times, which broke the original story, for those who need a quick catch-up. Almost as night follows day, the news doesn't answer a question many readers here and elsewhere will naturally have:
Several hundred angry residents from a modest blue-collar Los Angeles suburb marched Sunday to call for the resignation of the mayor and some City Council members in a protest sparked by the sky-high salaries of three recently departed administrators.
The residents of the city of Bell marched to Oscar's Korner Market and Carniceria, owned by Mayor Oscar Hernandez, then to his home, demanding that he reduce his own six-figure compensation or quit.
They then did the same with some members of the City Council, with many marchers wearing T-shirts that read "My city is more corrupt than your city."
On Thursday, a new unemployment bill died in Congress as Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) joined Republicans on the grounds that government spending can't go on forever.
Instead of reporting both sides, the media couldn't seem to hide their anger.
The bill was called a "jobless aid" package that "governors were counting on" to help "the poor" across the nation. Almost all news reports began from the Democrat perspective and waited several paragraphs before weakly defending Republicans.
Worse yet, a consensus with far more damaging impact began to grow: the loss will cause the nation's economy to fall into a double dip recession, and it will be entirely the Republicans' fault.
Never mind last year's stimulus bill worth $700 billion, or the bank bailout of 2008, both of which have failed to live up to promises of recovery. No, our economy is suffering because fiscal conservatives won't spend even more.
It doesn't seem like this exercise should be that tough.
The government issues Daily Treasury Statements telling everybody what went in and out on a given business day. At the end of the month, the last Daily Treasury Statement has a record (admittedly jumbled and larded with lots of bureaucratic excess) of all receipts and disbursements for the month.
The folks at the Congressional Budget Office look over the final Daily Treasury Statement and estimate what the totals for receipts and disbursements (or "outlays") will be. The difference, obviously, is their estimate of the month's reported deficit. The only remaining items should be error corrections (if any), or accounting entries resulting from the government's ill-advised choice to account for "investments" in banks, car companies, and other entities on a "net present value" basis.
On the eighth business day of the following month, the Treasury Department releases its Monthly Treasury Statement.
On Friday, the CBO estimated that the April's deficit would be $85 billion. The press (as covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) virtually ignored its report. That's bad enough, but when reporters went out to economists for deficit estimates, their predictions were significantly lower. For starters, here's what the Associated Press carried this morning: