In an interview on CNBC's Nov. 3 "Squawk Box," following the announcement of his purchase of Burlington Northern (NYSE:BNI), Buffett was asked to comment on the future of news media, in particular newspapers and business news by "Squawk Box" co-host Becky Quick. Buffett is optimistic on the future of business news.
"Our system has just gotten started," Buffett said. "I mean, we've had a couple of hundred years of progress, but we have not exhausted our potential in this country. America's about business and business in America, you know have gone to greatness hand and hand. So, you do not need to worry about CNBC 10 or 20 or 30 years from now. Business will always be important to the American public."
Laurie Kellman, call your office, check your e-mail, and tap in to your Twitter.
The Associated Press reporter didn't get the memo that recession is supposedly over, and that at a minimum you shouldn't be writing as if it will be with us for a while. She also erred in citing the weak economy as a bad thing for Democrats. The New York Times told us about a week ago that a bad economy is a good thing for Democrats who want to pass state-controlled health care and other freedom-restricting agenda items, because a bad economy increases personal insecurity. They're such pals of the little guy, you see.
Both busts against the conventional media wisdom are in Kellman's brief item from late this morning (bolds are mine):
Health care issues: Hold off for a better economy?
The paper's headline at its report on Thursday's government announcement that the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came in at an annualized 3.5% after four consecutive quarters of decline was not only over the top. Its message went directly against an admonishment by an economist quoted in Paul Davidson's underlying report, which was to not "get carried away by the really strong number."
Many commentators, while gratified that GDP growth occurred, have cautioned that the growth was influenced heavily by government programs that either have already run their course with debatable long-term impact (e.g., Cash for Clunkers), or are probably not going to last much longer even if extended (e.g., the first-time homebuyers' credit), simply because the government is running trillion-dollar annual deficits and can't afford them.
Bloggers and their readers have "joked" about the New York Times being the official house organ of the Obama White House. Maybe it's not a joke.
Earlier this month (as seen at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), several bloggers caught the Times making significant changes to its initial coverage of Chicago's humiliating loss of its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, and of President Obama's involvement in that loss. The first Times report by Peter Baker was fairly harsh, questioning the President's judgment in getting involved, while citing his slipping poll ratings.
After Times organ grinder -- er, reporter -- Jeff Zeleny got a hold of the story, most of the harshness went away, as did Baker's original story. All of a sudden, at the same URL, there was no reference to tarnished presidential prestige. A dismissive assertion that the embarrassment "would fade in a news cycle or two" appeared. There was also a mention of Obama's 25-minute meeting with Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal that was not in the original. The reference to falling poll numbers also disappeared.
Well, the Times has just pulled a similar stunt in its coverage of President Obama's Wednesday night/Thursday morning visit to Dover Air Force Base. Once again, Jeff Zeleny is involved.
It's bad enough we have to bailout banks and auto manufacturers or spread around subsidies for wasteful, inefficient forms of energy like ethanol and morally reprehensible institutions like ACORN and Planned Parenthood.
However, now a couple of the wizards of smart that have managed to land a spot in the editorial pages of The Washington Post are lobbying for journalism subsidies.
In the Oct. 30 Post, the co-founders of Free Press, John Nichols of the liberal publication, the Nation and Robert McChesney, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, suggested it's time for the government to prop-up beleaguered journalists to "spawn" so-called independent media. Nichols and McChesney make the case that newspapers are important for two reasons - one not-so important one and one arguably legitimate one. They maintain President Barack Obama believes newspapers are important and that they play an important part keeping government in check. But in order for them to sustain this vital role in our culture, they say it's time for the government to lend a hand.
The latest newspaper circulation numbers, measuring copies sold from April through September of this year, show a 10.6 percent decline in daily newspaper sales, the first double-digit drop in circulation ever. Newspaper readership is now at its lowest level since before World War II.
The biggest losers during this six-month period, as reported by NewsBusters's Tom Blumer, were the San Francisco Chronicle (down 25.8 percent daily), the Newark Star-Ledger (down 22.2 percent daily), and the Boston Globe (down 18.5 percent daily).
The New York Times's sales during the period fell to 927,861, the first time the paper sold less than 1 million copies in that time span in decades. The Wall Street Journal saw a 0.6 percent increase in circulation, making it the most purchased newspaper in the country. The Journal surpassed USA Today, whose circulation declined by over 17 percent.
In late September, Florida Congressional Democrat Alan Grayson earned attention and apparently fawning support from the far left by describing the Republican Party's health care plan, as "1. Don't get sick; 2. And if you do get sick, 3. die quickly."
Grayson's supposed apology for these over-the-top remarks on the House Floor -- remarks that would surely have earned him censure and relentless media coverage had he been a Republican criticizing a Democrat -- consisted of saying, as paraphrased by Clay Waters of NewsBusters, that his "remorse was not for Republicans, rather for the dead .... comparing the existing health care system to the Holocaust."
Little did we know that in September, Grayson made himself a House ogre with his floor remarks, he hurled a grievously sexist and offensive insult at a senior Federal Reserve adviser. Wait until you see what he called Linda Robertson on the apparently syndicated but apparently lightly heeded Alex Jones show (relevant audio begins at about 0:35 of the 1:43 YouTube video; Warning - Objectionable language follows):
Brent Bozell was hardly alone yesterday in touting new polls showing a surge for conservatism in reaction to Barack Obama's forever-lengthening statist agenda. Also making the rounds is Nile Gardiner's blog for the Telegraph (of the UK) suggesting President Obama has failed to defeat American conservatism:
This week’s striking Gallup poll on political ideology is further confirmation that the United States is in essence a conservative nation, which has ironically become even more conservative under Barack Obama. According to Gallup, 40 percent of Americans describe their political views as conservative, 36 percent as moderate and 20 percent as liberal. This is the first time conservatives have outnumbered moderates in America since 2004.
It's a variation on the old riddle, "What's black and white, but read all over?"
If you change one word and add two others, the answer to the resulting question -- "What's still mostly black and white, but red all over?" -- would be, based on just-released information about their daily circulation, "all but one of the nation's top 25 newspapers turning in comparative numbers."
Here are a few paragraphs from Michael Liedtke's coverage of the carnage at the Associated Press, which depends largely on newspaper subscription fees for its lifeblood. Note the "so far" reference in Liedtke's third paragraph:
This wouldn't be particularly important if not for the fact that the press made a point of criticizing our previous president for overindulging in exercise and recreation and supposedly "vacationing" too often at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
But they did, so a Tweet from CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller is worth noting:
Politico's Click blog picked up the story and put this twist on the tweet: "President Obama Ties George W. Bush on Golf."
Meanwhile, an unbylined Associated Press piece gave Obama backhanded props for finally including a woman in his golf foursome, but failed to mention the new First Linkster's fore-play frequency Knoller had cited earlier in the day:
President Obama was at Democratic Party fundraising events for incumbent Democratic Governor Deval Patrick in Massachusetts Friday night.
The Boston Herald's Hillary Chabot described the attendance at one of the events (HT Jules Crittenden, who is a Herald editor, via Instapundit) as "barely half-full with 125 deep-pocketed Democrats" in the second paragraph of her report ("President Obama: ‘Tough race’ ahead for Gov. Deval Patrick").
Meanwhile, at the Boston Globe ("Obama blows in, talks up Patrick and future"), staff reporter Matt Viser saved an observation that "the events appeared to not be fully booked" for the end of his fifth paragraph. The "events" were "a reception and a larger ballroom gathering." Somehow, if Fenway Park had 20,000 - 25,000 on hand for a Red Sox game (Fenway's capacity is 37,400, and every Red Sox game has been sold out for over six years), I doubt that Globe sports reporter Bob Ryan would describe it as "not fully attended."
Here are the first several paragraphs from each report. First, from the Herald:
Either LA Times op-ed writer Peter Dreier lives in a cave, or he's all too willing to spread falsehoods to defend an organization where he once served as a consultant. Perhaps it's a little of both.
In that Thursday op-ed ("The war on ACORN; Conservatives are distorting and playing up the community organizing group's so-called scandals"), Dreier parroted ACORN CEO's now-discredited claims that "not a single person who signed a phony name on a registration form ever actually voted," and that undercover filmmakers James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles were only able to get help from two ACORN offices in starting up their proposed prostitution enterprises involving the importation of immigrant girls.
In running Dreier's op-ed, the Times miscalculated at least twice:
First, the paper failed to disclose Dreier's past relationship with ACORN as a consultant, something that is right there in his Occidental College bio, and that readers had a right to know.
Second, the Times somehow thought Dreier's propaganda would get past LA blogger and certified Times nemesis Patterico aka Patrick Frey. That was the far more serious blunder.
On Oct. 23 ABC's "Good Morning America" aired back-to-back segments promoting climate change and, strangely enough, slamming hamburgers. First, George Stephanopoulos worried that Americans were becoming too complacent about global warming and discussed possible climate solutions with "Superfreakonomics" author Stephen Dubner. Dubner suggested choosing a kangaroo burger over a beef burger as a possible solution. Then Stephanopoulos interviewed Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," and discussed the carbon footprint left behind by a McDonald's quarter-pounder with cheese.
Pollan said that "you're eating oil" when you're eating a burger: "You need oil to make the fertilizer to grow the corn. You need petroleum to make the pesticides to grow the corn. You need oil to move it all around the country."
Factoring in production, processing, and shipment, Pollan claimed that a quarter-pounder cheeseburger amounts to 26 ounces of oil. "What it tells you is that the carbon footprint of that burger is really big," said Pollan. "The result is a product that takes a huge environmental toll and obviously takes a health toll as well."
That video totally nuked claims by ACORN National and ACORN Philly that O'Keefe and Giles had been "shown the door" and "kicked out" after a "few minutes" in their Philly Office visit -- claims that establishment media outlets continued to repeat even, as shown in the excerpt that follows, after ACORN was proven to have lied about what happened in New York City and San Diego.
Billy Hallowell at BigGovernment.com has a great recap of the not well-known ACORN and media goofs that have occurred since James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles released their first two sting videos (links are in original):
The mainstream media were complicit in their coverage of the ACORN scandal. Their behavior was and continues to be an insult to democracy and journalistic responsibility as the Fourth Estate has ignored facts, engaged in one-sided sourcing, and avoided basic and inherently important journalistic questioning.
Let's see. A Big 4 independent public accounting firm vs. the Democratic Party's go-to health care economics guy. Who has more presumptive credibility?
It's more than a little offensive to see the people whose party gave us entitlement programs with multitrillion-dollar unfunded liabilities (Social Security and Medicare), pension plans that are completely unsustainable (the federal government and many states), and year-over-year budget increases that almost always dwarf inflation -- in other words, people with absolutely no record of financial credibility on matters big and small -- go after Big 4 accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and its "industry-funded" study on what would happen to insurance premiums under the BaucusCare iteration of ObamaCare with the eager assistance of their media apparatchiks.
Understand this: When PwC prepares a report for the health insurance industry projecting, in the Wall Street Journal's words, that "the Senate Finance Committee’s big health-care bill would raise health insurance premiums by thousands of dollars a year," one can be confident that it is based on exhaustively researched and thoroughly reviewed work.
I suppose President Obama is still running around telling everyone who will listen, along with anyone else who won't, that "If you like your doctors and medical providers, you can keep them."
It would also not surprise me to learn that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is still singing the praises of CommonwealthCare, the state-run system conservatives also deride as RomneyCare, so named after Mitt Romney, Patrick's allegedly Republican predecessor who brought it into being. Patrick even wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed column several weeks ago that called CommonwealthCare a "model for national reform."
As an apparently pivotal Senate committee vote on imposing statist health care on the entire country looms, the Boston Globe's Liz Kowalczyk has inconveniently reminded statists (HT Hot Air) that the alleged wonders of the Bay State's care regimen are instead leading it inexorably into serious rationing, and to a direct contradiction of Obama's and Patrick's core claims. Currently on the horizon are serious limitations on choice of care providers and annual capitated payments to those providers. Kowalczyk would probably protest that she never uses the word "rationing," but it really doesn't matter. Anyone with even a modicum of sense will recognize these moves for what they are.
A New York Times article by Nick Bunkley on Friday targeted for print on Saturday about the status of contract talks between Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers piqued my interest in a previously neglected but important matter.
Ford and the UAW are apparently close to an agreement. In describing what Ford workers are being asked to give up, Bunkley wrote the following (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Ford executives have said the company needs more concessions to keep G.M. and Chrysler from having an advantage.
.... The deal that U.A.W. workers at Ford approved in March got rid of cost-of-living pay increases and performance bonuses through 2010 and eliminated the jobs bank program, which allows laid-off workers to continue receiving most of their pay. In addition to those concessions, G.M. and Chrysler workers agreed to work-rule changes and a provision that bars them from striking.
What? From press coverage at the time, you would have thought that unionized GM and Chrysler workers made ginormous, humungous, unprecedented sacrifices to enable their companies to get through bankruptcy and to emerge as lean, mean vehicle-making machines.
As if the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Fan and Fred) crackups weren't bad enough, IBDeditorials.com noted on Thursday evening that another bad-mortgage shoe is about to drop. This time it's at the Federal Housing Authority (FHA).
First, let's revisit Fan and Fred to remind readers just how complete the disaster has been at these decades in the making Democratic crony-controlled entities.
A little-noticed CNNMoney.com item by Chris Isidore in late July told us what the original announced loss estimate had been a year earlier (bolds are mine throughout this post):
When Congress was debating the bailout of Fannie and Freddie last July (of 2008), the official estimate from the Congressional Budget Office was that a bailout would most likely cost taxpayers $25 billion, with only a 5% chance of the price tag reaching $100 billion between them.
Isidiore then noted that just one year later the loss estimate had doubled:
The Globe's subheadline at the story's web page is revealing:
US funds dry up for Iran rights watchdog Obama White House less confrontational
.... But just as the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center was ramping up to investigate abuses of protesters after this summer’s disputed presidential election, the group received word that - for the first time since it was formed - its federal funding request had been denied.
“If there is one time that I expected to get funding, this was it," said Rene Redman, the group’s executive director, who had asked for $2.7 million in funding for the next two years. "I was surprised, because the world was watching human rights violations right there on television."
Many see the sudden, unexplained cutoff of funding as a shift by the Obama administration away from high-profile democracy promotion in Iran ....
WaPo TV critic Tom Shales [file photo] has come up with a creative new defense of Roman Polanski: Hollywood thirteen-year olds aren't really thirteen.
NB reader FT pointed us to an online exchange between a reader and Shales today that included this [emphasis added]:
Tom Shales: Hello, Dunn Loring, I didn't want to sign off without trying to answer your question. I didn't realize I had written a column defending Roman Polanski and minimized his crime - are you sure it was me? I mean, I? There is, apparently, more to this crime than it would seem, and it may sound like a hollow defense, but in Hollywood I am not sure a 13-year-old is really a 13-year-old.
And, on Fox News Channel's Oct. 5 "Glenn Beck" program, Beck addressed that and some of the gripes he had about the media for not doing their job.
"I tell you all the time, I'm not a journalist," Beck said "I'm not. I joked that I'm a rodeo clown, but you know what - I take that back. I no longer am a rodeo clown. I am a dad, and quite frankly, I'm a little pissed off right now. You can call me names. You can make fun of me, whatever. I'm doing what I believe is right. I am doing a job as a private citizen right now."
Based on the data, the current job situation for teenagers in America is the worst on record.
According to Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Seasonally adjusted teenage unemployment hit 25.9%. That is the highest rate in the nearly 62 years BLS has been reporting this number. The previous record was last month's 25.5%. The record before that was 24.1% in November and December of 1982. A graphic of the complete history of the teenage unemployment rate that will open in a new window is here.
Unemployment among black teens not enrolled in school is over 50%.
The rate among 20-24 year-olds is also alarmingly high at 15.1%.
Almost alone among establishment media publications -- and even then in an editorial, not a regular news report -- the Wall Street Journal commented on this distressing set of circumstances, identified the most likely cause of the problem, and worried about its longer-term consequences:
Those who read the New York Times's coverage of the unsuccessful results of Barack and Michelle Obama's attempt to seal the 2016 Summer Olympics bid for Chicago on Friday afternoon ('For Obama, an Unsuccessful Campaign") might want to read it again.
If it doesn't seem the same, it's because it isn't.
An excerpt of the item's first five paragraphs posted at FreeRepublic at 4:44 Eastern Time on October 2 shows that the article was apparently originally published under the same title with Peter Baker's byline sometime Friday afternoon.
There are even more substantive differences noticed by Weasel Zippers I will get to shortly, but the first five paragraphs alone were obviously worked over, while Jeff Zeleny's name was added to the byline.
After the jump, on the left you will see the original as excerpted at FreeRepublic; on the right are the first five paragraphs currently at the Times web site (saved here at my host for future reference; click here or on the graphic to view a larger side-by-side version in a separate window):
Reviewing September's detailed sales results in the car business carried at the Wall Street Journal, three things stick out immediately:
The awful performance at General Motors -- down 45% from September 2008.
Chrysler's even worse performance -- down "only" 42% from September 2008, but a mind-boggling 61% from September 2007 (62,197 in 2009, 156,799 in 2007)
Ford's tiny decline of only 6% from a year ago, despite the end of the Cash For Clunkers program in August.
No other major maker had a year-over-year September decline that was even half of that seen at GM or Chrysler.
Yet the press, while beginning to acknowledge serious problems at the companies, both of which were first bailed out by the government and then taken through government-orchestrated, contract law-violating, UAW-favoring bankruptcies (GM discussed here, Chrysler here), still will not entertain the possibility, despite the evidence, that consumers are shunning them because of their bailed-out status and their heavy-handed tactics in bankruptcy.
What follows are excerpts from three reports that covered September's industry results.
In a Chicago Tribune article today that appears to open as an attempt at humor but quickly devolves into nastiness, NPR-dependent radio host and author Garrison Keillor, among other things, attacks social conservatives, blames them and not those who have brought legal actions for years-long fights over keeping religious symbols right where they are, and -- while conveniently forgetting that Republican Mitt Romney gave us the Massachusetts disaster known as CommonwealthCare that current Bay State Democratic governor Deval Patrick considers the model for ObamaCare -- ponders the pros and cons of cutting Republicans "out of the health-care system entirely."
There are few if any indications in the last 2/3 of his column that Keillor was attempting anything resembling humor. If he was, he failed.
The headline and the first paragraph from this Friday Wall Street Journal report by Josh Mitchell and Stephen Power reads like a bad joke Jay Leno's writers would have discarded, because no one would believe it. The second paragraph isn't much better:
Gore-Backed Car Firm Gets Large U.S. Loan
A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000.
The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc. follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns.
That's a combined total of just shy of a billion dollars going to two companies currently making toys for the wealthy under circumstantially suspect conditions.
Roman Polanski may be an Oscar-winning brilliant film maker, but he’s also a fugitive from justice, an infamous child rapist who jumped bail and fled to France in 1978 to avoid the consequences of his 1977 rape of a 13-year-old in Los Angeles. Polanski was arrested on Saturday in Zurich on the grounds of the 31-year-old arrest warrant.
It didn’t take long for the Polanski defenders to crawl out of the woodwork. Take Patrick Goldstein, pop culture columnist for the Los Angeles Times, who quickly penned a piece published Sunday afternoon decrying Polanski’s arrest by Swiss authorities.
Apparently, Goldstein is of the opinion that Polanski has suffered enough for his crimes, and the Los Angeles prosecutors should not be spending precious taxpayer money (a phrase which, in reference to California, causes much mental angst) chasing a 76-year-old man around the globe.
Goldstein tugged at readers’ heartstrings by pointing out Polanski’s brushes with the most depraved of the 20th century’s murderers: Polanski was a fugitive from the Nazis as a child and wife was killed by followers of Charles Manson.
Fair enough. But Breitbart asserted what I believe is a bigger point. It isn't just that the establishment media would have ignored the story if James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles had attempted to put it out there on their own. Breitbart believes that Big Media would have actively worked to bury it and to discredit its authors. There's little doubt that Andrew is absolutely correct.
I've been trying to give Chuck Todd the benefit of the doubt when it comes to classifying him as part of what Rush would call the state-controlled media. But that indulgence was strained to the breaking point on Morning Joe today when Todd flatly rejected the notion that the MSM had under-covered the Van Jones story and suggested that delving into his background would have been a waste of MSM time.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You say this has been a Republican obsession, ACORN. It certainly hasn't been an obsession in the media. Mike Allen said the mainstream media was slow on the Van Jones story, also slow on this [ACORN] story. Is that a fair charge?
Not that any of this will surprise anyone, but it should go on the record nonetheless. The New York Times's home page as of its 10:15 a.m. update looked like this (click to enlarge in a separate window):
You'll note no mention of the D.C. rally yesterday that drew an estimated 1-2 million people.