An early review of press coverage relating to this morning's warning by General Motors that "there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern" shows no coverage of the reason why, despite $13.4 billion in taxpayer money (NOT counting bailout money going to GMAC), things have gotten so much worse so quickly.
The reason is that sales in the two full months since the Bush-approved, Obama-cheered bailout took place have tanked (see graphic at this NB post yesterday):
December 2008 (last [mostly] pre-bailout month) — down 31.2%
January 2009 (first full bailout month) — down 48.9%
February 2009 (second full bailout month — down 53.1%
Press reports I have seen are saying nothing about this frightening decay in the past 60 days:
The math-challenged Biden, who infamously said during the presidential campaign that the word "jobs" has three letters (maybe you don't know about that one either), made this false claim Wednesday morning, and almost no one noticed.
One exception was TV station KSLA, which filed this report (related but not identically scripted video can be found at link; direct link to vid is here). Reporter Fred Childress's "Fact Check" told us that Biden isn't merely wrong; the Bayou State actually gained seasonally adjusted jobs in December:
The first clue about whose poll probably more closely reflects America's mood is the over-the-top, almost Granma-like narrative coming from Jeff Zeleny and Megan Thee-Brenan at Manhattan's Old Gray Lady, whose parent company's stock price in noontime trading today is back below the cost of its Sunday edition (bolds are mine):
Earlier today in Indiana you said something striking. You said that this nation could end up in a crisis, without action, that we would be unable to reverse. Can you talk about what you know or what you’re hearing that would lead you to say that our recession might be permanent when others in our history have not? And do you think that you risk losing some credibility or even talking down the economy by using dire language like that?
(Obama actually said "may be unable to reverse," not "would be." But I digress.)
Obama's rambling answer, and the rest of the briefing, should have reminded Loven of what she surely considered a withering critique of Bush three years ago (HT to an e-mailer; bolds are mine). After all, she wrote it:
Yesterday, The New York Times Company suspended its quarterly dividend. The company's stock slid 5% to close at $3.51, yet another all-time low in the company's nearly 23 years as a public company in its current form (the Times has been a public company since the 1960s).
Henry Blodget at Silicon Valley Insider noted, even before yesterday's announcement and share-price dip, that the company's share price is lower than the $4 cost of its flagship publication's Sunday newspaper.
It has been nearly seven years since its New York Times newspaper slid into serious Bush Derangement Syndrome, and a bit over a year since the onset of its Obamamania obsession (the Times essentially wrote off Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy after Super Tuesday last year). Since June 2002, the stock is down 93%:
"Good Morning America" reporter David Wright on Thursday worried that a comic strip appearing in yesterday's New York Post could harm the "post racial glow" that America has been enjoying since Barack Obama's inauguration. Wright recounted the outrage expressed by the Reverend Al Sharpton and others over an editorial cartoon depicting a chimp shot by police and connecting it to the just passed economic stimulus bill. (Host Diane Sawyer, above, introduced the segment.)
Wright derided, "Ever since the inauguration, America has seemed to bask in a post-racial glow. But not so fast. Yesterday, the New York Post published a cartoon likening President Obama to a violent monkey shot by police." The GMA journalist chose to accept the most sinister view of the comic, that the dead ape was intended to represent the President. (Of course, since the comic refers to the chimpanzee as the writer of the stimulus bill and Obama didn't author the legislation, that argument doesn't seem to make the most sense.)
Wright featured no one who offered a different interpretation of the cartoon. He simply stated, "The paper refused to apologize for the cartoon, calling it a clear parody of a current news event." Instead, Wright used the controversy as an opportunity to uncritically repeat Attorney General Eric Holder's comments on Wednesday that America is a "nation of cowards." Wright lectured, "Despite evident progress on race, America still has a long way to go, according to the nation's first black attorney general who spoke yesterday at a separate black history month event."
Now it would be easy to say, "But of course she's a Democrat; she's from Chicago." Okay, but the Sun-Times, in five other reports spread over almost two years, mentioned her party only once. What's more, the Tribune's coverage quoted Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph Alesia saying that Troutman had been on "a five-year crime spree. .... Even by Chicago standards, it's (what she did is) no small crime." Logically, this would mean that even by Chicago Democratic Party standards, what Troutman did stood out.
Troutman's "obvious" Democratic Party affiliation also doesn't exonerate the Associated Press, whose stories go national and worldwide, And yes, there are plenty of people around the country and in the rest of the world who do not know that Democrats own Windy City politics (a little reminder every once in a while to those who do know wouldn't hurt either).
This "Name That Party" situation has many of the usual elements. There are several stories about two Democratic judges involved in criminal behavior in Pennsylvania, and, with one exception, they "somehow" don't get around to identifying their party.
But this saga is different for two reasons:
The crimes to which the judges have pleaded guilty involve "thousands" of juveniles.
In one lonely exception, the Associated Press's coverage prominently identified the judges' party. But in what was apparently a subsequent longer revision, their party identification disappeared.
What follows is a side-by-side picture of the first four paragraphs of a February 11 AP story carried at topix.com (also saved at my host for future reference), and of the five paragraphs of the story as it now appears at MSNBC (also saved at host; red and green boxes are mine; portions of the Topix link were moved from their original locations on the page for demonstration purposes; MSNBC graphic is of the printer-friendly version):
Lost in the overall cratering in the stock market yesterday in reaction to Tim Geithner's awful "soiled the bed" TARP II presentation yesterday -- New York Times Company stock closed at $4.23. As of 3:30 PM today, the stock was up 12 cents.
The Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers, aka "The Sleuth," has (Tom) Delay Derangement Syndrome (DDS), and she's got it bad.
Akers's DDS outbreak occurred as she reported on the plan by the Obama Administration to have the director of the Census Bureau report to the White House instead of the Director of the Commerce Department.
(On Thursday evening, after my original post [at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog], CQpolitics.com separately updated its original coverage by reporting that "the White House but sought to define the relationship as one in which the director would 'work closely with' rather than report to President Obama’s senior staff." Uh huh.)
As if to justify the administration's plan, Akers incoherently compared the Obama White House's attempt to coopt the entire Census Bureau to what Texan Delay and other Republicans did a few years ago to maximize the number of GOP-majority districts in one state.
Here are the opening paragraphs of Akers's Friday evening bellyache (link is in original):
The newspaper that appears to be on a mission to become Manhattan's quaint little alternative daily is considering a move that would cheer those who prefer fair and balanced reporting accompanied by intellectually honest editorials and op-eds.
That publication, the New York Times, is considering a return to fee-based content -- and this time, it might go for the whole enchilada.
Times Executive Editor Bill Keller dangled the possibility yesterday in an online Q&A.
"Well, you know his company was slowing down just like everybody else's company has been slowing down and he didn't have much to do, so he started a side business in his cubicle - which is what a lot of people did, including myself and he got caught," Adams said. "So, it just seemed like a good time to downsize him and let him see what it's like to try to get a job in this economy."
The inspiration for the change in Dilbert's storyline was the economic downturn, which has inspired media coverage that the comic pages haven't even been immune to.
Former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle (picture at right is part of a Getty Images pic at a related New York Times story) has just upped the ante in Washington's tax-avoiding/evading game of "Can you top this?"
Whereas recently confirmed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner "only" $40,000 in back taxes and interest, principally relating to unpaid Social Security and Medicare taxes (with a dash of retirement-plan penalty and illegally deducted overnight summer camp expenses included in the mix), the man who Rush Limbaugh used to call "Puff" Daschle during his Senate days has upped to ante to six figures.
Reporting on his January 29 State of the State Address in which Maryland's liberal Democratic governor promised new government spending programs and the continuance of a costly state college tuition freeze, the Baltimore Sun headlined the story "O'Malley Sets a Leaner Course for Maryland."
Yet as Sun reporters Laura Smitherman and Gadi Dechter made clear, O'Malley has made clear he hopes to avoid axing 700 state worker jobs after getting an infusion of cash from Washington:
In his address, the governor repeated his hope that a federal stimulus package moving through Congress would enable the state to avoid many painful cuts. He told lawmakers that he expects the final budget they consider in April to be better than the one he submitted to them. "Why?" O'Malley said. "Two reasons. Barack ... Obama."
So O'Malley's "leaner course" really depends on just how much pork a Democratic Congress and president shovel the reliably blue state's way.
What's more, as Smitherman and Dechter noted deeper in their article, O'Malley has postponed previously planned budget cuts, much to the chagrin of the state's Democratic comptroller, no right-winger he:
In mid-December, the Washington Post decided it would feature a special classifieds section on Inauguration Day in which readers could, for a fee, offer a special message to the new president. Buried within the announcement was this requirement: "All ads must be congratulatory in nature. The Washington Post reserves the right to reject any notice." However, bizarre and oddly stilted messages apparently made it through the screening process just fine.
In one ad, Callie (no last name) wrote, "Dear Malia and Sasha,-I need a babysitter....??" [Emphasis added] One Douglas F. Ryder oddly instructed, "I want to help allow people to create their own economy. I see results and would like to help others. My way of helping improve the economy. [sic]" Alex Barriger asked President Obama to keep an eye out for him on the big day: "I will be in the crowd in front of the Capitol today to witness this historic moment."
This person, who identified himself as a volunteer, continued: "You should have my resume on file...I figured this was the best way to get in touch with you." Considering the rather unusual poem that was recited by Elizabeth Alexander during the Inauguration, maybe President Obama should have gone with the one submitted by Ellen M. Overby.
I was going through the comments tonight at my Pajamas Media column about the Geithner nomination that went up earlier today, and came across this at Comment 39 from "Mike M":
The deduction he took for the summer camp as a day care expense is EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED IN THE IRS CODE! That’s out and out tax fraud. Even Leona Helmsly (sic) is jealous in her grave ....
It turns out that there is a lot more to the Geithner story. It has been sitting right there in details that were made public last week, but were mostly ignored by the Washington press. While the amounts involved aren't anywhere near as large as those relating to Geithner's self-employment taxes from 2001 through 2004 on his earnings at the International Monetary Fund -- taxes he didn't pay until audited by the IRS (2003 and 2004) or until just before his nomination was announced (2001 and 2002) -- they are nonetheless revealing, infuriating, and disturbing. They make the claims of "honest mistakes" that his defenders up to and including Barack Obama continue to employ look much, much weaker (paragraph image is from Pages 3 and 4 of the relevant report stored here as a PDF; a larger JPEG image is here):
Far be it from me to sow discord in MSNBC ranks, to stir up old animosities between colleagues there. But if Joe Scarborough is going to do a mocking imitation of Keith Olbermann in full Special Comment rant, well then, blogging ethics compel me to report it.
The jumping-off point on Morning Joe today was Eugene Robinson's current WaPo column. After claiming that he didn't want to kick the president on his way out the door, Robinson proceeded to do just that. The columnist described a variety of measures adopted by the president in prosecution of the war against terror as "departures from American values and traditions." Robinson recommended an investigation if not a criminal prosecution. That led Pat Buchanan and Scarborough to cite, chapter and verse, the ways in which Bush's supposed abrogation of "American values and traditions" were small potatoes compared to the actions of predecessors including Lincoln, Wilson and FDR.
Without mentioning the Countdown host by name, Scarborough closed with an unmistakable impression of Keith Olbermann in pompous Special Comment peroration of the sort that can be seen here.
When historians look back in wonder at how a long-established publication like the New York Times could have declined from its virtual king-of-the-world status in mid-2002 to its Bush-deranged, 85%-devalued shadow of its former self, they will surely make a few stops at Maureen Dowd's twice-weekly, lost-in-another-world columns (the Dowd picture is from the Times's web site).
Today's offering from Dowd (HT Hot Air Headlines) is intended to be a final figurative kick in the shins at George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, something she admits to fantasizing about having done to the Vice President this week when she had opportunities.
But the Dowd diatribe really ends up as a self-portrayal of someone who deeply imbibed the kool-aid her paper dished out over the past seven years and is beyond ever letting go, and serves as a microcosm of what the Old Gray Lady has done to itself in that same timeframe:
But will it survive being labeled a major source of CO2 "pollution"?
We may soon find out. As reported in the UK Times Online, a Harvard scientist claims to have estimated the so-called carbon footprint of Google searches -- and it's not small. During the course of their article, reporters Jonathan Leake and Richard Woods use language the press usually reserves for conservatives and "evil" businesspersons:
Nobel laureate on arcane trade matters, former Enron adviser, and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is at it again.
In his latest Times column ("The Obama Gap"), he chides President-elect Barack Obama for not being ambitious enough in his stimulus plan, and, heaven forbid, for including tax cuts in the mix. He complains that Obama is only committing to much less than half of what's necessary.
A video report about last night's riot in Oakland related to the shooting death of an unarmed man at the hands of a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer actually calls it .... a riot. What's more, the reporter notes, as is really often the case in situations such as these, how people he characterized as "professional protesters" egged others on and created the atmosphere that led to so much violence and vandalism.
CBS5 reporter Joe Vazquez filed "Inside the Oakland Riot: A First-Hand Account." It's a little too "gee whiz" to me, but it least it gets some usually unreported facts out.
Virtually all the predictions about the death of old media have assumed a comfortingly long time frame for the end of print . . . But what if the old media dies much more quickly? What if a hurricane comes along and obliterates the dunes entirely? Specifically, what if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May? It’s certainly plausible. -- End Times, by Michael Hirschorn, The Atlantic, January/February 2009 [emphasis added]
The prospect of the disappearance of the New York Times within a matter of months will bring wildly varying reactions in different quarters. Those gleefully anticipating its demise should know that Hirschorn goes on to conclude that the odds of the paper going away in May are "relatively slim." He anticipates a number of scenarios that would permit the paper to survive, including:
sale of its share of its $600 million HQ, designed by the prestigious Renzo Piano
sale of its ownership interest in the Boston Globe and/or other subsidiaries including About.com and the Boston Red Sox.
sale of the paper outright to potential buyers such as David Geffen, Michael Bloomberg, Carlos Slim or even . . . Rupert Murdoch.
Still, Hirschorn doesn't entirely discount the possibility that the Times could actually go bye-bye. As he observes [emphasis added]:
A link to a story in the New London (CT) Day (story will be available for only a few days) arrived in my e-mail yesterday thanks to a Google alert:
Deed Gives NL Building A New Address Italian Dramatic Club outlived street it used to be on in fort area
The story stands as a bitter reminder of the blatant favoritism that took place during the sad saga of Susette Kelo and her neighbors in the Ft. Trumbull area of that Connecticut town.
Ms. Kelo and her neighbors had their homes condemned, and ultimately lost in appeals that went all the way to the Supreme Court, where in June 2005 that court's majority ruled that when our Founders wrote "public use" in the Constitution's 5th Amendment (i.e., building a bridge, or a road, or a school), they really meant "public purpose" (doing anything the government deems to be a worthy cause, including taking someone's property and conveying it to another for a worthy "development" cause).
As you can see from the following Google Earth map image that is probably about two years old, the Italian Dramatic Club (IDC) sits virtually alone at 79 Chelsea Street:
Failing to Grace the WaPo Front PageThe Washington Post has certainly taken a timeworn media tack in it's coverage of the latest instance of Israel stubbornly insisting on continuing to exist. That being: keep nearly all mentions of the prolonged and incessant attacks of Israel by the Palestinians off the front page and to an absolute minimum, then deliver maximum coverage of the Israelis' response.
A response that Israel on Christmas Day openly announced was to come were the rocket bombardments from the Gaza Strip not halted. This called shot gave the Post two (additional) days to provide a description of the nearly daily asaults Israel has faced from Gaza since they ceded the territory to the Palestinians in September 2005 (and that have been stepped up even further in the last month plus). To provide some sort of context for why the Israelis were planning what they have now begun.
But rarely if ever does the Post find these Palestinian attacks worthy of any coverage at all, let alone the stuff of front page placement. It didn't this time either. No mention -- of Israel's warning or why they had issued it -- made the Post's front page at all on either day.
Sure, its revenues might be plunging along with its share price, but the New York Times is still good for something. In these somber days of winter, the Gray Lady, her name notwithstanding, can still inject the sunshine of humor—albeit of the unintentional variety.
Take its current editorial, Getting Immigration Right -- please. With jobs at a premium and the collapse of the Big Three automakers attributable in no small part to the role of the unions, the Times naturally comes out in favor of:
making it easier for illegals to get into the country to compete for what jobs are left, and
granting the right of illegals once here to . . . unionize.
Two situations over the weekend illustrate that the Associated Press's habitual failure to identify the political party of Democrats in trouble is more than likely a conscious decision. This is despite the AP Stylebook's guidance (as of 2000, the latest free edition I can find; a PDF is here) that a reporter should "include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is."
In both of the instances I will cite, local papers decided that party affiliation was important enough to include. But AP reporters decided that they weren't, even though out-of-state readers are less likely to know the party affiliation of the politician(s) involved.
The MSM has been too reverential towards George W. Bush. Yeah, that's the ticket. The only thing more absurd than that assertion was Arianna Huffington's willingness to accept it as a fact in answering a question. Here was the exchange between Huffington and Choire Sicha, writing for the LA Times, in today's "Sunday Conversation" feature [emphasis added]:
CHOIRE SICHA: It was only recently that this spell of reverence for Bush lifted. Why'd it take so long?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: I think it took so long because there is something about the conventional wisdom that is very addictive to members of the press. They don't want to diverge from it too far.
The conversation later provided another rib-tickler from the HuffPo hostess [emphasis added]:
As NewsBuster Dan Gainor has noted, Playboy Mexico thought it could make some pesos by peddling an issue with a scantily-clad Virgin Mary on the cover—just in time for Christmas. Today's Los Angeles Times contains an editorial denouncing the tasteless stunt. All well and good. But it set me to wondering. Did the LAT protest similar outrages against religous symbols when they appeared in the US?
The infamous "Piss Christ" comes to mind. Even more on point is the portrait of the Virgin Mary, surrounded by lacquered elephant dung and cutouts from pornographic magazines, that the Brooklyn Museum found worthy of display.
On December 18, in an item that appeared on Page C1 of its December 19 print edition (the graphic at the right is a scaled-down version of what appears at the top of the online version), the New York Times's Wendell Jamieson provided us his perspective on what has became a Christmas staple, Frank Capra Jr.'s "It's a Wonderful Life." I would suggest that the piece reveals a lot more about the author and Old Media's mindset than it tells us about the film.
Jamieson's title gives a preview of the awful attack that is on the way: "Wonderful? Sorry, George, It’s a Pitiful, Dreadful Life."
It turns out that Jamieson is the Times's city editor. I find it telling that the Times chose not to inform of this "little" fact at the end of the piece.
There is really no substitute for reading, or I should say enduring, the whole thing. But here are some samples of what the person who decides on a daily basis what Times readers and probably a large percentage of the country will learn about news and events in the nation's largest city thinks of Capra's classic, and of James Stewart's town: