That's Bill Lerach. Yes, THAT Bill Lerach. The self-styled, one-time "King of Torts," and former partner at the once-untouchable Milberg Weiss law firm. The now criminally convicted Bill Lerach.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story of Bill Lerach and Milberg Weiss, here's a relatively quick synopsis, courtesy of a subscription-only editorial at the Wall Street Journal excerpted by yours truly in May 2006, when Milberg Weiss and two of its partners were indicted:
With all due respect to the chairman (Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke), he would see the recession that so many others are feeling if he would only open his eyes. While Mr. Bernanke and others are waiting for the official diagnosis (a decline in the gross domestic product for two successive quarters), the disease is spreading and has been spreading for some time.
Someone needs to tell me why this news about discretionary income isn't as significant as I believe it is.
But first, three warnings: 1. I'm not about to spend the $250 needed to read the full report from the Conference Board that backs the story (their "about" page is here). 2. I don't feel totally comfortable with how the statistic is measured -- "Households with discretionary income, as defined by the study, are those whose spendable income exceeds that held by households with similar demographic features." 3. I don't feel totally comfortable that the statistic has been measured consistently.
Now with the disclaimers out of the way, here's the stunning news: More Americans have "money to burn," technically known as "discretionary income," than at any time in the past quarter-century, and perhaps in the country's history.
A lot more. A whole lot more.
So many more that I went as far back as I could for comparable stats.
It is understandable, but not forgivable, that business reporters at Old Media newspapers might think that the economy is in bad shape. They first have to get past how poorly most of their employers are doing. The industry as a whole has not been doing well, and it's been that way for quite some time.
This table illustrates that point (September 30, 2007 figures are at this post, which originally came from this Editor & Publisher article, which will soon disappear behind its firewall; March 31, 2005 figures were estimated in reverse using annual percentage changes reported as of March 31, 2006, because older data I thought would remain available no longer is):
It seems that no bad Hillary Clinton deed goes unresponded to.
As we are in the midst of a presidential campaign, this by itself is not an issue. That it is the national media that is leading this charge is. One need focus on but the latest corners of the Clinton pantheon to come to light to see the full court press the press puts on when their girl needs them.
In an October 10 Boston Globe interview, Senator Clinton let her socialism slip a bit, saying "I have a million ideas. I can't do all of them. I happen to think in running a disciplined campaign - especially when it comes to fiscal responsibility, which is what I'm trying to do - everything I propose I have to pay for. You know, you go to my website, you'll see what I would use to pay for what I've proposed. So I've got a lot of ideas, I just obviously can't propose them all. I can't afford them all. The country can't afford them all." (Emphasis ours.)
The Audit Bureau of Circulations released circulation numbers for more than 700 daily newspapers this morning for the six-month period ending September 2007. Of the top 25 papers in daily circulation (see chart, separate story), only four showed gains.
All together now - awwwwww.
For your entertainment pleasure, here were some of the declining dinosaur totals:
In an article counseling readers to cancel the pity party the Washington Post wants to throw for "Young Altruists In the Crowded Field of Public Interest," Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial Musings nails it, and in the process hammers home a reality that Old Media reporters and pundits never seem to comprehend (links were in original post):
..... Who is it that really changes the world, and for the better?
I would argue that it is the people like Bill Gates, or Henry Ford, or Thomas Edison, or the Wright brothers, who have a much larger and more beneficial effect on the world than people who "want to make a difference."
It appears that Editor & Publisher felt the need to get in front of some really bad news in the newspaper business. In fact, the sampling of numbers reported previews a report that will apparently be worse than others I have tracked (previous posts here, here, and here):
According to industry sources speaking to E&P, daily circulation for reporting papers in the six-month FAS-FAX period ending September is down about 2.5% while Sunday is expected to fall 3.5%. Those types of declines -- in the 2% and 3% range -- have been occurring as far back as the March 2005 period.
The bad news keeps on coming for the New York Times. When will company chairman Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger announce he's a failure and his ideas should be reversed? Oh wait, I forgot, only Republican presidents are supposed to do that.
Sulzberger sure hasn't been doing well, though. Here's the latest:
Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest shareholder in New York Times Co., sold its entire 7.3 percent stake today, according to a person briefed on the transaction, sending the stock to its lowest in more than 10 years.
The person declined to be identified because Morgan Stanley hasn't made the sale public yet. Traders with knowledge of the transaction said Merrill Lynch & Co. brokered a $183 million block trade of 10 million New York Times shares this morning.
It's a tradition that goes back at least as far as the Vietnam War, when CBS edited and reshuffled the content of a TV interview with a US general to make it appear as if he believed that having wars from time to time was a necessary and good thing. CBS, operating in the days of Old Media's de facto monopoly, paid little if any price for its transgression. Someone on the order of a Bill Buckley or Cal Thomas objected, and that was about it.
That creative editing was occurring and considered a hallowed right of Old Media during its "good old days" is almost indisputable. As I recall it, several Nixon Administration advisers in the early 1970s whom the networks wished to interview agreed to do so, with but one proviso: The interviews would either be live, or air unedited. My recall is that CBS never followed through on any of these interviews. Readers are welcome to fill in any gaps in yours truly's memory.
The practice of "creative interviewing" continues. The latest to get caught doing it is New York Times "Questions For" writer Deborah Solomon.
At least this time, someone at the media outlet involved is openly questioning the technique. That would be Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt, who skewered Solomon's methodology in his Sunday column (HT Don Luskin; link requires free registration; bolds are mine throughout this post):
The Heritage Foundation's Robert Bluey reported in his Sunday Townhall column that there was disinterest at the hallowed "newspapers of record" in the government's news about the just-ended fiscal year's deficit (links to White House deficit announcement and to Business and Media Institute report are in the original):
The U.S. budget deficit fell to the lowest level in five years last week, but three of America’s leading newspapers -- the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times -- couldn’t find the space to mention the dramatic drop.
Journalists who have spent years trashing President Bush’s tax cuts appeared to suddenly lose interest when the budget picture brightened. That’s not surprising, however, considering that mainstream reporters frequently ignore upbeat economic news.
In the midst of a Wall Street Journal editorial today about proponents' misrepresentations relating to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) coverage, cost, and financing (characterized as "fiscal fraudulence"), the Journal took shots at blogs that have questioned the SCHIP eligibiliy of Graeme Frost, the 12-year-old boy the Democrats used to deliver a two-minute rebuttal to President Bush's veto of legislation that would vastly expand the program.
The Journal's criticisms of SCHIP expansion and the Democrats' overheated rhetoric after the veto are, on substance, very solid:
After President Bush vetoed Congress's major expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, Nancy Pelosi declared: "President Bush used his cruel veto pen to say, 'I forbid 10 million children from getting the health benefits they deserve.'" As far as political self-parody goes, that one ought to enter the record books.
It's wrong on the facts, for one, which Speaker Pelosi knows. ..... The Schip bill was not some all-or-nothing proposition: A continuing resolution fully funds the program through mid-November, so none of the 6.6 million recipients will lose coverage.
Here's another Old Media non-followup on yesterday's news: Failure to get a reaction from two Democratic presidential candidates who had harsh things to say a month ago when August's weak employment report was released.
That August report showed a loss of 4,000 jobs. The Old Media "recession worries" chorus was deafening. August's job-increase number was revised upward to a pickup of 89,000 as part of yesterday's report. As noted by Baker and Gainor, Old Media reaction to that revision was relatively muted. I also don't see that anyone in Old Media pointed out that the total new-jobs increase, including prior revisions, was a gain of 228,000 jobs (September's initial +110,000 pickup, August's +93,000 revision, and a +25,000 revision to July).
The two leading Democratic presidential candidates opportunistically jumped on that initial August report and its supposed implications in early September, reporter Edmund Andrews noted in a New York Times article:
It should come as a surprise to nobody that revenue is down again for the Tribune Company, owner of news properties such as the LA Times and Chicago Tribune. This time the bleeding stopped at 5.9 percent. Circulation was down 5.4 percent. Classifieds are down 18.2 percent. Retail advertising sales are down 6 percent.
But it's not their fault, of course. This time the blame is "due to difficult year-over-year comparisons." Though one must wonder if their circulation would continue to have dropped had they heeded my suggestion that newspapers "get rid of the bias, the America-hating columnists, the socialist editorials, and the reporters pushing a gay/lesbian/transgendered/illegal alien/pro-abortion/anti-God/anti-gun agenda?"
The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned.
..... The number of Web-only subscribers who pay $7.95 a month or $49.95 a year fell to just over 221,000 in June, down from more than 224,000 in April.
Not that it was a particularly insightful prediction, but yours truly wrote the following in November 2005 (first item at link), when the Times announced it had reached 135,000 online TimeSelect subscribers (current print subscribers get TimeSelect access free of charge):
Normally liberal media snobbery is irritating (and career-threatening if you're a young conservative journalist), but not when that snobbery is completely ineffectual to stop the thing which the whiney reporters hate. Schadenfreude is the word of the day after reading this Los Angeles Times piece about how "aghast" many reporters in the Wall Street Journal newsroom are at being employed by the son of Satan himself, Rupert Murdoch:
Reporters reacted bitterly to the prospect of Murdoch's gaining control of the Journal, which has long been regarded as a beacon of financial journalism.
They voiced concern that Murdoch would diminish the paper's quality, imbue it with some of the glitzy style of his crosstown New York Post and slant the Journal's news coverage to advance his business interests.
"People are aghast that this could have happened," said one reporter, who like others spoke on condition on anonymity. "It's a sickening realization to know that this really great iconic newspaper is [not only] no longer going to be independent, but is also going to be controlled by a man whose values are inimical to ours." [...]
Jennifer Hunter, the Chicago Sun-Times writer and wife of Sun-Times publisher John Cruickshank, who wrote the recent story skewered here on Newsbusters revealing a supposed "staunch Republican" from Philly who has suddenly decided to support the Democrats in 2008, has written a new piece today claiming she is being "harassed by a group of irate Republicans" because of her badly researched column. (The interviewee in her piece claimed to be a "staunch Republican" even as his cash donation records prove he almost exclusively supports Democrats) Her follow up, however, seems more like the kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar while blaming everyone around her as opposed to a satisfactory explanation of a failure to fully investigate her story.
Complaining... no, more like whining... that she has been flooded with "daily emails" calling her a liar and demanding that she be fired, Hunter-Cruickshank blames the headline writers instead of her own poor investigative work for the firestorm of criticism.
It amuses and gratifies a supporter of the Second Amendment to see the New York Times, the so-called "paper of record," so constantly reduced to sputtering fools over their constant loss in the battle for draconian gun control measures, and the July 17th editorial from the Times is yet another example of how they just don't understand why the average American would pressure their Congressional representatives to support the U.S. Constitution and its 2nd Amendment.
The Times is famous for claiming to be the intelligent side of the debate on any particular issue. They claim to represent the sane or "real" American argument on the issues of the day and it is generally assumed by their supporters that they only use the highest professional standards in language and the tools of persuasion. They call themselves the "paper of record" and congratulate themselves on their status as the grown-ups of political discourse. But, they come apart at the seams whenever the 2nd Amendment is brought up, that supposed high level of discourse lowered to the sputtering, gibberish of any common extremist, the logic drained out of their efforts.
Last week, the New York Times ran an article feeling sorry for an illegal immigrant turned immigrant's "rights" activist who was discovered by a random immigration check on an Amtrak train and subsequently slated to be deported back to Chile, his homeland. The Times tried to massage readers into feeling bad for the man because he had been here since 1984 when he illegally crossed the Mexico/US border -- apparently the Times imagines that time bestows legality as opposed to obeying laws serving that purpose.
An axiom has resonated throughout the country that the NYT doesn't seem to grasp; "What part of illegal don't you understand?"
Peter Bronson of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote a Sunday column (HT The Daily Bellwether) that was a withering attack on the blandness, lack of local coverage, and political correctness of chain news.
Bronson, at least for the moment, works at The Enquirer, which is owned by mega-chain operator Gannett Co., Inc. Gannett publishes 85 local newspapers and USA Today.
Here's Bronson on blandness:
I wonder if a steady diet of junk-food news causes high blood pressure, indigestion and poor circulation.
Bronson on local non-coverage:
Wherever the population density can support more than one freeway exit, the chains move in and sterilize any hint of local flavor. ..... Being dropped in the middle of a chain newspaper can be like being taken to a Waffle House blindfolded, then trying to figure out if you're in Iowa or Idaho.
But the Enquirer columnist gets in his best licks criticizing newsroom political correctness, serving up three examples of what surely has driven many NewsBusters readers to distraction over their own local papers:
On today's "Your World with Neil Cavuto," the host devoted a portion of his mailbag segment to viewers from across the fruited plain telling Cavuto of their local media outlets had ignored or downplayed yesterday's stock market closing. Cavuto noted that in contrast, a large market correction in February was blared on the front pages of the nation's largest broadsheets.
Before I tell you how the Dallas Morning News is breathlessly reporting that Nobel laureate Betty Williams called for the death of President Bush at the "International Women's Peace Conference" in Dallas on the 11th, I must remind you all that peace activists on the left are far more "civilized", "Humane", "tolerant", and "intelligent" than the rest of us. OK? I just wanted to get that straight before further relating this story.
James Hohmann of the News reports that Williams, who is Irish and not a US citizen by the way, "came all the way from Ireland to Texas to declare that President Bush should be impeached."
Yesterday's testimony by a disaffected former Bush official gave the
mainstream media the opportunity to resurrect a favored meme: President
Bush hates science.
Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona
yesterday testified before a House committee on White House meddling in
Carmona's speeches. Of course, Drs. C. Everett Koop and David Satcher
also complained of political meddling from the Reagan and Clinton
administrations respectively, but this fact was buried deep in the print accounts I've read.
But rather than exploring the complaints of political interference as a "systemic problem"-- Carmona's words -- that transcend party line and administration, news coverage in the mainstream media has
sought to single out the Bush administration as anti-science.
Of late, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been arguing that the mainstream media persistently exercise the "management" of the news. That is to say, aside from slanted and biased reporting on the news of the day, they frame news developments in a way that manage events to fit a preconceived meme or storyline.
The media's coverage of Army recruiting numbers is no exception.
Bear in mind these facts included in some of the stories I cite below but usually well after the lede:
The Army is nonetheless ahead of its year-to-date recruiting goal
July, August, and September are traditionally the best months for recruiting
Many potential enlistees are turned away from being overweight or lacking a high school diploma
Some experts, such as former Defense undersecretary Edwin Dorn, marvel that "the big surprise is that Army recruiting has remained as healthy as it has been" given the Iraq war's falling support in the polls.
Nope, instead the lede is two straight months of numbers that aren't up to par and immediately Iraq is blamed.
Voila! A "trend" story waiting to happen for a media bent on managing the news.
The AP, taking their cue from the new because-she-said-so story offered by the L.A.Times, has run with a short clip on a story that claims Fred Thompson was working as a lobbyist for an abortion agency in 1991, giving the hearsay evidence against him but not offering the meat of his against the claim. The result is that the AP offers more "evidence" against Thompson than it does for him making it too easy to conclude he is "guilty" of the charge of lobbying for an abortion advocacy organization.
The AP did a wonderful job making this story seem more cut and dried than it really is, of course, but the fact is, this claim of Thompson's supposed lobbying for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association is nothing but an unproven (and maybe unprovable) claim against Thompson made by people who are well-known, far left activists and heavy contributors to the Hillary Clinton for President campaign. Naturally, neither the AP nor the L.A.Times wastes any time to detail the history of those making these claims against Thompson, leaving their relevant backgrounds completely out of the story.
Gee... why do you think they'd forget to let readers know that this story is based solely of the good word of Hillary supporters?
Today's release of the Institute for Supply Management's Non-Manufacturing Activity Report, which measures business conditions in the 86% of the economy other than manufacturing, came in with a reading of 60.7, after recording a 59.7 last month.
This was the 51st consecutive reported month of expansion for the Non-Manufacturing Index (any reading above 50 indicates expansion). It comes on the heels of Monday's ISM Manufacturing Report, which came in at 56, marking the 47th month of expansion in that index in the past 49 months.
So 14% of the economy is expanding nicely, while the other 86% can fairly be said to be nearly booming. Who knew?
(The rest of the post has the detail, including an era-by-era chart.)
The following was submitted by Jason Aslinger, a private practice attorney in Greenville, Ohio. Portions in bold below are the added emphasized of NB managing editor Ken Shepherd. It's a long post but it's worth the read:
In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision regarding racial
integration in public schools, the media have gone out of their way to
obscure the facts for the purpose of advancing its familiar political
agenda, not to mention skipped over giving readers a glimpse of the concurring opinions of Justices Thomas and Kennedy, both of which shed light on the case's significance to the average American.
In a prior NewsBusters post, I called out MSNBC's Keith
Olbermann for his false and race-baiting claim that the Supreme Court
had “overturned” the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education.
The subsequent commentary by the media has at least been more clever,
but no less false. Undoubtedly, the press and “expert commentators”
have calculated that the general public would not check their factual
(and political) conclusions by reading the Court’s 185-page opinion.
Without knowing the specific facts, the media distortions can not be
fully appreciated. Below we'll take a look at the facts of the case as well as the reasoning from the justices, reasoning that all too often is glossed over if not outright ignored in the media.
Those following the histrionics of "The Food Stamp Challenge" (previous NewsBusters posts here, here, and here; previous BizzyBlog posts here, here, and here) know that:
Most of those engaging in it claim that the average Food Stamp recipient "only has $21 per person per week to buy food."
The fact is that the program's monthly benefits (often referred to "Allotments"; scroll to the bottom for the monthly benefit table), when converted to weekly, range from $26.81 - $35.67 per person per week, depending on family size:
One doesn't have to look very far to see opinionated assertions in the supposedly objective Old Media coverage of yesterday's immigration-bill failure in the Senate.
Here's part of what an unbylined AP report said almost immediately after it was clear that the bill would not get the 60 votes needed for cloture: "The carefully crafted compromise was left for dead after a similar vote three weeks ago but was revived by Bush and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who gave opponents more chances to change it."
To say that there is disagreement over whether the bill was "carefully crafted" is quite an understatement.
A report in the Seattle Times "compiled from The Washington Post, Gannett News Service, The Associated Press and McClatchy Newspapers" made this claim about yesterday's vote: "In a mark of lawmakers' ambivalence, however, the outcome was substantially different from a test vote Tuesday, when a 64-35 vote revived the bill."
Was it lawmaker "ambivalence," or constituent persuasiveness? And how do they know?
But the biggest error, as often is the case, was one of omission. Senator Ted Kennedy from Massachusetts lit into opponents on the Senate floor yesterday with this over-the-top riff (video is at Hot Air; bold is mine):