It would seem that Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press had his copy prepared in advance for today's jobs report.
The consensus was that today's report from Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics would show that 200,000 seasonally adjusted jobs were added in March. So it was a virtual lock that today's result would mean that the past four months were the best for net hiring in the past two years. Accordingly, after the report's release, Wiseman, despite the disappointing news that March's number was only 120,000, apparently just plugged in the four-month total and ran with it:
You're going to have a hard time convincing me that Associated Press CEO Dean Singleton's lavish praise of President Barack Obama noted earlier this week by Matt Sheffield at NewsBusters hasn't trickled down to the beat reporters and affected their day-to-day coverage.
Take this opening sentence from the AP's Christopher Rugaber written shortly after the Department of Labor released its weekly unemployment claims report: "The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell to a four-year low last week, suggesting employers kept hiring in March at a healthy pace." Really, Chris? Exactly how does less firing translate to more hiring? It doesn't (historical correlation, to the extent that it's there, doesn't signify causation). There are any number of firms which are not letting people go but which are also not hiring. Several other paragraphs from Rugaber's report follow:
The Department of (I don't know what kind of) Justice has decided to drop its case again prolife sidewalk counselor Mary Susan Pine and pay her $120,000 in legal fees. DOJ had no case in the first place.
Although it doesn't get a lot of attention in the blogosphere, the Associated Press is, quite arguably, the most important news outlet in the world with its content appearing in tens of thousands of newspapers and websites around the world. Judging from a gushing speech by AP president Dean Singleton, the wire service is making no bones about being firmly in the camp of President Obama.
Dean was obsequious in his praise for Obama, telling an audience for the AP's annual luncheon that the president had "pushed through Congress the biggest economic recovery plan in history and led a government reorganization of two of the Big Three American auto manufacturers to save them from oblivion."
An Associated Press report a week ago by Pallovi Gogoi on how economists would like to see taxes increased to close the government's annual budget deficit (I guess because tax increases have done so well at closing deficits before - /sarc) has a truly curious sentence about the Keystone Pipeline: "The project drew opposition from environmentalists, while supporters say it will create over 1,000 jobs." That's right -- 1,000.
Actually, as almost everyone at NewsBusters knows already, the number is much larger than 1,000. A recent item at About.com by Tom Murse identifies all of the major estimates offered thus far:
On Tuesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how the Associated Press's headlined assessments at Anne D'Innocenzio's reports throughout the day on the Conference Board's monthly consumer confidence survey went from "falls" to "dips slightly" to "roughly flat" before ending up at "rosy" -- an evaluation the AP reporter also included in the verbiage of her final dispatch. For the record, the confidence measurement fell to 70.2 in March from 71.6 in February. Bloomberg's final report for the day also obfuscated, with a headline of "Consumer Confidence in U.S. Holds Close to One-Year High" and an opening sentence which read: "Confidence among U.S. consumers in March held close to the highest level in a year, underpinned by an improving labor market" -- anything to keep any indication of drop out of what most people would see. Along the same lines, Rush Limbaugh also picked on Reuters Tuesday for saying that confidence only "eased."
The University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Survey came out today. The press release's opening sentence: "Consumer confidence edged upward as more favorable income and job trends offset rising gas prices." Its value (with a different scale) went from 75.3 to 76.2. That's also "roughly" flat, isn't it? Don't be silly. All three wires said that an increase smaller than Tuesday's Conference Board decrease was an unqualified "rise."
From what I can tell, no one in the establishment press yesterday attempted to quantify the total employment impact of yesterday's announcement by Best Buy that it will reduce its headquarters headcount by 400 and close 50 stores. One thing is certain: It's not just 400, as the headlines and verbiage in certain media reports might lead readers to believe -- and it's not excusable to say that the company itself didn't name a specific number of employees affected by the store closures.
An estimate of how many jobs will really be lost is after the jump, followed by a few misleading media examples. Note that the media review is based on reports from Thursday; today, we began learning which stores will be closing. They include five in the Twin Cities area where the company is headquartered.
Earlier this year, a reporter informed me of what is apparently a common belief in the business press, namely that "the Labor Department considers the (seasonally adjusted, or SA) numbers to be much more reflective of what’s actually going on in the economy" than the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted, or NSA) economic data. That's interesting, given that you can't even do seasonal adjustments without the raw data, but I digress. That expressed and almost blind belief in SA numbers explains why virtually no one in the press bothers to look at, let alone report, the NSA numbers.
But given this "seasoned" faith, why didn't the business press tell readers that today's revisions to SA figures for initial unemployment claims going back to 2007 released today by the Department of Labor increased the originally reported amounts for the past four weeks by an average of almost 4%? That's indeed what happened, and it hardly seems minor. Instead, Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press all celebrated today's number (359,000) as the lowest in four years -- which it will no longer be if it gets revised upward next week by 2,000 or more next week (the average seen during the past year has been a bit below 4,000). The specific changes are after the jump, followed by a rundown of the three wire services' coverage.
Every Congressman who voted on President Obama's budget on Wednesday voted against it -- every Democrat and every Republican.
The headline writer for Andrew Taylor's related story at the Associated Press nonetheless felt it necessary to remind readers that Republicans have a majority in the House of Representatives, and only told readers that Dear Leader's budget was "easily" rejected. The report itself by Taylor was just as bad, if not worse (shown in full because of its brevity, and for fair use and discussion purposes).
I had to make sure that the Conference Board, which issues one of the most closely watched consumer confidence reports each month, didn't issue some kind of update during the day after telling us in the morning that its reading for March came in at 70.2, down from 71.6 in February.
Nothing changed. But oh how the Associated Press's headlines about the Board's reported results changed in successive dispatches authored by the wire service's Anne D'Innocenzio, as seen after the jump from Google News listings:
Leave it to the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Propagandists, to cover for Barack Obama's Uncle Omar, formally known as Onyango Obama. Today, Uncle Omar was given a slap on the wrists so light it's hard to imagine he even felt it.
Today's AP cleanup in Massachusetts arrives via Denise Lavoie, whose principal contribution to the spin is to tell readers that Uncle Omar is "appealing a deportation order," when in fact he ignored an order for 19 years until his arrest for "operating under the influence" in August of last year. Excerpts, including the "say as little as possible" headline, follow:
Apparently most reporters at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Propagandists, lost the memo that Reuters got ("Obama Campaign: Obamacare Not a Bad Word After All"). Either that, or they haven't been paying attention their Obama For America emails.
OFA and President Obama himself both say it's now okay to call the fraudulently named Affordable Care Act which became law in March 2010 "ObamaCare"; the only matter in dispute is whether one should capitalize the "c." Jeff Mason at Reuters, which was already a bit late with its own report, tried to explain it all Monday evening, but "somehow" forgot what may be the most obvious motivation, namely that the "affordable" part of the original bill's title has been proven to be anything but:
That the Associated Press gives stories about corrupt and scandalous politicians disparate treatment depending on their party affiliation is not exactly breaking news. But it's ordinarily difficult to point to situations involving fairly similar sets of facts occurring at roughly the same time which make the disparity between the wire service's treatment of Republicans and Democrats so obvious.
A largely analogous pair of stories out of Pennsylvania during the past two weeks involves Republican State Senator Jane Orie and former Democratic State Senate leader Robert Mellow. If anything, Mellow's guilty plea to "conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to filing a false income tax return" should be more worthy of national-story treatment by AP because of his former leadership position. But in fact, it appears that the opposite has happened. The story about Orie's conviction is on the national wire, complete with "GOP" in the headline. Mellow's guilty plea is a local story which I did not find at the AP's national site in a search on his name, with no Dem ID in the headline (both have their parties ID'd early in their related stories). Here are the first four paragraphs from Monday night's national story on Orie by Joe Mandak and Kevin Begos:
Failure to heed Rush Limbaugh's Thursday warning relating to another matter ("If I were you, I would regard every AP story, particularly this year, as nothing more than a propaganda piece for the reelection of Barack Obama") is allowing the Associated Press to perpetuate what I demonstrated on Friday is a totally unsupported falsehood concerning a statement made by presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
What Santorum said was a clearly conditional statement (full context and here): "If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future." Here is what the AP's headline writers and the wire service's Will Weissert twisted things on Friday (saved here at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes):
An item filed at the Hill on Friday afternoon by Peter Schroeder tells us that Bloomberg News was the first organization to report the latest development relating to former New Jersey Democratic Governor and Senator Jon Corzine. Bloomberg's report, via Phil Mattingly and Silla Brush, reveals that Corzine, who was CEO at the now-bankrupt MF Global Holdings until November, "gave 'direct instructions' to transfer $200 million from a customer fund account to meet an overdraft in a brokerage account with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), according to a memo written by congressional investigators." That would be an MF brokerage account, meaning that customer money was used to cover company losses. If the memo reflects what really happened, Corzine committed a crime -- either by committing perjury in his congressional testimony several months, in ordering the transfer itself, or both.
Bloomberg's report identifies Corzine as a Democrat in its fourteenth paragraph. But at least Bloomberg did so. That did not occur in reports at the Associated Press, United Press International, MarketWatch.com, CNBC. The Hill's Schroeder did tag Corzine as a Dem. Here are several paragraphs from Bloomberg's report (bolds are mine):
Rising gasoline prices are NOT President Obama's fault. Or so you want us to believe. However, could you be just a little less blatant in pitching that line? As it is, your lack of subtlety in hammering home that message is embarrassing to read such as your latest example in which you mention that some people blame Obama along with a lot of other reasons but the only people you actually cite in the article on the subject of presidential responsibility are those who find him faultless in the price rise:
Rush Limbaugh was right yesterday when he suggested that "If I were you, I would regard every AP (Associated Press) story, particularly this year, as nothing more than a propaganda piece for the reelection of Barack Obama." Rush fan Matt Drudge, who currently has a deliberately misleading AP report linked at the top of his Drudge Report, would do well to heed Rush's suggestion.
The AP story by Will Weissert concerns what GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum said yesterday about Mitt Romney. What Santorum actually said was that “If they’re going to be a little different (Romney compared to President Barack Obama), we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future.” Notice that the statement is conditional, and that if Romney can demonstrate that he is more than "a little different," Santorum's concern is no longer valid. That's not what Weissert's headline or copy portray (HT to a NewsBusters emailer; bold is mine):
Here's some good advice from Rush Limbaugh's opening monologue today: "If I were you, I would regard every AP story, particularly this year, as nothing more than a propaganda piece for the reelection of Barack Obama."
What occasioned Rush's rant is the thinly disguised propaganda today from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, concerning President Obama's visit to Cushing, Oklahoma to pretend that he's really a fan of the Keystone Pipeline, starting with the following headline:
Historically, Republicans have been reluctant to put forward proposals to reform and reduce the size of government for fear of being denounced by the liberal press. Hours after U.S. Representative Paul Ryan unveiled a new Republican budget proposal, the Associated Press right on cue printed a story that savaged the plan for “cut[ing] spending much more deeply” on popular programs and relied on information favoring Democrats and anonymous “tax experts” to support its claims.
“Mixing deep cuts to safety-net programs for the poor with politically risky cost curbs for Medicare, Republicans controlling the House unveiled an election-year budget blueprint Tuesday that paints clear campaign differences with President Barack Obama,” the news article by Andrew Taylor stated in its first paragraph.
You've got to admire the determination of Derek Kravitz at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, to find lemonade among the lemons known as the monthly new-home construction statistics from the Census Bureau. Why, he was even able to find a guy who said that "housing permits-not the starts" are more relevant in gauging the health of the market. Did it ever occur to these guys that builders might be piling up permits in the hope that economic conditions will change for the better for real once it's clear that the country will have new leadership (which could conceivably happen even before the November general elections)?
Here are the first seven paragraphs from Kravitz's report, followed by a fuller rundown of the relevant stats (bolds are mine):
If Scott Walker somehow loses his recall election in Wisconsin, will that be national news? Of course it will.
Well, if the Walker recall really is a national story, why isn't it news that 29 judges who are supposed to be impartial in their rulings and who are under strict prohibitions against political activity were found by Gannett News to have signed petitions supporting Walker's recall -- including at least one who has ruled in a recall-related matter without bothering to disclose his action? Make such a story about Republican judges signing petitions to recall a Democratic governor, and it would be national news for sure. Here are several paragraphs from Eric Litke's report:
In what may be the most obvious over-employment of journalistic resources since the Associated Press assigned 11 reporters to review Sarah Palin's book in late 2009, seven journalists with the AP (yep, again) worked up a Friday afternoon item (saved here for future reference, fair use, discussion and embarrassment purposes) entitled "6 months later, what has Occupy protest achieved?"
Primary writer Meghan Barr, along with "Jeff Martin in Atlanta, Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia, Michael Gormley in Albany, N.Y., Erika Niedowski and David Klepper in Providence, R.I., and News Researcher Julie Reed in New York," recited an embarrassing, paper-thin list of accomplishments. They also completely avoided what most of the nation likely sees as the movement's primary achievement, despite the press's attempts to minimize and cover it up: showing us what the world might very well look like if the movement's leaders and primary instigators ever got their way -- ugly, dangerous, and filthy. Here is the complete list of key accomplishments the seven AP personnel cited (my comments in italics):
On Friday, Darren Samuelsohn at the Politico (HT Hot Air), the place where it seems that inconvenient stories go so the Associated Press, the New York Times and the rest of the establishment press can claim they have an excuse not to cover them (respective proofs as of about 3:30 p.m. in the current instance are here and here), covering -- or I should say attempting to cover -- the latest of the White House's ritual Friday document dumps, reported that a White House communications official rejected an apparent proposal to seat Solyndra executives at the President's January 2011 State of the Union address, and that others within the White House already knew that Solyndra was in deep trouble before then.
And he almost got to the real meat of the story, but not quite. In this instance, not quite isn't anywhere near good enough (bolds are mine throughout this post), nor is the "nothing new here, you really don't need to read this" headline:
Maybe it's due to budget cutbacks at major establishment news sources, but I doubt it. Maybe it's because they believe nobody cares about news out of the Middle East. No, that can't be it. Or maybe it's because they think that people already know and understand the Muslim mindset. Well, after several decades of press attempts to keep it from us, that doesn't make any sense either.
Whatever the reason(s), which I'll get to, a certain piece of what one would think is pretty significant news out of the Middle East has gone unreported for the past five days going on six. What follows are three translations of related articles through Google's translation tool (which eliminates the budget excuse of "We need interpreters to translate these things from scratch, and don't have the money"):
From David Axelrod's Magic Land of the Double Standard: "Cleanup attempt at CNN. Bring the hazmat suits."
Tonight on CNN, as reported by several outlets (Mediaite, Politico, LA Times, but not the Associated Press, which as of 11:45 p.m. on Thursday hadn't done a national story about Maher in 10 days), David Axelrod told Erin Burnett, in the process of dodging a question about whether an Obama Super-PAC would give back Bill Maher's $1 million contribution, said that Maher's outrageous, misogynist comments against mostly conservative women really aren't as important as Rush Limbaugh's one-time, apologized-for hits at Sandra Fluke:
The exercise of watching the press report on the current week's unemployment claims figure as if it's etched in stone and assessing it as if it's the last word -- only to see the figure get upwardly revised the next week virtually without media comment -- is getting extraordinarily tedious and predictable (but of course watching what they do remains necessary).
At the Associated Press, Bloomberg, and Reuters, this week's version of the shell game has a relatively unique twist. The three wire services respectively and all without qualification say that today's seasonally adjusted figure of 351,000 from the Department of Labor "matches a four-year low," "the lowest level in four years," and "back to a four-year low." As seen in the graphic which follows, based on the history of the past year, there's a 98% chance they will be wrong after subsequent revisions, almost all of which have occurred during the very next reported week:
On February 28, as reported at the Politico, Obama administration Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a House panel the following in response to a question he interrupted about his interest in having an "overall goal" of lowering gas prices: “No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy.” Yesterday, also as carried at the Politico, Chu effectively retracted that statement, as well as his more infamous September 2008 assertion that he would like to see gas prices in the U.S. resemble those seen in Europe.
A search on Chu's full name (not in quotes) at the Associated Press's main national site and through Google at its hosted2.ap.org site returns nothing relevant to either story. It would not be unreasonable to assert that the Politico, with little or nothing in the way of direct subscriber or member outreach, it the place where many negative stories about the Obama administration get posted -- and go no further.
The New York Times told us about three weeks ago that "there's little President Obama" can do about the current pump price of gas. Since then, it has become a well-established media meme. Poor guy.
Well, not really. Four years ago, another U.S. president did something which caused the barrel price of oil to drop by over $6, and the press spent the rest of the day trying to pretend that the drop had nothing to do with his actions -- and almost succeeded. What follows is from my related NewsBusters post on July 15, 2008 ("Oil Drops Over $6 a Barrel; I Wonder Why?"):
Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, also known to yours truly as the Administration's Press, failed to tell his readers that the federal government's $232 billion reported deficit in February was an all-time single-month record. I also went back and showed that another AP reporter in March 2008 did note that February 2008's deficit was at the time an all-time record. If there's a reason for the patently obvious inconsistency other than who happens to be occupying the White House at the moment, I'd sure like to know what it is.
Rugaber's report had other risible aspects which I have excerpted below in three separate segments: