Some readers here may have a tough time discerning why the economy's mediocre to stagnant performance isn't fully registering with the general public, which feels that things aren't going too well but still doesn't how weak the situation really is. The obvious answer is that the press overemphasizes any good news which appears and downplays marginal or bad news — while occasionally, as seen last night in Bloomberg's coverage of yesterday's largely miserable homebuilding statistics, pretending that bad news really was good.
Perfect examples of this problem came in two CNNMoney.com emails I received this afternoon. The emails has news which could be considered news, while leaving out some clearly bad news which delegitimizes their email's optimism:
At roughly 8 a.m. Eastern Time Tuesday morning, the wire service AFP (Agence France-Presse) had a story entitled "Fighting nears Baghdad as UN warns crisis 'life-threatening.'" AFP reported that "Militants pushed a weeklong offensive that has overrun swathes of Iraq to within 60 kilometres (37 miles) of Baghdad Tuesday." A Skynet video found at Gateway Pundit tells us that "ISIS Terrorists Surround Baghdad From Three Sides."
Meanwhile, as of 12:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday only one of the three Iraq-related stores (here, here and here) at the Associated Press refers — and even then only in a very late paragraph — to how ISIS (or ISIL, using AP's preferred acronym) "overran Mosul then stormed toward Baghdad."
There must have been a double delivery of Obama administration koolaid over at Bloomberg News this morning.
The business wire service, which ordinarily is slightly less imbalanced in its business and economics reporting than the Associated Press, somehow interpreted a 6.5 percent seasonally adjusted decline in housing starts during May and a nearly identical percentage drop in building permits — with both figures lower than May 2013 — as evidence that "the homebuilding industry stabilized after a first-quarter swoon." That's ridiculous. The first quarter was supposedly as bad as it was because of bad winter weather; so there should have been an overcompensating bounceback. It hasn't happened. Meanwhile, that second Bloomberg koolaid delivery must have been the one meant for AP, whose Josh Boak turned in a report noteworthy for its unusual sobriety (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Though he has dispatched 275 military advisors to that country, his virtual ultimatum to that Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — no angel by any stretch, but still a better alternative to a civil war or an ISIS-run terrorist state — that he must negotiate with all parties involve before the U.S. will even think about making a meaningful military commitment seems destined to allow matters to deteriorate further, perhaps to the point of no return. Despite all of this, Donna Cassata and Bradley Klapper at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, implied in a Tuesday afternoon dispatch that anyone who doesn't support plan-free military action now is some kind of hypocrite — except for Democrats who say that their support of going to war in 2002 was a mistake. The AP pair also falsely asserted that weapons of mass destruction "were never found" in Iraq.
You've got to hand it to Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press. His Thursday writeup on May's disappointing retail sales result — a 0.3 percent increase compared to expectations of 0.4 percent to 0.6 percent — was infused with optimism. It's "unlikely to derail overall economic growth." There's been a "revival in consumer spending." We'll see "boosting incomes and supporting stronger consumer spending" as a result of more hiring."
But along the way, Crutsinger quietly downgraded his estimate of second-quarter and full-year economic growth. Just a few weeks ago, AP reports were predicting that the second quarter might come in at an annualized 4 percent, and that 2014 on the whole would surely come in at 3 percent or greater, even after the first quarter's annualized 1.0 percent contraction. Let's see how Crutsinger stealthily reported a far lower estimate after the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
On Tuesday, the Associated Press carried a regional story about the status of North Dakota's planting season. Readers will be pleased to know that 93 percent, 78 percent, and 92 percent of the state's wheat, potato and corn crops have been planted.
Of course, farm news is important in the Roughrider State. But so is the latest information on its stratospheric economic growth, as well as looking at last year's growth in the nation's other 49 states and DC as reported by the government's Bureau of Economic Analysis yesterday. But I could not locate a national AP story on state-by-state gross domestic product growth, and there have been almost no national-scope stories anywhere else. Perhaps that's because the country's top performers are predominantly deep-red states, while its significant laggards, at least based on who they supported for president in 2008 and 2012, are mostly blue.
The AP, like most establishment press outlets, has virtually if not completely ignored an inconvenient and alarming Obamacare-related statement in a footnote found in a recent Congressional Budget Office report. Paul M. Krawzak at Roll Call, who reported on it last week, seems to have been the first one to discover it. In Krawzak's words, the CBO "said it is no longer possible to assess the overall fiscal impact of the law." This didn't stop Crutsinger from relaying a claim about projected Obamacare cost savings which the CBO's surrender has rendered irrelevant. There's a good chance that he ignorantly did so because his colleagues haven't covered CBO's white-flag statement (if they have and he went ahead anyway, that's an even bigger problem).
At the Associated Press yesterday, Christopher Rugaber's writeup on the latest economic growth projections of the National Association of Business Economists (NABE) contained several glaring weaknesses.
Take the headline (quite possibly not his doing) and his opening sentence. The headline, "SURVEY: GROWTH TO PICK UP, HIRING STEADY," seems designed to ensure that those who only look at headlines in print or on their online devices will remain blissfully ignorant about the economy's first-quarter contraction. The fact is that following a quarter of shrinkage, economic growth first has to "return" or "resume" before it can "pick up."
Have you noticed that whenever the mainstream media reports stories about rising sea levels in South Florida that one crucial item is always missing? Hard data. All the stories tell us how much the sea will rise in the future but pointedly ignore how much the sea level has risen in the past. Why? Could it be because there is absolutely NO DATA that indicates any sea level rise to be alarmed about? Despite this lack of data, all these stories assure us that somehow the sea level will rise to such an extent that most of eastern Palm Beach County will be underwater by the middle of this century. The latest such fable was conjured up by Michael J. Mishak of the Associated Press. So, boys and girls, check out his story and if you can guess what's missing, you win a kewpie doll:
In the midst of the VA scandal and the Bergdahl saga, two unfavorable Wednesday stories about Obamacare are garnering relatively little attention.
One appeared at the Associated Press ("NOW APPLICATION 'INCONSISTENCIES' VEX HEALTH LAW"), and reprised something the Washington Post brought out 2-1/2 weeks ago (covered here at NewsBusters) about how "at least 2 million" Obamacare enrollment applications have "data discrepancies" holding up their full processing. The other far more troubling story appeared at Roll Call. It dealt with a separate mountain of unprocessed paperwork in Medicaid. In her reporting, the DC publication's Rebecca Adams revealed how twisted and potentially dangerous the Obamacare-related political motivations are on the left, where pretending that everything is fine is clearly more important than acknowledging and quickly fixing serious – perhaps even deadly serious — problems (bolds are mine):
Five years ago, I publicly raised questions about Bowe Bergdahl's desertion from Blackfoot Company, 1-501 Infantry (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.
A few weeks after his so-called "capture" in late June 2009, three conflicting accounts surfaced: U.S. officials told the Associated Press Bergdahl had "walked off" the base with three Afghans; the Taliban claimed on its website that "a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison" and into their arms; and Bergdahl claimed in his Taliban "hostage video" that he had "lagged behind a patrol" before being captured. I asked on my blog: Were the AP's sources mistaken? Or is the disturbing first account the right one? What about the "three Afghans" Pfc. Bergdahl reportedly "just walked off" with after his shift? Who are they? What's going on?
Establishment press outfits have an annoying and in my view fundamentally deceptive tendency to make the content of news reports disappear once they have been "updated" with new information. The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is one of this technique's most egregious practitioners.
There's really no good reason for this practice. Storage is cheap. But far more important, so is leaving tracks for the sake of the historical record. In the past 48 hours, AP has virtually deep-sixed a particularly damning incident involving Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as he crowed in front of U.S. troops about Bowe Bergdahl's release.
Candidate Alan Webber, the Democrat with the largest campaign treasury, told supporters "So I’m asking you for your help, we need to make Susana Martinez a one-term governor. We need to send her back to wherever she really came from," he said. "I suspect it’s Texas. And that would be good for Texas and that would be good for New Mexico." Surprise, the networks have never heard of this, although everyone knows instantly how this would be greeted if Webber were a Tea Party Republican and Martinez was a Democrat. (video below)
After investing so much emotional energy in the idea that the weather-impaired contracting U.S. economy of the first quarter is going to give way to a super-duper awesome second quarter and strong rest of the year, it was foolish to think that Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, would backtrack after just one contradictory report on consumer spending, which "unexpectedly" fell 0.1 percent in April, confounding expectations of a 0.2 percent pickup.
And of course he didn't. What's remarkable is that Crutsinger's Friday report seemed to get even more aggressive with his second-quarter prediction, citing "some analysts" who believe that it will come in at an annualized 4 percent — quite the reversal from the first quarter's 1.0 percent annualized contraction. Meanwhile, the AP reporter missed a less buoyant report from his colleague Christopher Rugaber which punctured a bit of Crutsinger's premise. Excerpts from both items follow the jump.
Julie Pace at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is used to carrying water for the Obama administration. Last year, she proudly reveled in how she and her wire service sat on information it had about secret U.S.-Iran negotiations for eight months. My immediate take was that "They didn't report it until the Obama administration said it would be okay to report it." The AP denied it; unfortunately for the self-described "essential global news network," another news organization confirmed that it and AP "both had versions of it independently early & were asked to not publish til end of Iran talks." There's not a chance in Hades that the AP would have similarly accommodated a Republican or conservative administration.
After that heavy lifting, Pace surely found that giving readers the impression in a Friday report about President Barack Obama's sacking of Eric Shinseki that the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs have more to do with its growing caseload than with incompetence and potential criminality was relatively easy.
Imagine the press letting a Republican or conservative get away with trying to avoid uncondtionally calling something as infuriating and outrageous as the Veterans Administration waiting list scandal a real scandal.
Following President Barack Obama's speech today at West Point, the UK Daily Mailreported "tepid applause and a short standing ovation from less than one-quarter of the audience upon his introduction." In a CNN video clip found at Mediaite, Jim Clancy noted that Obama did not sound like a “commander-in-chief speaking to his troops.” He further observed: “You heard the reception; it was icy."
On Wednesday, the Washington Post ran a news brief on page A3 about disgraced former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, but the paper conveniently forgot to mention that Nagin is a Democrat. The blurb began, “A federal judge says that former New Orleans mayor C. Ray Nagin will have to pay the government more than $501,000 as a result of his conviction on bribery and other charges.”
The brief went on to mention Nagin’s 20-count conviction in February that included bribery, fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy. However, the former mayor’s party ID was nowhere to be found.
Ultraliberal New York mayor Bill de Blasio has been about as transparent as Barack Obama. Jonathan Lemire at AP reported “In nearly five months in office, de Blasio barred the media from 53 events and limited access to 30 more, an Associated Press analysis of de Blasio's schedule shows.” Why do liberals distrust a liberal media?
AP labeled the mayor “a populist Democrat who campaigned with promises of an open administration.” He claimed Tuesday he "believes deeply in transparency,” even as he’s barred the press from his meetings with luminaries like Al Sharpton, Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, and the Russian band Pussy Riot.
The Associated Press's Charles Babington went so far over the top in his Monday morning dispatch on Republicans, the Obama administration's scandals, and the fall electoral landscape that it's hard to know where to begin.
The fingerprints of Obama administration operatives appear to be all over Babington's report, both in what's included and what's left out. Most notoriously, there is no mention whatsoever of the Veterans Administration scandal. Ah, but there's a specific reference to Democrats who complain that the Benghazi and IRS scandals have been "fading from national headlines" except at the specifically named Fox News. Excerpts from Babington's babbling follow the jump (bolds are mine):
With about 4-1/2 months remaining before early voting begins in the the 2014 elections, three sets of Obamacare-related campaigns are in full gear. The first is seen in electoral contests around the country. The second is a campaign of disinformation and no information being conducted by the Obama administration and its Department of Health and Human Services. The third is a concerted establishment press effort to give cover to Democratic Party candidates no matter what position they take on Obamacare, and to minimize the exposure the administration's deliberate acts of non-transparency receive.
All three campaigns came together in a Monday morning Associated Press report by Bill Barrow and Josh "Lapdog" Lederman. The two reporters avoided any mention of the fact that the administration has decided to "halt" monthly Obamacare enrollment reporting, while giving cover to Democratic Senate candidates around the country who haven't yet figured out how much distance to put between themselves, Obamacare, and President Barack Obama himself (bolds are mine throughout this post):
At the Associated Press on Thursday, reporter Alan Fram covered the Senate's confirmation of David Barron without using the words "filibuster" or "waterboarding."
Given that he was confirmed on a 53-45 vote, it is highly unlikely that Barron's nomination would have survived had Senate majority leader Harry Reid not imposed the "nuclear option" last year to prevent senators from stopping a contentious nomination by requiring 60 senators to approve the idea of even having a confirmation vote. As for waterboarding, Barron's nomination became controversial because he is, as Fram noted, the "architect of the Obama administration's legal foundation for killing American terror suspects overseas with drones." 53 Democratic senators are apparently okay with that, even though many if not most of them have gone apoplectic over the idea of waterboarding known terrorists of any nationality who may have knowledge of their fellow travelers' plans.
The press continues its disinterested fiddling while the royal mess known as Obamacare burns through money and exhausts the patience of those attempting any kind of oversight.
One of the more obvious examples of this is how the Washington Post's May 17 story on errors in calculating Obamacare subsidies has gone absolutely nowhere. About one-third of the 20 results returned in a Google News search on "healthcare subsidies" (not in quotes) at 11 p.m. ET Friday evening were partial reprints or rewrites of the original story by WaPo reporters Amy Goldstein and Sandhya Somashekhar. Most of the remaining results were from center-right outlets, while a few came from medical sites. The results didn't change much when searching on "health care" instead of "healthcare." What the WaPo pair reported is a breathtaking cacophony of incompetence which, as Heritage noted last year, won't even "solve" itself when Obamacare enrollees file their 2014 tax returns. Goldstein and Somashekhar also missed an opportunity to make a fundamental point, which is that everyone who has enrolled has some exposure.
One would think that Florida Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia can only get so many free passes from the national press before they'll have to acknowledge his serious problems. We'll see.
Back in January, the Associated Press and the rest of the national establishment media managed to limit their coverage of the arrest and ultimate guilty plea of Garcia's chief of staff for illegally plotting to obtain absentee ballot to local outlets. They did this even though — or perhaps because — the Congressman excused the man's attack on election integrity, for which he received a wrist-slap sentence of 90 days in jail, as "a well-intentioned attempt to maximize voter turnout." A week or so ago, there was an ear wax incident, which I'd rather skip. Earlier today, America Rising posted a far more important video, wherein the congressman bizarrely claimed — he says he wasn't serious, but it doesn't sound like it to me — that additional money spent on Mexican border security proves that "communism works."
During the Obama administration, the Associated Press has annually gone through the motions of noting its lack of transparency in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. In March, its coverage of 2013 FOIA results led with the following sentence: "The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data." Then everyone went back to work defending the administration against the information seekers.
Part of that defense includes mischaracterizing the legal hurdles those who file FOIA requests must overcome to get the administration to do what it is legally required to do right off the bat. Three sentences from recent coverage of Judicial Watch's attempts to pry information out of the State Department will make my point.
If there was ever drop-dead obvious proof that it's more than fair to call the Associated Press the Administration's Press, it's in the opening phrase of the first sentence of the wire service's Monday morning report on the House's select committee on Benghazi: "Republicans hoping to ride their Benghazi investigation to a November election sweep ..." As far as reporters Donna Cassata and Bradley Klapper are concerned, there can't possibly be any other motivation for holding the hearings.
Cassata and Klapper's agenda-driven drivel makes several trips into the land of "Republicans say," when the correct words should be: "The facts are." More crucially, Klapper completely ignored two reports he filed on October 10, 2012 which showed that the State Department "never believed" that the murder of Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in the Benghazi attack was inspired by an anti-Muslim video (bolds numbered tags are mine throughout this post):
In a Monday evening report at the Associated Press, reporters Bill Barrow and Christina A. Cassidy did their best to try to minimize the impact of a politically disastrous dodge on the part of Georgia Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn.
In a weekend interview with NBC, Nunn refused to say whether she would have voted for or against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, saying that "it’s impossible to look back retrospectively and say what would you have done if you were there." (And besides, she was working for a not-for-profit foundation at the time, so how could she know?) Additionally, Nunn got so rattled that she invented a new use for the word "architect" — as a verb: "I wished that we had more people who had tried to architect a bipartisan legislation." Clearly, the AP's Barrow and Cassidy were hoping for a real answer from Nunn. But they didn't get one. Not even close (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
In July 2013, the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber finally noticed the meteoric rise in the number of temporary help service and other non-payroll personnel working at U.S. employers — a trend which at the time was about 2-1/2 years old. Rugaber noted that "temps and to a much larger universe of freelancers, contract workers and consultants ... number nearly 17 million people who have only tenuous ties to the companies that pay them – about 12 percent of everyone with a job." He also cited two likely contributors to that growth. First, "Some employers have also sought to sidestep the new health care law’s rule that they provide medical coverage for permanent workers. Second, "companies want to avoid having too many employees during a downturn."
This morning, the AP's Tom Raum did another report on the situation, and proceeded to blow the numbers, ignore Obamacare, and downplay the influence of the mediocre economy.
A search at 11:00 p.m. ET tonight at the Associated Press's national web site on "Serco," the company with a five-year, $1.25 billion contract to process paper Obamacare enrollment applications, returned no results. That's absolutely pathetic, given that St. Louis TV station KMOV, based on multiple accounts from several current and former employees and contractors, has reported that the company has well over 1,000 people doing almost nothing all day simply because there are very few paper applications to process. KMOV, which carried five consecutive reports this week (here, here, here, here, and here), even noted in its later segments that its work had drawn national attention.
What's worse than AP not covering the story nationally? How about the wire service treating it as a local and regional story, even though Serco and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are wasting roughly $20 million per month of U.S. taxpayers' money, and even though calls for investigation have come from U.S. senators in at least two states? It would have been just as absurd if AP had treated bankrupt Solyndra, which failed to repay an Energy Department loan of over $500 million several years ago, as a California-only story because that's where its plant was. Excerpts from the AP's story, including a "This story is boring, so don't read it" headline, follow the jump (bolds are mine):
It looks like the "weather" excuse the press went to repeatedly to explain weak economic results in December, and January, and February, and March still has life in April. But this time, warm weather (which most of us would find "good," at least in April) is to blame. An early afternoon report (relevant portion saved here in graphic form) on the Dow's 200-point mid-day dip by the Associated Press's Ken Sweet claims that April's reported decline in industrial production was "possibly due to more bad weather" (while this post was prepared, the AP issued a 2:17 p.m. update which still had the "bad weather" excuse.)
That "bad weather" line is odd, because an earlier AP dispatch by Paul Wiseman exclusively about today's production release from the Federal Reserve didn't mention or allude to the weather at all. After the jump, I'll walk readers through Sweet's possible "warm weather was really bad weather (for the economy)" logic and critique Wiseman's longer coverage.