Sometimes it takes a bit of exertion to disprove an assertion made by an establishment press reporter. Not this time. Today's Department of Labor report on initial unemployment claims told us that such filings "unexpectedly" (as relayed by Reuters and Bloomberg) rose to 386,000 from an upwardly revised (of course) 380,000 the previous week; expectations were for a fall to 375,000. About an hour after DOL's release, Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, told readers that "Applications fell steadily during the fall and winter but have since leveled off."
Well, this one can be taken care of in one easy chart. It starts with what was essentially the last week of winter (the week ended March 24) and goes through the week ended June 9 covered in today's release, with an extra 3,000 added to the most current week to reflect next week's likely upward adjusted (such adjustments during the past sixty-plus weeks have averaged about 3,900).
We begin tonight with what has become by any measure a pretty massive protest movement. While it goes by the official name ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ it has spread steadily and far beyond Wall Street, and it could well turn out to be the protest of this current era. ---Brian Williams on Oct. 5, 2011 gushing with extreme hype over OWS.
Despite all the friendly hype given to the Occupy Wall Street protests by much of the mainstream media, OWS is now in its death throes according to this Reuters report by Chris Francescani. He also notes that as OWS is about to be taken off life support, the much maligned Tea Party movement is doing quite well by contrast:
When a nun tows her vows, she pledges among other things obedience to the Catholic Church and its teachings. So when a sister writes a book on sexual ethics that in various ways contradicts Church teachings and refuses for six years to recant, is it really all that shocking when the Vatican issues a rebuke (and an extremely mild one at that)?
That's exactly what has happened in the case of Sister Margaret A. Farley, whom the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith rebuked yesterday* for her 2006 book Just Love: A framework for Christian Sexual Ethics. But to Reuters's Philip Pullella, the Vatican is waging war on a "popular American nun." From Pullella's June 4 story headlined "Vatican attacks popular U.S. nun over sexuality book" (emphases mine):
CBS This Morning stood out as the only Big Three network morning show on Thursday to cover a conservative group's allegation that the Obama administration gave a movie director and writer "special access to government officials involved in the commando operation that killed Osama bin Laden," as reported by Reuters on Wednesday. ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today ignored the story.
Correspondent Chip Reid outlined that "the documents...obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group...reveal that director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal...met with top national security officials; gained access to Seal Team 6; and visited the CIA."
Last week, what the Department of Labor had originally reported as a dip in new unemployment claims the previous week (from 368,000 to 367,000) was revised into an increase (to 370,000). This week, what DOL originally reported was a no-change situation (i.e., 370,000) was revised into an increase (to 372,000).
It's getting ever more difficult to accept DOL's ongoing underestimations, which now run to 60 of the 61 most recent weeks I've been able to track (the one exception was a "no change" situation during the week ended June 18, 2011). In covering today's charade, Reuters, Bloomberg, and the Associated Press (aka the Administration's Press), all failed to note that this week's revision to last week turned last week into an increase instead of a no-change. In what should be seen as only a marginal improvement, two of the three (the AP, predictably, was the exception), headlined this week's small initial reduction from last week -- which seems destined to disappear after revision next week -- as "essentially unchanged." Excerpts follow the jump.
To be fair, the full text of what Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press wrote in the first sentence of what I believe was the final version of his report today on the Census Bureau's new-home sales release was that "Americans bought more new homes last month, the latest evidence that the U.S. housing market could be starting to recover." The other "evidence" he cited related to a small bump reported earlier this week in existing home sales and one homebuilder's improved financial results.
That's pretty thin gruel from which to paint a "could be starting to recover" scenario, especially when it's expressed by someone who isn't a housing expert, i.e., an AP reporter. The only expert Crutsinger cited told him that "Housing could be a pleasant surprise this year." Wow. How profound. Let's take a look at some quotes from experts Thomson Reuters was able to find. Readers will note that the variations on word "bottom" occur quite frequently (quotes are not in the same order as they appeared at the link):
On Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Commerce Department reported that seasonally adjusted U.S. retail sales in April rose by 0.1%. In an 11:12 a.m. report via the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, carried at the Detroit News ("U.S. consumers hold back retail sales, even as gas prices fall"), Martin Crutsinger was appropriately not impressed: "Lower gas prices in April weren't enough to embolden U.S. consumers to spend much more elsewhere. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose only 0.1 percent last month."
Look how things changed in a late afternoon AP report currently carried at its national site co-authored by Crutsinger and Christopher Rugaber, reworked in time to go into most newspapers' print editions Wednesday morning:
Reuters correspondent Margot Roosevelt touted over the weekend that “Weary Warriors Favor Obama.” According to the latest Reuters-Ipsos poll, “If the election were held today, Obama would win the veteran vote by as much as seven points over Romney, higher than his margin in the general population.”
Under the heading “Fading Cool Factor,” Roosevelt summarized that many veterans sound like Obama did in the last election cycle, pessimistic about the wars Bush started:
As has been so typical in analogous instances for the year or so I have been following the weekly claims numbers closely, the Associated Press (aka the Administration's Press), Reuters, and Bloomberg headlined a "dip," a "fall," and a "drop" in filings for initial claims, even though the dip-fall-drop from 368,000 to 367,000 only occurred because last week's figure was revised up from 365,000. If this week's figure is revised up by 1,000 or more (based on the past 60 weeks, there's at least a 95% chance of that), the dip-fall-drop will be gone-gone-gone. The AP's Paul Wiseman produced the howler of the morning in the last of the five excerpted paragraphs which follow (bolds are mine):
As NewsBusters reported, Ann Romney got mercilessly attacked last week for having the unmitigated audacity to wear a $990 shirt on television.
On CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday, Thomson Reuters' Chrystia Freeland said this was "fair" and "fine" because "Michelle Obama gets bashed if she wears expensive clothes" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The last national press reports on the five men arrested Monday for plotting to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge reassured everyone that none involved were in responsible roles in the Occupy movement. On Thursday, the Associated Press's Thomas J. Sheeran wrote that Occupy Cleveland spokespersons "said the men were associated with the group but didn't represent Occupy Cleveland or its non-violent philosophy." An earlier AP report paraphrased a claim that they "had been associated with the anticorporate Occupy Cleveland movement but don't share its nonviolent views." Reuters carried this quote: "They were in no way representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland."
Well, last night, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Michael Sangiacomo reported that at least one of the five was once in a sufficiently responsible position within the Occupy group to represent it while signing a lease for space the group used. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the wire services just noted and others will do with what follows:
It is more than a little odd that each of the three wire services identified in today's earlier post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in reporting on yesterday's OMG-awful jobs report, somehow failed to mention something about the data presented. Specifically, at Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press (here and here), five reporters in four stories somehow avoided using two truly required words in describing the data contained in many if not most government economic data releases: "seasonally adjusted."
One is in an odd omission. A pair of such reports is a strange coincidence. The presence of four from three separate sources makes you wonder, especially since all three wire services found room for the two magic words (Bloomberg, though cryptically; Reuters; AP) in dispatches about Uncle Sam's report on initial unemployment claims the previous day. A look at how dismal the not seasonally adjusted numbers were in April follows the jump, and shows how, bad as they turned out to be, the Obama administration caught a lucky break in the seasonal adjustment calculations. It may also explain why the wire services avoided mentioning it.
To the extent that it was there at all, there was far too little emphasis in yesterday's wire service reporting on yesterday's OMG-awful jobs report (worse than most believe, as will be shown in a later post) was far less on those who continue to be affected -- like, say, the unemployed, under-employed and discouraged, who should be the object of such news stories -- and far too much concentration on what it might mean for President Obama's reelection prospects.
This was noticeable yesterday at Bloomberg, Reuters, and of course at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine).
Tim Carney has an excellent post this morning at the Washington Examiner about how the media are reluctant to note the reason that Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng -- who is believed , but not confirmed, to be in hiding in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing -- is in hot water with the Communist government. Chen "has exposed the horrors of China’s one-child policy, including forced abortions and forced sterilizations," Carney noted.
Yet that fact was curiously missing from today's "1300-word Washington Post story." Indeed, "Of the five Post news articles I found discussing Chen, only one of them has the word 'abortion,'" Carney noticed. And the Post isn't alone in its bias by omission:
After reading Derek Kravitz's final report of the day at 4:45 p.m. on the housing market at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, I just had to check the other wires to see if they were sipping from the same housing-market-in-recovery koolaid.
The answer is no. At Reuters, Jason Lange's 3:22 p.m. dispatch reported that "Output at U.S. factories slipped in March and builders started construction on fewer homes, offering cautionary signals for an economy that appeared to be gaining traction." At Bloomberg, Timothy R. Homan wrote: "While warmer weather may have spurred home construction at the beginning of 2012, a competing supply of cheap existing properties may be steering potential buyers away from purchasing a new home. That means home construction may not help boost the economy in 2012." Both of these assessments make Kravitz's take on housing, which included omitting very negative data on housing starts, seem that much more bizarre (my comments in italics follow each paragraph):
Derek Kravitz and Alex Veiga at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, must have doubled down on the energy drinks over the weekend. A Sunday morning report (HT to a NewsBusters tipster) telling readers that signs are "pointing to a long-awaited recovery" in the housing market went on, and on, and on, and on for over 1,350 words.
The factors the AP pair cited were primarily these: "Hiring has strengthened," "Loans remain cheap," "Homes are more affordable," and "Americans are more confident." They should have known that their first point has become questionable with March's mediocre jobs report and the recent spike in weekly initial unemployment claims to 380,000 (which so happens to be above his colleague Christopher Rugaber's already too-high benchmark for job-market improvement of 375,000), and that their last point should read: "Americans are less un-confident."
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.
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:
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:
The Department of Labor reported today that initial claims for unemployment benefits increased to 362,000 from an upwardly revised (as usual) 354,000 the previous week. Expectations were for a reading of 351,000 (Business Insider's email) or 352,000 (Bloomberg).
Over at the Associated Press, also known as the Administration's Press, the headlined reaction in its 9:17 a.m. report was: "Applications Hover Near Low Levels." As usual, it took a New Media source, in this case Zero Hedge, to point out something potentially troubling in the news, namely that "this is the first time we have seen three consecutive weeks of rises since August 2010." True, the rises have been modest, but next week will almost certainly see an upward revision to this week (the case for 51 of the past 52 weeks, averaging almost 4,000 and with no decreases). Modest or not, they run counter to presumptive press claims that the job market is "healing" (Reuters) and "improving" (Bloomberg). The howler of the day came from RTT News, which "offers custom news and information solutions" for which subscribers apparently pay at least $250 a month:
On Thursday, over 40 hours after the Pacific Institute's Peter Gleick (pictured here) revealed that he stole documents from the Heartland Institute by posing as one of that organization's board members, Seth Borenstein at the Associated Press finally broke the ice and filed a related three-paragraph "this is boring, you don't need to read it" dispatch. Two hours later, the AP science writer extended it to 500-plus words, but kept the headline as uninformative as possible -- "Scientist admits taking, leaking think-tank papers."
The "clever" failure to describe Gleick as a "climate scientist" (which he is) will dissuade many of those who see the headline from clicking through or reading further. By contrast, the headline at Borenstein's report on February 16 after Gleick (whom Borenstein did not name) disseminated the documents was: "INFLUENCE GAME: Leaks show group's climate efforts." In his longer item, Borenstein (or is it now "Boring-stein," Seth?) posits the howler that what Gleick did "mirrors" the Climategate email revelations which occurred in late 2009 and 2011. In your dreams, pal. The initial item plus excerpts from the longer one are after the jump.
Maybe there's some unwritten guideline in the press relating to when a politician who is no longer holding office doesn't have to have his party label applied if he gets into some kind of trouble -- even if that trouble is related to when he was in office.
The suspicion here is that the rule only applies to past Democratic Party officeholders, and that the guideline period is unduly short. A recent example is former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, a Democrat who is under investigation for bribery and kickbacks. Both the Associated Press and Reuters failed to tag Nagin or any other Democrat in their related reports; the AP report called him a "moderate."
The passage of "controversial" right-to-work legislation in Indiana is a "blow to organized labor." That's the spin by Reuters reporter Susan Guyett, who front-loaded her coverage of the bill's passage by focusing on anger from liberals and labor unions over the new legislation (emphases mine):
The day after the March for Life, a one-sided article from Reuters touted the safety of abortion, claiming that getting an abortion was much safer for women than giving birth.
But Reuters failed to include vital information about the study and the people it quoted - namely, that the authors of the study and both of the experts it cited were either abortion doctors or had strong ties to the abortion industry.
Now that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has released some of his recent tax returns, it is quite clear that the Obama-loving media are going to use the information against the former Massachusetts governor in any way they can.
Take for example the wire service Reuters who was quick out of the gate early Tuesday morning with the following bogus report (emphasis added):
In the final three paragraphs of a report that was primarily about Mitt Romney trying to lower expectations concerning the results of tomorrow's South Carolina Primary voting, Steve Holland of Reuters told readers that Newt Gingrich canceled an appearance.
Holland then used that appearance as an opportunity to build on a meme the press has been working on for some time about the former speaker:
On Wednesday, as Terry Baynes at Reuters reported, "A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of five leaders of an Islamic charity on charges of funneling money and supplies to Hamas, designated a "terrorist" group following a 1995 executive order by President Bill Clinton. ..." The organization involved was the Holy Land Foundation based in Texas. The five involved received sentences of 15 to 65 years.
Reuters appears to have been virtually unique in covering the story at a national level, and from all appearances very few establishment press outlets picked it up. What follows are various search results in attempts to find coverage of the story:
Wednesday afternoon, Matthew Balan at NewsBusters noted that two of the three network morning shows failed to mention disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's Democratic Party affiliation.
Not that it's an excuse, but what was probably their primary raw material, namely three Tuesday reports from the Associated Press, completely failed to tag Blago as a Democrat, specifically the following (idea HT to NB commenter "trak65"):