In a passionate Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning ("Silence Has Consequences for Iran"), former Spanish Prime Minister José Aznar who, in case anyone cares, serves on the board of WSJ parent News Corp., says that "It would be a shame .... if our passivity gave carte blanche to a tyrannical regime to finish off the dissidents and persist with its revolutionary plans."
Shaking off passivity requires visibility. America's media establishment almost across the board is providing very little. The Associated Press and the New York Times reports exist, but their distribution is dwarfed by the death of a pop star and a governor's infidelity.
Here are useful comparisons (all searches were done at Google News at about 8:45 a.m. for June 23-27, limited to USA sources):
Clearly, the most important takeaway from ABC's low-rated White House forum on health care was President Barack Obama's admission that he would go outside the constraints of a nationalized system to get the "very best care" if necessary for his own family.
It struck me, in reading this AP dispatch from Tehran by Nasser Karimi and William J. Kole, that the political and media establishment has, in the two decades since the death of the very visible Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni, allowed Ali Hoseyni Khamenei, his successor as the Supreme Leader of Iran, to fade comfortably into the background, while still pulling all the meaningful levers of power in that country.
Only now, with Tehran in turmoil, and of all things during an attempted media blackout, do we directly learn from Karimi and Kole that election winners are in most meaningful ways mere puppets who serve at Khamenei's pleasure, and that the elections themselves are mere spectacles designed to convince the populace, and perhaps more importantly the West, that Iran, though Islamic fundamentalist to the core, is still somehow a sort-of democratic country.
It is, of course, anything but that. I daresay that most in the West, up to and including many politicians and establishment media elites, and even presidential candidates, haven't even the faintest appreciation of this fact.
In their report, Karimi and Kole communicated the essence of Iran's reality in one concise phrase, referring to "the virtually limitless authority of the country's most powerful figure." Now they tell us.
Imagine, if you can, that George W. Bush made a clearly and deliberately false statement (by the way, what the left claims are his five major lies weren't, and still aren't).
Now further imagine if the Bush administration's response to criticism of the statement, if not true, had been, "Oh, the president's rhetoric shouldn't be taken literally." The press uproar over such a dismissive response would have been justifiably immediate and furious.
In his address to the American Medical Association this past Monday, President Barack Obama promised that:
.... no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.
Well, Richard Alonzo-Zaldivar at the Associated Press at least noticed that Dear Leader's promises can't possibly be kept. But wait until you see his nonchalant reaction to what a conscientious press would immediately decry as a series of obvious falsehoods.
Maybe reporters Brian Faler or Nicholas Johnston at Bloomberg asked Barack Obama some really challenging questions when they had a chance to interview the President at the White House. Maybe they even did some basic fact-checking. If so, there's precious little evidence of either in their June 16 report.
They allowed the president to blame most of the current year's deficit on George W. Bush. They let him speak of "robust" growth when the best guesstimates they quoted for the second half of this calendar year and all of next year are anemic -- at least as the press benchmarked growth during the Bush 43 years.
The Bloomberg pair also ignored the alarming deterioration in federal receipts from economic activity that has continued into June, one of the four biggest collections months of the year.
Here are key paragraphs from Faler and Johnston's failed filing (bolds are mine):
Question: How do you water down the possible significance of a statement by an Iranian diplomat?
Answer: Wait for an AFP journalist to revise a previous raw report.
A short unbylined dispatch from the wire service reported that the diplomat "apparently misspoke" when he said that Iran has "the right to a nuclear weapon" not long after the incident occurred. (Dictionary.com tells us that "Used before a noun, apparent means 'seeming.'")
In a later full story ("Iran denies wants nuclear weapon as insurance"), AFP's Simon Morgan reassured readers that the statement by Ali Asghar Soltanieh "was clearly a slip of the tongue."
How can he be so certain?
Here is most of the brief early report after the incident (note that the headline, "Bombshell: Iran envoy in nuclear weapon slip-up," already had the excuse down pat; bolds are mine):
Mia Farrow's brother, artist Patrick Farrow, committed suicide Tuesday, June 16. As expected, on the following day the Associated Press released a wire story about the incident. But, the odd thing about the short recount of the Farrows's lives and the account of the discovery of Patrick's lifeless body is that that the AP found some reason to slip in an attack on George W. Bush into the story. Worse, the AP used the fact of a U.S. soldier's death in Iraq as a vehicle to slam the past president. What did BDS have to do with the Farrows, Patrick's death, and a report on the same?
The customary information about Patrick Farrow's death was duly reported, of course. We were informed of the laundry list of facts. We got Farow's relation to actress Mia Farrow; a bit about her life; some on Patrick's life's work in sculpture and art; and some of the initial findings surrounding his death also appear. All good and proper reporting, of course. But then, at the very end, we get to the anomaly of the story, a lapsing into Bush Derangement Syndrome that is completely out of place with the rest of the tale.
And now another episode of Name That Party where the news customer reads a story and tries his darndest to discern from what party a scandal plagued politician hails. We have many times said that one of the main rules of the Name That Party parlor game is that if the Old Media is talking about a troubled Democrat, often times the pol's party is either not mentioned at all or is buried way down in the story. On the other hand, if it is a troubled Republican, why the party affiliation often leads the story if it isn't right in the headline itself. Today we have a pair of stories that proves this axiom well.
First up is the mysterious case of Detroit City Council Member Monica Conyers (wife of Representative John Conyers) who the Associated Press reports is "snarled in bribes probe." All the sordid details about the tale are laid out for us... except one. It seems the AP somehow forgot to mention that Monica Conyers is a Democrat.
The Associated Press posted an "analysis" piece by writer Tom Raum on June 15 to address the GOP strategy against Obamacare and other administration policies but the APs characterization of the GOPs efforts almost seem meant to belittle and de-legitimize that opposition as opposed to describing it. The entire GOP argument against Obama is boiled down to a use of "buzz words" as far as AP's Raum is concerned. Apparently, no political truth or ideological disagreement really enters into it. Only "tactic," and "strategy" built on "buzz words" and "fear" is offered by the GOP instead of real issues according to the AP.
In "GOP using buzz words to taunt Democrats," with a subhead of "Republicans claim Obama embraces 'socialism,'" Raum never once admits that Republicans just might have a principled ideological opposition to Obama's policies leaving readers to get the vague feeling that the GOP is trying just anything to find a winning issue. Further, the entire article is premised as if the Democrats are correct and the GOP is just trying to chip away at their essentially correct stand on the issues. AP even presents a lefty professor to shore up the AP point of view -- naturally the professor's propensities are not divulged.
Sometimes the numbers in a wire service report are so ridiculous, you just know that they're bogus.
On Wednesday, June 11, a duo of Associated Press reporters, Chris Kahn and Sandy Shore, with an assist from Tali Arbel, reported on a study "green jobs" study released by the Pew Charitable Trusts. In "The Clean Energy Economy: Repowering Jobs, Businesses, and Investments Across America," Pew made the growth in "clean energy" appear more impressive than it is by vastly understating job growth in the rest of the economy during the past decade -- by a factor of three.
None of the three AP "journalists" involved, and none of the alleged layers of fact-checkers and editors at the wire service, had the intuitive sense to detect an error by Pew so pathetically obvious that anyone following the economy at all -- and that includes the folks at Pew -- should have known the figure involved was false.
Here are the first few paragraphs of the AP story (bold is mine):
Earlier, Brent Baker reported that ABC's Pierre Thomas went off the deep end with a story claiming that America's white population was increasingly prone to a "wave of domestic terror." Now the Associated Press also wades into the same murky waters with a June 11 piece claiming that the "potential for an increase in violence from whites who feel they are slipping from power is high." Naturally, the AP employed the Old Media's favorite source for the claims. It's "some say," and "others believe."
Worse than the "some say" line of proof employed, this tale also relies on some experts that end up being expectedly biased sources. The AP asks a white supremacist what he thinks -- as if there is any doubt that he would be for increased racism -- and a university professor hawking a book on racism -- as if there would be any doubt that she'd see racism everywhere. There is also all sorts of claims and worries by authorities, but no proof of any real "growing racist movement" is presented.
It's pretty hard to dress up a disaster as something less than that, but the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger gave it his best shot in his report yesterdayabout Uncle Sam's the May Monthly Treasury Statement, in effect understating the amount and significance of federal government's rapidly deteriorating financial situation.
With the help of dubious handling of last year's stimulus payments in May 2008's Treasury Statement, Crutsinger ignored serious declines in tax receipts from economic activity (over 30% in each of the past three months) that are, if anything, accelerating. I covered that problem in Part 1.
Additionally, after only briefly mentioning it last month (noted at the time at NewsBusters and at BizzyBlog), Crutsinger grievously erred in his explanation of how a convenient "accounting change" Treasury implemented in April relating to accounting for its Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) has affected the reported year-to-date deficit. He claims that it contributed to it, while in reality the accounting change reduced it by about $180 billion. That is the subject of this post.
Here are key background and accounting change-related paragraphs from Crutsinger's report:
It's pretty hard to dress up a disaster as something less than that, but the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger gave it his best shot in his report yesterday about Uncle Sam's the May Monthly Treasury Statement, in effect understating the amount and significance of federal government's rapidly deteriorating financial situation.
With the help of dubious handling of last year's stimulus payments in May 2008's Treasury Statement, Crutsinger ignored serious declines in tax receipts from economic activity that are, if anything, accelerating. I'll cover that problem in this post.
Additionally, after only briefly mentioning it last month (noted at the time at NewsBusters and at BizzyBlog), Crutsinger grievously erred in his explanation of how a convenient "accounting change" Treasury implemented in April relating to accounting for its Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) has affected the reported year-to-date deficit. That is the subject of Part 2.
Here are key background and receipts-related paragraphs from Crutsinger's report:
You can't make this stuff up. The titled quote comes from a Bloomberg story today about new GM Chairman Ed Whitacre. You also can't make up most of the media's calm acceptance of yet another person heavily involved with running General Motors, aka Government Motors, who knows next to nothing about cars except as a consumer who drives them.
At least it's refreshing that this guy has experience running a business, which is more than you can say about the other two architects of the company as it currently subsists.
On May 31, the New York Times put out a fawning portrayal of the a Mr. Brian Deese, the guy who was the only full-timer on President-elect and then President Obama's car team from Election Night until mid-February.
Fasten your seat belts, this guy's lack of any kind of pedigree will have you death-gripping the steering wheel, as will the smug dismissiveness of a business system that has been the most successful in human history:
There is happy-talk and then there is delusion. The Associated Press has just approached the delusional stage with its recent assessment of what the unemployment numbers mean. Absurdly, the AP seems to imagine that the continued job losses under Obama means that job hunters are experiencing "raising hopes"! It's like sitting on the Titanic pleased that taking on water raises hopes that a nice, relaxing bath is will soon be at hand.
The first paragraph of the story claims that since last month saw a few less layoffs, why, that is saying that what we have here is "the brightest hope yet that an economic recovery" will take hold later this year. What does the AP offer as proof? Not a whole lot, sadly. In fact, the very next paragraph sort of torpedoes the first. After this "brightest hope" business, the AP gives us this:
Last night at about 8 p.m., the Associated Press's Roxana Hegeman became an early purveyor of the myth that abortion clinic-related violence and violence against abortionists has been a frequent and consistent occurrence during the past two decades when she wrote the following about the murder of Kansas abortionist George Tiller (saved here at host for future reference; bold is mine):
There was no immediate word of the motive (of) Tiller's assailant. But the doctor's violent death was the latest in a string of shootings and bombings over two decades directed against abortion clinics, doctors and staff.
But a look at the actual history of such violence accumulated by a pro-abortion group demonstrates that Tiller's murder is correctly seen as a horrible, isolated incident following a long, sustained decline in violence.
Here is the "History of Violence" accumulated by the National Abortion Federation (NAF), broken down into four categories:
There is little argument that the British press is doing a better job than its U.S. counterparts covering the Obama administration's less than perfect performance.
If the reactions of Nile Gardiner and James Delingpole at the UK Telegraph to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's blanket criticism of British journalism are any indication, UK reporters are also more willing to stand up for themselves instead of filing toothless complaints and letting veiled threats go by without blowback.
First, via Howard Kurtz, here's the fine whine from Associated Press reporter, President of the White House Correspondents' Association, and Democratic operative Jennifer Loven about the Obama administration's penchant for anonymous, "on background" briefings:
Blago and Burris, Sitting in a tree, But they'd rather we not know their political party.
There has been yet another revelation about contacts between Democratic President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate successor, Democrat Roland Burris and former Illinois Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich over Blago's pre-Senate appointment, uh, deliberations. A released FBI audio recording reveals that Burris offered to make a campaign contribution to Blago as he lobbied to be selected.
This news has brought on yet another wave of stories that fail to tell us what party Blago and Burris belong to.
The Washington Post is the only publication that identified the party of both men in the course of reporting their story. The Post's Peter Slevin and Perry Bacon Jr. also identified the Democratic Party affiliation of the Senate Ethics Committee's Barbara Boxer:
Earlier today at my blog, I noted in a post updating the sad situations at bankrupt Chrysler and headling-for-bankruptcy General Motors, that GM is, according to a Wednesday Reuters report, offering secured bondholders a much better deal than the 29 cents on the dollar Chrysler's secured creditors have been offered. Chrysler's "non-TARP secured lenders," after what they allege with much evidential support was a campaign of threats and intimidation by President Obama and the White House, abandoned their efforts to have their first-lien rights recognized in bankruptcy court.
But Indiana pension funds holding some of that secured debt representing teachers, police, and other workers have taken legal action objecting to the terms of the Chrysler bankruptcy that don’t give first-lien lenders their proper and legal due.
It thus appears, despite a chest-thumping May 2 assertion in the New York Times that the White House's Chrysler hardball might have taught GM lenders a "lesson," that Obama and his car guys don't have the stomach for riding roughshod over the rights of GM's secured bondholders and ending up with the possibility of another bankruptcy moving into a regular federal district court (the Indiana situation could be the first).
Now what? Well, if you're Team Obama, you instead try to put the screws to GM's unsecured bondholders -- to the benefit of the United Auto Workers' Voluntary Employee Benefits Association (VEBA) trust.
In a classic example of a dog-bites-man non-story, the Associated Press is dutifully furthering the "censorship" whine of a rock band that laments that Wal-Mart won't stock its new album, "21st Century Breakdown."
Of course the discount retailer's standards for music fit for its shelves are hardly new nor are they being applied out of the blue to the rockers. Nonetheless, Moody stacked the deck by quoting two of the band's three members against one Wal-Mart executive.
Here's a CNN e-mail alert I just received a couple of hours ago:
So how did the Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa report the above raw news? As you would expect an Obama apparatchik to do it (reproduced in full as it existed at 3:15 p.m.; bold after title is mine):
Fed sees hopeful signs but downgrades '09 forecast
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve expects the economy to improve in coming months, even as policymakers have downgraded their outlook for all of 2009.
A 60-year-old Mormon Church in Massachusetts burned to the ground on Sunday. A story about the incident appeared on the Washington Post website last night. It's an AP entry discussing the fire that chased worshippers out of the building in a panic on Sunday. But it is accompanied by a rather odd choice of images. Is it a photo of the fire-damaged church? Perhaps it is a snap of frightened churchgoers or a resolute minister vowing to rebuild? Well, none of those really.
The odd choice of photos accompanying the story of a fire at a Mormon Church is one of gay couples that "brought a lawsuit" over gay marriage in Massachusetts.
One might wonder what the heck a photo of gays has to do with a church burning down? The answer seems to be that the Washington Post doesn't seem to think there is any time that isn’t suitable to attack the Mormon Church over its opposition to gay marriage. They turned this simple story of a fire into an excuse to play politics.
In Part I (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) of my coverage of Martin Crutsinger's Associated Press report about Uncle Sam's Monthly Treasury Statement and the Obama administration's deficit projections, I noted that the government "miraculously" shrunk the deficit through March, the first six months of its fiscal year, by $175 billion, by employing an "accounting change."
Even though this "accounting change," which does not report TARP disbursements as outlays because they are considered "investments," violates fundamental cash-flow reporting principles, Crutsinger gave the change an unskeptical treatment. He also failed to tell readers whether the administration used the old or new method in calculating its latest full-year deficit projection of $1.84 trillion. If Team Obama used the new method to determine it, the deficit under the old and more correct method will more than likely be over $2 trillion.
Crutsinger also failed to report the steep dive in federal receipts that took place in April, which is the government's highest month for collections, compared to last year's all-time record April haul, which I referred to as the "Supply-Side Stunner," and which Crutsinger and others also failed to report when it occurred last year (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog).
Here is how April 2009 collections compared to April of 2008:
Did you know that former vice president Dick Cheney is speaking out only because he is trying to protect his legacy? Well just in case you wondered about it Steven Hurst for the Associated Press wants to assure that he has read Cheney's mind and it's all settled. This is what passes for "analysis" at the AP.
The AP has also decided that Cheney speaking out causes "chagrin" in a GOP trying to "rebuild the tattered party." Additionally, he AP throws out that much bandied liberal canard that Cheney is dishonoring "protocol" by speaking out because, you see, former chief executives always remain silent about presidents that follow them. Right Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore? Riiiight?
Oh, and one more thing: did you know that Cheney was "unpopular"? Well, just in case you forgot, the AP kindly reminds you. After reading this anti-Cheney attack piece, one wonders if the AP is now just letting White House flacks write its copy for it. It probably saves the AP some time, anyway.
Here are the first two paragraphs of Toyota Motor Corporation's press release announcing its financial results for the year ended March 31, 2009 (most Japanese companies end their fiscal years on March 31; bolds are mine):
Tokyo - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) today announced operating results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2009.
On a consolidated basis, net revenues for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2009 totaled 20.53 trillion yen, a decrease of 21.9 percent compared to the last fiscal year. Operating income decreased from 2.27 trillion yen to a loss of 461 billion yen, and income before income taxes, minority interest and equity in earnings of affiliated companies was a loss of 560.4 billion yen. Net income decreased from 1.72 trillion yen to a loss of 437 billion yen.
Across the board, the financial press reports I read translated the company's reported losses expressed in yen into dollars ($4.4 billion in $US for the year, and $7.7 billion in the fourth quarter), but not its revenues (about $207 billion and $35 billion, respectively).
Shoot, he's only talking about pulling $8 billion in state-controlled money because a bank won't go easy on a business borrower who can't pay. What's the big deal?
Well, the story involves the company that makes suits for President Barack Obama (pictured at right). Beyond that, the union at that company is citing the US Treasury Department's Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) as a reason that company's bank should in essence bail it out.
You might think that these two factors, combined with what I'm characterizing as a loyalty oath all financial institutions who do business with the State of Illinois must soon agree to (covered later), might make the Treasurer's and union's threats a national story. You would be wrong.
Here is most of the very short AP item, carried at the Springfield (IL) State Journal-Register, and referred to me by a NewsBusters commenter:
Obama sent Congress a detailed budget Thursday proposing to eliminate or trim 121 programs and save $17 billion next year — not a trifle, for sure, but only about half of one percent of the $3.4 trillion in federal spending for the fiscal year begining in October.
The size of the savings clearly was a sore subject at the White House.
"It is important ... for all of you, as you're writing up these stories, to recognize that $17 billion taken out of our discretionary, non-defense budget, as well as portions of our defense budget, are significant," Obama told reporters. "They mean something."
Still, Obama's hit list was smaller than the one President George W. Bush included in his budget last year targeting 151 programs for $34 billion in savings.
These alleged cuts mean almost nothing, according to the Heritage Foundation's Brian Riedl, who cut through the misdirection earlier today at The Corner (bolds are mine):
As of early Tuesday evening, according to a report by Liz Moyer at Forbes, the latest news on the Chrysler bankruptcy filing is that:
The recalcitrant non-TARP lenders who would not agree to the deal the government attempted to force on them are now attempting to challenge the deal the government and Chrysler have proposed in bankruptcy court.
These lenders want to keep their identities hidden.
In court documents, they have said that "intensifying pressure and name calling by the government threatened to harm them if their identities became public."
Bankruptcy judge Arthur Gonzalez "isn't buying it," and has given the lenders until 10 a.m. tomorrow morning to identify themselves or (though not specifically stated) they will apparently lose their standing in court.
Meanwhile, John Carney at The Business Insider today expanded on what the lenders' lawyer Tom Lauria first brought out on WJR Radio on Friday, when Lauria told talk-show host Frank Beckmann that "One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House."