In his weekly address today (video only at link; transcript was not present when this post was prepared), President Obama opened with these three sentences:
It was a little more than one year ago that our country faced a potentially devastating crisis in our auto industry.
Over the course of 2008, the industry shed 400,000 jobs. In the midst of a financial crisis and deep recession, both General Motors and Chrysler, two companies that for generations were a symbol of America's manufacturing might, were on the brink of collapse.
Look at what Associated Press reporter Darlene Superville did to those first three sentences in the third paragraph of her report on Obama's presentation:
Ed Whitacre, Chairman of Government/General Motors, took to the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday to crow about repaying a loan (link may require subscription). Note the deceptive headline and its accompanying end-zone dance:
The GM Bailout: Paid Back in Full The investment of U.S. and Canadian tax dollars worked.
Whitacre can try to make a case that the government's loans have been repaid, but unless and until the government's $43 billion equity investment is recouped, the company (and Uncle Sam) have no right to claim that "the GM bailout" has been "paid back in full."
Further, this particular risible rendering in Whitacre's op-ed would lead many a casual reader (and perhaps most journalists, ha-ha) to believe that GM was able to make the repayment out of cash flow:
Our ability to pay back these loans less than a year after emerging from bankruptcy is a sign that our plan for building a new GM is working.
GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media, working for its project partner the Associated Press, conducted a poll from March 3-8 about Americans' car preferences and perceptions. The poll's results were released earlier this week, and the wire service's Dan Sewell reported on the results yesterday.
Why the 40-day delay? I'll suggest the possibility that the poll was timed in hopes that the detailed results would hurt and humiliate Toyota at the height of its safety recall problems. But just as the poll was completed, Toyota revealed that its sales had rebounded dramatically, while the evidence that the expense of a full recall was necessary had seriously weakened under closer examination (the degree of need is separate from the issue of whether the company notified the government of the possible problem, concerning which the company has apparently agreed to pay a stiff fine).
Further, the poll's detailed results contradict AP reporter Sewell's sunny-side up contention that American carmakers in general have improved their perceived quality. It's really only a certain American carmaker, as the graphic coming later will show.
But first, here are the opening paragraphs from Sewell's sterilized statements:
The Wall Street Journal's headline and reporter Jeff Bennett's opening paragraph concerning Chrysler Corporation's first announcement of financial results since 2007 got right to the key points:
Chrysler Reports $4 Billion Loss Since Exiting Bankruptcy
Chrysler Group LLC lost nearly $4 billion since exiting bankruptcy last year, but the company reported a first-quarter operating profit this year and increased its cash reserves, bolstering Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne's claim that the auto maker will break even by the end of the year.
That $4 billion consists of $3.78 billion in the last 205 days of 2009 and $197 million during the first quarter of 2010. The WSJ and Bennett basically did a nice job, though I have a problem with companies trumpeting "operating profit" when there is an "actual loss."
I wonder if the Associated Press's headline and the opening paragraph from AP reporters Tom Krisher and Colleen Barry presented the situation as well as the WSJ?
One thing you can say about the Associated Press's and most of the rest of the establishment media's treatment of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick during the past two-plus years is that they've been almost totally consistent. They pretend not to know or care what political party Kilpatrick represented throughout his political career, and fail to acknowledge Barack Obama's fondness for him before his legal and criminal troubles began.
The latest episode in this bizarre soap opera/insult to the taxpaying public has Kilpatrick, who now lives with his wife in Dallas, accused of violating his probation by not remitting monies received that he had agreed to pay to the City of Detroit to help take care of an acknowledged $1 million debt to the city. The cliffhanger is: Will he or won't he be sent to jail again?
Today, the AP continued following its two-year pattern (see related March 2008 post at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), this time as written by reporters Ed White and Corey Williams, of avoiding any mention of Kilpatrick's status as a Democratic politician when he was mayor of Detroit. Here are several paragraphs from the pair's prose:
On the surface, it's one of the Associated Press's better dispatches from the real world on the state of the economy as people are experiencing it.
Datelined in Twinsburg, Ohio, Megan Barr's Monday morning report, "Recession is ending? Some Americans don't buy it," does a good job of mixing macro and micro elements, painting a picture of a struggling town, a non-improving state economy (now eighth-worst, according to AP's "economic stress" measurement tool), a somewhat-improving national picture, and a pervasive belief on the part of most Americans that things aren't really getting better. I couldn't help but notice the irony that AP reporter Jeannine Aversa, who wrote that the top economic story of last year was the economy's "fall - and rebound," contributed to Barr's report.
But something was done to Twinsburg a year ago that goes a long way towards explaining why many people there are likely responding as one quoted resident did -- "Who are they trying to kid?" -- when asked for a reaction as to whether the economy is getting better. The AP didn't cover that story last year -- and should have -- so it didn't know that it should have referred it this year.
On Wednesday, Congressman Henry Waxman cancelled hearings, or what Michelle Malkin referred to as "show trials" in her Friday syndicated column, designed to put the spotlight on companies that dared to do what they legally had to do in response to the passage of ObamaCare: tell the public the estimated impact on their bottom lines relating to a specific tax law chance that was included in the legislation.
Despite the legal requirement, the headline of the Associated Press's coverage on the day of the announcement described the companies' announcements as "gripes." AP Business Writer Matthew Perrone called them "concerns," and acted as if the companies backed down, when the only qualification involved a questionably and largely unrelated item, i.e., what might happen if the law manages to lower overall health care costs.
That journalistically inaccurate narrative gave Waxman an undeserved way out of the heavyhanded mess that he created.
Here are the related paragraphs of Perrone's pathetic piece:
Why is the legacy media so reluctant to note the possibility of a radical Muslim faith leading to violence? On numerous occasions, the mainstream press has refused to note even a potential connection.
The latest such example concerns a recent quadruple homicide in Chicago. A Wisconsin man, James Larry, allegedly shot and killed his pregnant wife, his 7-month-old son, and his two nieces. Why? Well, according to the Associated Press, Larry was "hearing voices telling him to kill his family."
But according to one source cited by the Chicago Tribune, Larry told police that "he needed to take his family back to Allah and out of this world of sinners." That conspicuously escaped mention in both the AP piece published Wednesday -- the day the Tribune reported that fact -- and another short article on Friday (h/t Robert Spencer).
Reporting from Jefferson City, Missouri, David Lieb of the Associated Press understated the number of people expected to attend rallies through the US ("thousands"), misrepresented a previous March 20 incident involving alleged racial slurs at the U.S. Capitol, and waited until his fourteenth paragraph to mention leftist "party crashers" who may be at least as much of a concern to organizers as far-right opportunists.
Here are the relevant paragraphs from Lieb's litter (link is dynamic; 9:13 a.m. version of report saved here at web host for fair use and discussion purposes; bolds are mine):
An unbylined Associated Press item on today's Tea Party Express tour wrap-up in Washington uses a word that the wire service almost never (if not absolutely never) applies to truly violent leftist groups.
The Google page carrying the AP report also has an interesting lead "Related article."
Here's the brief AP item (produced in full for fair use and discussion purposes), whose headline seems to want to twist the event into an act of hypocrisy simply because of where it's being held:
Last May, I wrote a column called "The Federal Deficit Becomes Nearly Indecipherable," pointing to a mid-fiscal year policy shift in how the government handles the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and other bailout efforts:
What Treasury did in April (2009) was to convert the TARP “investments” it began making in October in the country’s financial institutions, General Motors, Chrysler, and who knows what else to NPV (Net Present Value) accounting.
Mixing hundreds of billions of dollars of NPV into what has essentially been a cash flow report turns the Monthly Treasury Statement, and deficit reporting in general, into an exercise that will become not only become ever more difficult to comprehend, but one that will also be routinely subject to political manipulation.
One such political manipulation occurred in the March 2010 Monthly Treasury Statement that was released on Monday, and it involved NPV accounting (to be explained in a bit). While the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger dutifully noted its existence, he deceptively described its meaning in his report's opening sentence, and in doing so played along with that manipulation (bold is mine):
Associated Press writer John Flesher seems to be one bitter guy.
Flesher, along with whoever (possibly Flesher himself) came up with the headline for his Saturday report on Bart Stupak's decision not to run for re-election in Michigan's 1st Congressional District, tells readers that:
Tea Partiers are poor winners.
The residents of Stupak's district are federal money-grubbers who can be fooled by candidates holding the right position on "hot-button issues."
Based on a poli sci prof's contention, Stupak (pictured at top right with his wife in an AP photo) would "absolutely" have won as all the evidence he needed to "prove" the nine-term congressman's re-electability.
Here are the opening paragraphs from the flailing Flesher:
The establishment press has for decades and almost without exception insisted that FDR's sacrosanct legacy of Social Security can go on and on with only minor tweaks, and that if trouble looms, it's way out there in 2040 or so when the "Trust Fund" is depleted. The problem is that during that time the federal government has raided the annual surpluses generated by "Trust Fund" which now consists almost entirely of IOUs from the rest of the government. Meanwhile, annual surpluses, where tax collections exceed benefits paid and which were well over $100 billion just a couple of years ago, have vanished, and aren't coming back to any significant degree.
Another mythology is under development: That the just-passed ObamaCare legislation has "saved" Medicare. The Social Security/Medicare Trustees report is being delayed until June 30 to incorporate the effects of the recently passed ObamaCare on the health of Medicare. It will supposedly tell us that the life of the Medicare "Trust Fund" has been magically extended by about a decade. (Raise your hand if you think the Trustees are under immense political pressure to issue a favorable verdict regardless of the facts.)
In his Tuesday coverage of a government official's leak to the Associated Press about the report's delay in advance of the official administration announcement, the AP's Martin Crutsinger spun these and other fairy tales in his stout defense for the fiscally destructive programs. But in doing so, he perhaps inadvertently revealed that Congress and the administration had no idea of the true future impact of ObamaCare.
Here are key paragraphs from Crutsinger's report (footnotes are mine, and are explained later):
One would think that in a story about how a four-year move-up of higher fleet gas mileage requirements being imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency would at least look at which manufacturers might be more or less affected by them based on what they currently sell, and how those sales are trending.
Well, most readers here don't think like writers at the Associated Press. Heck, in his report last Friday, the AP's Ken Thomas didn't even mention the fact that the EPA's regs represented a four-year move-up, and to a slightly higher standard -- apparently because doing so would have required him to mention the B-word (Bush) in connection with something seen as environmentally positive. Thomas also allowed "global warming" advocacy support to go unchallenged, as if the ClimateGate scandal that has wrecked the alarmists' entire case didn't exist.
Government/General Motors announced today that it lost $4.3 billion during the second half of 2009 (actually from July 10 through the end of the year). A further look at that result will come later after yours truly has time to digest GM's 10K Report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
What stood out even further for me about the announcement was GM's top line, i.e., global revenues. That figure came in at $57.5 billion.
Ford's revenues during the final two quarters of 2009 were $66.3 billion, or roughly 15% higher. GM's ten missing days in July would only explain about one-third of that difference.
It may be out there, but I haven't seen a lot of establishment media recognition that Ford is a bigger company worldwide than General Motors, and has been since the first quarter of last year. Given that GM was larger than Ford for about the previous 80 years, Ford's ascension to the top spot among US-based companies in worldwide revenues would ordinarily be what is known as "news."
Tuesday, a brick was thrown though a window at the Republican Party's headquarters in Marion, Ohio, 50 miles north of Columbus.
It would appear fans of Gateway Pundit would be about the only ones outside the local area who would know this. Virtually no other establishment media outlet has been involved in reporting on this incident. Meanwhile, the fact that a window was broken at Hamilton County, Ohio's Democratic headquarters was reported nationwide.
The Associated Press was the only American major media organization (as of 4 pm Eastern on Friday) that picked up on a March 31 altercation in the world-famous Catholic cathedral in Cordoba, Spain (at right, taken from The Builder blog), where over 100 Muslims responded with violence after security guards ordered them to stop praying inside the building, which once served as a mosque. Two of the guards were seriously injured.
The UK's Guardian reported about the incident in an April 1 article. Correspondent Giles Tremlett noted that "half a dozen members of a group of more than 100 Muslims from Austria had started praying...when security guards ordered them to stop....Cathedral authorities said the guards had invited the visitors to continue viewing the inside of a 24,000 sq metre building...but without praying. 'They replied by attacking the security guards, two of whom suffered serious injuries," the bishop's office said.'" The statement from Bishop Demetrio Fernández's office stated the Muslims "provoked in a pre-planned fashion what was a deplorable episode of violence."
Chris Liddell, who himself just started at GM in January, brought on a new VP to be involved with its pension investments. More interestingly, he hired a new VP and Treasurer with an interesting background (bold is mine):
During his 11 years at Morgan Stanley (head of Industrials Investment Banking), (Daniel) Ammann was instrumental in many high profile assignments spanning a variety of technology, service, and manufacturing clients. His diverse experience in mergers, acquisitions, raising capital, and restructuring includes leading Morgan Stanley’s banking team in advising GM on its restructuring and sale pursuant to Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Oh, and did I forget to note that GM won't submit its audited financial statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission until about two weeks after the deadline for normal companies (note the "not to worry" tone at the link)?
Is this what Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd meant when he said (on camera) Venezuelan thug dictator Hugo Chavez (take that, Sean Penn) had begun "to take very seriously the media in his country"- while praising Chavez's "incredible...democratic revolution?"
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday defended the arrest of a major TV channel owner, calling him a criminal and denying the government is carrying out an assault on press freedom.
The back-to-back arrests this week of two government opponents - including the owner of Venezuela's only remaining anti-Chavez TV channel - have drawn accusations that Chavez is growing increasingly intolerant and authoritarian as his popular support has slipped.
Opposition leaders and human rights groups condemned Thursday's arrest of Globovision's owner Guillermo Zuloaga, who was detained at an airport and released hours later after a judge issued an order barring him from leaving the country.
Zuloaga is accused of spreading false informationand insulting the president at an Inter American Press Association meeting in Aruba last weekend, Attorney General Luisa Ortega said.
As the piece indicates, this is but the latest example of Chavez taking "very seriously the media in his country," in Lloyd parlance. Which is woefully at odds with freedoms of speech and the press. Which is fine with Lloyd, because so's he.
Doing work the Associated Press refused to do -- or more specifically, providing context the AP refused to provide -- Sweetness & Light's indefatigable blogger Steve Gilbert gave readers the back story behind the order by U.S. District Judge James Robertson (pictured at right) to release Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Salahi. Salahi is said to have, in the words of the wire service's Pete Yost, "provided advice to three of the Sept. 11 hijackers."
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has announced that it is disbanding.
Though the hard-leftists that formed or were running it are likely to show up in some other venue and perhaps in a successor organization down the road (Update: or perhaps burrow themselves into the government, as NB commenter "Hunter 12" suggests), this is a moment to savor. Two twenty-somethings, acting entirely on their own, assisted later by a skilled mentor who knew the value of their work and how to maximize the mileage to be gained from it, brought down what had turned into a pretentious, intimidating, fraud-riddled wing of the Democratic Party's get out the vote effort. All that remains -- frankly more than should be allowed to remain -- is ACORN Housing Corporation. According to USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, whose related article is behind its subscription wall, is saying that ACORN Housing "has a separate budget and board."
In one last act of sympathy, most of the press is giving ACORN's leaders a chance to vent without rebuttal and in some cases supplying their own sour grapes. Here are some examples:
Following up on a post earlier today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) -- a 16 year-old in southern New Jersey was arrested and charged with "harassment and bias intimidation" for getting onto an area Wal-Mart store's intercom and saying, "Attention, Walmart customers: All black people, leave the store now."
Though the company had told the local press Friday evening that it believe that a non-employee had been responsible for the incident, the Associated Press did not report that critical fact (see picture of 7:03 a.m. report here) until mid-morning on Saturday, leaving its readers up to that point to infer that a company employee had perpetrated the act.
Now, even though the worst you could say about the company is that it didn't protect its public address system from customer access Associated Press writer Bruck Shipkowski is citing the incident as "the latest in a series of problems the retailer has had in its dealings with minorities and women." How disgusting.
Here is the Associated Press's report on an intercom incident at a southern New Jersey Wal-Mart store as of 7:03 a.m. Saturday (text at link will likely change):
Naturally, most readers will believe that some Wal-Mart associate thought he was being "cute." That's because "somehow" the wire service "forgot" to reveal a key element of the story that as of 7:03 a.m. Saturday had been known for at least eight hours:
In a Friday piece of presidential protection prose promulgated by the Associated Press, writer Erica Werner correctly identified a number of significant "unfulfilled commitments" relating to proposed health care legislation, and then attempted to make excuses for why they didn't happen.
Werner's work was conveniently accompanied by a heavily downplaying headline -- "Final health bill omits some of Obama's promises" -- while her rundown of the specifics in reality ended up being "all but two":
It was a bold response to skyrocketing health insurance premiums. President Barack Obama would give federal authorities the power to block unreasonable rate hikes.
Yet when Democrats unveiled the final, incarnation of their health care bill this week, the proposal was nowhere to be found.
In a week that has been chock full of lame claims, it would not be correct to say that the howler propagated by Sharon Thiemer of the Associated Press on Tuesday is the worst. But it's definitely in the upper echelons.
In an item about government bureaucrats' increased volume and increased level of excuse-making for denying Freedom of Information Act requests, Theimer acts as if the guy in charge of the entire enterprise -- that would be President Obama -- has stood by helplessly while things got worse. One can be reasonably assured that the problems described below would not be treated with such kid gloves if a conservative or Republican occupied the Oval Office:
PROMISES, PROMISES: Is gov't more open with Obama?
Federal agencies haven't lived up to President Barack Obama's promise of a more open government, increasing their use of legal exemptions to keep records secret during his first year in office.
The Associated Press's timing couldn't have been better for those who still want to pretend that Social Security is really not in serious trouble. Stephen Ohlemacher's item ("Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs") originally appeared on Sunday, in the midst of most of the major college basketball conference tournament championships, then followed by the evening's announcement of the selections for the NCAA Division I Men's basketball tournament. (The AP has issued minor revisions several times since its original appearance, up to and including today.)
The wire service's timing, while convenient for the Washington establishment, as it minimizes the possibility of distractions from its statist health care obsession, couldn't have been worse for those of us who wish the American people would get a grip on the gravity of the situation -- which is why I saved this post for today.
What is about to occur is the event that as little as a year ago, according to the Social Security Trustees' 2009 Report, wasn't expected to arrive until 2016. Ohlemacher tells us that it's right here, right now, and gets the reporting right until his seventh paragraph (bolds are mine):
The Associated Press seems to have two unwritten rules on how and when to write stories about leftist controversies and setbacks:
Rule Number 1 -- Do little or nothing with the story until you can figure out a way to make center-right critics or victors look like the bad guys.
Rule Number 2 -- If you're thinking about covering the story any other way, refer to Rule Number 1.
On Thursday, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in Columbus, Ohio, which describes itself as "an independent legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse," announced a significant legal victory for Buckeye State residents interested in clean elections:
The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law achieved victory in its state RICO action against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). ACORN has agreed to settle the case and will cease all Ohio activity as a result. In its settlement with the 1851 Center, ACORN agreed to surrender all of its Ohio business licenses by June 1, 2010. Further, the organization cannot support or enable any individual or organization that seeks to engage in the same type of activity.
That seems like a pretty clear-cut result, doesn't it? Not if you're the Associated Press's JoAnne Viviano, whose brief item on Saturday followed the rules above, fabricated a supposed loophole in the settlement, and gave an unnamed spokesman an open mic to despicably play the race card:
Two reports linked by Instapundit earlier today demonstrate at a macro and micro level how weak the claim that Toyota has deliberately jeopardized consumer safety in connection with "sudden acceleration" complaints may ultimately turn out to be.
The macro piece comes from Megan McArdle (pictured at left; "How Real are the Defects in Toyota's Cars?") at her blog at the Atlantic. The magazine's business and economics editor dissected case-by-case detail originally compiled by the Los Angeles Times, which was also analyzed to an extent by Washington Examiner op-ed writer and Overlawyered blogger Ted Frank, to make important points about the likelihood of driver error in many of them.
The micro item comes from Michael Fumento, whose Forbes column takes apart the recent James Sikes "sudden acceleration" incident in California as it rips the establishment media for its total lack of skepticism about the driver's claims and his credibility.
First, to McArdle, who also has nicely done graphs at her post:
One thing you can say about the Apparatchik Press -- er, the Associated Press -- is that it's leaving no stone unturned in its attempt to prop up their guy Barack Obama.
In the tenth paragraph of an AP report today by Ben Feller on President Obama's stack of priorities ("For Obama, big agenda and small window for results"), the wire service's Ben Feller bitterly clings to an AP-GfK Roper poll result that is sharply at variance with others, and assumes that it gives Obama a level of clout that doesn't exist outside the grounds of the White House:
Obama has a key edge in setting the agenda: public approval. His job-performance rating is holding mainly steady at 53 percent, while a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that fewer people approve of Congress - a mere 22 percent - than at any point in Obama's presidency.
Well, of course his approval is 53% in AP-GfK la-la land. The poll's sample, as you can see at the top right (found at Page 31 of the 42-page PDF, consisted of 33% declared Democrats and 23% declared Republicans.