Laurie Kellman, call your office, check your e-mail, and tap in to your Twitter.
The Associated Press reporter didn't get the memo that recession is supposedly over, and that at a minimum you shouldn't be writing as if it will be with us for a while. She also erred in citing the weak economy as a bad thing for Democrats. The New York Times told us about a week ago that a bad economy is a good thing for Democrats who want to pass state-controlled health care and other freedom-restricting agenda items, because a bad economy increases personal insecurity. They're such pals of the little guy, you see.
Both busts against the conventional media wisdom are in Kellman's brief item from late this morning (bolds are mine):
Health care issues: Hold off for a better economy?
We're just going to have to get used the fact that we're long past the point where we should expect dignity and stick-to-the-facts restraint from this White House. Going after its critics is something the previous Bush 43 administration should have done more, but on the rare occasions when it did, it conducted itself and framed its language appropriately.
Such is clearly not the case with the current bunch, which more and more looks like a collection of thin-skinned crybabies than the occupiers of the highest administrative perch in the land.
One of the latest examples comes from Macon Phillips at the White House blog. In a post that, except for the presence of expletives, reads more like something you might find at a far-left blog than as a thoughtful riposte, Phillips chooses to go after Edmunds.com, a leading car information and valuation site, for daring to claim, as noted yesterday by NewsBuster Julie Seymour, that the government spent about $24,000 for each incremental Cash for Clunkers sale while the program was in place.
Here are some excerpts from Phillips's 12:20 p.m. October 29 post, including one assertion (bolded by me near the end) that he should have known better than to have made:
In late September, Florida Congressional Democrat Alan Grayson earned attention and apparently fawning support from the far left by describing the Republican Party's health care plan, as "1. Don't get sick; 2. And if you do get sick, 3. die quickly."
Grayson's supposed apology for these over-the-top remarks on the House Floor -- remarks that would surely have earned him censure and relentless media coverage had he been a Republican criticizing a Democrat -- consisted of saying, as paraphrased by Clay Waters of NewsBusters, that his "remorse was not for Republicans, rather for the dead .... comparing the existing health care system to the Holocaust."
Little did we know that in September, Grayson made himself a House ogre with his floor remarks, he hurled a grievously sexist and offensive insult at a senior Federal Reserve adviser. Wait until you see what he called Linda Robertson on the apparently syndicated but apparently lightly heeded Alex Jones show (relevant audio begins at about 0:35 of the 1:43 YouTube video; Warning - Objectionable language follows):
It's a variation on the old riddle, "What's black and white, but read all over?"
If you change one word and add two others, the answer to the resulting question -- "What's still mostly black and white, but red all over?" -- would be, based on just-released information about their daily circulation, "all but one of the nation's top 25 newspapers turning in comparative numbers."
Here are a few paragraphs from Michael Liedtke's coverage of the carnage at the Associated Press, which depends largely on newspaper subscription fees for its lifeblood. Note the "so far" reference in Liedtke's third paragraph:
This wouldn't be particularly important if not for the fact that the press made a point of criticizing our previous president for overindulging in exercise and recreation and supposedly "vacationing" too often at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
But they did, so a Tweet from CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller is worth noting:
Politico's Click blog picked up the story and put this twist on the tweet: "President Obama Ties George W. Bush on Golf."
Meanwhile, an unbylined Associated Press piece gave Obama backhanded props for finally including a woman in his golf foursome, but failed to mention the new First Linkster's fore-play frequency Knoller had cited earlier in the day:
It would appear that the Associated Press has nominated Calvin Woodward to be their go-to guy for "Fact Check" pieces that blow up political arguments and assertions by the White House and partisan Democrats.
In late April (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Woodward, in an item headlined "Obama disowns deficit he helped shape," blistered Barack Obama and his administration for its attempt to pin the blame for this exploding federal deficits and national debt on his predecessor. This of course didn't prevent the administration from continuing to blame Bush 43 for most of this past fiscal year's deficit of $1.417 trillion; it also didn't prevent Woodward's AP colleagues from mostly parroting a White House claim he had long since debunked.
In today's Fact Check ("Health insurer profits not so fat"), the AP writer ripped into what has seemingly been a mandatory talking point any time a Democrat brings up health care: the supposedly excessive profits of health insurance providers.
Woodward found that the Democrats' claim doesn't survive even cursory scrutiny:
It would appear that the Apparatchik Press -- er, the Associated Press -- thinks that part of its job is to soften the impact of embarrassing admissions made by Obama administration members.
Take the wire service's Thursday afternoon AP report by Jim Kuhnhenn on Council of Economic Advisers' chair Christine Romer's observations about the stimulus package. Romer said (in AP's words) that "the government's economic stimulus spending has already had its biggest impact," and will (in Romer's words) "likely be contributing little to further growth by the middle of next year."
As you'll see shortly, AP's headline doesn't reflect what Romer said. Additionally, Kuhnhenn allowed Romer to mischaracterize the economy's performance in the second quarter without challenging it, and saved the big news -- yet another administration official admitting that unemployment will stay near double digit through the end of next year -- for his eighth paragraph.
Here's a graphic capture of Kuhnhenn's first eight paragraphs, posted for fair use and discussion purposes:
As I pointed out Monday night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger, in his Saturday morning report on the federal government's full-year fiscal results, conveniently "forgot" about a major accounting change that enabled President Obama's Treasury Department to report a final "deficit" of "only" $1.417 trillion.
That's hundreds of billion of dollars lower than the $1.75 trillion expected in February. The change, which caused "investments" in financial institutions, General Motors, Chrysler, and other entities to be accounted for on a "net present value" (NPV) basis, had an initial impact of over $175 billion when first implemented. Crutsinger ignored the change, even though its implementation occurred after that February estimate.
Though the end of a fiscal year represents a perfect opportunity to extend readers' understanding of how our government (sort of) works, Crutsinger also did not tell readers that the reported "deficit" is nowhere near the amount of the increase in the national debt that occurred during the fiscal year. As of September 30, the national debt was $11.910 trillion, or $1.885 trillion higher than the national debt a year earlier. That means that the most recent year's "unreported deficit" was $468 billion.
One other area where Crutsinger erred was in his breezy opening paragraph assessment that the precipitous drop in cash receipts during the most recent fiscal year -- officially understated for a reason I will note shortly -- was entirely due to the recession:
That video totally nuked claims by ACORN National and ACORN Philly that O'Keefe and Giles had been "shown the door" and "kicked out" after a "few minutes" in their Philly Office visit -- claims that establishment media outlets continued to repeat even, as shown in the excerpt that follows, after ACORN was proven to have lied about what happened in New York City and San Diego.
Billy Hallowell at BigGovernment.com has a great recap of the not well-known ACORN and media goofs that have occurred since James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles released their first two sting videos (links are in original):
The mainstream media were complicit in their coverage of the ACORN scandal. Their behavior was and continues to be an insult to democracy and journalistic responsibility as the Fourth Estate has ignored facts, engaged in one-sided sourcing, and avoided basic and inherently important journalistic questioning.
Though its $1.4 trillion red-ink result was mostly known well ahead of its final issuance, the Treasury Department either conveniently got its year-end accounting work done in time for a Friday afternoon release of the final Monthly Treasury Statement, or held it until that time. Last year's report was released on Wednesday, October 15.
The final statement shows receipts of $2.105 trillion, "outlays" of $3.522 trillion, and a "deficit" of $1.417 trillion. That is $962 billion higher that last year's "deficit" of $455 billion.
The terms "outlays" and "deficit" are in quotes for reasons I will explain in this post.
There is good news and bad news about the reporting on the results by the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger. The good news is that after at least three months of obsessing over how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were contributing to the massive increase in this year's "deficit" compared to fiscal 2008 when they have been almost completely if not totally irrelevant (here, here, and here at NewsBusters; here, here, and here at BizzyBlog), Crutsinger correctly dropped them from the discussion. Of course, that means he was repeatedly wrong to cite those wars or even defense spending as a whole as a contributing factor in the first place. But don't wait by the phone for Martin's apology.
This won't surprise anyone who reads this blog regularly, but it needs to get on the record nonetheless: The airing of a June video showing interim White House Communications Director Anita Dunn praising Mao and Mother Teresa as "two of my favorite philosophers" to a group of high school students is barely news in the establishment press.
In an August 2008 report on the Obama campaign, Anne E. Kornblut of the Washington Post also described Dunn as "as senior adviser" who had joined the campaign "in the spring."
Roger Kimball at Pajamas Media has the video of Dunn's speech. NB's Jeff Poor (covering Glenn Beck's original broadcast that broke the story) and P.J. Gladnick (on Dunn's pathetic attempt to excuse herself) have previously dealt with Dunn's speech.
Here are the Mao-relevant portions of the speech excerpt:
"How can the NFL overlook the a sleazy pop diva's questionable background while holding Limbaugh accountable for comments he's never made," wondered Brian Maloney in a Radio Equalizer blog post yesterday.
While the NFL is presenting itself as merely gun-shy of the controversy Rush Limbaugh would bring to the ownership table, it hardly seems worried about the controversy that a saucy pop star's ownership bid would bring.
Maloney explains, pointing out a double standard between the NFL commissioner scrabbling to denounce Limbaugh while practically encouraging a bid from pop artist Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, an avid Obama supporter:
Forget Sarah Palin. The female maverick of the Republican Party is Sen. Olympia Snowe.
Kellman's opening is revealing on a number of levels. To bring Palin into this at all exposes the establishment press's obsession with dissing her at every conceivable opportunity. It also classically employs the "sudden respect" technique the media has used for decades to buck up Republicans who sell out core principles. Finally, it sends a message to male Republican "maverick" John McCain that he's being upstaged, and that to keep his media cred he should join hands with Snowe in acquiescing to statist health care.
Here are other paragraphs from Kellman's Snowe congratulatory:
The Associated Press took to the streets of Washington, D.C. and Chicago this morning for reaction from everyday citizens about President Obama's Nobel Prize win. All but one of the featured interviewees expressed at least some skepticism about the president's worthiness to receive the award. And no, it seems none of these men (and woman) on the street are rabid right-wingers.
In early July, following the very first month after Chrysler LLC emerged from bankruptcy, the Associated Press, in an unbylined report about changes in the company's board, saved this little nugget for the last of its eight paragraphs:
Chrysler's poor June performance also casts doubt on whether the U.S. government's $7 billion allocation will be enough to get the automaker through the U.S. sales slump, which is projected to last into next year.
Those doubts are growing. In a report on Chrysler's just-announced management shakeup, AP auto writers Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin began their report by ringing the alarm (bolds are mine):
With sales down sharply and pressure to start generating cash before government loans run out, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne shook up his executive team Monday, replacing two of his brand managers after just four months and splitting Dodge into car and truck units.
Based on the data, the current job situation for teenagers in America is the worst on record.
According to Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Seasonally adjusted teenage unemployment hit 25.9%. That is the highest rate in the nearly 62 years BLS has been reporting this number. The previous record was last month's 25.5%. The record before that was 24.1% in November and December of 1982. A graphic of the complete history of the teenage unemployment rate that will open in a new window is here.
Unemployment among black teens not enrolled in school is over 50%.
The rate among 20-24 year-olds is also alarmingly high at 15.1%.
Almost alone among establishment media publications -- and even then in an editorial, not a regular news report -- the Wall Street Journal commented on this distressing set of circumstances, identified the most likely cause of the problem, and worried about its longer-term consequences:
Reviewing September's detailed sales results in the car business carried at the Wall Street Journal, three things stick out immediately:
The awful performance at General Motors -- down 45% from September 2008.
Chrysler's even worse performance -- down "only" 42% from September 2008, but a mind-boggling 61% from September 2007 (62,197 in 2009, 156,799 in 2007)
Ford's tiny decline of only 6% from a year ago, despite the end of the Cash For Clunkers program in August.
No other major maker had a year-over-year September decline that was even half of that seen at GM or Chrysler.
Yet the press, while beginning to acknowledge serious problems at the companies, both of which were first bailed out by the government and then taken through government-orchestrated, contract law-violating, UAW-favoring bankruptcies (GM discussed here, Chrysler here), still will not entertain the possibility, despite the evidence, that consumers are shunning them because of their bailed-out status and their heavy-handed tactics in bankruptcy.
What follows are excerpts from three reports that covered September's industry results.
In a great NewsBusters post early this morning, Rusty Weiss wondered how much local media coverage there has been of ACORN's suspension of services, and focused on potential vote fraud in Albany and Troy, New York.
Here's a question local reporters looking for an angle should be asking, even in the somewhat unlikely event they can't find anything corrupt or criminal at the ACORN office in their town: How effective is the organization's outreach?
Based on what little I've learned, a more legitimate question might be, "Is ACORN's so-called outreach really just a facade to conceal other not well-known activities it really considers more important"?
The issue first occurred to me when I read a September 18 report by WCPO in Cincinnati (WCPO apparently stands for "We Constantly Promote Obama") about the office's decision to suspend services (bolds are mine):
Pigs aren't flying, but don't be surprised if you see a few of them sprouting wings.
The Associated Press, which along with the rest of the establishment media has almost totally ignored the aftermath of the awful Kelo v. New London ruling over fours ago, actually carried a mostly fair and balanced piece about where things stand by writer Katie Nelson. Though I've followed the story reasonably closely since the fall of 2005, I learned a few things I didn't know about the City of New London's original lofty promises.
I do have a couple of quibbles, the biggest one being the current headline ("Conn. land vacant 4 years after court OK'd seizure"). It seems to me that the word "Kelo," as in Susette Kelo (pictured at top right), belongs in it. My other problem is that it's a weekend story and will thus be lightly read.
But let me highlight the better paragraphs in Nelson's report:
As climate extremists, Democrats, and President Barack Obama (but I repeat myself) push for nonsensical cap-and-trade legislation and prosperity-killing, sovereignty-threatening treaties, at least some of the data undergirding the supposed science backing their efforts seems to no longer exist. I'm not kidding.
.... the data needed to verify the gloom-and-doom warming forecasts have disappeared.
Or so it seems. Apparently, they were either lost or purged from some discarded computer. Only a very few people know what really happened, and they aren’t talking much. And what little they are saying makes no sense.
There have been many questions about the integrity of the science behind global warming, but what Michaels describes may be the most troubling example yet cited.
Last Wednesday, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis promised that her organization would conduct a "total audit," and would name an independent auditor by Friday ("within 48 hours"). Later, it said it would do so yesterday.
The group finally acted today, in totally underwhelming fashion. We're not going to get a "total audit" after all. Instead, there's going to be an "internal investigation," and it will be conducted by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.
If this were a Republican group, or if the press were doing its job, this change in mission would be correctly labeled a watered-down cop-out. Instead, the Associated Press's Sharon Theimer played along with it and made no reference to ACORN's high-minded promises last week.
RIP, Irving Kristol. Condolences to his family and his family and friends, along with intense gratitude from those who believe in individual freedom and liberty.
The Wall Street Journal has a compendium of key passages from Kristol's essays during his time there. The Weekly Standard's blog has links to several of his later columns.
The Associated Press's Hillel Italie wanted to make sure that everyone reading the wire service's late Friday Kristol obituary (saved here in full for fair use and discussion purposes) came away knowing that "political writer" Kristol was a neoconservative.
It's almost as if AP has a once-a-month minimum on employing the word. Apparently hampered in using it since the election of Dear Leader last November, Kristol's passage gave Italie the opportunity to clean out the closet. Forms of the word "neoconservative" appear a remarkable 12 times in the obit's roughly 1,400 words, accompanied by eight appearances of forms of "conservative." Geez, we get it already, Hillel.
By contrast, AP's David Espo referred to the late Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy as "liberal" twice in roughly 2,000 words in his late-August Kennedy obituary (saved here).
Here are the first five paragraphs from Italie's report, followed by additional paragraphs with "neocon" labeling:
Leave it to the Associated Press to drive the establishment media's attempt to portray ACORN's serious impairment as almost entirely the product of the Republican Party.
Never mind that Democrats control the Senate, which voted 83-7 to pull HUD funding from the group earlier this week, meaning that the vast majority of Democrats supported the measure. Never mind that the House, including about 70% of Democrats, yesterday voted to totally defund ACORN by 345-75.
In the world of Jim Abrams and the Associated Press, it must be almost all the GOP's fault that this happened. Check out the headline (frequently used elsewhere, as seen in this Google Web search on the exact title in quotes) at the reporter's story:
Somebody really needs to find the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger some OCD therapy. It seems that he has a not-magnificent obsession with the two major theaters of the War on Terror (yeah, I still call it that), and that he seemingly won't be able to conquer it without outside intervention.
In his report on August's federal budget deficit, the AP reporter continued to cite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as contributors to the increase in the federal budget deficit, when they are in fact virtually if not totally irrelevant. Additionally, he betrayed a critical misunderstanding of how the government has decided to account for "investments" the Treasury Department has made in many financial entities, General Motors, and Chrysler.
This is the third consecutive month for Crutsinger's war-connected crud:
In a Sunday "uh-oh" review of 2010's electoral landscape as it applies to nationwide congressional races, the Associated Press's Beth Fouhy insulted GOP voters while effectively implying that they are the only ones who oppose ObamaCare, "reckless spending, and high debt."
The foundation of Fouhy's piece is a fear that Democrats may be in peril of losing their House majority in 2010. Funny, when they were in the minority and gaining ground in national sentiment, I recall that the press meme was "Democrats Gaining!" Now that they're in control and faltering, it's "Democrats in Danger of Losing (Somebody Do Something)!" The perspective always seems to be about the rising or falling fortunes of Democrats, which of course serves to validate the contention of those who say that the establishment press is the mouthpiece of the Left and the Democratic Party.
Now let's look at Fouhy's infuriating fulminations (red underline is mine):
Early this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I posted on the Associated Press's treatment of the firing of two employees at ACORN's Baltimore office. These employees were successfully stung by undercover filmmaker James O'Keefe, who posed as a pimp (one who said he has plans to use the money from his "enterprise" to run for Congress), and Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute.
In a pair of videos (full script here) released on Thursday, viewers saw the two helpful ACORN Baltimore employees tell O'Keefe and Giles, among many jaw-dropping things, that:
Giles should call herself a “freelance performing artist” for tax purposes.
That they should claim three of 13 underage girls the pair planned to bring in from El Salvador to work as prostitutes as dependents.
That the prostitute should also claim child tax credits for those declared as "dependents."
O'Keefe and Giles piled on Friday morning by releasing a second pair of videos showing that they had pulled off a similar sting at ACORN's DC office.
But if we're to believe the Associated Press's Hope Yen, Friday's out of the blue decision by the Census Bureau to sever its ties with ACORN in connection with the 2010 census had nothing or at most very little to do with what O'Keefe and Giles pulled off. Instead, Yen portrayed the decision as a cave-in to the minority party in Washington known as Republicans. Uh-huh.
Thursday night, the Associated Press reported on the Baltimore ACORN sting carried out by James O'Keefe of Andrew Breitbart's new BigGovernment.com web site. A paragraph near the end of the report is virtually a de facto commercial for the controversial group.
As to the sting itself, in case you missed it -- in two devastating videos originally posted here that you must see, O'Keefe and Hannah Giles posed as a pimp and prostitute who, as summarized in original Fox News coverage, told officials at ACORN's Baltimore office that they "wanted to secure housing where the woman could continue to maintain a prostitution business."
ACORN said Thursday that it has fired the two employees who are seen on tape telling O'Keefe and Giles the following, among a host of sickening howlers:
If your blood pressure can stand it, you can learn a lot about how the Apparatachik Press -- er, the Associated Press -- operates as you watch a news story evolve, or I should say devolve. The wire service often reworks adequately-written stories with no new developments for no apparent reason other than to add bias and/or remove inconvenient truths.
A classic example of this occurred in the situation involving Barack Obama, Henry Louis Gates, and Cambridge, Massachusetts police in late July (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). AP reporter Nancy Benac's headline went from "Obama Rushes to Quell Racial Uproar He Helped Fire" on a Friday evening to "Obama Moves to Dampen Uproar on Comment Over Race" on a Saturday morning, even though there had been no new developments in the story. The later story's text was heavily revised, totally deleting an accurate opening paragraph about the president being "knocked off stride" and trying to "tamp down the controversy," leaving readers of that version with the impression that Obama had become the conciliator in the controversy instead of the being its fueler.
Another AP devolution took place between Thursday afternoon and early this morning. An already pretty weak story that bordered on being a PR piece about a two-month new vehicle refund offer by Government Motors -- er, General Motors -- only got worse in subsequent revisions.
Sadly, posts like this one about the continued refusal of the Associated Press to label disgraced and now-indicted Northeast Pennsylvania judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are starting to sound like a broken record.
Fair enough, but someone has to track the record AP is apparently seeking, the one for "most failures to mention a Democratic Party affiliation after initially doing so."
You see, in an early report back in February when the story first broke, AP told readers (as noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), that "Both are Democrats." Shortly thereafter, revised and extended versions of that early report omitted the two judges' party affiliations.
No other AP story since issued that I am aware of has told readers that Ciavarella and Conahan are Democrats, even though the wire service's reports on case developments have gone over their national wire, as seen here today at AP's raw feed at about 2PM: