The Associated Press's 1:12 p.m. coverage (saved here, as the dynamic link changed during the drafting of this post) of the Senate Finance Committee's hearing on Barack Obama's nomination of Timothy Giethner as Treasury Secretary has plenty of discussion of Geithner's tax "mistakes" (the picture, but not its heading, is from a November 21 New York Times article).
But as has been the case with every AP report I've seen, there is no mention of the fact that the International Monetary Fund, Geithner's 2001-2004 employer, partially reimbursed him for his Social Security and Medicare "self-employment tax" liabilities.
Here are the first eight paragraphs of AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger's report:
The Associated Press's record of running interference for Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner continues mostly unabated.
My chronicle of AP's largely weak coverage, most of which has been previously detailed at NewsBusters (here, here, and here), is at the end of this post.
No AP report I have seen has noted that Geithner applied for and merely pocketed partial "reimbursements" from the International Monetary Fund for payroll/"self-employment" taxes. He signed IMF forms saying that he had paid or would pay those taxes. He didn't pay up for 2003 and 2004 until his returns were audited. He more than likely never would have paid up for 2001 and 2002 if he had not been nominated, even though a strong case could be made that he engaged in tax evasion.
These aspects of Geithner's tax situation, if widely known, would, I believe, cause the average taxpayer to object strongly to the very idea of his nomination. AP's alleged journalists appear to believe that this cannot be allowed to happen.
AP Personal Finance writer Dave Carpenter, in a mostly Q&A piece with a really weak title ("Meltdown 101: US tax laws can even foil the pros"), continued the silence on pocketed reimbursements yesterday afternoon (stored here for future reference). He also seems to have found every excuse for Geither except "the dog ate my W-2":
"Sometimes, Brian, I think we live in a parallel universe, where the media see the world one way when it's a Democrat in power and another way when a Republican is in power," NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell told Fox News Channel's Brian Kilmeade. [audio of segment available here]
The Media Research Center president appeared on the January 16 "Fox & Friends" to discuss an astounding contrast that illustrates the media's liberal biases: the Associated Press scorned the roughly $40 million spent on the 2005 Bush inauguration but is assuring readers that it's okay to glam it up for the 2009 Obama inauguration.:
BRENT BOZELL: Look at these headlines. We found this, this is from AP. Four years ago on the eve of George Bush's second inauguration. This is the lede: "President Bush's second inauguration will cost tens of millions of dollars. Forty million alone in private donations for parties, balls, etc. Then it goes on to say, what else could that money buy..... Now, four years later, same AP news outlet. A story on Barack Obama. According to the Guardian newspaper, he could spend as much as $150 million. That would be three times more than George Bush spent. This is their [AP's] lede: "So you're attending an inaugural ball saluting the historic election of Barack Obama in the worst economic climate in three generations. Can you get away with glitzing it up and still be appropriate not to mention comfortable and finacially viable? To quote the man of the hour, 'Yes, you can.' Veteran ballgoers say you should, and fashionistas say you must."
Presumably after having read NewsBusters Senior Editor Rich Noyes's January 14 blog on the matter, the hosts of "Fox & Friends" today discussed the Associated Press's double standard on presidential inauguration spending.
STEVE DOOCY: When you look back at how the mainstream media described his [George W. Bush's second] inaugural, back when he spent about $40 million on it... critics, for instance, writers at the Associated Press said, "look, we are in a time of war and we are facing all sorts of challenges." That money, four years ago, they said, should be used to armor up humvees and to protect our men and women overseas....You fast forward four years, suddenly we've forgetten all about those AP stories, where people are going, "George Bush's inauguration extravagant," now you're tripling the money. Where's the outcry?!
Yesterday, details discovered about Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner's tax situation moved it to well past the level of an "honest mistake."
You wouldn't know it from the Associated Press's Julie Hirschfeld Davis, who, as I noted yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), continues to run interference for him. A story from Thursday afternoon that has since been dynamically updated had a final paragraph alluding to the fact that Geithner had signed annual statements acknowleding his obligation to pay his own payroll taxes (Update: That Thursday afternoon story is still at Breitbart). That paragraph is not present in the story as updated at 3:13 a.m. this morning (saved here for future reference). Even that paragraph, when it was present, didn't note that Geithner had applied for and received reimbursement for payroll taxes he didn't pay.
First, here are key paragraphs from Davis's cheerleading roundup, including disconcerting statements of support for Geithner from many who should know better:
The news that the Gannett Company--the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, flagship USA Today--is forcing thousands of its employees to take unpaid leave is the latest, shocking, evidence of the ill health of the old media.
But for present purposes, let's focus on this odd nugget: Gannett has informed its employees that pursuant to federal and state law, they [emphasis added]:
must not work while on an unpaid leave. That includes reading or responding to e-mails, calling or responding to calls from colleagues and being on site at your location at any time during your furlough days.
Can't you just imagine the scenario? A conscientious furloughed Gannett employee is at home trying to stay current by reading some emails, when suddenly comes a battering at the door: "FBI! Put down the mouse and step slowly away from your computer!"
Mayor Gary Becker of Racine, Wisconsin, received some unwanted attention from the Old Media and the local police today because of his arrest for using a computer to solicit sex from a child. According to the Associated Press, Becker is "tentatively charged with attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child, child enticement, possession of child pornography, exposing a child to harmful materials, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and misconduct in public office."
The AP spends several paragraphs detailing the world of Mayor Becker. It describes his election, his marriage and kids. It describes his accused crime and where and how he was snapped up by the police. But there is one little thing the AP can't seem to find any information on... his party.
That's right, once again the Old Media gives us an alleged criminal sexual pervert politician and somehow forgets to mention the accused is a Democrat.
In a post last night, I criticized the Associated Press for glossing over the 15 years of personal and domestic self-employment tax filing and payment problems of Timothy Geithner, Barack Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary (pictured at right in an AP photo).
It turns out that Brett Blackledge's Tuesday evening report was relatively hard-hitting in comparison to Julie Hirschfeld Davis's rendition early this morning (stored here, because her original 3:33 a.m. report has since been updated).
Davis's assignment appears to have been to shorten and update Blackledge's original writeup. To be fair, Davis immediately indicated that Geithner's nomination is no longer on cruise control. But she deleted, or pushed to later paragraphs, quite a few details that would cause an average reader to go "Huh? This guy wants to be Treasury Secretary?" What's more, her vague title ("Tax problems may plague Obama's treasury pick") replaced a much more specific one from Blackledge ("Geithner failed to pay self-employment taxes").
Davis's most obvious airbrush is in her second paragraph (bold is mine):
Jan. 14 Update: "AP's Early-AM Revision Flushes Many Details, Calls His Tax Problems 'Goofs'"
Timothy Geithner, pictured at right in an AP photo, is Barack Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary.
Mr. Geithner will, among many other duties, oversee the Internal Revenue Service.
How odd, to say the least, that Mr. Geithner has had persistent tax filing and payment problems going back over 15 years involving self-employment taxes for both himself and his paid help, as well as with the employment of someone who for a time did not have proper legal status to remain in the country.
You would think that such things might place a cabinet nominee, especially to head Treasury, in jeopardy, and to cause the president who nominated him to have second thoughts. After all, in 2001, Linda Chavez's nomination as Labor Secretary went down in flames over matters relating to an illegal immigrant whom Chavez had sheltered in her home a decade earlier. Also, in 1993, Zoe Baird withdrew as Bill Clinton's nominee for Attorney General over the employment of illegal-immigrant domestic help and her failure to pay the related employment taxes on a timely basis.
But Geithner's nomination is apparently getting the all clear, with pliant Republicans giving the okey-dokey, and press outlets like the Associated Press giving his problems the relatively no-big-deal treatment.
Here are some excerpts from tonight's AP story by Brett J. Blackledge (stored here for future reference when there are subsequent updates; 5 AM Update: The link did indeed change; an alternate link that seems to match what AP had up at its own site at the time of this post appearance is here):
Correction (Feb. 10, 2009): Corrected from original reporting attributing AP and Getty with the photo editing. In fact it was ABCNews.com, not AP or Getty Images that overlaid the Bush photo on the Gaza rubble photo. AP and Getty Images supplied the respective photos. Thanks to the folks at StinkyJournalism.org for pointing out the error.
I guess, since flat-out fauxtography as practiced in 2006 in the Middle East has become so difficult, and has been shown as likely to be detected, that the press has decided to go with "creative" image placement to do the dirty work that must be done to create sympathy for Hamas and antipathy towards President Bush and the United States.
For "some reason," the editors at ABCNews.com placed President Bush's image at its bottom right. The photo compilation (shown above) accompanied a report by Miguel Marquez and Simon McGregor-Wood that appears to have also run on the network's "World News" program.
The wreckage in the photo purports to be "the destroyed house of Hamas leader of Nizar Rayan following an Israeli air strike the day before in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip" (given the state of reporting out of the region, one never knows for sure).
There is no good reason for Mr. Bush's picture to be included, since:
These sort of nonsensical comparisons, filled to the brim with hyperbolic foolishness, is what we get from the anti-Israeli Old Media so often that it almost fails to even surprise at this point. But, here is Reuters again indulging its inner terrorist, just the same.
In "Bosnia genocide victims protest Gaza offensive," Reuters reports the over-the-top claims made by Bosnian Muslims that the action in Gaza is "just like" that of the 8,000 Bosnians murdered in 1995 in and around Srebrenica. This absurd comparison is, of course, these Muslims' opinion, but Reuters reports this straight without bothering to reveal the full facts that would show that there is, in truth, no comparison between the two situations at all.
The net effect of the article leaves hanging the Muslim claim that Israel is perpetrating an act no better than the ethnic cleansing in the 1990s in Serbia and does not bother to reveal the situation as it really exists. It would be easy for the reader to assume that the Israelis are all in the wrong here. And, one cannot help but feel that this is Reuters's goal all along.
A video report about last night's riot in Oakland related to the shooting death of an unarmed man at the hands of a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer actually calls it .... a riot. What's more, the reporter notes, as is really often the case in situations such as these, how people he characterized as "professional protesters" egged others on and created the atmosphere that led to so much violence and vandalism.
CBS5 reporter Joe Vazquez filed "Inside the Oakland Riot: A First-Hand Account." It's a little too "gee whiz" to me, but it least it gets some usually unreported facts out.
Reuters.com is syndicating a January 7 Hollywood Reporter story informing the world that "HBO lands rights to inaugural ceremony," but this raises the question; why are parts of the inauguration being auctioned to the highest bidder for exclusive coverage? Shouldn't all of the inaugural festivities be available to every American and not relegated just for the TV network that has the most cash? Why is this vaunted man of the people allowing exclusive coverage of his big day to go to a station not available to all Americans equally?
It makes one wonder if the Democrat's claims of being interested in equality and fairness is all but hot air when the money is hitting the table?
HBO is claiming that they will offer the program for free, not pay-per-view, and that it will be broadcast to folks without the HBO channel on their cable service. But it will still be just on cable. Naturally, for those without cable at all, well, these people are out of luck. So much for Obama's big day being for ALL the people. I guess it's only for those with cable.
In a like vein as the story I posted a few days ago showing Reuters helping cover for Obama by lowering expectations, a trio of stories -- two from McClatchy and one from the AP -- prove to be little more than empty Obama boostering with little worth as news, though the AP piece at least comes close to being newsworthy. Unfortunately, this is the sort of empty reporting that has become du jour for the Old Media. It's the media's covering for the Clinton's all over again, yet 10-times more intense.
To paraphrase Forrest Gump, "inexperienced is as inexperienced does." At least that is what comes to my mind when hearing that Barack Obama has picked the inoffensive, completely inexperienced and unqualified Leon Panetta to be the new director of the CIA. Really. Leon Panetta? The onetime director of the Office of Management and Budget Panetta, that Leon Panetta? This old Clinton partisan has absolutely no experience whatsoever with intelligence gathering or the administration of the same. None. Zip. Nada.
Now, if George W. Bush had picked such an inexperienced man for any government position much less one at cabinet level, the media would have crucified him -- in fact, it did if you recount the Harriet Meyers for SCOTUS debacle. So, in "Obama's intel picks short on direct experience" does the Associated Press scoff at the pick? Do they lambast Obama for picking such a completely unqualified man for CIA in a day when we are besieged on all sides by enemies from whom our ability to gather intelligence is a major weapon of protection? Do they decry this pick of a man with not even the tiniest amount of experience for one of the most delicate and important positions of the day?
Why can't everyone just settle down, get out of the way, get rid of the "distractions," and let Barack Obama do his magic? That seems to be a recurring media meme during this presidential transition period.
Here are just a few examples in just the past 30 days:
In a December 12 "analysis" piece at Reuters, Steve Holland opened by telling readers that "A political scandal that led to the arrest of Illinois' governor has become an unwelcome distraction for President-elect Barack Obama as he tries to keep his focus on preparing to run the country."
Amanda Paulson's Christian Science Monitor report on December 23 about Obama's internal investigation of contacts between his team and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich fretted that "As the saga of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his alleged “political corruption crime spree” has played out over the past two weeks, it’s been an unwelcome distraction for another politician from Illinois: President-elect Obama."
And yesterday, Brent Baker of NewsBusters caught ABC World News Tonight anchor Dan Harris worrying that Bill Richardson's unexpected withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee might be "a distraction in the key early days."
Reuters ran a little flak for Barack Obama trying to help dull the outrageous expectations placed on The One by his irrationally exuberant adherents in theirs headlined "Congress faces historic challenges" -- As if no other Congress has faced "historic challenges" before? Reuters assures us, though, that times are so bad that we should not expect Obama to live up to any of his outlandish promises. This way, of course, if Obama reneges on them, the Old Media can remind everyone that it’s really our fault for expecting too much, not Obama's for reneging.
Naturally, we get the kind of Bush-is-worst rhetoric we expect from Reuters but we also find that Reuters seems to have forgotten that Congress itself has even lower ratings than does Bush. And Reuters starts off the story conveniently forgetting that the Democrats have controlled Congress since 2006.
The federal gas tax levy is so painfully low, even libertarian groups like the Reason Foundation are okay with hiking the tax. At least, that's the impression a reader could be forgiven for drawing from the Associated Press's January 2 story, "Motorists' habits spur call for tax increases":
WASHINGTON (AP) — Motorists are driving less and buying less gasoline, which means fuel taxes aren't raising enough money to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge and transit programs.
That has the federal commission that oversees financing for transportation talking about increasing the federal fuel tax.
"I'm not excited about a gas tax increase, but the reality is our current gas tax doesn't pay for upkeep of the system we have now," said Adrian Moore, vice president of the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank in Los Angeles, and a member of the highway revenue commission. "We can either let the roads go to hell or we can pay more."
Michelle Malkin called it, as did several NewsBusters commenters. Their prediction was that newspapers on the brink would be asking for government bailouts.
It came to pass in late November that seven Connecticut legislators asked the state's Department of Economic and Community Development for help in keeping the New Britain Herald and the Bristol Press afloat. A JPEG of the full letter with three of the seven signatures is here. Alleged GOP Governor Jodi Rell is apparently sympathetic.
A Wednesday "analysis" piece by Robert MacMillan of Reuters reports that the state agency is indeed "offering tax breaks, training funds, financing opportunities and other incentives for publishers, but not cash."
While, instead of simply reporting the news, the Associated Press spends its days looking for every which way it can find to attack George W. Bush, Governor Sarah Palin and any number of other conservatives or Republicans, it has a corresponding penchant to go easy on The One and his Democrat cohorts. Nothing is a better illustration of the difference between the AP's treatment of the right and left than this one little story headlined "Obama can't shake the bowling jokes."
Yes, while the AP is putting snide remarks about Sarah Palin into every story in which she appears, Barack, on the other hand, gets pity from the AP over all those gosh darn meanies out there that can't let him forget what a bad bowler he is. Oh, HOW can he continue to save us from ourselves if people won't let this bowling thing go, huh?
The Associated Press is classy, indeed. They can't even keep sniping at Sarah Palin out of a story announcing the blessed birth of her grandson. Ah, but wait, it gets even more annoying because not only did the AP snipe at Palin in its first birth announcement story, once called on it the AP went back twice to rearrange the piece rewriting history to make it seem as if they never sniped at her in the first place.
Common sense says that the chart's results after adjusting for inflation are more important (identified as "Chained  dollars") than those in current dollars. Consmers' disposable income went up 1.0% in real (after-inflation) terms in November after a 0.7% increase in October.
It took a month for real consumer spending ("Personal consumption expenditures") to catch up to the increased disposable income, but it did so in a big way in November. The 0.6% real increase is the highest in over three years. Both improvements are objectively good news, and are largely due to sharply declining gas prices.
This is pretty fundamental Econ 101 stuff, isn't it? As you can see from the headlines and the treatment of the real spending increase that follow, the business press mostly flunked, and badly:
You would think from reading yesterday afternoon's report by the Associated Press's Tom Murphy that companies like Toyota, Nissan, and Honda are not that far from finding themselves in the situations US taxpayer bailout recipients General Motors and Chrysler are in.
Murphy tries mightily to make the foreign-owned companies' situations look serious, at one point even putting out the howler that they are "not quite" as bad off as Detroit's Big Three.
You've got to be kidding me.
Murphy's "Meltdown 101: Foreign automakers struggle too" apparently just arrived from the School of Hard Laughs. It is mostly written in a Q&A format. Here are some excerpts (bolds are mine):
It's almost as if the Associated Press's Ian James and the wire service's headline writers think that Hugo Chavez's latest announcement that he plans to expropriate a huge, city block-sized, nearly complete shopping mall is sort of cute and quirky. James even gave it a "clever" name: drive-by socialism.
My post at NewsBusters yesterday noted that James's initial report Sunday evening was short on many details. Today, James filled many of the holes but leaned strongly towards sympathy with the Venezuelan strongman's decision, even avoiding use of the word "expropriating" until the third paragraph. The AP's whitewashing headline seems to be designed to cause readers to yawn and move on to something else.
What seems to have occurred is that poor Mr. Chavez got stuck in traffic and didn't like it. That's all it takes in Venezuela for a project that has surely been years in the making to vanish -- unless Mr. Impulsive changes his mind. Here are excerpts from James's report:
Chavez orders halt to construction of Caracas mall
President Hugo Chavez says he was heading through downtown Caracas when he was shocked by the sight of a huge, nearly finished shopping mall amid the high-rise offices and apartments.
"They had already built a monster there," Chavez said. "I passed by there just recently and said, 'What is this? My God!'"
Two situations over the weekend illustrate that the Associated Press's habitual failure to identify the political party of Democrats in trouble is more than likely a conscious decision. This is despite the AP Stylebook's guidance (as of 2000, the latest free edition I can find; a PDF is here) that a reporter should "include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is."
In both of the instances I will cite, local papers decided that party affiliation was important enough to include. But AP reporters decided that they weren't, even though out-of-state readers are less likely to know the party affiliation of the politician(s) involved.
Hugo Chavez has announced that he plans to expropriate a huge and nearly complete shopping mall in Caracas.
The Spanish language web page of Constructora Sambil that describes the project (pictured at the right) says that it's 21,600 square meters.
Chavez appears to have no idea what he will do with it. The Associated Press's Ian James apparently had no idea what to do with that shocking bit of information. He didn't follow up with any government officials who might have an idea of what Dear Leader has in mind. He didn't explore whether what Sambil has built thus far is useful or sensible for whatever noble purpose Chavez might be considering. He just let the Venezuelan strongman's comment sit there, and instead moved on to his incoherent screed against materialism.
It seems that some in Congress are so upset that our troops and their president have achieved what looks like victory in Iraq to seasoned, on-the-ground observers like Michael Yon that they feel compelled to get in their final digs to somehow discredit the war's legitimacy.
One such congressman is Democrat Henry Waxman of California (image originally found at the Washington Post), whose Committee on Oversight and Government Reform decided to re-hash the famous "sixteen words" President Bush used in his January 2003 State of the Union Speech ("The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa").
The conclusion of Waxman's 10-page Memorandum (a PDF at this link) begins by saying: