The AP's disharmony with bloggers may have only just begun, as the alternative it's now offering to being served with takedown notices involves paying an up-front sum for excerpting online articles -- as few as five words.
The pricing scale for excerpting AP content begins at $12.50 for 5-25 words and goes as high as $100 for 251 words and up. Nonprofit organizations and educational institutions enjoy a discounted rate.
An unbylined Associated Press report yesterday, at least as carried at MSNBC, acknowledges improvement, and then explains why it's not going to get much future coverage from the wire service as long as things stay that way:
BAGHDAD - Signs are emerging that Iraq has reached a turning point. Violence is down, armed extremists are in disarray, government confidence is rising and sectarian communities are gearing up for a battle at the polls rather than slaughter in the streets.
Those positive signs are attracting little attention in the United States, where the war-weary public is focused on the American presidential contest and skeptical of talk of success after so many years of unfounded optimism by the war's supporters.
Overall, the Tax Policy Center said people with very high incomes would benefit the most under McCain's proposal, while low- and middle-income taxpayers would see larger tax breaks under Obama's plan and wealthy taxpayers would see their taxes increase.
The AP had a short newsbreak story on Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge who ruled that the state must stop the method of executions in the state, saying that the "lethal injection procedure doesn't provide the quick and painless death required by Ohio law." Accompanying the short story is the picture we post here showing the judge in his office where he proudly displays two posters, one with murderer, insurrectionist and communist Che Guevara upon it and the other is the famous "Hope" poster put out by the Barack Obama campaign.
This makes one wonder about the lack of reaction to this photo seen today from the media. Let us imagine if this judge happened to be considered a conservative. Supposing this judge had a poster of a right-wing dictator -- maybe even Hitler -- displayed side-by-side with a John McCain for president poster or a George W. Bush poster. So, what would the media be doing today should such a picture coupling McCain with a murderous, oppressor on the right be making the rounds? Who can doubt that the media would be completely out of it's mind (and rightfully so, by the way) about a judge that would seem to be celebrating a right-wing dictator?
Yet, here we have a judge, a public official, proudly showing fealty to a monster of the left, Che Guevara, a man that despised the U.S. and everything it stands for, without the media raising even a whimper! In fact, they publish it as if this judge deserved to be given respect.
Leave it to the mainstream media to highlight the latest "accomplishment" of the Castros’ oppressive regime.
One of Yahoo.com’s front page news items Monday morning linked to a story from the Associated Press about Elian Gonzalez’s entrance into Cuba’s Young Communist Union. The short uncredited story put the news this way:
The Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle eight years ago has joined Cuba's Young Communist Union.
Communist youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde quotes Elian Gonzalez as saying he will never let down ex-President Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro, who succeeded Fidel earlier this year.
The Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger got out the gloom-and-doom paint in his report on the Consumer Price Index on Friday morning.
Here are his opening paragraphs:
Inflation rate jumps by biggest amount in 6 months
Inflation shot up in May at the fastest pace in six months, pushed higher by soaring costs for gasoline and other types of energy.
The Labor Department reported Friday that consumer prices rose by 0.6 percent last month, the biggest one-month increase since last November, as gasoline costs surged by 5.7 percent. Food prices, which have also been rising sharply, were up 0.3 percent as the cost of beef and bakery products showed big gains.
Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, edged up a more moderate 0.2 percent in May. But even there, core prices are up 2.3 percent over the past 12 months, above the Federal Reserve's comfort zone.
Trouble is, the markets weren't buying into the negativity Crutsinger was selling, as SmartMoney.com reported after the closing bell:
In his report on Uncle Sam's Monthly Treasury Statement released Wednesday afternoon, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger incorrectly informed readers that the stimulus checks sent out by the government represented the major reason why May's monthly deficit ballooned from a year ago. The AP reporter also continued with the wire service's seemingly never-ending recession obsession.
Here's the headline, and how Crutsinger began his report:
Stimulus payments result in record May deficit
A flood of economic aid payments pushed the federal budget deficit to $165.9 billion, the highest imbalance ever for May.
The Treasury Department reported Wednesday that the May deficit was more than double what it was in May 2007. Some $48 billion in payments went out as part of the $168 billion economic relief effort to revive the economy and keep the country from a deep recession.
Here is the full text of, and response to, a question directed to Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics Writer, Washington, in an "Ask AP" item four days ago (second question-answer segment at link; bolds are mine):
Why is it important whether we are or are not in a "recession"? I have read a technical definition of the word, and I have seen and heard many news reports in which economists and government officials opine on whether we are or are not in a recession. What is resting on that determination?
The supposedly surprising rejection of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill last week had an element that Old Media in the US hasn't covered, but is very relevant.
While the press is ever eager to jump on politicians who fly in the face of supposed "world opinion" when it goes against US positions and traditions, it has been virtually silent over how "the rest of the world" has been rejecting the true linchpin of government climate policies: supposedly climate change-related higher taxes and fees. Surely some of the green-leaning Senators who were supposedly on board but voted against cloture were not blind to this.
"Republicans Block Taxes on Big Oil Profits" blares the teaser headline on the front page of CBSNews.com. Under a graphic of the Capitol dome and a fuel gauge nearing empty, the caption reads "Senate GOP Stops Dems' Effort To Rein In Profits Of Largest Oil Companies As Gas Prices Soar."
That's a lot of bias packed into 24 words, and that's before the reader gets to the actual article. Notice the lack of cynicism as to the motive of the Democrats, who are painted on the side of consumers against industry, although the primary beneficiary of a windfall tax would be, well, the Democratic Congress.
There are limits to what you can properly communicate in a headline, but a more neutral treatment might have been: "Republicans Block Advance of Oil Profit Tax: Democrats say tax will encourage alternative fuel research, Republicans argue it will worsen energy problems."
In the AP/CBS article itself, oil industry claims that a windfall tax is counterproductive were summarily dismissed with a populist soundbite by a Democratic politician:
The Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa started off her Friday evening report on the day's economic news showing, as she and her AP colleagues have for several months, that they either don't understand very basic concepts relating to the information they're attempting to digest and convey or are deliberately reporting it inaccurately:
Pink slips piled up and jobs disappeared into thin air in May as the nation's unemployment rate zoomed to 5.5 percent in the biggest one-month jump in decades. Wall Street swooned, and the White House said President Bush was considering new proposals to revive the economy.
..... Help-wanted signs are vanishing along with jobs, so the unemployment rate is likely to keep climbing, a government report indicated .....
Make no mistake, the news was bad. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the economy lost 49,000 jobs in May, and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by more than it has in any single month since the mid-1980s.
But that doesn't change the fact that Aversa either was deliberately inaccurate when she wrote that "pink slips piled up," or that she doesn't comprehend the subject matter she is supposed to be covering.
Earlier this morning the Associated Press's Beth Fouhy reported that Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) is gearing up to concede the Democratic nomination contest to Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in a speech following primary election returns tonight.
Not so fast, Clinton aides said, scrambling in short order to protest that Hillary is not going to throw in the towel tonight.
Earlier today, NewsBusters' Matt Sheffield caught a Washington Post editorial which told us, "Don't look now, but the U.S.-backed government and army may be winning the war." The editorial noted "a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks -- which is odd, because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war."
The Post also suggested that the situation "ought to mandate an already-overdue rethinking by the "this-war-is-lost" caucus in Washington, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
Maybe, but if the results continue, both in military progress and reduced casualties (May 2008 had the lowest single-month number of US and total coalition troop fatalities ever), how about an "I was wrong, I am sorry" first?
Even more remarkable than WaPo's editorial was that the Associated Press's Kim Gamel included "the S-word" four times in her Friday afternoon coverage of Iraqi terrorists/insurgents turning themselves in. Not in the headline, of course (What do you want, miracles?), but twice in the first six paragraphs:
The AP gives us a story about some so-called documentary about what evil befell the poor folks of Crawford, Texas, after Governor George W. Bush bought his ranch property there.I'll start right out with the key section that pretty much describes what we're dealing with, a quote by the director of this film. "I wanted to do a film indicting Bush for this political stagecraft, using this town as a prop." A guy that wanted to exploit the kind folks of Crawford, Texas is being presented as a wonderful fellow by the press? Say it isn’t so!
Naturally, the AP is in sympathy for the poor folks of Crawford who had the misfortune of becoming Bush's hometown. So, now a man can't even buy a house without it being the most evil thing any one has ever done, eh?
The economy plodded ahead at a 0.9 percent pace in the first quarter - slightly better than first estimated - but still underscoring caution on the part of consumers and businesses walloped by housing, credit and financial problems.
Also see the compare-and-contrast example in the final paragraph.
A city councilman in Lorain, Ohio, a city of about 75,000 west of Cleveland, was arrested during a prostitution sting on Friday.
Of the six stories I found covering the event (the Google News search is for May 22-26), only one referred to the political party of councilman Dennis Flores, who is a Democrat (scroll down to "Second Ward Council;" HT to an e-mailer).
The Cleveland Plain Dealer set the tone for ignoring Flores's party ID, with a Saturday Breaking Metro Blog entry and Sunday story, which presumably made the print edition. Each story notes that Flores "serves as captain of his block watch."
While two others who gave the story attention without providing a party identification for Flores could perhaps be excused because they only gave it five or six paragraphs (specifically, Cleveland's WEWS and WKYC.com), writer Scott Allyn at the Morning Journal, whose main office is in Lorain, clearly had to go out of his way to avoid naming Flores's party. In the process, he also failed to identify the party affiliation of the mayor and two other city council members:
Ah, Memorial Day in Ithaca, NY, a town that looks upon Berkeley, CA as suspiciously conservative. OK, perhaps not quite, but Ithaca is so liberal than in her 2006 Senate primary [bet you didn't know there even was one], Hillary lost the City of Ithaca to a [very] little-known far-lefty named Jonathan Tasini. So liberal that a certain NewsBuster lost a 1990s mayoral bid to the then incumbent, a proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
So how does our hometown newspaper celebrate Memorial Day? What does it choose as its biggest headline on the front page? "Military Faces Growing Need for Therapists: Private pyschiatrists offer free services for returning troops." You get the idea, but here are the opening paragraphs to the AP story [emphasis added]:
Anyone wishing to understand why leftist bias pervades US "mainstream" media reporting will benefit from reading Steve Boriss's May 18 column ("Is the Associated Press Good for America?") at Pajamas Media.
Boriss quickly runs down the history, and gets right to the point: The self-described "not-for-profit cooperative" has a history of acting as a monopolist:
It's a happy Memorial Day from the Associated Press as they inform that nation that a few Marines involved themselves in a "shooting spree" in Afghanistan. Yes, the AP makes it seem as if our Marines began "firing indiscriminately at vehicles and civilians" during a March 4th altercation near Nangarhar province. But, a closer read finds a far murkier story and one that seems to say that our Marines didn't go wild but that they thought they were under attack. Whether the Marines were right or wrong about being attacked is the real question at the end of the day. But whatever the case, right at the outset the AP presented the incident as if the Marines were in the wrong.
Even the headline casts the Marines actions in the negative: "Afghans appalled Marines not charged in killings." No benefit of the doubt there. In fact, the whole first half of the story explores the charges against the Marines before a single word in their defense appears.
..... But Misses Chance to Refute "Jobs Slashed" Claims.
It's good to see that someone else is on the case of the recession-obsessed Associated Press, particularly reporter Jeannine Aversa. But even the estimable James Taranto, in his Best of the Web column yesterday, let Aversa's most obvious and repeated error go by without comment.
Today, I have two short United Press International stories that each have bias in them, but aren't worth a long, drawn out fisking of their own. So I'm combining them into one Newsbusters report. The first UPI report characterizes a Dutch anti-Islam cartoon as having been "found most offensive," as if it were universally accepted that it is, indeed, offensive and the second is a ridiculous report that is treated as "news" when it is really nothing but meaningless nonsense dressed up as news -- the second having the ulterior motive of stirring hatred against the eeevil "rich."
First up is "Cartoonist honored for Mohammed portrait" where UPI reports that the Danish artist who drew the "controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban" has been honored with the Sappho Award by the Danish Free Press Society. This is all good news but the UPI couldn't help but slip in some of their own bias against this brave artist in the last two paragraphs of the report. (my bold emphasis)
It's not often that a denizen of Hollywood is so crass as to admit that they enjoyed using their film work as a bludgeon with which to beat up a living person, but Reuters is reporting that the folks that made the upcoming HBO film "Recount" -- and actress Laura Dern in particular -- really relished making at least one person look like an idiot. Apparently Dern really enjoyed skewering Katherine Harris, the former Florida Secretary of State responsible for certifying the 2000 general election results.
Reuters helpfully informs us that actress Dern is a "self-described liberal" who "loved portraying (Harris) in the new HBO movie." And, why was it so fun for our "self-described liberal" to portray Representative, then Florida Sec. of State Harris? Because they made her look "clueless about the workings of her office," of course.
Bureaucratic bungling by the state of Minnesota had a heavy hand in the fatal Minnesota bridge collapse last summer, according to a new report commissioned by that state's legislature. The Associated Press has the story, but it's not as exciting as the initial "blame Bush" meme the media found so convenient as the tragedy unfolded. (emphasis mine):
ST. PAUL - A new report on the Minneapolis bridge collapse said money worries may have led to bad maintenance decisions ahead of the catastrophe that killed 13 people last August.
The report, commissioned by the Legislature, also criticized the Minnesota Department of Transportation for bridge inspections that were mishandled or not acted upon over the years, even when they called for immediate repairs.
Obama conceded that he has a steep challenge to get his message and background to voters in states such as Kentucky — where he trails Sen. Hillary Clinton by 27 points, according to a poll published earlier this week — and West Virginia, where voters chose Clinton over Obama by 40 points on Tuesday.
"What it says is that I'm not very well known in that part of the country," Obama said. "Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known, coming from a nearby state of Arkansas. So it's not surprising that she would have an advantage in some of those states in the middle."
Trouble is, as a look at a US map (with territories) shows, Arkansas may be "nearby," but Obama's home state of Illinois is "adjacent":
The business press's recession obsession continues:
A couple of weeks ago, in the wake of the initial first-quarter GDP growth reading of 0.6%, Rex Nutting at MarketWatch.com entertained us with the notion that an economy can be in a recession even while there is real, if anemic, economic growth.
Someone forgot to tell the Wall Street Journal's Kelly Evans and Justin Lahart, carried here at the Arizona Republic, that they're supposed to portray the economy in a bad light whenever and wherever possible. I'll get to the pair's report later.
That "bad light" directive seems seared into the minds of the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger and his AP colleagues, as they continue to "cling to recession," and attempt to convince consumers and businesses that if perchance we're not already in one, it's just around the bend.
The AP's persistence has borne dreadful fruit. Relentlessly downbeat reporting during at least the past six years by the wire service's business reporters -- who largely determine what most Americans see, hear, and read about the economy -- is a big reason, if not the most important reason, why most Americans, as seen in the latest consumer confidence report, have a negative economic outlook and are convinced that we are in a recession.