It has only been a week since the Associated Press learned that its reporters' privacy and the confidentiality of their relationships with sources were violated on a massive and unprecedented scale by Eric Holder's Justice Department in April and May of last year. DOJ has admitted that it secretly obtained the call records for 20 personal and business lines used by over 100 AP reporters and editors. Despite its insistence that they were looking for the person who leaked information about a foiled terrorist plot, there is reason to believe the DOJ's fishing expedition was a childish response to the wire service's refusal to let the government crow about the foiled operation before anyone reported on it.
In the wake of all of this, the AP, appears determined to soldier on as the wire service more appropriately described as the Administration's Press. That's about the only way one can view the Saturday afternoon dispatch from the AP's David Espo and its accompanying headline:
Silly me. I thought a "balanced budget" was defined as one where receipts equal outlays and there is no surplus or deficit during the period involved.
Not to David Espo, who is chief congressional correspondent at the Associated Press. In an "analysis" piece which looks more like a tool to begin reframing the language of "balance" to mean what Barack Obama and his Democratic Party really want it to mean -- namely to describe a "budget" containing deficits as far as the eye can see that has lots of tax increases and "spending cuts" which based on the historical record never materialize -- Espo showed once again why it's more than fair to call his employer and its journalists "the Administration's Press" (bolds are mine):
Earlier today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how several reports from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press (here, here, and here) buried the major news about President Obama's opening demand to Congress over resolving the "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes scheduled to take effect on January 1. His demand for $1.6 trillion in tax increases over the next ten years is twice what he sought during the August 2011 debt-ceiling negotiations. You have to go to middle or near-ending paragraphs to get that from the three AP reports linked above.
Those three reports also each contain an additional paragraph which allows the administration's misstatement of its alleged "balance" between tax increases and reductions in projected levels of spending (falsely characterized as "cuts") to stand unchallenged:
When it comes to reporting on the what the White House wants to achieve in talks with Congress about averting the "fiscal cliff," one apparent theme at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, has been "Bury the lede about the size of Obama's tax increases." I'll cover another theme ("Let them get away with misstating the 'balanced approach'") in a later post.
President Obama now wants $1.6 trillion in tax increases over the next ten years, which is double the amount he sought during last year's debt-limit standoff. In ordinary times with a responsible press corps, such a massive change in posture would be headline-driving material, but not at AP, which appears to be doing its utmost to ensure that most Americans don't know about it while still being able to claim (sort of) that "Well, we told 'em."
Poor David Espo and Nancy Benac. A six-paragraph squib this morning headlined "Calls for gun control stir little support" at the wire service's national site and "Despite a string of high-profile shootings, calls for gun control stir little support" at Newser.com really should have been titled "Why Aren't You Guys Politicizing This, D**nit?"
The two AP "reporters" bitterly wail and gnash their teeth over how little outcry there has been for stricter gun laws after the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre (shown in full because of its brevity and subsequent later expansion, to be discussed later in this post, and for fair use and discussion purposes).
In his White House speech tonight, President Obama renewed his call for a debt-ceiling impasse solution which requires "the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their breaks in the tax code and special deductions." In other words, he wants tax increases, even though earlier in the day, he backed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's "plan" (using the term loosely, as explained here and here) which, according to two separate reports (USAT; ABC), includes no tax increases.
In other words, the President, from all appearances, changed his mind -- again. Calling the President's performance in the debt-ceiling matter during the past several weeks "Jello-like" would appear to be an insult to the referenced food product.
Two items I've seen on President Obama's speech tonight -- David Jackson's "live blog" item at USA Today and David Espo's coverage at the Associated Press -- did not recognize this seemingly clear point.
On Wednesday evening (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted the absurdity of Associated Press coverage characterizing the 5-page document with 3-1/2 whole pages of text issued by the "Gang of Six" as a "plan" -- 12 times, plus in the item's headline. Though I didn't bring it up then, an obvious point to make about any of these items floating around Washington is that if the Congressional Budget Office can't score it, it can't be a plan. A month ago, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told a congressional committee, in response to a question about President Obama's April proposal, that "we can't score speeches." By contrast, there's no reason to believe it can't score Cut, Cap & Balance, because it's actual legislation passed by the House.
Last night at Investors Business Daily, Mark Steyn, the self-described "One-Man Global Content Provider," made more generalized comments about the media coverage of the debt ceiling-tax-spending-amending discussions and its identification of anything stated in a semi-coherent sentence as a "plan" (press-related items in bold):
Rush mentioned this on the air as his show opened.
It comes from the Associated Press, in a later paragraph of an Obama cheerleading item ("Obama pitches health plan in spirited appearance"; AP picture at right is from that story) by Julie Pace and David Espo.
The paragraph in question opens by giving readers the impression that either Pace, Espo, or another AP person has actually seen language in whatever iteration of ObamaCare happens to be floating around House chambers these days. But then it backs down and says it's only "described by a Democratic aide," meaning that the wire service is willingly serving as a trial-balloon enabler:
In a new change sought by House Democrats, the fix-it bill would require businesses to count part-time workers when calculating penalties for failing to provide health coverage for employees. Smaller businesses would be exempt. The Senate bill would count only full-time workers in applying the penalties, but under the change, described by a Democratic aide, two part-time workers would count as one full-time worker. Businesses say that's unduly burdensome, but Democrats contend it would prevent businesses from avoiding penalties by hiring more workers part-time.
A December 7, 2008, wire article by the Associated Press' David Espo claims, "[Former Army chief of staff Gen. Eric] Shinseki was forced into retirement by the Bush administration after he said the original invasion plan for Iraq did not include enough troops." (President-elect Obama recently announced Gen. Shinseki would head the Veterans Affairs Department.)
The truth? No such thing happened. FactCheck.org, among other sources, debunked this mythover four years ago.
Late this afternoon, AP Special Correspondent David Espo cobbled together one of the most incoherent "comparisons" of two totally unrelated events I have ever seen.
In a piece that should be called "AP Writer's Bush Derangement Syndrome Meets Up with His Palin Derangment Syndrome; Hilarity Ensues," Espo attempts to paint current GOP tactics being employed to defend Sarah Palin in the Walt Monegan firing case with those Bush-Cheney used to ensure that the Florida results in the 2000 presidential election didn't get hijacked by Democratic Party efforts to selectively recount only certain counties and to exclude legitimate overseas military ballots.