The folks at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, are really having a hard time processing the UAW's failure to gain the ability to represent Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee workers in an election held last week. AP journalists, who themselves are members of the News Media Guild, are exhibiting characterstics of still partially being in Stage 1 (Denial) but mostly Stage 2 (Anger) of the grieving process.
A Monday evening report by Tom Krisher and Erik Schelzig comes off more as a "put up or shut up" dare to those who opposed UAW representation than anything resembling objective reporting. The pair wants to know what Republicans are going to do achieve job growth in the wake of the UAW loss. The obvious response is that despite well-known federally-imposed regulatory barriers to job growth, Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam and the Volunteer State's GOP-controlled legislature have been doing a far better than average job, if you will, of creating a conducive atmosphere for payroll employment growth in the state. But first, let's visit our in-mourning AP reporters and headline writer (bolds are mine):
The three Associated Press reports I've seen on the UAW's failure to win the right to represent hourly workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee — the first two were covered in NewsBusters posts here and here; the wire service's 3:52 p.m. report is here — all mention in one way or another what UAW President Bob King is now calling "unprecedented outside interference" in the runup to the election. (VW, which can only run the factory with the kind of "workers councils" it has at its other worldwide plants in the U.S. if its workers are represented by an outside union, supported the UAW's efforts.)
But AP reporters Tom Krisher and Erik Schelzig, as well as panelists discussing the aftermath on Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC program this morning, "somehow" ignored the "outside interference" of the person who holds the most powerful political office on earth. That's right. President Obama, whose National Labor Relations Board conducted the election, weighed in on Friday morning with statements at a "closed door" meeting which were clearly designed to be leaked. Here is what Richard Cowan and Bernie Woodall at Reuters reported on Friday morning (HT Gateway Pundit):
Following revisions to initial stories at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, can be a revealing if sometimes tedious exercise.
A case in point is how reporters Tom Krisher and Erik Schelzig, who are both more than likely represented by the News Media Guild in their jobs at the wire service, changed the tone of their second report following the rejection by employees at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant of representation by the United Auto Workers union. And speaking of changed tones, UAW President Bob King suddenly moved from conciliatory to confrontational in the 3-1/2 hours between the first and second AP reports.
Late news out of Chattanooga, Tennessee Friday night was that workers at that area's Volkswagen plant rejected representation by the United Auto Workers union.
The opening paragraph at the 11:17 p.m. story filed by Tom Krisher and Erik Schelzig at the Associated Press, both of whom are more than likely members of the News Media Guild, calls the result "devastating." Later paragraphs imply political tampering, and indicate that the union is considering doing what leftist losers routinely do — try to get the result overturned with government help. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
After opening the day at about the same level as Friday's close, the three major U.S. stock indices fell by over 2 percent Monday (DJIA, -2.08%; S&P 500, -2.28%; NASDAQ, -2.61%).
About half of the rout took place in the first 30 minutes after the 10:00 a.m. release of two reports, one on manufacturing activity and the other on construction spending. The former, from the Institute for Supply Management, showed that its January Manufacturing Index came in at a mildly expansive 51.3% (any reading over 50% indicates expansion), down by over 5 percentage points from December and missing expectations by 4.7 points. The latter, from the Census Bureau, showed that seasonally adjusted construction activity barely budged in December. The market's decline continued throughout the rest of the day as disappointing news on January car sales rolled in. As will be seen after the jump, inclement January weather got a disproportionate share of the blame in the business press for these really weak results — an explanation which clearly didn't impress the markets.
Readers here can attempt to fill in the blank, and will get to the the correct answer after the jump.
In their coverage of U.S. vehicle sales in February, Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin at the Associated press, aka the Administration's Press, wrote the following in an item headlied "US AUTO SALES POWER AHEAD IN FEBRUARY": "Americans want new cars and trucks, and they're not letting higher gas prices or political dysfunction stand in their way. New car and truck sales were up ___ percent in February as rising home construction and cheap financing kept the U.S. auto recovery on track." So by how much did car sales in February 2013 exceed the level seen in February 2012?
While it's not fair to criticize the press's coverage of November's vehicle sales as unfair or not balanced, it would be more than fair to say that the press is either ignoring or minimizing the impact of two important influences which have been at work all year. The first is the continued loss of combined market share at the industry's two US-headquartered makers, General Motors and Ford (Chrysler, the other member of Detroit's "Big 3," is owned by Fiat).
The second is that 2009 government bailout beneficiary GM continues to "channel-stuff" its dealers with vehicles they won't sell for four months or longer -- and that's if the economy doesn't slow down or go into a recession. Dealer inventories are now twice as high as they were three years ago -- and no, GM's sales haven't doubled in the meantime -- which makes one wonder, especially this fall, if it was being done solely to make the government and President Obama look good.
In a Friday report at the Associated Press on Friday with a celebratory headline ("2 YEARS AFTER IPO, GM IS PILING UP CASH"), Auto Writer Tom Krisher described bailed-out General Motors as "thriving," but didn't identify one of the important reasons for that characterization.
In paragraphs about the company's profitability and cash stockpile, Krisher failed to note that the company still hasn't paid any U.S. income taxes since emerging from bankruptcy, or why that's the case (bolds are mine throughout this post):
General Motors didn't have a very good second quarter, as the Associated Press's Tom Krisher duly noted on Thursday.
What Krisher didn't note, and what almost no one in the establishment press ever notes, is the fact that the company doesn't have to pay any income taxes on its U.S. profits until it uses up losses carried forward from before its 2009 bankruptcy filing accompanied by at least $50 billion in government capitalization -- something other companies emerging from bankruptcy are almost never allowed to do. Based on the company's reported North American income for the quarter of $2 billion, most of which would have been realized on U.S. business, taxpayers subsidized the company to the tune of several hundred million dollars in just three months.
It's hard to figure out why Tom Krisher at the Associated Press bothered filing a report on the status of contract talks between Detroit's Big 3 automakers and the United Auto Workers. The only reason I can discern is that he wanted to brag about how he and his wire service pals have access to anonymously-sourced info about how the talks are going. Surprise: As has been the case almost always for about the past 30-plus years, It's coming down to the wire with the two sides supposedly far apart at two of the three companies. Knock me over with a feather.
Krisher failed to inform readers of three quite important sets of facts. First (seriously), he never told readers that General Motors and Chrysler workers have no-strike contract clauses prohibiting them from job actions until 2015, i.e., only Ford is financially vulnerable. Second, he failed to note that the government still holds a significant (and probably board-controlling) share of GM, or that a UAW healthcare trust owns 46.5% of Chrysler (down from an original 55%). Finally, because he didn't disclose the ownership stakes, he failed to note the obvious conflict of interest the UAW has in negotiating with Ford, or the possible government-influenced pressure on the union to drive a hard bargain with Ford on GM's behalf.
Did you know that car buyers in July took "worries" over the debt-ceiling debate in Washington into account when they decided to buy -- or apparently decided not to buy?
Neither did I. But Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher rolled out that excuse this evening as one factor explaining why July's car sales were "disappointing," and then appeared to stuff those words into the mouth of the spokesman for General Motors.
Sale were indeed "disappointing," up less than 1% of over July 2010, which was described at the time by CNNMoney.com as "Best Since (Cash for) Clunkers, But Still Weak" (that's the window title; the article title got sanitized later).
Here are several paragraphs from the AP pair's report (the excuse and the word-stuffing are in bold):
Early Tuesday morning, David Shepardson and Christina Rogers at the Detroit News ("GM's Akerson pushing for higher gas taxes") reported that General/Multi-Government Motors CEO Dan Akerson "wants the federal gas tax boosted as much as $1 a gallon to nudge consumers toward more fuel-efficient cars."
Later in the interview, Akerson was much more emphatic about what he would like to see done immediately:
"You know what I'd rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas," Akerson said.
In a Monday Associated Press dispatch, reporter Tom Krisher virtually celebrated the idea that Government/General Motors "may be Number 1 again," with happy talk of "dethroning" and "overtaking" Toyota.
Nowhere did Krisher mention the inconvenient fact that Toyota's revenues dwarf GM's to the point where comparing unit sales is an absurd waste of time. Specifically:
Man, it is getting really deep around here -- and no, I'm not talking about the snow, though there is no shortage of it here in Southwestern Ohio.
What's really deep is the claim by current Government/General Motors Chairman and CEO Daniel Akerson that because of the company's government-engineered, unsecured bondholder-shortchanging trip through bankruptcy, "we lost roughly a year in terms of development."
The Associated Press's Tom Krisher apparently doesn't mind traipsing around in thigh-high boots while he's covering the Detroit Auto Show, as he displayed no skepticism whatsoever at the utter ridiculousness of Akerson's assertion, drily observing near the end of his report that "New products from GM were noticeably absent from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year."
A few weeks ago, just before GM's initial public offering went to the market (at the Washington Examiner; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Multi-Government/General Motors had spent the past several months shipping more cars than its dealers were selling, to the point where dealer stocks represented an unusually high number of days of dealers' sales.
GM's December 1 press release made that trend even more obvious, as month-end dealer inventory rose to 536,000 units, about 30% higher than May's level.
As seen below, the trend was already pretty obvious in October, and a vigilant press should have been alert enough to notice it and attempt to gauge its financial impact:
It was one thing when the United Auto Workers agreed many years ago to temporary "two-tiered" wage structures at the plants of Detroit's Big Three automakers. After all, it was argued, they'll be brought up to a level of full pay and benefits in several years, and new employees aren't as productive as the veterans.
Government/General Motors saw its total vehicle sales fall in September to 173,031 from 185,105 in August. At the same time, Ford's sales increased from to 157,327 to 160,375.
Thus, what was an almost 28,000-vehicle lead for GM in August shrank by more than half to less than 13,000 in September. No one has a crystal ball, of course, but if GM falls and Ford surges by similar amounts in October, Ford will become the top-selling brand in the USA.
Associated Press reporters Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin apparently believe that Ford's move to within clear striking distance of taking over GM is not news that anyone can use. They had their opportunities to mention the situation in their coverage today, and blew right by them.
Oh, and wait until you see what GM is doing to try to keep from losing its Number 1 status.
The news out of Government/General Motors during the past couple of days hasn't been particularly good.
First, August sales results were disappointing. Second, it become known today that GM will attempt to go public on November 18, a later than originally hoped post-election date chosen to hopefully allow for another reported quarterly profit to boost investors' appetite for its shares.
As so often has been the case during Democratic administrations when unfavorable developments arise, the UK press has seen potential problems with the IPO, while the Associated Press has been acting as if all is well.
In two separate items, AP reporters couldn't even bring themselves to tell readers what the company's real August sales decline was.
In a report yesterday on the industry's awful August, reporters Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher were appropriately gloomy overall, but they massaged GM's reported result (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Unplanned but necessary "improvements," or induced corrections? I'll report; readers can decide.
My early afternoon post at my home blog dealt with Government/General Motors' profitability and CEO Ed Whitacre's "coincidental" step-down from his CEO position. That post originally noted two things that seemed problematic in the Associated Press's reporting about the company's plans for an initial public offering this year (the IPO is problematic thanks to Obamanomics, but that's not the topic here).
In the AP's original report (since revised, which is why it's saved here at my web host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), reporters Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin, with assistance from Dan Strumpf, reported the following two items in supposedly relaying the results of a discussions with "Scott Sweet, senior managing partner of IPO Boutique in Tampa, Florida, which advises investors on IPOs," Whitacre, and unnamed government officials (bold is mine):
In what I believe is the first direct acknowledgment by the wire service of what so many have known for so long, the Associated Press's Tom Krisher wrote the following in an August 5 story about plans for an initial public offering by government-controlled General Motors (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Ever since the Obama administration gave the automaker a $50 billion dollar survival loan last year, many drivers have scorned the company and bought cars from rivals. Even though GM has cut costs, changed leadership, and reported its first quarterly profit since 2007, the resentment will linger as long as taxpayers have a 61 percent stake in the company.
Actually, the "resentment" goes back to December 2008, when the Bush administration bowed to pressure to use Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to "temporarily" loan a combined $13.4 billion to GM and Chrysler. Also, the total bailout dollars involved are at least $63 billion when GMAC is included, as it should be.
If you have relied exclusively on AP reports and its news feeds to subscribing publications since then, Krisher's assertion that "drivers have scorned the company" would more than likely be the first time you have seen an AP reporter record that observation.
There several annoying aspects of today's Associated Press report on the plight of newly-hired employees at U.S. auto plants represented by the United Auto Workers.
Mentioned by writers Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher, but not until their eleventh paragraph, is the fact that new workers, whose starting wage (mentioned in Paragraph 2) is "about half what veterans make under their current contract," have to "pay the same union dues as those who have been at the plant for years." But the AP pair didn't tell readers how much those dues payments are, and how harshly they affect entry-level workers. The web site ProCon.org estimates that it's in the neighborhood of $700 at Ford and Chrysler, and as much as $950 at Government/General Motors. When you're making $14 an hour, that's not chump change; it's about 34-46 cents per hour, or about 2.5% - 3.3% of base pay. A union official (not directly quoted) deadpans that "he understands their resentment." Sure.
As bad as that easily rectifiable AP oversight is, it's not the worst reporting error Durbin and Krisher committed. The following excerpted sentence is, in several ways:
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?
Executives from Government/General Motors and Chrysler are at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit vaguely holding forth on the prospect of reopening previously shuttered production facilities.
Uh, don't sales have to start heading seriously upward before that happens?
Apparently the Associated Press's Tom Krisher, who has his hands in separate stories on the two companies, and Jeff Karoub, who is co-spokesman -- er, co-author -- of the report on Chrysler, aren't asking that question.