Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.
Tom Blumer has written for several national online publications primarily on business, economics, politics and media bias. He has had his own blog, BizzyBlog.com, since 2005, and has been with NewsBusters since December 2005. Along the way, he's had a decades-long career in accounting, finance, training and development.
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One of the more revealing side effects of the 2016 presidential campaign, and especially the November election, is how old-line liberal publications which once had at least a veneer of respectability have completely gone off the deep end. Readers have come to expect completely unhinged, error-ridden material to routinely appear at places like Salon.com. But at the Atlantic? Beyond occasional shorter blog posts at its web site, we didn't used to see much of it. But there's no other way to describe a deeply flawed January 24 op-ed appearing there which sharply criticized ultrasound images of unborn children as an example of "how effectively politicians have used visual technology to redefine what counts as 'life.'"
In a late Wednesday afternoon NewsBusters post, I commented on the extraordinary hostility reporters at the Associated Press exhibited towards Donald Trump and his administration during their first two full business days in power. In that post, I wondered if they might be carrying a childish grudge over not being able to ask the first question at Press Secretary Sean Spicer's briefings, as they virtually always have since last decade. An unbylined late Tuesday AP report spotted by John Hinderaker at Powerline confirmed my suspicion. They're mad as hornets, and clearly can't handle it.
Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Examiner broke the story of a Secret Service agent who, in October on Facebook, declared her unwillingness to put her life on the line for a potential President Donald Trump. At that point, Kelly O'Grady, the special agent in charge for the Denver district, decided to become a selective Service agent, writing, per the Examiner, that "she would endure jail time' rather than 'taking a bullet' for what she regarded as a 'disaster' for America." The post ended with, "I'm with her," so it's not exactly difficult to determine that the potential "disaster" was Donald Trump. The New York Times waited about 24 hours before covering the story. As of 4 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, the Associated Press had not yet posted a related story at either of its two national sites.
Since last decade, it's been White House tradition that the press secretary typically calls on an Associated Press reporter to ask the first question at briefings. Trump administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer has not selected AP for the first question at either of his first two briefings, and numerous press outlets have noted that avoidance. It's more than fair to ask, given the tone of the AP's Trump administration coverage so far this week, whether the wire service's reporters are now carrying a horribly unprofessional grudge, causing them to become even more hostile in their reporting than they were during the 2016 election campaign and the presidential transition. (Update, Jan. 26: They definitely are.)
In a Tuesday morning dispatch about President Donald Trump's federal hiring freeze, the Associated Press's Matthew Barakat presented a quote from Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer. He followed it with a statistic which he wants readers to believe refutes Spicer's claim. That statistic does no such thing, but I expect, even though it's remarkably lazy and misleading, that it will become a very popular establishment press meme.
The New York Times reported Monday afternoon that NBC has suspended Saturday Night Live writer Katie Rich indefinitely for tweeting ... well, what? Reporter Dave Itzkoff failed to tell readers what Rich tweeted just minutes after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the nation's 45th President on Friday. Instead, he vaguely described it as "a widely criticized post she made Friday on her personal Twitter account in which she mocked Barron Trump, the 10-year-old son of President Donald J. Trump." That description required over 100 more characters than Rich's offensive tweet contained. Itzkoff's failure to quote is part of a trend.
On CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 on Saturday, Bakari Sellers described Saturday's "Women's March" as "something we haven't seen in this country or around this world in a very long time." Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance then pointed out the obvious, at least as far as the U.S. is concerned, which is that the Annual March for Life in Washington has routinely drawn crowds in the hundreds of thousands, and that January rallies in other cities, especially on the West Coast, have drawn ever-increasing throngs of prolife Americans. Nance clearly got under Sellers' skin when she questioned the validity of calling Saturday's event a "Women's March."
At 6:55 a.m. on Sunday, Angie Goff of NBC4 in Washington, whose Twitter handle is @OhMyGOFF, tweeted, "JUST IN: The White House releases statement ..." on Saturday's "Women's Marches" in Washington and elsewhere. Goff attached the alleged "White House" statement. 2-1/2 hours later, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that "The White House has not issued a statement." Good grief.
Here's an episode which indicates that many reporters in the establishment press expect the worst from Donald Trump, and can't wait to put it out there when they think they have it. On Friday, when Time Magazine political reporter Zeke Miller didn't immediately see the bust of Martin Luther King in the White House's Oval Office where he expected to see it, his knee-jerk assumption was that it was no longer there. So he tweeted that it was gone, with no indication that he first attempted to confirm with anyone in a position to know that it had been removed. Sensing a golden opportunity, others in the press accepted Miller's non-observation and freely retweeted it.
On Tuesday, Kyle Pope, Editor in Chief and Publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, posted "An open letter to Trump from the US press corps." Pope informed Mr. Trump, as if the man who is now this nation's 45th President didn't know already, that "while you have every right to decide your ground rules for engaging with the press, we have some, too."
An attempt by the Associated Press to smear Tom Price, nominated by Donald Trump as the next HHS Secretary, began Wednesday after the opening round of a Senate committee hearing. As of this writing, the wire service is up to its third such entry. The misleading reporting and hostility have increased with each dispatch.
Apparently, those employed as political reporters at the Associated Press never have to acknowledge the existence of their errors, let alone say they're sorry. They're also free to make major changes and corrections to the text of previously-filed reports without disclosing what they did to readers. The AP's reporting on the fight John Lewis picked with Donald Trump — and yes, Lewis started it by saying he won't attend Trump's inauguration and by questioning the legitimacy of Trump's general election victory — typifies the wire service's total lack of, or even apparent interest in, accountability.
Because he was the "singular 2016 (GOP) presidential contender never to fall in line behind Trump," Ohio Governor and two-time former presidential candidate John Kasich now has the Associated Press's deep respect. This largely explains why the wire service has been all too willing to ignore the fact that Kasich alone owns Ohio's impending budget problems.
On January 13, Kevin Freking at the Associated Press reported that Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) would be "joining several other Democrats who have decided to boycott" the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. It further reported that Lewis "said it will be the first inauguration he has missed in three decades as Democrats and Republicans took the oath of office." The fact is that John Lewis boycotted the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001 in very outspoken fashion. The AP has yet to correct the record — and the fact that it did not directly quote Lewis does not absolve them of that obligation. Additionally, the AP also reported Tuesday morning that no other congressman failed to attend Bush 43's inauguration. Contemporaneous post-inauguration news reports indicate that others besides Lewis were also absent.
On Friday, Georgia Congressman John Lewis, whose 5th District includes the City of Atlanta, said of Donald Trump that "I don’t see the president-elect as a legitimate president." Trump characteristically fired back with a two-part tweet firing back at Lewis. As would be expected, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution rushed to Lewis's defense. In its apparent haste to do so, a pair of journalists at the paper committed a colossal math blunder which vastly understated the city's crime rate, making the city look over 13 times safer than it really is.
There are predictable signs that after eight years of giving the problem inadequate attention and occasional ridicule, the business press has decided that federal budget deficits and the national debt are going to start to matter again. Gosh, I wonder why? The Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber was relatively subtle about it in a report on Uncle Sam's December and year-to-date budget deficits on Thursday. As would be expected, Paul Krugman wasn't subtle at all in his latest New York Times column.
In a January 5 column at the Oregonian, Douglas Perry promoted a study which claims to support the leftist meme that Donald Trump won the presidential election based on racial bigotry and sexism. It seems likely that the study to which Perry referred will become a frequent reference point for the left, so its fatal flaws need to be addressed. That's especially true because Vox.com founder Ezra Klein hysterically contends that the the study's evidence is so compelling, and that "The numbers here are impossible to read any other way."
Here we go again. A month ago, Robert Baer, a leading coddler of Iran who is an "Intelligence and Security Analyst" while pontificating at CNN, contended that alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election meant that the nation needs "to vote again." Now The Hill has given space to Chris Edelson, an assistant professor of government in American University's School of Public Affairs, to advocate the same thing ("Remedy for Russian meddling should be new election").
Demonstrating the power of fake news to influence uninformed people, just-elected Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire brought up a thoroughly discredited Washington Post story at the Senate confirmation hearing for Former General John Kelly. President-Elect Donald Trump has nominated Kelly to be the nation's next head of the Department of Homeland Security. Hassan brought up the Post's story on a late-December "infrastructure" attack by "a hacking group connected with the Russian government" on a Vermont utility as if it was an established fact — which, of course, it's not.
It's still over a week before Donald Trump's inauguration, but Richard Cohen at the Washington Post already has a plan to get rid of him. The Post writer clearly believes that Trump — right now — fits the definition found in the 25th Amendment of the Constitution of someone who is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office," and could therefore be summarily removed without the effort involved in impeaching and convicting him.