It seems reasonable from their coverage in anticipation of the Census Bureua's release of income and poverty statistics this week that Hope Yen and Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press have a roof over their heads and aren't particularly worried about where their next meal is coming from. If so, good for them; may those circumstances continue.
What's remarkable, though, is how a government report that the media, especially the AP, has traditionally treated as an indicator of society's alleged failure to take care of its neediest --with the blame often directly aimed at Republicans and conservatives -- is now primarily a political problem for the party in power. Yen and Sidoti engage in a presidential pity party, and in the process come off as indifferent about what the numbers, for all their imperfections (and they are substantial), might mean in human terms -- again, something the press normally obsesses over, especially when a Republican or conservative is president. This time, it seems that if Ms. Yen and Ms. Sidoti had their way, this unfortunate information would be held until at least November 3.
What follows are graphic capture's of the pair's first four paragraphs, followed by paragraphs 12-16:
- This report comes out each September, but this one is suddently "unfortunate timing" and "another blow" for the president and his party. The AP didn't seem to handle things the same way eight years ago, the last time a new president and his Congressional majority party faced mid-term elections. Even though George W. Bush's administration was dealing with the aftermath of an official "recession" and the poverty rate rose, you'll see in this unbylined AP item in the September 24, 2002 Gainesville Sun published after the release of that year's report that there was no reference to how unfortunate the timing or the news might be for W. The AP did find the time to get a quote from Democrat Paul Sarbanes, who, in AP's paraphrasing, said that "the Bush administration had focused too much attention on tax cuts and not enough on the needs of the most vulnerable citizens."
- "Rightly or wrongly, Republicans could cite a higher poverty rate as evidence" that "Obama's economic fixes are hindering the sluggish economic recovery." It would have been interesting to see Yen and Sidoti try to find someone to quote on this topic. It seems only fair, given that they gave Paul Sarbanes a chance to say why George Bush was allegedly wrong.
- Yen and Sidoti automatically assume that blacks and Hispanics will respond to the reported rise in their poverty rate by voting as they usually do or staying home during the midterm elections. Isn't it just a little bit possible that some of them will decide that voting for the other team might make more sense after almost two years of not so benign neglect at the hands of the party they have traditionally favored?
- Oh, and am I supposed to believe that the Essential Global News Network doesn't have a homelessness-related photo dated later than the April 13, 2009 article-accompanying item seen at the top right of this post? Why, you'd think AP might be trying to imply that homelessness hasn't gotten any worse in the intervening 17 months. But it has. Really.
As is seemingly typical at AP, in unexcerpted material the report quoted and labeled one allegedly "conservative" political science professor at New York University while later quoting an economist from far-left American Prospect co-founder Robert Kuttner's Economic Policy Institute (board members, including Kuttner, are listed and described here). Of course, the EPI "somehow" went unlabeled.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.