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By Tom Blumer | August 12, 2011 | 4:05 PM EDT

The next time I plan to escape reality for an extended time, I won't go to the trouble of forwarding the phones to voicemail and swearing off the Internet and TV for a few days. I'll just take whatever the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger must be consuming.

Crutsinger's 11:45 report this morning claims that "The better-than-expected retail sales report is the second strong signal on the economy in as many days." Strike 1: It was far from unanimously considered better than expected. Strike 2: It wasn't that strong regardless, considering that it was likely achieved on borrowed money. Strike 3: The report that he thinks was strong yesterday wasn't strong either. You're out, bud. Oh, and there's Strike 4 in reserve: Though he referred to consumers being "a little more confident," Crutsinger "somehow" ignored (and AP on the whole almost completely ignored) a devastating report showing consumer sentiment at a three-decade low released well before the time stamp of his report.

By Matt Hadro | August 12, 2011 | 3:36 PM EDT

Live from the Iowa State Fair, CNN's Don Lemon asked Republican presidential nominee Herman Cain if he could win the Iowa vote for the Republican nomination and for president, given that Cain belongs to a "mostly-white party" and is campaigning in a "mostly-white state."

Lemon had said the two had a "passionate conversation" prior to going on air, where he asked Cain "do you think in a party – in a mostly-white party in a mostly-white state, did you really stand a chance, not only of a nomination, of becoming President?"

By Ken Shepherd | August 12, 2011 | 3:20 PM EDT

"More than a dozen trade unions plan to sit out the 2012 Democratic convention because of their anger over the site of the meeting in a right-to-work state and their frustration over Democrats' struggles to create jobs," Sam Hananel of the Associated Press reported this afternoon.

By Geoffrey Dickens | August 12, 2011 | 3:10 PM EDT

Tina Brown got in hot water this week for an unflattering Newsweek cover photo of Tea Party Republican Michele Bachmann but those who've followed the current Daily Beast and Newsweek editor's career, ever since she brought her version of tabloid journalism over from England to Vanity Fair in 1984, can tell you this is just par for the course.

In fact that wasn't the first time the former editor of The New Yorker displayed her disgust for women of the right. After a run of victories by female candidates in the 2010 GOP primaries, Brown on the June 10 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, called the wins: "a blow to feminism." However when it comes to liberal women like Michelle Obama, Brown sings a decidedly different tune. Videos after the jump.

By Matthew Sheffield | August 12, 2011 | 3:03 PM EDT

It's not very often that you run into a story that so perfectly captures both the sheer contempt which many reporters hold for the public and their desire to enable Democratic politicians. That's what happened in Chicago earlier this week when conservative journalist Bill Kelly had the temerity to ask Illinois Democratic senator Dick Durbin if he felt that he shared any responsibility at all for the recent U.S. debt downgrade.

As a coddled and protected Democrat, Durbin certainly wasn't used to a tough question and he proceeded to ignore it, turning instead to a more compliant journalist, one Jim Anderson of Illinois Radio Network, for a different question. Little did he know just how helpful Anderson would be, even going so far as to threaten Kelly with expulsion from the news conference. Read on for video and summary of the disgraceful encounter.

By Scott Whitlock | August 12, 2011 | 2:57 PM EDT

NBC's Today show on Friday managed to avoid any ideological labels for a story on violence charges against the very liberal George Soros. Instead, reporter Mike Taibbi simply described him as "rich." In contrast, Good Morning America identified Soros as "liberal."

Both Today and ABC's GMA covered the allegations of Adriana Ferreyr, Soros' 28-year-old ex-girlfriend who is claiming that the left-wing billionaire attacked her and reneged on an offer to purchase an apartment. Yet, Taibbi never mentioned the ideology of Soros or the millions of dollars he's given to left-wing causes.

By NB Staff | August 12, 2011 | 2:36 PM EDT

The Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled ObamaCare's individual mandate is unconstitutional.

The court did, however, say that the rest of the legislation should not be tossed out with the forced-insurance requirement. Here's more from the Reuters news wire (emphasis ours):

By Brent Bozell | August 12, 2011 | 10:56 AM EDT

Editor's Note: What follows is NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell's thoughts on who won, who lost, and who should just pack it all in following last night's Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa.

Gingrich: The winner. Wasn't even close. Showed why Obama would pee in his pants having to debate this man.

Santorum: Also a winner. Showed most passion, and took on and beat up other candidates. But was it enough to keep him alive?

By Ken Shepherd | August 12, 2011 | 10:40 AM EDT

Update (12:50 p.m. EDT; see screencap below page break) | Tynan tweets: "ok, I apologize. to the axe murderers. you tea party guys need to develop a sense of humor. but I doubt it will happen."

You'd expect it from Newsweek or the New York Times, but PC World?

By NB Staff | August 12, 2011 | 10:27 AM EDT

Update: NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell has given his observations in a separate blog post accessible here.

Last night was the third Republican debate of the year, comprised of eight of the declared GOP candidates. All responded to hard-hitting questions from the Fox News and Washington Examiner moderators, debating foreign policy, the economy, and candidates' political records.

By Noel Sheppard | August 12, 2011 | 10:21 AM EDT

You really have to wonder what debate Mark Halperin was watching Thursday evening.

Appearing on Friday's "Morning Joe," the Time magazine and MSNBC political analyst declared former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney the winner of the Republican presidential debate in Iowa, and actually gave former House Speaker Newt Gingrich - who many thought stole the show - only a C+ (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):

By Terence P. Jeffrey | August 12, 2011 | 10:11 AM EDT

All six Democrats that have been assigned to the special joint congressional committee that will recommend means for cutting the nation’s anticipated spending by $1.5 trillion over the next ten years compiled voting records last year that earned them grades of “F” from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) announced today that she has assigned Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (S.C.), Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (Md.) to serve on the panel. Previously, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had named Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.) to serve on the committee.

By Julia A. Seymour | August 12, 2011 | 9:53 AM EDT

The recent decision by Standard & Poor's to downgrade the U.S. credit rating to AA+ from AAA upset many on the left, especially those within the Obama administration. The White House lashed out at S&P and some in the news media did too. So Business & Media Institute decided to look back at six years of network (ABC,CBS and NBC) coverage of S&P.

BMI found out that bulk of network criticism of the ratings agency came AFTER the Obama administration went on the attack and that the networks relied on S&P experts three times more than they criticized them.

By Mark Finkelstein | August 12, 2011 | 7:21 AM EDT

In a classic, table-pounding, tell-us-how-you-really feel rant, Joe Scarborough has ripped into Michele Bachmann, calling the Minnesota congresswoman and her candidacy "a joke."

Scarborough's impassioned anti-Bachmann blast came during Morning Joe's opening half-hour post mortem of last night's Republican presidential debate in Iowa.  View video after the jump.

By Tim Graham | August 12, 2011 | 7:07 AM EDT

In Friday's Washington Post, Metro section columnist Petula Dvorak dismissed the half-serious campaign by gay advocates to have the Muppet characters Ernie and Bert get married. She said preschoolers should see two new human characters on the educational PBS show: a gay couple. "Preschoolers will get this," she insisted.

Besides, we shouldn’t rely on puppets to acknowledge our country’s historic progress on same-sex relationships. And that brings us to a campaign I’d really like to see. It is time for “Sesame Street” to add a same-sex human couple to the show.