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.
Latest from Tom Blumer
Although the Kelo v. New London Supreme Court ruling almost two years ago caused an outpouring of outrage that still resonates nationwide, what has happened in New London itself in the wake of the decision has, with rare exception, received relatively little coverage outside of the state of Connecticut or, in a few instances, New England.
It isn't as if there haven't been many noteworthy developments after the decision was handed down. To start, here is a rundown of events that ultimately led to last summer's settlement:
- Within a month of the decision, the New London Development Corporation (NLDC) notified the Kelo holdouts that since they had been living on land that they didn't own during the duration of the lawsuit, they were liable for back rents during that entire time, in some cases amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This outrage, originally noted in local Connecticut weekly whose article link is no longer available, got no national attention until bloggers took note of it (here, here, and here, to name a few) and percolated it to the higher levels of the blogosphere (examples here [f-bomb warning] and here). Even then, Old Media, with few exceptions, one of them being this USA Today editorial, gave this shocking example of bureaucratic chutzpah little notice.
Perhaps you read this week that in April, the US Treasury reported all-time-record tax collections of $383.6 billion.
If you did, you didn't read it in the dead-trees version of the New York Times. The Old Grey Lady did not deem Thursday afternoon's news "fit to print" on Friday (requires free registration), even choosing not to carry the related Associated Press report that is the main topic of this post (even though the Time posted it online Thursday evening). A Times search on "April treasury" (not in quotes) shows no evidence of any other coverage since then, nor does Sunday's Business home page.
So, unless you happened to read a brief report from MarketWatch (requires registration) or subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (requires subscription), odds are that anything you read or heard about April's Monthly Treasury Statement came from the aforementioned AP report, written by good old Martin Crutsinger (some previous examples of Crutsinger's demonstrated bias and ignorance are here, here, here, and here).
Crutsinger's full report is here. Before I get to his biggest oversight, here are the report's relatively minor (I'm not kidding) shortcomings:
Excuse me if I question CBO's timing.
Impressive tax receipts bring in 'low' deficit of $150 billion
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Washington- The federal budget deficit could go as low as $150 billion this year, congressional analysts said Friday.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had earlier seen a deficit for 2007 of about $200 billion, but continued strong revenue growth has led CBO to lower its estimates.
..... Impressive tax receipts during the April filing season prompted the more optimistic estimates. This year's April receipts ran $70 billion higher than last year's. CBO says receipts are likely to grow at a 9 percent pace over the first months of the budget year.
Through the first seven months of the budget year, which ends Sept. 30, the government posted an $83 billion deficit, about $100 million less than during a comparable period last fiscal year.
The $70 billion revenue increase and the $83 billion deficit mentioned in Taylor's report, plus CBO's note in its report that April's surplus was $176 billion, are enough info to enable an update of a chart of what has happened during the first seven months of the government's fiscal year (the final numbers will differ by very small amounts):
Did the Dow’s ‘Bull Run’ Milestone Get to Your Paper’s Front Page Today?
Front page? Heck, the overwhelming odds are that it didn't get mentioned anywhere.
It should have been.
At CNNMoney.com, writers Alexandra Twin and Steve Hargreaves appear to be the only ones who even recognized the significance of yesterday's positive market close (bolds are mine):
Dow: Longest bull run in 80 years
Major gauges hit new milestones, but just barely; investors mull jobs report, oil prices, talk of a Microsoft-Yahoo merger.
May 4 2007: 4:09 PM EDT
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Dow Jones industrial average squeaked out another record high Friday, making this the longest bull run in 80 years, as investors cheered tame inflation numbers, talk of big mergers and a jobs report that appeared just right.
..... The Dow has now risen in 23 of the last 26 sessions, marking its longest bull run since the summer of 1927, when the indicator ended higher in 24 of 27 sessions, according to Dow Jones.
Question: When is a New York Times "Manufacturing Recession" not a recession?
Answer: When the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) keeps on issuing monthly reports, such as the one yesterday covering April, telling us that manufacturing is in expansion mode.
On February 28 (second item at link), Times Business writer David Leonhardt wrote the following:
For Manufacturing, a Recession Has Arrived
The nation’s manufacturing sector managed to slip into a recession with almost nobody seeming to notice. Well, until yesterday.
To this day, Leonhardt appears to be the only person to "notice" the recession in manufacturing -- because it doesn't exist.
The TimesSelect current tease for Leonhardt's article, which is now behind the Times' subscription firewall, is even worse, leading one to think that it tells us that the whole economy is in recession (bolds are mine):
In an unusual move last Friday, Ford decided that it couldn't wait for the month to end before it told us how bad it was going to be -- for the whole industry:
Ford Motor Co. said on Friday that U.S. auto industry sales to date in April were "terrible" as consumer confidence was hit by a slow housing market and rising gas prices.
..... Pipas said industry volume appeared to be down 10 percent to date before seasonal adjustment, but expected Ford's U.S. retail share to hold steady around 13 percent.
After an entire weekend where Pipas's message was spread virtually without criticism, the April vehicle-sales reality turned out to be quite different (the first figure is adjusted for the two-day difference in the number of "selling days" in April 2007  vs. April 2006 ; the second figure in parens is not adjusted for that difference):
In 1995, Bill Clinton said this to a Houston fund-raising audience about the 1993 tax increase his administration is infamous for:
Probably there are people in this room who are still mad at me at that budget because you think I raised your taxes too much. It might surprise you to know that I think I raised them too much too.
Imagine a conservative congressperson doing something this unhinged and not getting raked over the coals in the press (Wall Street Journal link requires subscription):
Tuesday was Africa Malaria Day, and Michigan Representative John Conyers marked the event by inviting something called the Pesticide Action Network to Capitol Hill to denounce DDT as an unsafe malaria intervention. What was he thinking?
Malaria, which is spread through mosquito bites, kills about a million people annually, mostly children and pregnant women in Africa. We're not sure where the House Judiciary Chairman got his medical expertise, but he won't reduce that death toll by promoting disinformation about DDT and malaria prevention. And at taxpayers' expense, no less.
PAN and a shrinking band of other activist know-nothings insist that employing DDT against malaria is "especially dangerous for developing infants and children," but there is no scientific basis to the claim. Zip.
Journalists in Washington are supposed to be public watchdogs. But when it comes to the crisis facing Social Security, they act more like lapdogs for politicians determined to shirk their responsibility.
The Washington Post, New York Times and Associated Press all led off their stories on the latest Social Security and Medicare trustees' projections by pointing out that Social Security isn't expected to deplete its trust fund reserves until 2041. This supports the contention of Democratic politicians and the AARP that the day of reckoning is more than three decades away, so reform is not an urgent need .....
That is, of course, incorrect, as The Heritage Foundation noted (bolds are mine):
Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski got lots of attention earlier this week as he tried to show us how allegedly inadequate the Food Stamp program is (bold is mine):
Ore. gov. starts week on food stamps
By Julia Silverman, Associated Press Writer | April 25, 2007
SALEM, Ore. --If Gov. Ted Kulongoski seems a little sluggish this week, he's got an excuse: he couldn't afford coffee.
In fact, the Democratic governor couldn't afford much of anything during a trip to a Salem-area grocery store on Tuesday, where he had exactly $21 to buy a week's worth of food -- the same amount that the state's average food stamp recipient spends weekly on groceries.
Kulongoski is taking the weeklong challenge to raise awareness about the difficulty of feeding a family on a food stamp budget.
The governor put on quite a show trying to stay within that $21:
It becomes more evident as time goes by that if a stem-cell development isn't based on embryonic research, it probably won't get the attention of the Formerly Mainstream Media.
The announcement early last week by Cellerant Therapeutics appears to involve a company more interested in advancing human health than in generating unsupported hype. Because it represents real progress, Cellerant's announcement (of course) involves adult stem cells (link to dictionary definition of "hematopoietic" added by me):
April 23, 2007 10:13 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Cellerant Therapeutics Reversed Autoimmune Disease in Lupus Mice with Transplant of Purified Donor Blood Stem Cells
Putting aside the obvious question ("Why are you an LA Times reader?") for the moment -- Apparently you'll get closer to the truth of what's happening in Iraq by reading a Times columnist than you will by reading reports from Times reporters actually assigned to deliver that information.
Here are the first few paragraphs of what columnist Max Boot had to say a few days ago:
In his report last Thursday (HT Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em) on Congress's passage of a bill that would grant congressional representation for the District of Columbia, Associated Press writer Jim Abrams opened with nearly celebratory language. He also noted the existence of a constitutional objection to the law but failed to explain how ironclad that objection most likely is:
The people of the District of Columbia moved a step closer Thursday to gaining voting rights denied to them for more than 200 years.
But the legislation passed by the House on a 241-177 vote faced a veto threat from the White House, which said the bill was unconstitutional.
In recounting a previous such effort and its results at the end of his report, Abrams missed an easy opportunity to explain why what the House did should be irrelevant:
Is The Ford Motor Company committing an Old-Media-assisted suicide?
On Wednesday, One News Now had a story about how the Formerly Mainstream Media has largely ignored the negative impact the the American Family Association's boycott of Ford has had on the company (an audio version of the report is also at the link):
News media ignoring Ford boycott, media analyst says
In late February and early March, Alan Greenspan's musing and odds-making on whether the US economy would go into a recession later this year was all the rage in the Formerly Mainstream Media.
Here's how Craig Torres of Bloomberg News started out his March 7 report carried in the Washington Post:
'One-Third Probability' in '07, Former Fed Chief Says
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said yesterday that there is a "one-third probability" of a U.S. recession this year and that the current economic expansion won't have the staying power of its decade-long predecessor.
"We are in the sixth year of a recovery; imbalances can emerge as a result," Greenspan said in an interview at his District office. "The historically normal business cycle is much shorter" than a decade and is likely to be this time, he said.
Greenspan's outlook contrasts with the prediction of his successor, Ben S. Bernanke, who told Congress last week that the economy might strengthen this year. Bernanke's upbeat assessment helped steady stock markets on Feb. 28 after a plunge the day before that some traders attributed partly to Greenspan's musing that a recession could not be ruled out.
What a difference about 40 days makes.
Of course there were many other newsmaking events this week, but the relatively silent treatment this story received from Old Media is still not a surprise (the link is to a story at a trade publication's web site; very few papers had a related story written by the Associated Press):
Maryland Abandons ‘Fair Share’ Health Care Fight
From the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Real Earnings News Release yesterday:
Average weekly earnings rose by 4.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, from March 2006 to March 2007. After deflation by the CPI-W, average weekly earnings increased by 1.6 percent.
And here's one for Paul "the rich are getting it all" Krugman of the New York Times -- Note who is being surveyed when these numbers are determined:
Earnings series from the monthly establishment series are estimated arithmetic averages (means) of the hourly and weekly earnings of all production or nonsupervisory jobs in the private nonfarm sector of the economy.
It's Joe and Josephine Sixpack whose earnings have "really" increased in the past year.
Even more confirmation came from BLS today:
OVERVIEW: I believe that the sale of The Tribune Company last week to investor Sam Zell is an unrecognized low-water mark in the newspaper publishing business. In fact, after subtracting the value of the Tribune's non-newspaper properties from the deal, what little value remains indicates that the value of having access to a newspaper's readers is a mind-boggling 70% less than it was a mere seven years ago.
Is it possible that Tribune Company investors are paying the price of many years of relentless misreporting and biased reporting at its newspapers, especially those it acquired when it bought Times Mirror in 2000? While the numbers presented here of necessity involve a fair amount of approximation, it's hard to avoid concluding that the answer is "yes."
A chart of The Tribune Company's stock performance during the past eight years shows that it has clearly been an underperformer: