Tom Blumer was 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 was with NewsBusters from December 2005 to July 2018. Along the way, he's had a decades-long career in accounting, finance, training and development.
Latest from Tom Blumer
In an attempt to salvage some degree of credibility for presidential candidate Barack Obama's assertions about military equipment shortages, Reuters reporter Andrew Gray went back to a long-discredited claim planted by a local Tennessee reporter, and resurrected a Donald Rumsfeld quote that was not relevant to his story topic.
First, Gray went to what Obama claimed, and how the Pentagon responded:
During the face-to-face encounter on Thursday evening, Obama said he had heard from an Army captain whose unit had served in Afghanistan without enough ammunition or vehicles.
Obama said it was easier for the troops to capture weapons from Taliban militants than it was "to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief," President George W. Bush.
"I find that account pretty hard to imagine," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.
There is no need to play the parlor game, "What party is this person a member of?" with this Associated Press story by Lara Jakes Jordan (Feb. 23 Note: The original link from AP's hosted.ap.org site was changed; the story link now goes to Jordan's story carried at SignOnSanDiego.com. Jordan's report has been saved for future reference at BizzyBlog's host for fair use and discussion purposes):
Congressman Charged in Land Deal
Republican Rep. Rick Renzi was indicted Friday on charges of extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and other matters in an Arizona land swap scam that allegedly helped him collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs.
A 26-page federal indictment unsealed in Tucson, Ariz., accuses Renzi and two former business partners of embezzlement and conspiring to promote the sale of land that buyers could swap for property owned by the federal government.
Associated Press writer Tini Tran, in covering the fallout inside Mainland/Communist China from Steven Spielberg's decision to resign from his position as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics over that country's involvement in Darfur, introduced the critical reaction to his decision as a "groundswell" rising up from the public. But the detail presented indicates that the reaction came from Chinese officialdom far more than from the public in general (bolds are mine):
China Media, Public Angered by Spielberg
Hollywood director Steven Spielberg's decision to quit the Beijing Olympics over the Darfur crisis is drawing condemnation by China's state-controlled media and a groundswell of criticism from the Chinese public.
..... Officially, the Chinese government has not directly criticized Spielberg by name, expressing only "regret" over his decision. But the state-run media and the public have been far less restrained.
I'm in the unusual position of defending uber-liberal Margaret Carlson. Carlson, formerly of Time and CNN's old Capital Gang, now with uber-liberal Al Hunt's Bloomberg News, was unfairly ripped by Taylor Marsh over at Huffington Post Saturday.
Carlson sent an e-mail to someone suggesting that, as far as Hillary Clinton's candidacy is concerned:
..... I covered the Clinton White House for 8 years and don't think it would be good for the country to go back there.
Relatively innocuous stuff.
Not according to Marsh, who launched into a major rant:
I see that Bill Clinton is once again taking credit for the "good things" that happened in the 1990s, as Jack Tapper at ABC's Political Punch reports:
"There are two competing moods in America today," Clinton said. "People who want something fresh and new -- and they find it inspiring that we might elect a president who literally was not part of any of the good things that happened or any of the bad things that were stopped before. The explicit argument of the campaign against Hillary is that 'No one who was involved in the 1990s or this decade can possibly be an effective president because they had fights. We're not going to have any of those anymore.' Well, if you believe that, I got some land I wanna sell you."
I also see that Tapper is letting Mr. Clinton's claims pass as if they are undeniable facts, as others in Old Media have done for so many years:
In changing his tune on whether delegates from Michigan and Florida should be able to vote their preferences at the Democratic National Convention based on the results of those states' primaries, Harold Ickes has gone from DNC hack to Hillary Clinton flack.
Yesterday, Associated Press reporter Hope Yen gave Ickes an open microphone to "explain" himself, and showed no skepticism regarding Ickes's hopefully conflicting positions (bolds are mine):
Harold Ickes, a top adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign who voted for Democratic Party rules that stripped Michigan and Florida of their delegates, now is arguing against the very penalty he helped pass.
Granted, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is a trade organization which will, as trade organizations do, try to put the best face on a bad situation. And granted, part of the press's job is to filter through hype and false sunniness to report the truth of what's really going on.
But that is most emphatically not what the Associated Press did with yesterday's NAR report on the state of the national housing market. Instead, AP failed to report overall statistics in favor of reporting individual metro areas; ignored most of the legitimately good news; ignored an important piece of historical context; and, most importantly, and as has been the case for well over a year in the national business press, emphasized reductions in unit sales while de-emphasizing much smaller reductions in sale prices.
Here are five of the key paragraphs AP's unbylined report ("New data reveal breadth of housing slump"):
(See Update below for correction and clarification re Google News.)
This one has an interesting twist relating to Google News that I will get to later.
It should be no surprise that the so-called "newspapers of record" did very little with the news earlier this week that the actiing director of an Iraqi psychiatric hospital had been arrested for allegedly supplying mentally ill patients for use as, for lack of a better description, unwillingly co-opted "suicide bombers."
First, give the New York Times credit for doing what NewsBusters' Ken Shepherd found Newsweek unable to do.
The Times, in a report (link requires free registration) by Robert F. Worth and Nada Bakri, actually called the recently slain Hezbollah commander Imad Mugniyah a terrorist:
A top Hezbollah commander long sought by the United States for his role in terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of Americans in the 1980s, died Tuesday night in Damascus, Syria, when a bomb detonated under the vehicle he was in, Syrian officials said.
No one claimed responsibility for killing the commander, Imad Mugniyah, who had been in hiding for many years and was one of the most wanted and elusive terrorists in the world.
But, as James Taranto at Best of the Web noted, the Times's headline ("Bomb in Syria Kills Militant Sought as Terrorist") is nowhere near as clear as the first two paragraphs of the article's text, and a related Times online video by reporter John Kifner is much more blunt in its judgment of Mugniyah (Kifner received a reporting credit but not a byline in the print article).
Yesterday, the Associated Press, in its ongoing campaign to make sure that readers get and stay downbeat about the economy, made sure that its story on January's retail sales had can't-miss gloom and doom in it:
Retail sales posted a surprising rebound in January following a dismal December, although much of the strength reflected rising gasoline prices. Economists saw the increase as a temporary blip rather than a sustained recovery.
..... The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that retail sales rose by 0.3 percent last month after having fallen by 0.4 percent in December.
After the Beltway primaries on Tuesday, the Associated Press's Ron Fournier compiled a different kind of Clinton Enemies List.
No, not the people and groups Bill and Hillary consider to be their enemies.
Instead, in "Chickens Come Home to Roost," Fournier listed the types of Democratic Convention superdelegates who have been unhappy with the Clintons for as many as 16 years:
..... they are not all super fans of the Clintons.
Some are labor leaders still angry that Bill Clinton championed the North American Free Trade Agreement as part of his centrist agenda.
Some are social activists who lobbied unsuccessfully to get him to veto welfare reform legislation, a talking point for his 1996 re-election campaign.
Some served in Congress when the Clintons dismissed their advice on health care reform in 1993. Some called her a bully at the time.
On Saturday, Toledo-area blogger Maggie Thurber, yours truly (NewsBusters; BizzyBlog), and many others dealt with the now-national story of how Glass City Mayor Carty Finkbeiner had turned away Marine Corps Reservists who had been given prior clearance to conduct weekend urban warfare exercises in the city.
The Toledo Blade's Sunday and Monday coverage of the story clearly showed sympathy towards the still-unrepentant mayor, while taking a "what's the big deal?" attitude towards those who don't appreciate what he did.
Sunday's report by JC Reindl started its defense in its headlines ("Finkbeiner taking flak over Marines; Mayor defends his decision to cancel urban war games"; bolds are mine throughout), and continued into its text:
Is the Glass City becoming the Berkeley of the Midwest?
VACATE THE PREMISES
Mayor to Marines: Leave downtown
He says urban exercises scare people
A company of Marine Corps Reservists received a cold send-off from downtown Toledo yesterday by order of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.
The 200 members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., planned to spend their weekend engaged in urban patrol exercises on the streets of downtown as well as inside the mostly vacant Madison Building, 607 Madison Ave.
Toledo police knew days in advance about their plans for a three-day exercise. Yet somehow the memo never made it to Mayor Finkbeiner, who ordered the Marines out yesterday afternoon just minutes before their buses were to arrive.
"The mayor asked them to leave because they frighten people," said Brian Schwartz, the mayor's spokesman.
It's hard to tell whether this was bias or sloppiness in the race to be first with a story, but USA Today has some egg on its fact this morning.
I received this USAT e-mail last night, concerning Democratice Primary results in Harry Truman's home state of Missouri:
Uh, not exactly:
The Cleveland Plain Dealer apparently decided to do something wtih a story it was dragged into kicking and screaming last fall -- one that it seemed at the time to be wishing would go away.
Saturday, David Briggs, the paper's religion reporter, did something with a near non-story relating to previous events that he and his paper failed to do twice when it counted: He followed up, reporting on the difficulties a Cleveland mosque is experiencing in finding a new imam.
Yesterday, NewsBusters' Kyle Drennan noted how CBS used the news of two coordinated and related suicide bombings in Baghdad to declare that "the new Baghdad feels a lot like the old Baghdad," and as a platform for a far-left guest to declare that "the surge isn't working."
Drennan's first commenter noted the mentally impaired state of the women who blew themselves up -- something CBS "somehow" failed to report.
CBS was not alone in ignoring or downplaying that important aspect of the story, as blogger Confederate Yankee reports (links are in his original; bold is mine):
Two suicide attacks on pet markets in Baghdad today have left approximately 100 killed and twice as many wounded. Both attacks used women "with Down's syndrome" according the the Daily Mail and less specifically, they were described as "mentally disabled" according to CNN.
Both bombs appear to have been remote detonated. These women probably did not know they were carrying explosives at all, and it would probably be fair to include them among the victims.
Where did the story about the "durable" goods report go?
Y'know, the one that I found out about in this CNNMoney e-mail this morning....
Even with a search warrant, the word "durable" could not be found once the reader got past the CNNMoney index page earlier today (middle story, middle column in the graphic that follows):
I have referred to Mr. Wesbury's work frequently. That's because he has been, as he is today, a sober voice standing up to Old Media-driven economic hysteria with those stubborn things known as facts.
Wesbury first caught my attention when he expressed alarm in late 2005 that 43% of the country thought we were in a recession -- not about to go into one, actually in one. That same poll metric reads 35% today.
There wasn't a recession then, and odds are, as Wesbury notes, we're not near one now.
Here are some snips from his Wall Street Journal column today, making a number of points about the current economy, and reminding us that inflation has not been relegated to irrelevancy. He doesn't extensively call out Old Media's gloomy economic coverage, but I don't doubt for a minute that he considers it a major negative factor (bolds are mine):
It is hard to imagine any time in history when such rampant pessimism about the economy has existed with so little evidence of serious trouble.
In the wake of Hillary Clinton's 2-1 thrashing in South Carolina at the hands of the politician I typically refer to as BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama), the spin from Mrs. Clinton's husband is that it has no more significance than Jesse Jackson's Palmetto State victories in 1984 and 1988.
Kausfiles blogger Mickey Kaus shows that the claim doesn't stand up to scrutiny (links and bolds are in original):
You wouldn't expect the New York Times (Times links usually require free registration) to refer to work by yours truly without getting it wrong, would you? Why, of course not.
The portion of today's "Taking the Bears to Task" brief by Times reporter Dan Mitchell that refers to my Wednesday Pajamas Media column ("Is the Downbeat Business Press Right about the Economy?"; also here at BizzyBlog) doesn't disappoint.
Here is what Mitchell wrote (link is in original):
The mainstream media is also far too pessimistic, according to Tom Blumer, a blogger for Pajamas Media, a right-leaning Web site. On Tuesday, he quoted a routine dispassionate Reuters report about huge drops in stock index futures before the markets opened. The report, which indicated that the coming trading day might see big losses, amounted to “icing the champagne for the late afternoon,” he wrote — a typical case of the media’s seeking to “party hearty on bad news.”
That day, the Dow fell 465 points after the opening bell, then recovered somewhat as it digested the news of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate cut, closing down 128 points.