Tom Blumer

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Contributing Editor


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

In his "analysis" on Tuesday's U.S. District Court ruling which called a halt to "a secret investigation into his 2012 recall campaign and conservative groups that supported" Scott Walker, Wisconsin's Republican Governor, Scott Bauer at the Associated Press basically gave away what the prosecution's agenda really has been all about.

It really hasn't been about cleaning up political campaigns, or whatever other similar tired bromides the Walker-hating left dishes out from time to time. It's been about hurting Walker's reelection effort this fall and punishing him for reforming public-sector collective bargaining in the Badger State. Short of that, it's an attempt to marginalize him as a potential 2016 presidential candidate by smearing him with the "under investigation" and "scandal" tags. Let's start with the opening paragraphs of Bauer's bluster (bolds are mine throughout this post):


Robert Costa's disdain for Tea Party-sympathetic conservatives was quite evident tonight in his coverage of Republican House Speaker John Boehner's primary victory at the Washington Post. Costa, a former writer at National Review, even insulted the noble pursuits of justice and the truth regarding Benghazi and the IRS's targeting of conservative and other groups by calling them "red meat for the tea party faithful."

The WaPo reporter characterized Boehner as having "swatted away" his opposition without revealing that the Speaker got only 69 percent of the vote. Yes, I wrote "only." Costa himself noted that "a sitting speaker still has never been defeated in a primary election," but didn't disclose Boehner's percentage of the vote. That's odd to say the least. I don't recall a sitting speaker ever losing 31 percent of the vote in a party primary, and it's possible that it has never happened outside of circumstances involving scandal or crime. I certainly don't recall a sitting speaker opening his wallet to defend his seat in a primary as Boehner did. Excerpts and analysis follow the jump (bolds are mine):


Michael Hirsh is the recently named National Editor at Politico Magazine, an effort which turning is out to be to the left of the crumbling Time Magazine and the for-now defunct Newsweek. One of Hirsh's career lowlights — he probably thinks it's a highlight — is his December 2008 contention that President George W. Bush having a shoe thrown at him in Iraq "was somehow appropriate."

Lest there be any doubt as to the possibility that there will be fair and balanced reporting on Benghazi on Hirsh's watch, I give you excerpts from "The Benghazi-Industrial Complex; Will the pseudo-scandal be enough to stop Hillary from running?" — wherein Hirsh plows new groveling ground (bolds are mine):


In stark contrast to the celebratory "AMERICAN ECONOMY BOUNCES BACK FROM BRUTAL WINTER" headline Friday afternoon at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Ben White's "Morning Money" report at the Politico is notably concerned about whether Friday's "vexing jobs report" justifies the kind of optimism the AP conveyed with seeming finality in its headline.

To be fair, the underlying AP report by Chris Rugaber and Josh Boak pointed to several weaknesses in the jobs report. But to be appropriately critical, as I noted yesterday, they took it as a virtual given that the economy will turn in full-year growth of "nearly 3 percent." Achieving that result will require second-half annualized growth of nearly 4 percent — a level would likely cause the Federal Reserve to put on the brakes by raising interest rates to stave off inflation. In a separate post, I also criticized the AP pair for presenting economists's estimates of 3.5 percent annualized growth in the second quarter without telling readers that their prediction is premised on the first quarter's current 0.1 percent result getting revised downward into contraction.


This morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Friday afternoon's coverage of the government's jobs report at the Associated Press by economics writers Christopher Rugaber and Josh Boak carried predictions of "nearly 3 percent" economic growth this year. Those predictions ignore how difficult achieving that will be after the first quarter's miserable 0.1 percent annualized result and "most economists'" estimates that the second quarter will come in at 3.5 percent. Those two results require average annualized growth of 3.9 percent during the third and fourth quarters — something the economy hasn't seen in ten years. Additionally, it appears that if the Federal Reserve under Janet Yellen sees that kind of growth, it will put on the brakes by raising interest rates in the name of heading off inflation.

Since they were entertaining predictions about future developments, it's more than a little odd that the AP pair chose to ignore many analysts' predictions that the first quarter's GDP result will move into contraction when it gets revised in future months — especially since those downward revisions, supposedly reflecting deferred growth, partially justify their 3.5 percent second-quarter prediction. It sure looks like Rugaber and Boak were selective in deciding what they would report.


In a Friday afternoon dispatch issued in the wake of the government's jobs report earlier that day, Christopher Rugaber and Josh Boak at the Associated Press wrote that "most economists ... forecast a strong rebound in economic growth - to a 3.5 percent annual rate in the current April-June quarter. And growth should reach nearly 3 percent for the full year, up from 1.9 percent in 2013, they expect."

There are two problems with that prediction. The first lies in how strong the third and fourth quarters will have to be for the economy to get "nearly 3 percent" for the full year, given the tiny first-quarter annualized growth of 0.1 percent reported on Wednesday. The second and perhaps more crucial issue is that the full-year estimate significantly exceeds the "altered assessment" at the Fed concerning how fast it thinks the economy can grow without running the risk of igniting inflation.


In June 2006, the New York Times, over strident pleas not to from the Bush 43 administration, published details of how counterterrorism officials were "tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry." According to the administration, the program had "helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia." Other outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, which were apparently on the brink of breaking what the Times reported first, also chipped in with their own supplements. The stories received prominent network TV coverage, and reinforced the image of the Bush administration as secretive and far less than transparent.

So the details of how the government was monitoring the operation of the world's financial system to obtain clues to help catch terrorists apparently deserved full exposure. If that's fine, why has the press been barely interested in a far more troubling development, namely Eric Holder's U.S. Department of Justice using pressure on the financial system to conduct "a massive government overreach into private businesses that are operating within the law," which has been going on for at least a year? Welcome to "Operation Choke Point."


Last weekend in Indianapolis, a reported 80,000 people attended the 143rd NRA Annual Meeting.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's group Everytown For Gun Safety was also present — but barely. Media coverage of that group's activities largely tiptoed around the tiny number of people, some allegedly paid, the group was able to gather. Let's start with a Sunday morning report from NPR's Bill Chappell (bolds are mine throughout this post):


When several members of Congress set out in the early 1990s to improve fiscal reporting and internal controls in the federal government, one thing they certainly had a right to expect is that the press would report on lapses as embarrassments, and that otherwise nonchalant or reluctant bureaucrats would figure out that it would be in their best interest to tighten their ships. It hasn't happened, largely because the press quickly got bored, enabling the bureaucrats to thumb their noses at those who called them out for weak reporting or control violations.

To name just one glaring example: Concerning the Internal Revenue Service, in August of last year, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration happily reported "the downgrade of the information security material weakness to a significant deficiency during the Fiscal Year 2012 financial statement audit," and that "the IRS removed it from the December 31, 2012, remediation plan" (that's bureaucratese for "finally solved the problem") — 19 years after it was first identified in 1993. In that context, let's look at an outrageous situation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt has made nice with President Barack Obama on several occasions. Among other things, he chaired the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which met a grand total of four times in 2011 and 2012 before it was unceremoniously allowed to expire a year later. He fully expected that his company would benefit from its involvement in green energy and its membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. He also endeared himself to Team Obama by calling "other U.S. business leaders greedy and mean."

In more than a minor comeuppance, as well as the latest evidence that business-related news reflecting badly on the Obama administration almost never escapes the business pages and center-right blogs and outlets, Inmelt's company has seen its medical division hit hard by the onset of Obamacare. Portions of Bloomberg News's original April 17 report follow the jump.


NewsBusters commenter "bkeyser" at my Benghazi-related post last night pointed to a tweet from Politico Magazine Deputy Editor Blake Hounshell that is at the same time breathtakingly ignorant and astonishingly insolent.

Reacting to the contents of Benghazi-related emails finally obtained and published by Judicial Watch, Hounshell asked, "Can you point me to a credible, authoritative story saying the WH knowingly pushed a false narrative?" Well Blake, on the off-chance that you're really interested in the truth instead of serving as one of your organization's lead Obama administration lapdogs, I give you the Tuesday night writeup from an investigative journalist who, per her "about" page, has won four national Emmy Awards and has been nominated for eight others.


This afternoon (late morning Pacific Time), Roger Simon at PJ Media had several reactions to the latest developments in the Benghazi saga, as new evidence surfaced of a White House "effort to insulate President Barack Obama from the attacks that killed four Americans." Simon's press-related assertion: "We will now see if there is even a figment of honesty in our mainstream media ..."

Though it's still early (but just barely), it's not looking good, my friend. Matt Hadro at NewsBusters indicated as much earlier tonight in noting that the TV networks have thus far ignored the news. Later, I'll show that other key online establishment press sources are also ignoring this bombshell story.


At the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Martin Crutsinger has pretty much proven that he's been on some kind of workout regimen. If he wasn't, he couldn't possibly have carried so much Obama administration water in his 1:45 p.m. report on the state of the economy (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) as he did.

Crutsinger's message: Pay no attention to that lousy GDP report we expect to see tomorrow morning (there's some reason to believe that it may get artificially juiced, which I'll explain later). Starting this month, the economy has been smokin', and this year's going to be just great. Too bad the evidence for his optimism mostly doesn't exist — and to the extent it does, it's not rip-roaring great. Excerpts from Crutsinger's latest crummy creation follow the jump.

 


The National Employment Law Project claims that it is dedicated to "working to restore the promise of economic opportunity in the 21st century economy." That sounds promising, but one look at NELP's directors and the supposed "solutions" the group and its friends advocate — e.g., higher minimum wage, "uphold the freedom to join a union." etc. It's clear that NELP is just another lefty advocacy group pushing the kinds of policies which have led to six years of economic weakness.

That said, NELP recently released research showing that jobs gained since the recession ended have skewed far more heavily towards low-wage industries than the jobs which were lost during the recession. Press coverage has been skimpy. The one major writeup at the New York Times on Sunday for Monday's print edition appeared on Page B4. The nature of Annie Lowrey's coverage at the Times led Fox News to accuratey tease it as a story about the "Fast-Food Recovery." Excerpts from the Times story follow the jump (bolds are mine):


The Associated Press's lengthy Monday evening treatment of Toyota's decision to move its U.S. headquarters and consolidate many of its North American operations in Metro Dallas is reasonably good in spots. But Gillian Flaccus and Michael R. Blood were unduly selective in reporting Torrance, California Mayor Frank Scotto's reaction to the news that his town would be losing several thousand jobs, and downplayed the relevance of clearly obvious factors influencing the move.

Let's see what Scotto, a Republican, told the Los Angeles Times, followed by the AP's reporting.


At the Associated Press today, economics writer Christopher Rugaber was a bit subdued, even when presented with nominally favorable news. He wrote that the March rise in the National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index of 3.4 percent, the first gain in nine months, was "a sign that the housing market might pick up after a sluggish start to the year."

Rugaber's relative ruefulness, which after being fed through the media translator actually means "Things really stink," is understandable once one looks at how pathetic that gain is in the circumstances, and at a key paragraph in the NAR's press release which he chose to ignore.


Professor Robert N. Stavins at Harvard's Kennedy School hardly seems like a major climate change/global warming boat-rocker. At his blog last year, he described climate change as "the ultimate global commons problem," where "international, if not global, cooperation is essential." Commenting on climate talks in Doha, Qatar in December 2012, he saw the role of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements as helping countries and international bodies "address climate change in ways that are scientifically sound, economically rational, and politically pragmatic."

So Stavins is no "denier," as enviros on the left are given to calling anyone who dares to question climate change dogma. But he strongly objects to how his role in the latest IPCC report relating to how countries might co-operate to reduce carbon emissions — basically where the rubber meets the road in affecting everyday citizens' lives — was compromised by intense political interference. Excerpts from the UK Daily Mail's coverage, once again an instance of the UK tabloids scooping the U.S. press, follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):


Politico's David Nather must have thought he was so clever. Here's how he opened a recent column: "It can happen to anyone, right? You rally behind a guy ... and suddenly he’s spewing racist bile and boy, does it splash on your face." Yes, I left out a few words, and I'll get to that. But before providing them, the quote just rendered would apply to how those at Los Angeles branch of the NAACP must feel about their now-withdrawn but not forgotten plan to confer a lifetime achievement award on Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling, who has been caught on tape allegedly telling a woman that she shouldn't "associate with black people" or have blacks accompany her to Clippers games.

Let's revise Nather's blather a bit for another comic circumstance: "It can happen to anyone, right? You rally behind a guy because he comes over to your side on climate change, and suddenly he’s arrested in 'a 20-count federal indictment that includes charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and tax fraud.' Boy, does it splash on your face." Now I'm talking about the fools at Organizing For Action, who celebrated the "breakthrough" of having GOP Congressman Michael Grimm come over to their side mere days before his indictment, which occurred today


In a Saturday afternoon tweet, former Bill Clinton campaign strategist and former CNN talking head Paul Begala showed that he's quite a confused guy concerning Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling. Sterling, as noted previously (here and here), has been caught on tape chiding a person who is apparently his girlfriend for "taking pictures with minorities" and "associating with black people." Sterling sees her as a "delicate" "Latina or white girl" who shouldn't "associate with black people." He asks her not to bring black people, including NBA legend Magic Johnson, to games.

Given these developments, Begala gave a "friendly tip" to several conservatives and Republicans, specifically talk radio's Sean Hannity and GOP Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. In the process, he betrayed a likely need to broaden his media consumption habits beyond the liberal bubble. Begala's tweet follows the jump:


A Friday afternoon email I received from Organizing For Action, aka BarackObama.com, aka the group whose mission in life is to support whatever President Obama wants them to support, took me by surprise.

The email, which is replicated at an OFA post, told readers that "There's one fewer climate change denier in Congress." I figured that the congressman who flipped almost had to be a Republican, and I was right: "Congressman Michael Grimm (NY-11) is standing up for an honest and reality-based discussion on what to do about climate change." I also thought to myself that something else must be going here. Is it ever. I hope OFA didn't spend too much on party favors for what it described as a "breakthrough," because they happen to be cheering the "conversion" of a guy who is about to be indicted: