The government's traditionally enforced safety standards on automobiles sold in the United States. But the government didn't always own a car company. So you'd expect the media to take a hard look when the government's roles as regulator and competitor converge.

But unless you saw the Jan. 28 broadcast of CNBC's "Power Lunch," you might not realize that this is exactly what has happened. In an interview with CNBC "Power Lunch" co-host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., was asked about the Toyota recall, which involves 2.3 million vehicles since a Toyota manufacturing facility had recently located in Alabama.

"We've got a fabulous Toyota engine plant in Alabama," Sessions replied. "They've been doing very well. It seems that they've recognized they're going to fix this problem and it's going to take some effort."

ObamaSOTUIn his State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama had this to say about the Supreme Court's recent ruling on campaign finance:
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.

Brad Smith at National Review Online has already delivered the definitive debunking of the president's statement, while offering two choices as to what that statement represents. Whichever it is (I pick "demagoguery"), the fact that Obama could even have the nerve to make such a statement exemplifies how establishment media-enabled negligence enables over-the-top political chutzpah.

Here is Smith's response: 


Sometimes getting hung up on percentage increases causes one to miss what's going on with the actual numbers.

Such is the case in a January 26 front page story by USA Today's Richard Wolf. USAT's is the only recent original coverage I have found thus far relating to increases in the national welfare rolls during the recession. (An unbylined story at UPI merely reports on what USAT's Wolf wrote.)

USAT's Wolf let himself get distracted by double-digit caseload increases in certain states, but missed the big story: California, with roughly 12% of the country's population, was responsible for over half of the increase in both families and recipients receiving benefits. The reason the state's percentage increase was smaller than several others was because its caseload is already scandalously out of control.

Wolf also made a point of comparing the relatively small increase in the national welfare caseload to steep rises in the number of Americans receiving food stamp and unemployment insurance benefits.

Here are the first five and final paragraphs from Wolf, followed by a closer look at the numbers:

ChecchiI don't know why I'm relaying this to readers. After all, according to former White House Communications Director Anita "Mao Inspires Me" Dunn, it's not coming from a real news organization. Her successor, Dan Pfeiffer, agrees. So does David Axelrod.

But on the off chance that what follows might actually mean something, here is an excerpt from a lengthy piece of investigative journalism from Fox News's James Rosen (HT to an e-mailer):

Obama Administration Steers Lucrative No-Bid Contract for Afghan Work to Dem Donor

Despite President Obama's long history of criticizing the Bush administration for "sweetheart deals" with favored contractors, the Obama administration this month awarded a $25 million federal contract for work in Afghanistan to a company owned by a Democratic campaign contributor without entertaining competitive bids, Fox News has learned.

President Obama's handpicked intelligence czar blames officials at the FBI and the Department of Justice for failing to permit the gathering critical intelligence from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called Underwear Bomber who attempted to down a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009.

What's more, neither Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair nor FBI director Mueller or Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano were "consulted about the charging decision" for Abdulmutallab, a decision which may have resulted in the loss of a golden opportunity to collect intelligence from the would-be bomber before he was able to lawyer up.

Oh, and did I mention that the special task force that President Obama commissioned precisely for these situations isn't fully operational yet?

Yet in reporting this story on page A3 of today's Washington Post, the paper gave readers a bland headline and subheaders to sell readers on the story:

Chris Cuomo says there's no proof Mutallab will talk less as a lawyered-up criminal defendant than as an enemy combatant.  Suggestions to the contrary are just politics. George Stephanopolous manifests the same problem his old boss did: he doesn't know what the meaning of "is," is.  Steph claims Mutallab "is" singing.  But reports are that the would-be mass-murderer was singing—but isn't any more.
It was all part of Good Morning America's defense today of Pres. Obama's decision to give the NWA 253 bomber the full ACLU treatment, rather than dealing with him as the enemy combatant he is.
Fortunately, Rudy Giuliani was there to set things straight . . .

As has been noted here in the recent past, it isn't just government entities that are a little slow on the uptake when it comes to identifying radical Muslim preachers as accessories to terrorism - it's also the media.  Consider the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, a man who has consistently shown ties to terrorist attacks, yet who had gone predominantly under the media radar as nothing more than a simple cleric.

Also consider the curious case of one Yasir Qadhi, a man recently interviewed by CNN for a sympathetic look at the failed underwear bomber, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab.  A man who has apparently escaped background investigations by both CNN and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).  (H/t the Jawa Report)

How else to explain CNN's representation of Qadhi as a simple, orthodox teacher of Islam, who had no idea of the extremist views of AbdulMutallab?  And how else to explain the baffling decision by the NCTC to utilize Qadhi in its deradicalization efforts?

What, you might ask, is wrong with presenting this man as a moderate teacher of ‘the nuts and bolts of Islam?'

Well, for starters, he is - by his own admission - a proud member of the U.S. terror watch list, and an instructor at an institution so extreme in their teachings, that an anti-terror consultant once dubbed the school ‘Jihad U.'

Find out more about the man CNN presents as an innocent professor of Islam after the break...

"Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow full public access, through television, to [health care] legislation that will affect the lives of every single American."

Thus wrote C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb in a December 30, 2009 open letter to congressional leaders, calling for them to "open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage."

Today, NewsBusters Publisher and Media Research Center President Brent Bozell issued a statement of commendation to praise C-SPAN and Lamb for publicly urging the Democratic leadership to live up to the President's campaign rhetoric about transparency in government and praised C-SPAN:


UPDATE, Jan. 1, 2010: This post at BizzyBlog shows that the there was recognition of likely Al Qaeda involvement in two separate press reports based on sources in a position to know on Christmas evening. Thus, the administration's delay in acknowledging that reality was actually three full days.

In their initial December 26 report ("Passengers’ Quick Action Halted Attack") on the attempted terrorist attack on Flight 253, New York Times reporters Scott Shane and Eric Lipton told readers that the "episode .... riveted the attention of President Obama on vacation in Hawaii."

In an article later that day ("Officials Point to Suspect’s Claim of Qaeda Ties in Yemen"), Lipton and Eric Schmitt reported that:

.... officials said the suspect (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab) told them he had obtained explosive chemicals and a syringe that were sewn into his underwear from a bomb expert in Yemen associated with Al Qaeda.

The authorities have not independently corroborated the Yemen connection .... But a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said on Saturday that the suspect’s account was “plausible,” and that he saw “no reason to discount it.”

Any reasonable person would say that this second report establishes "reason to believe that there is some linkage" between the suspect and Al Qaeda, and that a "riveted" president would have known that there was "some linkage" by Saturday night. That's why the following opener to a Washington Post item by Anne E. Kornblut dated yesterday is especially hard to take:

While much of the national media was focused on a Christmas Eve Senate vote to pass health care reform legislation, the Obama administration's Treasury Department was tending to other business that will have serious implications for the U.S. economy. But did anyone notice?

As Zachary Goldfarb reported for The Washington Post on Christmas Day, the Obama Treasury said it would lift the limits on what the federal government could provide in "emergency aid" to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - without seeking permission from Congress. That led CNBC CME Group floor reporter Rick Santelli to ask if anyone noticed and/or realized what was really at stake with this move during the Dec. 29 broadcast of "Squawk Box."


On Thursday, the Treasury Department issued a press release, called "Update on Status of Support for Housing Programs." Its fourth paragraph reads as follows:

At the time the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship in September 2008, Treasury established Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements (PSPAs) to ensure that each firm maintained a positive net worth. Treasury is now amending the PSPAs to allow the cap on Treasury's funding commitment under these agreements to increase as necessary to accommodate any cumulative reduction in net worth over the next three years. At the conclusion of the three year period, the remaining commitment will then be fully available to be drawn per the terms of the agreements.

Translation: No matter how badly things further deteriorate at these former government sponsored enterprises, both of which since last year in essence have become government-controlled enterprises, Uncle Sam (i.e., current and future generations of taxpayers) will cover their losses.

Here is how three different news outlets headlined this Treasury/Obama administration move:


On December 8, Susan Gustafson at proclaimed that "GM's announcement of no more layoffs is good news after years of hemorrhaging jobs":

General Motors' announcement this morning that it plans no further layoffs in the immediate future is huge news for both the automaker and Michigan as a whole after years of steady erosion in the ranks of hourly and salaried workers.

.... the company doesn't expect the numbers of hourly workers on indefinite layoff to increase.

That same day, Robert Snell at the Detroit News reported the same thing:
General Motors Co. does not plan any job cuts in the immediate future, the company's new president of North America said this morning.
Eight days later, GM laid off additional workers indefinitely in Bowling Green, Kentucky: