How coincidental. A Detroit News item by David Shepardson supposedly indicating that Toyota is more concerned about saving money than driver safety surfaces less than 48 hours before congressional hearings are to begin. His story's basis is a presentation that appears to have been leaked by someone either in Congress or working there, or who is involved with the Department of Transportation.
Lo and behold, Associated Press writer Ken Thomas is right behind him to make sure the story goes national and to mimic Shepardson's breathtaking cultural ignorance in time for the wee-hours press runs for Monday's newspapers and for the writers at the morning news shows.
Shepardson and Thomas, absent any other evidence they chose to make readers aware of, believe that four documents in what was originally an internal company presentation somehow prove that Toyota "bragged" and "boasted," respectively, about saving money in connection with the potential "sudden acceleration" problem in many of its models.
Further, and crucially, Shepardson seems to be a bit numerically challenged, while Thomas appears to have relied on Shepardson's innumeracy. The Detroit News writer told readers that he obtained a "10-page" presentation, but the page numbering on the actual documents indicates that its full length was at least 16 pages. I'm not kidding.
Yvo de Boer resigned yesterday as Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Here are three key passages from the official announcement at the UN's web site:
The top United Nations climate change official said today that he has made the “difficult decision” to step down from his position, citing his desire to pursue new opportunities to advance progress on the issue in both the private sector and academia.
.... Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that he was informed by Mr. de Boer of his decision two days ago and respected his decision, but “with regret.”
“Developing countries need to move as quickly as possible toward a future of low-emissions growth and prosperity,” he stressed, noting that millions of people in Africa and around the world are suffering from climate change’s effects.
These people are still living in the fantasy world they have constructed over the past two decades.
Sadly, so is the Associated Press.
Almost six months later, in the wake of a series of Toyota product recalls, and roughly seven weeks before the plant's scheduled shutdown, the UAW and the AFL-CIO on Friday began an attempt to gin up a campaign to convince the company to reopen the plant, and to encourage the public to refuse to buy its products it if doesn't.
Since there is virtually zero chance of the plant remaining open (the company said at the time of the closure that "it will close the plant, regardless of financial incentives offered by the state"), you'll have to excuse me if I question the overall timing, and even if there might be just a wee bit of government and union coordination going on here -- especially given some of the people involved and some of the statements made at a rally outside the plant and at the UAW's nearby union hall yesterday.
In terms of press coverage of yesterday's events, you have to wonder if Brooke Donald of the Associated Press and George Avalos of the Oakland Tribune were actually in the same place. Donald's AP coverage made what was going on appear relatively benign, while Avalos included important details to the contrary.
Here are key paragraphs from the AP's Donald:
Is there any substantive difference between the three paragraphs above and the text of a paid ad?
Today, they just did it again, this time for government-controlled Chrysler (what follows is most of the 12:18 p.m. version, which was revised 24 minutes later):
Time after time, the Obama White House has demonstrated a desire to control the message and flow of information, whether it's issues on health care, the economy, bailouts and the latest - climate science.
With cap-and-trade legislation waiting in the wings that would come at an estimated cost of up to $200 billion, or $1,761 per household, according to the Treasury Department, the federal government recently announced a new service to "help businesses adapt to the impact of climate change."
But AccuWeather.com's chief long-range and hurricane forecaster Joe Bastardi, who appeared on the Fox Business Network's Feb. 9 "Cavuto," warned there are other implications with the government having an expanded role in climate forecasting. According to Bastardi, it could lead to an effort to shut out other opinions.
In a post late Thursday afternoon (at NewBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the half of the teases (6 of 12) for the Associated Press's short videos in business stories at its web site were about Toyota, specifically its recent product quality issues and falling sales.
In that post, I noted a conflict of interest in the relationship between the U.S. government and Toyota, and wondered when someone in the press would bring the matter up:
To the extent the government is leaning hard on the company, somebody in the press should be questioning whether the motivations are purely related to safety or whether they also involve generating as much negative publicity as possible about the principal foreign-based competitor of government-controlled General Motors and Chrysler.
I didn't realize at the time that one wire service, AFP, actually had actually brought up the matter, complete with quite a provocative headline, Thursday morning.
Here are key paragraphs from Mira Oberman's AFP story (bolds are mine):
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."
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:
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 . . .