DetroitBridgeVandalizedHeadline0505This item will not be filed under "Mother's Day Role-Modeling Behavior."

In this story, it's hard to figure out what's more outrageous: The willful defacement of property -- in this case, a brand-new $5 million pedestrian bridge by an alleged adult in her mid-40s who is the mother of a teenaged son -- or the near non-reaction to wanton vandalism perpetrated in broad daylight by her and others on what is supposed to be a source of pride in Detroit.

That's even before getting to the news that one of the vandals, Oneita Jackson, is a copy editor at the Detroit Free Press who has her own Freep blog called "O Street."

On March 21, Ms. Jackson, from her establishment media perch, admonished readers to "Agree or Disagree, Just Be Civil." You can't make this stuff up.

Here's part of the story at the Detroit News (bolds are mine; HT the BlogProf via Instapundit; video is at the link; the bridge opened on Wednesday, May 5):

ToyotaAndHatchets0210If the goal of whoever leaked the contents of a presentation originally made internally at Toyota's Washington, DC offices and turned over to congressional investigators was to drum up an intense level of negative press coverage against the company, they can sit back and say, "Mission accomplished."

It seems to have started Sunday with David Shepardson of the Detroit News, who reported that the company had "bragged" about avoiding recall costs. Though he appears to have erroneously believed that he had the whole thing, Shepardson's "evidence" consisted of only ten of that presentation's sixteen (or possibly more) pages with a couple of references to "wins." His report was picked and spread widely by the Associated Press's Ken Thomas, who turned "bragged" into "boasted."

But as I wrote in my post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) reacting to their work last night:


UPDATES: (New NB posts) The Politico gets its own slightly different set of Toyota documents; The False Toyota ‘Brag’ and ‘Win’ Memes Turn Into a Swarm

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.


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:


Some of us have been wondering how viable the Voluntary Employee Benefit Arrangements (VEBAs) set up by the United Auto Workers for its auto industry employees really are. This is of particular concern at the VEBAs tied in to General Motors and Chrysler. What happens to the employer stock these VEBAs own will heavily influence whether they have the money to pay promised benefits.

The answer to the viability question must be "not very," because the House version of health care that has made it out of committee has a $10 billion provision tucked into it that would largely work to back the VEBAs up in case GM and Chrysler are never able to stand on their own -- or in case other high-wage, high-benefit companies, many of which are unionized, follow them into serious financial difficulty.

Maybe it's because $10 billion doesn't mean much any more in an era of trillion-dollar deficits, but media coverage of this "little" provision has been very, very light. A Google News search on "retiree health care UAW" (not typed in quotes) came back with only about 25 relevant items of roughly 100 total results earlier this afternoon. Many of those results are outraged editorials and op-eds. There is precious little original news coverage of the topic.

One of the few examples of original coverage is an August 24 report by Justin Hyde and Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press that explains the provision and provides background:

Have you ever met someone that just can't stop talking about a particular topic or person regardless of the subject of conversation? Folks like that slip their obsession into every conversation until people just don't even want to start up a conversation with them any more. And when an unsuspecting person starts talking with such a person, everyone in the know around them just roll their eyes and avoid eye contact. It is beginning to get like this when reading anything in the Old Media these days because it seems that regardless of the topic under discussion, start struck love for Obama is slipped into the piece somehow.

Detroit News columnist Marney Rich Keenan gives us a perfect example of this in hers headlined, "Whatever happened to simple phone etiquette?" It's supposed to be a piece lamenting the loss of the formal way of answering a telephone and really has nothing to do with politics. Keenan waxes nostalgic for that formal way of talking to folks and seems to say this loss is a cultural coarsening that is something to mourn... except when Obama does it, of course. Yes, when The One does it, why it's cool and hip and makes her "go weak in the knees."

GMsilverLogo0309.jpgAn early review of press coverage relating to this morning's warning by General Motors that "there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern" shows no coverage of the reason why, despite $13.4 billion in taxpayer money (NOT counting bailout money going to GMAC), things have gotten so much worse so quickly.

The reason is that sales in the two full months since the Bush-approved, Obama-cheered bailout took place have tanked (see graphic at this NB post yesterday):

  • December 2008 (last [mostly] pre-bailout month) — down 31.2%
  • January 2009 (first full bailout month) — down 48.9%
  • February 2009 (second full bailout month — down 53.1%

Press reports I have seen are saying nothing about this frightening decay in the past 60 days:

Imagine for a moment John McCain was President, and few of the people on the task force he created to repair the crumbling auto industry owned American cars. 

Would that be a public relations nightmare?

Well, an article published Monday by the Detroit News revealed that most of Barack Obama's newly announced Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry don't patronize the companies they've been appointed to rescue: 

It seems that Froma Harrop of Creator's Syndicate news service was on vacation from just about five days before the general election until today and she's just catching up on all the Palin hatin' she must have missed. Unfortunately for Harrop, she still hasn't caught up with the truth yet because her latest is filled with every lie about Governor Palin she could jam into one column, quite despite that for weeks her digs have been proven lies.

In hers headlined, "Palin should move to TV talk show," Harrop proves that she should move from Creator’s Syndiacte to the National Enquirer... unless Creator's Syndicate is trying to unseat the supermarket tabloid in hack writing. If that is the case, then Harrop is on the right track.

Add Monica Conyers's name to that list of Dems run afoul of the law whose party affiliation the MSM fails to mention.  Conyers, the Detroit City Council President Pro Tem, a Democrat and an Obama supporter, has made unwelcome headlines before, from getting into an argument with an eight-grader to allegedly threatening to shoot an aide to the Detroit mayor.  Now things have taken a turn for the worse. According to the Detroit News in an article today entitled Bribe probe ensnarls Conyers:

Federal investigators have electronic surveillance evidence that allegedly links Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers with receiving a payment or payments in connection with a city-approved sludge contract.
Ruh-roh.  Conyers is the wife of John Conyers, the Dem Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who continues to toy with the notion of seeking to impeach President Bush.  So how did this morning's Today show report the story? 

View video here

Two June 23 Motor City newspaper reports -- one in the Detroit Free Press ("Group blasts subprime loans," by Amber Hunt), the other in the Detroit News ("ACORN focuses on vote," by Mike Martindale) -- portrayed the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) as a noble enterprise dedicated to helping troubled borrowers and increasing voter involvement in the political process.

Reality differs.

Hunt and Martindale were either unaware, or perhaps didn't care, that ACORN has had myriad problems over several years, including but not limited to voter-registration fraud, employee mistreatment and intimidation, and home-loan irregularities. Days before the group's national convention in Detroit, the Consumer Rights League, a group whose stated mission is "protecting consumer choice," issued a scathing whistleblower report charging ACORN with "misusing taxpayer dollars for political ends and by attacking lending corporations for the same 'predatory' lending practices it regularly engages in."

Here are selected paragraphs from each reporter's virtual press releases (HTs to Michelle Malkin here and here):

Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick was at age 31 the youngest elected Mayor in the history of Detroit, the Motor City. Now, at 38, he is also the Vice President of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors as well as that organization's representative to the Democratic National Committee. He also seems to have a problem with appropriate behavior... then lies about it to try to cover it up. But one thing he doesn't seem to have to worry about is the MSM telling people he's a Democrat!

In a series of articles with ongoing coverage the Detroit Free Press reveals the attempted cover-up of an affair between Mayor Kilpatrick and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty.