cnnapCNN has announced that it will cease using all content from the Associated Press effective June 30, and from all appearances will take a run at becoming a credible wire service competitor.

Although it would be easy to dismiss this as the blind leaving the blind, this development seems like it has the potential to alter the news landscape and temper some of the worst excesses of press bias and ignorance.

Here are a few paragraphs from CNN's internal announcement, as carried at Media Bistro:

To: CNN Staff
From: Jim Walton

We are taking an important next step in the content-ownership process we began in 2007 to more fully leverage CNN's global newsgathering investments. Starting today, CNN newsgathering will be the primary source of all content for all of our platforms and services. We will no longer use AP materials or services. The content we offer will be distinctive, compelling and, I am proud to say, our own.



RattnerInDetroitForFed051010If a conservative or Republican uttered the nonsense to be revealed shortly, we'd justifiably never hear the end of it on the late-night comedy shows and elsewhere. As it is, former car czar Steve Rattner's "creative" term for fibbing has and probably will continue to get little coverage outside of Detroit.

Rattner's risible rendition of reality spewed forth before he spoke at a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago-Detroit District conference. Here are excerpts from the coverage by the Detroit News's Robert Snell (HT Laura Ingraham), with help from David "I think Toyota bragged about avoiding safety recalls, so they did" Shepardson (bolds are mine):

General Motors Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Ed Whitacre may have stretched the truth in a commercial saying the automaker had repaid its federal obligations, former autos czar Steve Rattner said today.

GM "may have slightly elasticized the reality of things," Rattner told reporters ahead of a speech today.



ObamaAtHamptonU0510Yesterday, in the midst of the commencement address he delivered at Hampton University, President Obama made a startling "admission" (readers will see why "admission" is in quotes shortly):
And meanwhile, you're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- (laughter) -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.

There are more troubling overtones inherent in the excerpt that many observers have already noted. I'll stay away from them for the purposes of this post.

Those matters aside, there are still a few pesky items that arise from the bolded portion of the excerpt.



CaliforniaIOU

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:



Now that Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. has been named the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, some on the far-left are gunning for Alabama's junior senator. The battle is happening as President Barack Obama is on the verge of naming an appointee to the Supreme Court to fill void of Justice David Souter.Some of the left-wing points that suggest Sessions has racist tendencies were incorporated into a May 6 Politico story by John Bresnahan and Manu Raju.

"By elevating Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to their top spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans have selected their chief inquisitor for President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee: a Southern, white conservative man who has drawn fire for racially insensitive comments in the past," Bresnahan and Manu Raju wrote. "Democrats like how this is looking."

The story sets up Sessions to be on the defensive about race by spinning the senator's own history. According to the Politico story, Sessions had been accused of unfairly targeting black civil rights workers for election fraud charges as a federal prosecutor during a 1986 Senate hearing for a spot on the federal bench.



As expected, Joe Biden is fast becoming the clown prince of Washington D.C. His never ending case of athlete's mouth resulting from his penchant for sticking his foot between his chompers is something that should be no surprise to any long-time Biden watcher. But, amusingly, UPI tries to re-center the Biden story, rescuing him from ridicule, to discuss the supposedly important things that President Obama has entrusted to the vice president.

In "Biden soldiers on amid comedic jabs," we find UPI trying to tell us of all the important, important stuff our gabby VP is in charge of. But even the UPI can't hide the fact that these things that Obama put Biden "in charge" of are nothing more than meaningless make-work programs.



OffshoreOilRig

Straight from UPI's transcript of Barack Obama's Earth Day remarks in Newton, Iowa yesterday -- in the midst of flights that reportedly expended 9,000 gallons of jet fuel -- here is the President's take on this country's oil dependency (bold is mine):

Twenty percent of what we spend on imports is the price of our oil imports. ..... It's the cost we've known ever since the gas shortages of the 1970s.

And yet for more than 30 years, too little has been done about it. There's a lot of talk of action when oil prices skyrocket like they did last summer, and everybody says we've got to do something about energy independence. But then it slips from the radar when oil prices start falling like they have recently. So we shift from shock to indifference, time and again, year after year.

We can't afford that approach anymore, not when the costs for our economy, for our country and for our planet is so high.

So on this Earth Day, it is time for us to lay a new foundation for economic growth by beginning a new era of energy exploration in America.

Gosh, that sounds positively capitalist. You would think the guy is finally going to let the oil companies do what they do best.

Not a chance. Here, from later in the speech, is (I think, because he never used any variation of "explore" anywhere else in the speech) how President 'Prompter defines "exploration" (bolds are mine):



If former President George W. Bush made a spelling error in a written reply to a piece of fan mail, would press outlets have covered for him or pointed it out?

This question is raised by a letter published at the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday in which President Barack Obama thanked a concerned citizen for giving him advice on stopping smoking.

The only problem is it appears Obama wrote "advise" not advice (images right and below courtesy Chicago Sun-Times, h/t NBer Pross):



VincentFumoPhillyPol0309Vincent Fumo's chronicle of corruption is extraordinary, even by the "standards" of Philadelphia, PA.

Thus, it's a journalistic fail that in a story about the convictions of former 30-year state senator Fumo and longtime associate Ruth Arnao, NBC Philadephia (HT Michelle Malkin) did not identify his or her Democratic Party party affiliation.

Here is a portion of NBC Philly's early-morning story:

Fumo Guilty on All Counts

Guilty is the verdict on all 137 counts for Vince Fumo in his federal corruption trail. His co-defendant Ruth Arnao is also guilty on all counts against her.



Your newspaper's comic page isn't even immune to the news of economic hardship the country is experiencing - iconic cartoon character Dilbert was let go from his job.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams appeared on the Feb. 2 "CNBC Reports" to explain why.

"Well, you know his company was slowing down just like everybody else's company has been slowing down and he didn't have much to do, so he started a side business in his cubicle - which is what a lot of people did, including myself and he got caught," Adams said. "So, it just seemed like a good time to downsize him and let him see what it's like to try to get a job in this economy."

The inspiration for the change in Dilbert's storyline was the economic downturn, which has inspired media coverage that the comic pages haven't even been immune to.



Once again we have a politician who is indicted on corruption charges and once again we have a news organization who "conveniently" neglects to mention his party label. You will look in vain for the party name of Puerto Rico Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila in this United Press International report:

 SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Dec 29, 2008 (UPI via COMTEX) -- Puerto Rico's governor, indicted on corruption charges, posted a video on the popular social networking site Facebook admitting to making mistakes.



120908_Blagojevich2.jpg(Also, see Matthew Balan's NB post on CNN.com's Name That Party Blagojevich whiff, and related posts by Mark Finkelstein and Warner Todd Huston.)

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested today. The Associated Press's Mike Robinson actually identified "Blago's" party in the third paragraph of his 10:27 a.m. report (link is dynamic; cited report is also here for future reference; underlying news HTs to an e-mailer):