On MSNBC Live, Norah O'Donnell asked Dina ElBoghdady to "explain" why the "centerpiece of the federal program to help struggling homeowners has been a complete failure," but the two noted only HUD Secretary Steve Preston's assertion that, in O'Donnell's words, "it's Congress to blame." Neither O'Donnell nor ElBoghdady mentioned any Democratic criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act.
Blogger Bill Scher does a thorough and important dissection of a recent CNN.com story that purported to examine possible pork layered into infrastructure spending requests recently made big city mayors.
There's nothing wrong with that premise in terms of good enterprise reporting. The problem, according to Scher, was that CNN simply gave a platform to conservative partisans to sound off about "pork" without providing a larger context.
For instance, the CNN article raised red flags because:
A report to Congress that requests $73.2 billion to pay for infrastructure projects around the country includes plans for a polar bear exhibit, an anti-prostitution program, a water park ride, zoos, museums and aquatic centers, CNN has found...Those projects -- plus money for aquatic centers, museums, bike paths, zoos, skateboard parks, dog and equestrian parks, police department stun guns, tree planting and murals -- total $376.5 million.
1) Do the math. CNN claims the mayors' request includes $376.5 million of "pork." But the entire request totals $73.2 billion.
That means one-half of one percent of the proposal is pork, and 99.5% are solid requests.
On his radio show, Lou Dobbs played an audio clip of an interview in which Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while discussing the global economy and the Canadian economy, was asked, "Are you scared?"* When Harper replied, "I'm very worried about the Canadian economy," Lou Dobbs said: "Well, you know, we're all concerned. We're all worried. Anyone paying attention is concerned and worried, but are you scared? Are you afraid? No. That's un-American."
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From Nicholas Kristof's column:
As my Times colleague David Leonhardt has noted, the reported $73-an-hour wage in Detroit is a fiction.
On the one hand, it's good to see Kristof, and Leonhardt last week, trying to dismantle the $73-an-hour misinformation. The thick irony, of course, is that it was the New York Times that gave the phony meme life nearly a month ago. Neither Kristof or Leonhardt mentioned that embarrassing fact. (Or that MMFA called the paper out on the matter.)
Meanwhile, lots of readers praised Leonhardt's effort last week to set the record straight about autoworkers. But the Daily Howler thought Leonhardt did a dreadful job sorting out the facts.
On-screen text at MSNBC and a Washington Times article and headline echoed the Republican accusation that the United Auto Workers union killed the $14 billion bailout for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. In fact, Senate Republicans refused to support legislation endorsed by the White House, a majority of members of the House and Senate, and the UAW.
Media echoed the Republican accusation that the United Auto Workers union killed the $14 billion bailout for GM, Ford, and Chrysler. But The New York Times stated that it was Senate Republicans who "refused to support a bill endorsed by the White House and Congressional Democrats."
Even though the crises facing the financial and automotive industries were born primarily of the actions (or inaction) of those in positions of power in private industry and in government, many conservative media figures have assigned blame to specific groups of less wealthy or less influential people -- the poor, minorities, undocumented immigrants, and union members, among others -- disregarding the facts that belie such assignments of blame.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity stated that under President George W. Bush, "We created 10 million new jobs, lower unemployment than in the last four decades' average." In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States has gained 2,866,000 net private-sector jobs between 2001, when Bush took office, and the first quarter of 2008.
Savage Nation guest host Rick Roberts directed listeners "to not give to charities this Christmas" and instead to "ke[ep] some of that money for yourself and your loved ones come tax season." Moments later, Roberts added: "That's when our new president's uber-welfare state's going to kick in, and you're going to wish you'd kept some of that money. So you may as well start an Obama savings account right now so that that welfare mom can have her new plasma TV as she pops kids out like a Pez dispenser."
The Washington Post's Michael A. Fletcher quoted political strategist Mark McKinnon in an article criticizing the Employee Free Choice Act but failed to identify him as a spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, which Fletcher described, elsewhere in the article, as "one of a growing number of business coalitions working to defeat the measure."
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Andrea Tantaros falsely claimed that "[t]his past weekend," President-elect Barack Obama said that "the economy is only gonna get worse." Tantaros continued: "Well, you can't say that kind of thing when you're president. ... He's got to be more positive." Co-host Bill Hemmer did not point out in response to Tantaros that Obama did not say "the economy is only gonna get worse"; he said the economy would get worse but would subsequently recover.
The Great Recession really has been, among other things, a rather large embarrassment for large parts of the professional business press, which has spent so many years simply cheerleading Wall Street while missing the economic Story of the Decade.
Oh well, seems CNBC is still bullish. Or, to be more precise, CNBC's favorite economists and analysts remain bullish. Note the online headline: "Huge Job Losses Could Be Signal That Worst Is Over." The article itself is pretty much non-stop, happy-days-will-be-here-again:
"This is history," says veteran Wall Street economist Ram Bhagavatula. "December payrolls will be weak as well. The leading indicators will come from a slow re-activation of the credit markets and increases in consumer spending. You should begin to see that in the next couple of months."
Bhagavatula is among a growing number of economists who say the seeds of recovery are already in place, even if they are revising their forecasts for GDP contraction in the fourth quarter to show an even greater decline.
"Every recession has its worst day, and this is probably the worst day," says Chris Rupkey of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.
Economists say there's a lot of tailwind to drive an economic recovery and already emerging signs of one. "There's now starting to be some visibility about how this might end." Says David Resler, chief economist at Nomura International.
We noted last week that the media's favorite analysts, when polled about predictions for what November's job loss numbers would be, were only off by 200,000 jobs. The same type of analysts who reporters liked to quote in the spring about the chance of a "mild recession."
We think AmericaBlog got it right: "Everything is fine and as long as you close your eyes, don't listen and talk loudly over everyone else you'll be fine. Just ask CNBC."
The falsehood that autoworkers employed by the domestic automakers receive $70 or more per hour in wages and benefits -- advanced by dozens of media figures and outlets while Congress has discussed a potential bailout for the auto industry -- was advanced by automakers during 2007 union contract negotiations. However, while GM recently has reportedly pointed out that its labor cost figure includes benefits to current retirees, the media continue to repeat the $70 or more per hour myth.
Resuming his attacks on the poor, Bill Cunningham stated that "[w]e're about the only country in the world with fat poor people" and that "the poor community, so to speak ... have cell phones, they have pagers, they have telephones, they have cars, they have HDTV, and they have those things because they spend no money on food, because it's all given to them for nothing." He added: "Why would a grocery store open in the poor community when everyone gets fed free and they eat too much?"