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Posts For: October 6, 2012

Media Jobs Distorters Worse Than Truthers

Predictably, skeptics about the federal jobs numbers released yesterday are being labeled as “jobs truthers” in many quarters. Those alleging a flat-out conspiracy are being treated as nutcases. As Politico notes, even some Republicans are trying to throw cold water on the theories being floated that assert the unemployment rate is only declining because of an effort to cook the figures to benefit President Obama. The skeptics, like former GE CEO Jack Welch and Rep. Alan West, are taking a beating in the press. Though the dip in unemployment is both anomalous in terms of other economic numbers and quite fortuitous for Obama, no one has produced any proof of wrongdoing by the Bureau of Labor Statistics so we must take them at their word. But, as Politico wrote, “just because the numbers are honest, doesn’t mean they’re accurate.” Even worse, the blatant distortion of the numbers by a biased media is far worse than anything the so-called “truthers” might produce.

It is not just, as John Podhoretz wrote on Friday, that many in the business world are taking this blip in an otherwise dreadful economic environment as an aberration, or as John Steele Gordon pointed out (as Welch did) that the volatile household survey contradicted the payroll survey. It is also that the press spin about the numbers is very different from the way they’ve treated similar reports in the past. Even though the New York Times treated the new statistics as a triumph for President Obama, as Ed Morrissey wrote at Hotair.com, a very similar jobs report in October 2004 was represented in the New York Times as a blow to the re-election hopes of George W. Bush and a boost to John Kerry. The same was true of the coverage of PBS, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. The stark and obviously partisan reasons for this contrast means that for all of the cheering for the lower unemployment rate, there is very little reason to think the numbers foretell much good news for Americans.

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Predictably, skeptics about the federal jobs numbers released yesterday are being labeled as “jobs truthers” in many quarters. Those alleging a flat-out conspiracy are being treated as nutcases. As Politico notes, even some Republicans are trying to throw cold water on the theories being floated that assert the unemployment rate is only declining because of an effort to cook the figures to benefit President Obama. The skeptics, like former GE CEO Jack Welch and Rep. Alan West, are taking a beating in the press. Though the dip in unemployment is both anomalous in terms of other economic numbers and quite fortuitous for Obama, no one has produced any proof of wrongdoing by the Bureau of Labor Statistics so we must take them at their word. But, as Politico wrote, “just because the numbers are honest, doesn’t mean they’re accurate.” Even worse, the blatant distortion of the numbers by a biased media is far worse than anything the so-called “truthers” might produce.

It is not just, as John Podhoretz wrote on Friday, that many in the business world are taking this blip in an otherwise dreadful economic environment as an aberration, or as John Steele Gordon pointed out (as Welch did) that the volatile household survey contradicted the payroll survey. It is also that the press spin about the numbers is very different from the way they’ve treated similar reports in the past. Even though the New York Times treated the new statistics as a triumph for President Obama, as Ed Morrissey wrote at Hotair.com, a very similar jobs report in October 2004 was represented in the New York Times as a blow to the re-election hopes of George W. Bush and a boost to John Kerry. The same was true of the coverage of PBS, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. The stark and obviously partisan reasons for this contrast means that for all of the cheering for the lower unemployment rate, there is very little reason to think the numbers foretell much good news for Americans.

The anemic recovery that President Obama has presided over is particularly hard on the poor and those who have been unemployed for a long time. Most of the latter have given up searching for full-time work, thereby artificially depressing the unemployment rate to the number the president has been bragging about. Though the president deprecated Republicans for supposedly “running down the economy,” it is clear that he has failed those who look to him for hope since, as even the New York Times reported, “the portion of all black men with jobs actually fell, to 57.5 percent.” That’s something that the Democratic Party that is so intent on running a class warfare campaign should think about when they attempt to twit Romney for his policies.

That Gallup has pinpointed the supposed boost in consumer confidence to the start of the Democratic National Convention debunks any notion that it is anything other than the product of partisan hype. By contrast, the drop in the number of manufacturing jobs and temporary unemployment seems to account for why most businesses seem to have a far gloomier frame of reference about the country’s finances. The Jobs Distorters are doing far more damage than the Jobs Truthers.

Taken as a whole, the evidence is, at best, mixed with just as much reason to believe that we will be facing another recession next year as there is for hope that things will improve at the glacial rate we have seen the last three years since the so-called “Great Recession” ended in 2009. Under these circumstances, the uniform optimism coming from the press tells us more about their hopes for Obama’s re-election than the future of the economy.

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Should PBS Try to Supplant Private Sector?

One of the more memorable moments from Wednesday’s debate came when Governor Romney doubled down on his pledge to cut federal grants to PBS. Bethany has already spoken to the notion that Romney doesn’t really want to kill Big Bird. And I certainly agree with Bethany that Sesame Street is a model program, one which brings in profit which allows PBS to fund other programs. That’s the way PBS should work. Nevertheless, Paula Kerger, the CEO of PBS, has already pushed back on Romney’s comments. “With the enormous problems facing our country, the fact that we are the focus is just unbelievable to me,” Kerger told CNN. “This is not about the budget, it has to be about politics.”

Actually, it is about the budget and about waste. Certainly, I grew up watching Big Bird. And, when I was 5, I also enjoyed the Electric Company, though when I see clips now, 35 years later on Hulu.com, I wonder what the heck I was thinking.

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One of the more memorable moments from Wednesday’s debate came when Governor Romney doubled down on his pledge to cut federal grants to PBS. Bethany has already spoken to the notion that Romney doesn’t really want to kill Big Bird. And I certainly agree with Bethany that Sesame Street is a model program, one which brings in profit which allows PBS to fund other programs. That’s the way PBS should work. Nevertheless, Paula Kerger, the CEO of PBS, has already pushed back on Romney’s comments. “With the enormous problems facing our country, the fact that we are the focus is just unbelievable to me,” Kerger told CNN. “This is not about the budget, it has to be about politics.”

Actually, it is about the budget and about waste. Certainly, I grew up watching Big Bird. And, when I was 5, I also enjoyed the Electric Company, though when I see clips now, 35 years later on Hulu.com, I wonder what the heck I was thinking.

It just seems hard to believe that PBS feels it lacks money when it takes what little it receives to start websites and programs that compete directly with private initiatives. Take, for example, “Tehran Bureau.” PBS sells this often-conspiratorial website as providing an independent source of news about Iran. That’s fine. But, isn’t that what www.iranian.com and www.payvand.com have also long since done? The politics between Tehran Bureau and Iranian.com aren’t that different and, indeed, share some of the same contributors. Why on earth do Kerger and her associates at PBS believe that it should be their mission to fill gaps which the private sector filled a long time before?

Now, I don’t want to pick on Tehran Bureau. It’s just the example I know because I tend to follow the Iran-interest websites more than others. I suspect that this sort of duplication is the rule rather than the exception. Simply put, taxpayer money should never be used to duplicate what already exists (several times over) nor should it be used to try to out-compete or to try to beat with private enterprise.

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