5. Multiple falsehoods packed into one report. For sheer volume and chutzpah, it’s hard to beat the falsehoods the Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger churned out in one September dispatch. First, he informed readers that trillion-dollar deficits didn’t happen until two years ago (wrong; the 2008 deficit was “only” $455 billion). Then he claimed that tax collections through eleven months of fiscal 2010 were up from the same period in fiscal 2009 (wrong again; they were down). Finally, he wrote that government spending was down compared to the previous year (three times wrong; true spending, as opposed to “outlays” as defined by Uncle Sam, was up by over 4% at the time). I asked the AP to retract Crutsinger’s false claims. To my knowledge, the wire service never has, and the falsehoods are still out there.
6. The State in the boardroom. The “Small Business Lending Act” passed in the fall contains a little-known provision requiring banks wishing to participate to accept federal “capital investment” in their institutions. It’s little-known because the press has shown little interest in reporting it.
7. Flubbed scrub at the New York Times. The scrub goes back to a December 2009 article (the link is to the post-scrub version), but relates to the Ground Zero mosque, one of the most misreported stories of 2010. In August, as the controversy heated up, a few bloggers who had excerpted that December story noted that several passages were missing from the original, including this quote from GZM spokesperson Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf:
New York is the capital of the world, and this location close to 9/11 is iconic.
The article’s co-author, Sharaf Mowjood, is a “Former Government Relations Coordinator for the Council on American Islamic Relations.” It is reasonable to believe that Mowjood recognized the odious religious triumphalism in Rauf’s statement, and had it and other questionable items expunged shortly after they appeared online and before they went to print.
8. Skimmers, what skimmers? The press said virtually nothing about the EPA’s utter lack of preparedness for the BP oil spill. Journalists also took very little interest in the fact that several nations offered many forms of tangible aid to help the federal government contain and clean up the spill, and were either turned down flat or severely delayed. One Associated Press item whined that many nations wishing to provide help expected to be (gasp!) reimbursed for their costs.
9. He didn’t read it; what’s your point? Except for the uniqueness of the final item, this example would be firmly in the running for 2010′s worst media muff. In May, regarding Arizona’s commonsense immigration enforcement measure, long after irresponsible charges of nativism and racism had been hurled by many administration members, President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress: “I have not had a chance to — I’ve glanced at it. I have not read it.” The press virtually ignored this shocking dereliction of duty.
10. Shirley Sherrod. No review of 2010 media “Smithing” can be complete without mentioning Sherrod, the USDA employee who was fired after Andrew Breitbart showed a video of a speech she made to an NAACP chapter. Sherrod and her husband Charles received the free press ride of the year. The $13 million the pair received in a farming racial discrimination lawsuit settlement just before she took her USDA job in July 2009 was almost never reported. The documented proof from a longtime leftist that the pair’s New Communities “cooperative” exploited child labor, paid less than minimum wage, illegally resisted union organizing efforts, and employed scab labor never made it into the mainstream media.
Finally, the press has fiercely resisted reporting the pervasive fraud in a related legal action meant to compensate black farmers who truly suffered discrimination in past decades. It is an operation that Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com recently exposed as a false claims gravy train. CNN actually covered for the government by relaying without question its contention that only three claims were fraudulent.
Will the press’s Winston Smiths be more or less aggressive in 2011? As New Media gets stronger, the establishment will likely get more desperate. So the answer is probably “Yes.”