Category Archives: Associated Press

>No, GE Won’t Repay Its Tax Break

>The Associated Press got punk’d by the Yes Men and U.S. Uncut:

The Associated Press published a story based on a fake email press release that said General Electric would respond to criticism over the amount of taxes it avoids by repaying its entire $3.2 billion tax refund for 2010 to the U.S. Treasury Department. Both the press release and AP’s story said GE would repay its tax refund on April 18, that the company would phase out its tax havens over five years and start providing one job in the U.S. for every new job it creates overseas. The hoax release quoted GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as saying, “All seven of our foreign tax havens are entirely legal … but Americans have made it clear that they deplore laws that enable tax avoidance. While we owe it to our shareholders to use every legal loophole to maximize returns — we also owe something to the American people. We didn’t write the laws that let us legally avoid paying taxes. Congress did. But we benefit from those laws, and now we’d like to share those benefits. We are proud to be giving something back to America, and we are proud to set an example for all industry to follow.” President Obama appointed Immelt as chairman of his outside panel of economic advisers on January 21, 2011. AP failed to verify the information in the release and withdrew its story 35 minutes after its publication. Two groups took responsibility for the hoax: the Yes Men and U.S. Uncut, saying they did it to raise awareness of U.S. corporate tax policy.

In its rush to be first, AP didn’t even bother to verify what was so obviously a bogus story. That’s a major media fail, but of course the biggest fail of all is the corporate tax policy which allows companies like GE to dodge its obligation to America to begin with. I guess after they got busted for defrauding American taxpayers back in 1985 they just found a legal way to do it.

Meanwhile, the business press is not amused:

GE shares fell 1.6% from their preopen high. Not a huge move, but enough to briefly trim GE’s market capitalization by nearly $3.5 billion.

How much of that was caused by the Yes Men? On a morning when most other companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average were pretty flat, it’s tempting to think that at least some of GE’s pullback was the result of the hoax. We may never know, but there probably are several lawyers already looking into it, either on behalf of the company or its shareholders.

The episode is also cause for concern over at the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of that agency’s many tasks is to make sure people don’t manipulate share prices, and that includes issuing false statements about publicly traded companies.

It’s far from clear whether the SEC has the bandwidth to mount an investigation. But if you were hoodwinked into selling GE stock this morning, you’d appreciate it if the regulators at least gave the Yes Men a severe tongue lashing.

Really? There are people who would sell their shares of a stock when they learned a company was going to pay its fair share of taxes, phase out overseas tax havens, and provide as many jobs in the U.S. as it does overseas?

Seriously? That would cause investors to flee a stock? I’m thinking … no. I’m thinking MarketWatch writer Jim Jelter has fabricated a scenario he imagines existed. We’ll never know because he never quotes any actual angry, duped investors. But it’s a nice little bit of hippie punching, is it not? Can’t let those young kids muck around in the marketplace, got to keep ‘em in their place. The free hand of the market demands it.

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Filed under Associated Press, corporations, media, taxes, the yes men

Liberal Media Still Not Liberal

[UPDATE]:

Liberal media is not liberal and FOX News is not fair & balanced:

Fox parent News Corp. donates $1 million to Republican Governors’ Association

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) this year, Bloomberg reported. The company owns Fox News and the New York Post. (You can see the full IRS filing here.)

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Athenae is being far too kind when she says Liz Sidoti’s hit piece is “laziness instead of bias.”

No, it’s bias. Donuts with sprinkles, anyone?

McCain’s moderators, the AP’s Ron Fournier and Liz Sidoti, greeted McCain with a box of Dunkin’ Donuts. “We spend quite a bit of time with you on the back of the Straight Talk Express asking you questions, and what we’ve decided to do today was invite everyone else along on the ride,” Sidoti explained. “We even brought you your favorite treat.”

McCain opened the offering. “Oh, yes, with sprinkles!” he said.

Sidoti passed him a cup. “A little coffee with a little cream and a little sugar,” she said.

So no, when Liz Sidoti pens such an obviously slanted piece of political “analysis” of the shiny-sparkly distraction du jour, it’s helpful to remember that in Sidoti’s view, it’s always good news for Republicans.

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Filed under Associated Press, fox, media

>Heckuva Job, Ron!

>Despite recent concerns about his objectivity, the Associated Press has officially promoted Ron Fournier to head its Washington Bureau. He had been acting bureau chief before.

What’s that I hear? Was that John McCain telling Fournier to remember the sprinkles next time?

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Filed under Associated Press, Ron Fournier

>Your Liberal Media

>I was suspicious when Ron Fournier, Washington Bureau Chief for the Associated Press, presented John McCain with a box of donuts at a press conference earlier this year. Geez, Mr. Fournier, are you covering the campaign or part of it?

Now we may have our answer:

NEW YORK Ron Fournier, the former top Associated Press reporter returned to AP in March 2007 and now serves as D.C. bureau chief, where he directs coverage of the 2008 campaign. But before he took that job, Politico.com revealed tonight, he considered taking a job as a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign.



A source said that he had been approached for this job in October 2006 and in the following months talked to several top McCain advisers about it. 


Oh, that makes it all so clear! The AP spokesperson says it’s “not uncommon for journalists to be approached” by campaigns. But do those journalists then go on to direct campaign coverage for their news organizations, especially an influential outfit like AP?

I’m not so sure. I actually remember the dinosaur days when newspaper reporters weren’t allowed to donate to political campaigns out of fears their impartiality would be questioned. Good times.

This isn’t the first time Fournier’s impartiality has been questioned. It was revealed during an investigation into Pat Tillman’s death that Fournier sent Karl Rove friendly e-mails, encouraging him to “keep up the fight” during the 2004 Presidential campaign.

A campaign he was covering as a reporter.

Again: was Ron Fournier covering the campaign, or part of it?

At the very least this shows Fournier has a serious lack of judgment. Here’s the thing Ron Fournier doesn’t seem to understand: reporters cover the news, they don’t become part of it. Fournier is dancing very close to the edge here, and it calls the AP’s coverage of the presidential campaign into question.

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Filed under Associated Press, media, Ron Fournier