Here are two dueling news stories that caught my attention today within seconds of each other. The first comes from MSNBC.com:

White House won’t try to directly limit exec pay

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration, which partly blamed out-of-whack executive pay for the nation’s financial crisis, says it won’t try to directly limit such pay, choosing instead on Wednesday to try to tame compensation through shareholder pressure.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the administration will ask Congress to give shareholders a nonbinding voice on executive pay and to require corporate compensation committees to be independent from company management. That second provision would give the Securities and Exchange Commission authority to strengthen the independence of panels that set executive pay.

Separately, the administration is preparing to issue new, more specific regulations governing pay at financial institutions that have received infusions from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Those regulations, following legislation already passed by Congress, would limit top executives at these companies to bonuses no greater than one-third of their annual salaries.

An official said the administration will appoint a “special master” to oversee compensation at firms receiving large amounts of government assistance. The pay overseer would have the power to reject excessively generous pay plans.

The second comes from the New York Times:

Overseer to Set Executive Pay at Rescued Companies

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration on Wednesday appointed a compensation overseer with broad discretion to set the pay for 175 top executives at seven of the nation’s largest companies, which have received hundreds of billions of dollars in federal assistance to survive.

The mandate given to the new compensation official, Kenneth R. Feinberg, a well-known Washington lawyer, reflects the federal government’s increasingly intrusive role in the corporate affairs of deeply troubled companies. From his nondescript office in Room 1310 of the Treasury building, Mr. Feinberg will set the salaries and bonuses of some of the top financiers and industrialists in America, including Kenneth D. Lewis, the chief executive of Bank of America; Vikram S. Pandit, the head of Citigroup, and Fritz Henderson, the chief executive of General Motors.

The compensation of executives at some companies receiving aid provoked a firestorm of political outrage earlier this year. In revising a previous proposal to set pay limits, the administration has decided to take an approach that will leave the success or failure of the effort to curtail high compensation at the assisted companies in the hands of Mr. Feinberg. (Mr. Feinberg himself will not receive any government compensation.)

So which is it? Is the Obama administration planning on overseeing executive pay or not? Just looking at the title of the MSNBC article, you’d come away with the idea that the White House is not limiting exec pay, but the third paragraph puts the lie to the title. The New York Times title and article are in complete agreement. For this article at least, the Grey Lady is reporting the news, while the MSNBC article is spinning the news. Shame on MSNBC for attempting to deceive their readers. And shame on the Obama administration for their heavy-handed actions. So, what’s the correct term to describe government control of business?

When I read the two headlines in my RSS news feed, I recognized instantly that they couldn’t both be true, and in my mind’s ear I heard the Dueling Banjos tune, so here’s a good rendition you can listen to while rereading the two dueling stories.

I found two news stories today to be interesting. Let’s compare the headline and first paragraph from each. The first one comes from The New York Times:

G.D.P. Grows at Tepid 1.9% Pace Despite Stimulus

The American economy expanded at a weaker-than-expected 1.9 percent annual rate between April and June, the Commerce Department announced Thursday, while numbers for the last three months of 2007 were revised downward to show a contraction the first dip since the recession of 2001.

The second story reporting the same news comes from MSNBC:

Economic growth picked up in second quarter
Tax rebates energized consumers; contraction recorded at end of 07

WASHINGTON – Economic growth picked up in the second quarter as tax rebates energized consumers. The rebound followed a treacherous patch where the economy jolted into reverse at the end of 2007.

Did you notice the difference? The New York Times article is gloom and despair, with a shiv to President Bush’s stimulus package right in the article’s title. And as an added bonus, reports that the fourth quarter of 2007 showed negative growth for the first time since *ominous noise* 2001. The MSNBC article also identifies the negative growth in Q4 2007, but is upbeat about the second quarter report of 2008.

If you continue to read, you’ll find out in the second paragraph of the MSNBC article that the Q2 growth was double the Q1 growth. That’s a good thing, right? The New York Times article doesn’t bring up the Q1 growth of 0.9% until the seventh paragraph. Oh, and The New York Times article says it was published August 1st, 2008 — proof positive that they have a time machine.

But there’s no bias in the news.

None.

Recently I found two fun quizzes that are well worth taking. The first, which is only 12 questions long, tests how well you keep up with current news. You can find the Pew Research Center’s news IQ quiz here. I got all 12 questions right, but I try to follow the news. And I’m fairly atypical because I don’t watch the news on TV. I sometimes get my news on the radio, but the vast majority of the time I get my news from online sources, both national and international sites. Because I read and hear my news more than I watch it, I have noticed that I don’t often recognize political pundits when they appear on TV. But I can live with that.

The second quiz also comes from the Pew Research Center. This quiz, which dates from 2005, has 25 questions to determine your political stance. It separates differing test results into nine different political personality types. Based on this quiz, I come up as part of the Enterprisers group. According to the profile of types, “Enterprisers follow news about government and politics more closely than any other group, and exhibit the most knowledge about world affairs.” That would explain why I aced the first quiz.

So, how did you do with the quizzes?

Why is Paris Hilton all over the news? Why, exactly, is she a celebrity? As I see it, she is known because of her dad, money, plastic-surgery-improved looks, and most of all, because she is a proven slut. Frankly, I’d rather spend ten minutes chatting with any drunk bum on a street corner than an equivalent amount of time with Paris.

I wish the news media would stop reporting Paris’ every move. I would be happy if I never saw Paris Hilton mentioned in the news ever again.

OK, if she invents a cure for cancer, then that would be news. Otherwise, how about reporting on something that really matters? Just an idea.

UPDATE (6/8/2007 3:40:28 PM): It’s all Paris, all the time! Here’s a small screenshot of what the following news report looks like right now. Three identical pictures of Paris is three times better!

3x Paris

Seconds later, the judge announced his decision: “The defendant is remanded to county jail to serve the remainder of her 45-day sentence. This order is forthwith.”

Hilton screamed.

Oh, the humanity!

Among the Little Green Footballs crowd, the Reuters News Service is often referred to as “Al-Reuters” because of their obvious leanings towards anti-Israeli and anti-American organizations and people. You can file this Al-Reuters photo of Beirut under the CBS memo category of “fake but accurate” because it is just as fake.

Fake Smoke

In case the link above doesn’t take you to the Reuters’ photo, you can see what the page looks like here. If the forged nature of the picture isn’t blatently obvious to you, check out the photo at Little Green Football as they show evidence of forgery.

UPDATE (8/6/2006 8:50:18 AM): And Al-Reuters pulls the photo with the comment of “Photo editing software was improperly used on this image.” Well, duh!

Here is the corrected photo as posted by Al-Reuters. Notice the foreground as well as the smoke had been altered.

Rerelease

It almost makes me wonder if the liberals in the media have any desire to see the U.S. emerge victorious from the threat of Islamic nutjobs who delight in cutting off infidels’ heads. Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, you are an infidel to these people unless you believe exactly as they do. And converting to Islam is no guarantee of safety. Just look at the hundreds of Iraqi Muslims who have been murdered by other Muslims. Imagine a bunch of Lutherans blowing up Catholics over minor differences of dogma.

But I’m wandering from the point of this post. From the New York Times article:

Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

As Michelle Malkin points out, “‘Secret?’ Not anymore.” The NYT claims that revealing this government tool for catching terrorists is in the “public interests.” Obviously they’d rather handicap the authorities by exposing their tools than serve the “public interests” of not having Islamic nutjobs kill Americans here in America.

Since this is far from the first time that the media has published secret tools the government has used to combat terrorists, Daniel Solove of Concurring Opinions gives the media this template for further reports.

Under a top secret program initiated by the Bush Administration after the Sept. 11 attacks, the [name of agency (FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.)] have been gathering a vast database of [type of records] involving United States citizens.

“This program is a vital tool in the fight against terrorism,” [Bush Administration official] said. “Without it, we would be dangerously unsafe, and the terrorists would have probably killed you and every other American citizen.” The Bush Administration stated that the revelation of this program has severely compromised national security.

“This program is a threat to privacy and civil liberties,” [name of privacy advocate] said. But [name of spokesperson for Bush Administration] said: “This is a very limited program. It only contains detailed records about every American citizen. That’s all. It does not compromise civil liberties. We have a series of procedures in place to protect liberty.”

“We’re not trolling through the personal data of Americans,” Bush said, “we’re just looking at all of their records.”

The [name of statute] regulates [type of record] and typically requires a [type of court order]. Although the [name of agency] did not obtain a [type of court order], the Bush Administration contends that the progam is “totally legal.” According to the Attorney General, “we can [do whatever we did or want to do]. The program is part of the President’s emergency war powers.”

Nice little job of tongue-in-cheek writing, but Solove missed an extra paragraph.

[Bush Administration official] acknowledged that since the publication of the story by [self-aggrandizing media outlet], the terrorists have changed their tactics and are harder to capture before plots like [successful terrorist plot] occur.