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Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Peter Baker/New York Times Edition)

Robert Waldmann is annoyed at the New York Times's failure to fact-check Peter Baker and Peter Baker's inability to fact check himself.

Here's Peter Baker:

Obama’s Jobs Search: ACROSS LAFAYETTE SQUARE from the White House is the headquarters of the United States Chamber of Commerce. Last spring, four massive banners were hung on its building spelling out “J-O-B-S,” a message presumably visible from the third floor of the White House, where the president wakes up. By fall, the chamber and Obama were at war during a midterm campaign that ended with repudiation of the president’s party.

“The basic issue here,” Thomas Donohue, the chamber president, told me last month, “is uncertainty — uncertainty on what health care is actually going to cost, uncertainty on hundreds of rule-makings in the Dodd-Frank bill, uncertainty about what’s going to come out of the E.P.A. putting through what they couldn’t get legislatively, uncertainty about taxes.”

The health care program and the financial-regulation law sponsored by Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Barney Frank were bad enough, as far as the chamber was concerned. But Obama’s periodic forays into populism made it personal. He couldn’t seem to decide whether he was going to take Wall Street to task for its irresponsible behavior or cajole it into freeing up money to get the economy moving. One day he derided “fat-cat bankers” who caused the recession; another day, he soothed them by saying that he and the American people “don’t begrudge” multimillion-dollar bonuses...

Robert Waldmann:

Robert's Stochastic thoughts: [Baker's] claim "he soothed them by saying that he and the American people 'don’t begrudge' multimillion-dollar bonuses." is false.... I quote the context of the two words TWO Words ! which Baker ripped out of context.

Q Let's talk bonuses for a minute: Lloyd Blankfein, $9 million; Jamie Dimon, $17 million. Now, granted, those were in stock and less than what some had expected. But are those numbers okay?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, first of all, I know both those guys. They're very savvy businessmen. And I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That's part of the free market system. I do think that the compensation packages that we've seen over the last decade at least have not matched up always to performance. I think that shareholders oftentimes have not had any significant say in the pay structures for CEOs...

Obama said that the US people don't begrudge success or wealth as such, however, wealth based on Wall Street compenstation packages have no justification. Just to make it absolutely clear that Baker libeled Obama, I will also report the follow up question and answer:

Q Seventeen million dollars is a lot for Main Street to stomach.

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, $17 million is an extraordinary amount of money. Of course, there are some baseball players who are making more than that who don't get to the World Series either. So I'm shocked by that as well. I guess the main principle we want to promote is a simple principle of "say on pay," that shareholders have a chance to actually scrutinize what CEOs are getting paid. And I think that serves as a restraint and helps align performance with pay. The other thing we do think is the more that pay comes in the form of stock that requires proven performance over a certain period of time as opposed to quarterly earnings is a fairer way of measuring CEOs' success and ultimately will make the performance of American businesses better...

Baker falsely asserts [this interview] shows Obama soothing Wall Street executives, [but instead] he advocated regulation of compensation...