Oct 13, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 05 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Politico recently hired Timothy Noah to be the publication’s labor and employment editor. Noah is a former Slate and New Republic columnist known for being liberal. Of course, most reporters on the labor beat are pro-union, so you’re probably wondering what the news is here. Well, that would be Noah’s hiring, in turn, of Mike Elk, formerly of Huffington Post and In These Times, to help him cover the beat.
The Scrapbook hesitates to call Elk a reporter—he’s more of an activist who happens to call sources. In fact, a few years ago Elk lost his gig at the Huffington Post after lending his press credentials to a union activist. The activist then used Elk’s credentials to gain entry into a mortgage bankers’ conference and disrupt it. Earlier this year, Elk wrote a long, tortured item at Huffington Post, in which he explained that he’s evolved on the question of journalistic ethics—he now believes he should have some.
Elk describes his style of reporting as “sh—t-kicking” and says that he’s prone to outbursts. In fact, he’s made headlines for starting pointless feuds with other reporters. This is mostly because Elk feels inclined to defend his ex-partner Rania Khalek, who likes to spout off on social media about Jewish journalists supporting “Israel’s racist ideology” and circulate photos of herself flipping off a photo of Bibi Netanyahu alongside a Putin propagandist. Whenever these debates get too heated for Elk, he backs off by reminding everyone he has Asperger’s syndrome, and it’s not nice to go after people with mental health issues. Then there was the time that Elk launched an Internet crowdfunding campaign to pay for his vacation, which caused much sighing and headshaking.
So that’s the baggage that comes with Mike Elk. But before he gets completely dismissed, it’s worth noting he’s not all bad. He’s likable on a personal level. And if you scrape away the unprofessionalism and ideological bias—admittedly a lot of spadework—you can learn a lot from Elk’s writing on labor issues. He comes from a union family in Pittsburgh and is, for better and for worse, all about solidarity. He spends a lot of time with union sources who might not trust other reporters. If he gets his issues under control and is given a firm editorial hand, there’s a possibility he could become a great labor reporter.
However, it’s open to question whether Noah is the man to rein in Elk’s poor instincts. On Twitter last week, Noah was asked what he was going to do to “ensure some balance of perspectives,” and Noah responded, “We’re going to do straight news right down the middle.” Three days later, Elk was on Twitter crowing about handing out Steve Early books to colleagues in the newsroom at Politico. Early is the Noam Chomsky-approved author of Save Our Unions: Dispatches From A Movement in Distress.
Hey, this is America. The Scrapbook believes in second chances. And fourth and fifth chances, if they’re sincere. Honestly, we’re hoping Noah and Elk surprise us.
10:22 AM, Jul 10, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Initial claims came in at 304,000, slightly less than expected (315,000) and low enough to keep the low flame of optimism burning after last weeks good jobs number.
12:00 AM, Jun 14, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Until Eve’s encounter with the serpent, Adam did not spend a lot of time looking for work. Didn’t have to. Expelled from Eden and cursed with the necessity of earning his bread “in the sweat of his face,” he found work. Had to. Therein lies a partial, but only partial, explanation for one of the strange developments in America’s labor markets.
8:32 AM, May 2, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The latest jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 288,000, and the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 6.3 percent in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment gains were widespread, led by job growth in professional and business services, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and construction.
Household Survey Data
12:00 AM, Dec 14, 2013 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Free traders are ecstatic. Negotiators at the 9th World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Bali cheered, hugged, and wept at what they see as the successful culmination of their recent round of talks. “A giant step for businesses large and small,” enthused the CEO of UPS.
Protesters stay home.12:54 PM, Dec 4, 2013 • By JIM SWIFT
At the corner of First and H Streets in Northwest Washington, the balloons were all set, hanging stories high in the cold morning air. The inflatable Pepsi and Mountain Dew bottles were twisting in the breeze, and a mini-hoop game was set up. There was even a marching band and Chester the Cheetos Cheetah.
Nov 11, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 09 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Mike Lee, the senator from Utah, gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation last week that demands attention. The takeaway: Candidates need policy ideas that address the concerns of ordinary voters—and they have to campaign, and win, on those ideas. Lee noted that conservative scholars have a number of imaginative proposals that try to address the breakdown of the family, the rising cost of health insurance and higher education, the lengthening suburban commute, and out-of-control entitlement spending.
1:12 PM, Sep 12, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
It has been clear for some time now that big labor is no fan of Obamacare. Now the AFL-CIO has passed a resolution making it official. As Sam Hananel reports for the Associated Press:
8:01 AM, Sep 6, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
When the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the numbers, this morning, on August unemployment, the economics, finance, and political priesthoods will commence digging into the entrails to divine Truth.
10:26 AM, Sep 2, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The celebration of work and the working man and woman feels a little forced this year. Union have, as Kevin Bogardus of The Hill reports:
8:40 AM, Aug 22, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Nevada AFL-CIO has released a resolution condemning Obamacare and demanding that the president and lawmakers change the law.
"[F]or two years we have sought from the Administration and Congress interpretations to the ACA that merely allows us keep the health plans we currently have: nothing more, nothing less. No special treatment. To date, the Administration has postured on proposals to address the problem, but no proposal to date will actually solve the problem. Our health plans only get worse," the resolution in part reads.
3:50 PM, Jul 15, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The Labor Department announced Monday the awarding of $64 million in grants to help unemployment insurance recipients find work more quickly. The funds will be divided up between thirty-eight states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. Acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris announced the awards:
8:31 AM, May 3, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the latest jobs numbers:
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade, and health care.
Household Survey Data