PRESIDENT BUSH'S GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK WITH THE PRESS (HOW FUN!)

Sep 23, 2003
Press Release
SUITLAND, MD - Are you used to the annual poverty and income statistics being delivered every year like clockwork in downtown Washington at the National Press Club on a Tuesday or Thursday in late September? Are you having trouble finding them this year? That's because the Bush administration has set up a challenging game of hide and seek for the press - and the public - to find the data.

Why does the Administration want us to have so much fun? Are they trying to hide the numbers?

No need to worry - Reps. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) and Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01), two Members of Congress who have led Census oversight, have asked the GAO to conduct its own search to find out why the Administration is playing this game. AND Rep. Maloney has prepared this helpful guide that will help you find the poverty numbers at the new location and day. Good luck!!!

When and where:

 Previous YearsThis Year
LOCATION:The National Press Club
Downtown, Washington, DC
Suitland, Maryland
TIME:Tuesday or Thursday
in late September
Friday, September 26

What you'll find:

The numbers will probably show poverty shooting through the roof and income going down - the Census Bureau's American Community Survey numbers released earlier this month showed that 1.4 million Americans fell into poverty last year. With numbers like those, we know why the Administration would like to hide them, but why in the world would they want to play games?

Directions (remember, "X" marks the spot!):

What the critics are saying about the Administration's data game:

"Friday in the suburbs of Washington - sounds like they're trying to bury the numbers where people won't find them." said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14). "This is another clear example of political manipulation of data by the Bush administration to avoid the glare of public scrutiny about the country's worsening economy."

Said Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01): "Politics should not determine the release of data from statistical agencies. When it does, we can no longer trust the agency or the information it provides."

BACKGROUND:

Year in and year out, the Census Bureau releases its annual income and poverty statistics at a news conference at the National Press Club on a Tuesday or Thursday morning late in September (see attached Census Bureau media advisories from years past). This year, with little fanfare, the Census Bureau changed the venue of the news conference to Suitland, Maryland and the date to Friday, September 26.

Today, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), former Ranking Member on the Census Subcommittee, and Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01), current Ranking Member on the Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee, sent a letter to the GAO requesting an investigation of the change in place and time (text of the letter: https://maloney.house.gov/sites/maloney.house.gov/files/documents/olddocs/census/povertynumbers092303.pdf ). Specifically, they have asked GAO to investigate whether the White House was involved in any decision to bury poor economic data at a time when the fewest Americans are paying attention to the news and in a place distant from most Washington-based reporters. They ask GAO to investigate any political pressure brought to bear on the Census Bureau and recall the attempts by former President Nixon to influence census and labor statistics.

Because other poverty indicators have pointed toward a sharp increase in poverty in the United States recently, the official numbers released Friday are likely to depict a troubled economy. The Census Bureau's American Community Survey statistics, released earlier this month, showed that 1.4 million Americans fell below the poverty line in 2002, 12.4 percent of Americans lived in poverty in 2002 and the number of impoverished children increased by 700,000 between 2001 and 2002.

PREVIOUS CENSUS BUREAU MEDIA ADVISORIES ABOUT POVERTY DATA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2000

Public Information Office CB00-154

301-457-3030/301-457-3670 (fax)

301-457-1037 (TDD)

**CENSUS BUREAU MEDIA ADVISORY**


Census Bureau News Conference on Income and Poverty

The Commerce Department's Census Bureau will hold its annual income and

poverty news conference at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 26, at the National

Press Club.

Daniel Weinberg, chief of the Census Bureau's Housing and Household

Economic Statistics Division, will discuss the findings of the latest

reports.

The news conference will be carried live via the Internet. To view the

event, go to <https://www.census.gov> and look for the event link. The

reports will be available on the Census Bureau's Web site at 10:30 a.m.,

Sept. 26, at <https://www.census.gov>. Click on the "News" button and then

on "News Releases."

The reports are based on data collected in the March 2000 Current

Population Survey.

The news conference will be at:

10 a.m. EDT National Press Club

Holeman Lounge

14th and F Streets, N.W.

Washington, D.C.

-X-

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Public Information Office
(301) 763-3030
Last Revised: March 14, 2001 at 08:56:02 AM

Last Revised: March 14, 2001 at 08:56:02 AM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2001


Public Information Office CB01-157

301-457-3030/301-457-3670 (fax)

301-457-1037 (TDD)

e-mail: pio@census.gov


***CENSUS BUREAU MEDIA ADVISORY***

Census Bureau News Conference on Income and Poverty


The Commerce Department's Census Bureau will release annual income and

poverty statistics at a news conference at 10 a.m., EDT, on Tuesday, Sept.

25, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Daniel Weinberg, chief of the Census Bureau's Housing and Household

Economic Statistics Division, will discuss the findings of the two reports

for calendar year 2000, Money Income in the United States: 2000 and

Poverty in the United States: 2000.

The news conference will be carried live via the Internet. To view it,

go to https://www.census.gov/dmd/www/webcast9_25event.html"> <https://www.census.gov/dmd/www/webcast9_25event.html> and

look for the event link. The reports will be available on the Census

Bureau's Web site at 10 a.m., the day of the news conference, at

<https://www.census.gov>. Click on the "News" button and then on "News Releases."

. Click on the "News" button and then on "News Releases."

The reports are based on data collected in the March 2001 Current

Population Survey.


What: Release of income and poverty data

When: 10 a.m., EDT

Tuesday, Sept. 25

Where: National Press Club

Holeman Lounge

14th and F Streets, N.W.

Washington, D.C.


-X-

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Public Information Office(301) 763-3030
Last Revised: September 21, 2001 at 03:13:22 PM

Last Revised: September 21, 2001 at 03:13:22 PMFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2002

Robert Bernstein CB02-120

Public Information Office

(301) 763-3030/457-3670 (fax)

(301) 457-1037 (TDD)

e-mail: pio@census.gov

***CENSUS BUREAU MEDIA ADVISORY***


Census Bureau News Conference on Income and Poverty


The Commerce Department's Census Bureau will release annual income and

poverty estimates at a news conference at 10 a.m. EDT, on Tuesday, Sept. 24,

at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Daniel Weinberg, chief of the Census Bureau's Housing and Household

Economic Statistics Division, will discuss the findings of the two reports

for calendar year 2001: Poverty in the United States: 2001 and Money

Income in the United States: 2001.

The reports are based on data collected in the Current Population

Survey, 2002 Annual Demographic Supplement.

What: Release of 2001 income and poverty data

When: 10 a.m. EDT

Tuesday, Sept. 24

Where: National Press Club

Murrow Room

14th and F Streets, N.W.

Washington, D.C.

-X-

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Public Information Office
(301) 763-3030
Last Revised: September 18, 2002 at 11:11:29 AM

Last Revised: September 18, 2002 at 11:11:29 AM

USA TODAY

September 22, 2003, Monday

22, 2003, Monday

FINAL EDITION

It's TGIF for the White House when it has bad news
by Judy Keen and Haya El Nasser

by Judy Keen and Haya El Nasser

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration seems to be following an axiom that guided many of its predecessors: To keep negative headlines to a minimum, release bad news on a Friday.

For at least 15 years, the Census Bureau has released its annual reports on the nation's income and poverty statistics on a Tuesday or a Thursday. This year, when indicators suggest that the reports will document downward trends, they will be released Friday.

Census spokesman Lawrence Neal says the agency "picked a date out of the air." But the Bush administration has a pattern of announcing controversial or unfavorable news as the weekend begins.

To attract little attention, the strategy makes sense. Friday night's network news broadcasts are the least-watched of the workweek. Saturday newspapers are the week's least-read editions.

Robert Lichter, director of STATS or Statistical Assessment Service, a group that monitors the use of numbers by the news media, says Fridays are ideal for "throwing the news into a black hole."

This administration isn't the first to try to bury bad news.

On a Friday in 1996, for example, the Clinton White House released long-sought records from Hillary Rodham Clinton's former law firm, saying the files had just been found. In 1989, the first President Bush lifted trade sanctions against two Chinese companies on a Friday soon after China's crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square.

This Bush administration has had many bad-news Fridays:

* On a Friday last November, the Environmental Protection Administration said it would relax enforcement of the Clean Air Act so older coal-fired power plants could renovate without having to install anti-pollution equipment.

* On a Friday in January, the administration said it would consider removing Clean Water Act protections from up to one-fifth of the nation's streams, ponds, lakes, mudflats and wetlands.

* The resignations of Army Secretary Thomas White and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill were announced on Fridays.

* Last December, Census officials admitted on a Friday that the 2000 Census undercounted the nation by 3.3 million people.

Politicians on Capitol Hill know about stealth Fridays, too. When Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., announced in December that he would resign as majority leader because of controversy over racial comments he had made, he did it on a Friday.

The week between Christmas and New Year's and the day before national holidays also are popular times to try to slip controversial news under the radar. Last year, the administration said on the eve of Thanksgiving that it would give managers of national forests more authority to approve logging with less study of potential environmental problems.

Neal says he had planned to release the poverty and income reports Tuesday, but they are more complex this year.

"We just moved it to the 26th," he says. Asked if that indicates the numbers will not be very positive, he says: "They weren't positive last year, either," and the numbers were released on a Tuesday.

Last year's reports showed that median household income in 2001 registered the first significant decline since 1991 and the percentage of Americans living in poverty rose from 11.3% to 11.7%, the first increase in five years.

The Friday strategy works best if the story is a "one-day wonder," and isn't dramatic enough to dominate Sunday's widely read newspapers and popular TV news talk shows, Lichter says. "You want that one-day wonder to be the day that nobody wonders about the news."

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