Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Daleks on helium

Now that the pesky GDP report has fallen to 24th (and last) place on the Fair 'n' Balanced hit parade, maybe we should look at the lead story from a little earlier in the day:

House Republicans have dug up emails from Lois Lerner in which the former IRS official refers to some in the Republican Party as “---holes” and "crazies" – an exchange they say shows her “animus” toward conservatives.

As with much of Fox's reporting on the party's pet scandals, the presentation here is only partly made up. The emails by themselves don't "reveal disdain for Republicans"; that's the claim of the particular Republican who released them (Dave Camp of Michigan, if you're scoring along at home), but what's a little attribution between friends? And who exactly she called "- - -holes" (Fox Nation opted for "a - - holes"; after a phone call to confirm, the AP boldly went with "assholes") kind of depends on how hard you squint and what you're willing to overlook:

In the email exchange, Lerner appears to be chatting with another unidentified individual about a vacation in Great Britain. She describes how she overheard “some ladies” talking about how America is “going down the tubes.”

The person she tells this to responds that “you should hear the whacko wing of the GOP. The US is through; too many foreigners sucking the teat; time to hunker down, buy ammo and food, and prepare for the end. The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to.”

Lerner responds: “Great. Maybe we are through if there are that many ---holes.”

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Today in framing

If a 3 percent change in quarterly GDP is a big deal at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, just imagine what 4 percent might look like:

U.S. economic growth accelerated more than expected in the second quarter and the decline in output in the prior period was less steep than previously reported, bolstering views for a stronger performance in the last six months of the year.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 4.0 percent annual rate as activity picked up broadly after shrinking at a revised 2.1 percent pace in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

So given the play to the first-quarter revisions released last month, we should expect something like ... oh. (Right, that's the 12th bullet down there amid the "Latest News.")

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Freddie Starr Ate My Gecko

Good news for the gecko sex set, or Putin rearing his head again?

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Me or your lying eyes?

Well, who are you going to believe there, Washington Times -- John Boehner, or your lying eyes?

Talk of impeachment was cooked up by a White House desperate for something to rally Democrats ahead of November’s elections, House Speaker John A. Boehner said Tuesday, flatly ruling out any action on the controversial suggestion.

“We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans,” Mr. Beohner* said. “Listen, it’s all a scam started by Democrats at the White House.”

Can those pesky libruls talk their way out of this one?

Democrats have acknowledged impeachment talk has been good for their fundraising, but also say there’s some fire behind all the smoke. On Tuesday, congressional Democrats circulated a list of GOP candidates and sitting lawmakers who have said they want to see President Obama be impeached.

Must have been a challenge to get that one together.

* Oh, come on. That's not even copy editing. That's spellchecking.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why spoil it by reading the story?

Some headlines are so good that you almost hate to read on, but all right:
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Grumpy Cat remembers the Maine

Q: What do you do when a potentially GREAT story from the intarwebs has, you know, a few too many hedges?
A: Make up some more stuff!

Which appears to be how we got from this lede, posted online Friday by the Torygraph:

A young woman in eastern Ukraine has provoked outrage by allegedly posting a picture of herself on Instagram using a mascara wand looted from the crash site of Flight MH17.

... to the front of today's Post:

She didn’t bat an eye when she painted her lashes with a dead woman’s mascara.
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

He can't do that to our pledges

Only we can stir random paranoia among our audience do that to our pledges!

The News has a point here, after a fashion. Next time it could be a BOMB, especially if it's a bomb about the size and weight of a few king-size sheets being carried by -- what's that, New York's Hometown Newspaper? -- "a skateboard-toting youth and four pals." You can't be too careful about these things.

Unless you're, you know, some rube from Chicago who doesn't understand what it's like to live in the most important city in the world. How did it sound at the Daily News back on, say, March 26?

New Yorkers got a chilling wake up call Tuesday about just how badly terrorists want to strike the city.

And how badly is that?
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today in press freedom

If you can write all you want to about giant inflatable toads in public places, thank a journalist!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fill in the clean

Hey, kids! Here's a comment from one of your fellow readers. Do you want to rush right over to his blog, owing to his awesome rock sensibilities, or can you point to, oh, four or five problems (mostly lexical, some syntactic) that make you think otherwise?

However that's not to say I do not try, on occasion, to seek out something comparatively new that doesn't make me feel like gagging up my Ensure. I definitely do not trust what anyone says a few new band or a brand new sound or a brand new concept, particularly if that individual is young enough and inexperienced sufficient to suppose that “a brand new idea” is 4 totally different chords in a single tune.

I am not the type to rummage through iTunes or go out to a membership to listen to one other variation on three guitar players and a ham-fisted drummer bellowing one thing about how disaffected they're with ____________ (fill in the clean).

With apologies to the poor writer whose piece was cannibalized by our spammer -- thanks, mysterious porn-blog-in-China owner! I can complain ad nauseam about the evils of patchwriting and get nothing but vacant stares, but you've shown why it makes the practitioner look not only dishonest but sublimely dumb.

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That pesky grammar

We don't tend to put clauses like this on spot-the-error tests, because it's not "wrong." Its problem -- like many of the genuine grammar problems you run across in an honest day's editing -- is that it's correct about more than one thing: what Obama might have done (demand something) and what his demands might have done (prompt something).

English is pesky like that. In return for not having to work so hard at case endings and conjugations, we're stuck with a lot of things like "demand" and "prompt"  -- and "probe," while we're at it -- that are often pretty opaque about what they're trying to do in a sentence. This is an easy hed to parse, as long as you already know what the story beneath it says. I'm not sure that's a good long-term strategy.

Would I actually kick the hed back to the rim just because it's right about too many things? Yeah, probably.* To borrow an idea from James Carey, we're making a mistake if we confuse the newspaper with a 15-week, three-credit course in post-Soviet politics. The audience isn't -- and has no reason to be -- approaching today's fractional twists and developments that way. But a more practical approach might be: If you think the pace of the probe demanded by the head of the US executive branch into an event of this nature is the day's top story, ur doin it wrong.

* Bear in mind I'm sitting here enjoying the Ed Love show, a pint of ESB and the company of Language Czarina; I'm not closing in on the first-edition Sunday deadline. If you are -- cheers.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Today in distractions

Never let it be said that nobody at Fox ever (ahem) reads the comments. Here's the original lede:

A team spearheaded by the deep-sea explorer who found the Titanic has been searching a little-known ship graveyard located in the Gulf of Mexico that includes the only known Nazi U-boat to have sunk during WWII and a few of its targets, reported.

And the one available now (which seems to have disappeared from the front page):

A team spearheaded by the deep-sea explorer who found the Titanic has been searching a little-known ship graveyard located in the Gulf of Mexico that includes the only known Nazi U-boat to have sunk in the Gulf of Mexico during WWII and a few of its targets, reported.

Which isn't entirely true. What the local Fox affiliate reported was:

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No, but thanks for asking

Kind of a shame when the highlight of your lead story (chronological note: from Thursday morning) is a typo:
A week after President Obama's re-election in November 2012, Petraeus abruptly resigned as CIA Director, citing his extra-martial affair with Broadwell.

More broadly, though, this is about how much "news" you have to have to make a BENGHAZI!!!!! story into a lead:

The ongoing investigation of former CIA director David Petraeus is “perplexing and suspicious,” according to a leading Republican on the House Government Oversight Committee.

The reason we tend to think of Fox as a party organization rather than a news organization isn't just its preference for the party line on what news should look like. It's the diocesan newsletter function as well: what the princes and princelets of the church say is news because, well, fellow church members is who you're writing for.