Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Let not the left hand ...

How do we suppose this "editing error" came about, Nation's Newspaper of Record?

FRONT PAGE
Because of an editing error, an article on Monday about the police response to the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque attacks referred incorrectly to which side of the gunman’s vehicle he was pulled from by two arresting officers. It was the passenger side, not the driver’s side.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Who is Fox scared of this week?

OK, trick question. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is last week's Scariest Person on Planet Fox -- but keep an eye out as the week wears on for some new entrants in the fear field. First, though, a lead story from March 11:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D, N.Y., said workers should be excited by the prospect of job automation and blasted capitalism as irredeemable at the South By Southwest festival in Austin this weekend.

In response to a question from the audience about the threat of automated labor, the firebrand liberal said workers should be "excited" about having their jobs automated, but were not because of larger systemic issues in American society.

Read more »

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Friday, March 15, 2019

Shut up, he unfolded

Did the nut graf in Friday morning's 1A tale about a lawsuit from Ferndale look familiar?

In a he-said, he-said tale unfolding in federal court, retired police detective William Wilson claims he was denied a promotion and forced into retirement as part of a bigger strategy to prevent an African-American from potentially being named police chief in Ferndale.

Maybe it's because you read the front page on March 6:
In a classic he-said, she-said tale unfolding in federal court, ex-Uber driver David Shaw, 38, is suing the City of Ferndale, alleging three police officers wrongfully arrested him the night he picked up six drunk patrons from Rosie O'Grady's. And he's suing the passengers, too —  five of them women — for emotional distress, alleging he was racially taunted and physically assaulted after ordering them out of his car for their behavior.

In the Good Old Days (pre-War on Editing), we could worry about whether whether anyone was still listening to the rule about the Oxford comma, and lessons would be drawn about attention to detail. Mere attention to detail seems quaint now. If the robots are actually going to take over the reporting world, could we ask them politely to search the old memory banks for cliches used within the past three months and EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE?

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The oxygen of publicity

Remember that cable network whose biggest issue last week was whether the opposition party moved fast enough to denounce antisemitic tropes? Here's your occasional reminder -- the No. 2 story on the homepage Wednesday, say -- that it's still pretty good at rolling around in the stuff itself. Let's start with a little paranoia:

Ever notice how certain people have started to disappear? Not vagrants or runaways, the usual missing persons. But fairly prominent, well-educated people with dissenting political opinions. One day you’re watching or reading them online. The next time you check, they’re gone. You can’t find their videos. They’re not showing up in your Facebook feed. Suddenly you can’t buy their books on Amazon.

You Google them to find out what happened and discover they’ve been banned. They’re being called dangerous extremists, bigots and Nazis. For the public good, they’ve been shut down. Disappeared.

You’re a little surprised to hear this. They didn’t seem evil or radical to you. They were just free thinkers, saying something a little different from the party line on CNN. You don’t complain about it, though. You don’t want anyone to know you were watching forbidden videos. There’s a penalty for that.

This is what an authoritarian society looks like. It’s a place where the group in charge will tolerate no criticism at all. That’s what we’re becoming.

It was only a matter of time before they came for Fox News. Of the top dozen news networks in the United States, only Fox has an alternative view. The other channels speak with one voice. They are united on every issue, every time. They’re in almost perfect sync with the priorities of the Democratic Party.


Reminding one a little of the finest tweet of 2017: "First they came for Katie Hopkins and I did not speak, because I'd been waiting ages for them to come for Katie Hopkins." But back to the story at hand, because you'll need to keep wading another four paragraphs to get to its lone mention of the evildoer in the photo:

... That’s where Media Matters comes in. Media Matters is a George Soros-funded lobbying organization whose sole mission is to punish critics of the Democratic Party. Media Matters often uses propaganda from the Southern Poverty Law Center to bully corporations, news executives and tech companies into punishing people it doesn’t like. Not surprisingly, the media love Media Matters.

Nothing like a little worldwide conspiracy to get the fans going, huh?

For the record, should anyone care, I don't think Tucker Carlson ought to be silenced. (Not that he or his viewpoints at at any risk of such a fate, but that's a different matter.) I'd much rather he be ignored -- starved of the oxygen of publicity, as Maggie Thatcher put it. Maybe he'd have a different attitude if he went to bed hungry and cried himself to sleep.

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Please make it stop

Once upon a time, children, some editor working in quiet anonymity on a feature about suburban libraries would have spotted a random relative clause as it wandered into traffic and stopped it. Terminated its command with extreme prejudice, maybe, if it was movie night at the library, but by all means kept it from afflicting readers whose only offense was to start reading in the first place.

Truth be told, of course, we used to lose those battles as often as we'd win them. Someone up the food chain might like the flow of it, or want to lighten up and have a little fun, or complain that boring editors are driving away the readers who will sustain us in the future.  To which -- fine, but if you have to drag your innocent restaurant critic into your orgy of writering, could you at least spell his name the same way he does?

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The perfect Fox page

The New Yorker raised an entertaining question last week: "Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda?" For all the fine reporting in the article (and there's a lot), the hed is still sort of a riddle wrapped in an enigma inside a distinction without a difference. Fox hasn't changed anything about its newsgathering, sourcing, editing,presentation or framing practices (OK, except that now it's using actual cartoons occasionally, which I find charming.) Fox is in a different sort of relationship with the executive because we have a different sort of executive branch, not because Fox is any more or less of a propaganda outfit than it was three, or seven, or 12 years ago. 

Enjoy, for example, the top of the Tuesday morning front page. Is there a particular reason -- given that the Kenyan usurper left office at the beginning of 2017 -- that Rahm Emanuel is at the top of the page? Well, he's joining in the chorus calling on the Democratic Party not to give in to those pesky socialists. The No. 2 story -- no, we are not trying to get a head start on The Week In AOC -- reminds us again that the Bronx sorceress does not know her place and needs to sit up straight and learn from her betters. Which, as the No. 3 story reminds us, is not going to happen because (in another of last week's consistent themes) the junior witches already have Hecate captive.

So Fox's themes are converging on the menace of socialism, as carried out by the  revolutionary youth brigade of the opposition. What strikes me as a bit odd, and what to me supports the idea that mere partisanship is not at stake here, is that if you're interested real-life developments Tuesday involving the Menace of Socialism in real life, there's a Foxalicious example waiting:


You'd like to think events that actually portend ill are a bit more interesting than a cartoon of AOC and her weird sisters, but fear at Fox isn't closely coupled with reality.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

This week in Fox Is Scared Of Girls

It's time for another installment of The Week in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Scariest Person on Planet Fox! This week brings some interesting role variations and renewed salience for some other very scary people, but let's get right to the main question: How long did it take for Ocasio-Cortez to be the foxnews.com lead story on Monday? Answer, until about 10 a.m.:

Patrick Moore, the co-founder of the environmentalist group Greenpeace, ripped into New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over the weekend as a “pompous little twit,” saying the Green New Deal plan she’s advocating is “completely crazy.”


She's a lead story again Monday evening, with two variations Tuesday morning as Fox tried to figure out how seriously to take its latest scandal-for-hire:


New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Saikat Chakrabarti, the progressive firebrand's multimillionaire chief of staff, apparently violated campaign finance law by funneling nearly $1 million in contributions from political action committees Chakrabarti established to private companies that he also controlled, according to an explosive complaint filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and obtained by Fox News.

Here's how things looked Tuesday, at about 7:30 and again at about 9 a.m.:


And she rates the lead position for two more stories on Tuesday. Around 1 p.m., we're foreshadowing one of the week's main themes -- turmoil in the enemy camp -- by rehashing another story from the previous week:

Moderate Democrats are fuming over New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s closed-door warning last week that Democrats who vote with Republicans are "putting themselves on a list" – a comment interpreted as a primary challenge threat.

Ocasio-Cortez has since downplayed her comments, made in the wake of 26 Democrats joining Republicans to vote for a provision requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be notified if illegal immigrants attempt to purchase guns.


And by evening, she's in a slamming match with her betters again:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. got into a sparring match on Twitter on Tuesday over a comment he made about the congresswoman at CPAC last weekend.

By Wednesday, the stage is getting crowded. More of the "Dem frosh" are being called on the carpet, others are committing the sin of lese-majeste, Fox's concern with the challenge to the Democratic leadership is growing, and it's still 2016 at Planet Fox:

Let's take a bit of a detour here, because it's not just 2016 all over again, it's 2000 all over again. Here's the Tuesday lead story:
Bill and Hillary Clinton are facing fresh accusations of nepotism and revenge politics after a Democratic foreign policy adviser claimed they tried to obtain a scholarship for Chelsea Clinton’s boyfriend, and later punished the adviser for backing then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008.

... Tn the book, Vargo claims that in 2000, Mitchell told her that then-President Bill Clinton called him to say he was "very unhappy" that Chelsea’s boyfriend was not on the shortlist for the grant -- despite a letter from the White House.


And one from last Sunday evening, when -- one might think -- more salient things were happening in Alabama:
Former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton offered a stark view of the country on Sunday, comparing the current “crisis in our democracy” to the turbulence that occurred amid the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

Speaking during a reception in Selma, Ala. to mark the 54th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday” and to receive the International Unity Award at the Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast, Clinton said that the United States is facing a "full-fledged crisis in our democracy."



And, of course, the former senator is frontpage news (also Tuesday) when she indulges in a little lese-majeste herself:

President Trump on Tuesday said his former opponent Hillary Clinton would “be sorely missed” from the pool of contenders vying for the Oval Office in the 2020 election.

The president, using the nickname he gave Clinton during the campaign, reacted to news earlier this week that the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate would not be making another go for the White House.

“'(Crooked) Hillary Clinton confirms she will not run in 2020, rules out a third bid for White House.' Aw-shucks, does that mean I won’t get to run against her again?” Trump tweeted. "She will be sorely missed!"

Seemingly in response to Trump's comment, Clinton tweeted a "Mean Girls" movie reference. 


But back to the main event -- Rep. Pelosi's loss of control over her rank and file -- for Thursday:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is "taken aback" by the growing dissent and anger among rank-and-file Democrats over a possible resolution to formally condemn anti-Semitism, a Democratic source told Fox News on Wednesday -- highlighting Pelosi's tenuous grip on control over the House and underscoring the growing power of the party's nascent far-left progressive wing.

Though -- look out, Indy! -- the evil ones are still coming for Your Favorite President, and there's another commentary to remind us that all Democrats are hypocrites.
And Fox's favorite newly minted ethics watchdog group is back on the email case from two weeks ago:

EXCLUSIVE — A conservative group that filed a complaint with the FEC alleging Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's campaign may have illegally funneled thousands of dollars through an allied PAC to boyfriend Riley Roberts on Thursday lodged a fresh complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

But the main story of the day is still the Omar resolution, and Fox lets the mask slip a little for that:

As it does again on Friday morning, to the point of defending a member of the McCain family:

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., was apparently unmoved Thursday by Meghan McCain's tearful remarks about her on "The View."

McCain had become emotional during the ABC talk show, discussing Omar's recent criticisms of Israel and its supporters. She said Omar's remarks were hurtful to many of her Jewish friends.

... But instead of responding directly to McCain, Omar retweeted a post that criticized McCain for "faux outrage" and referred to past statements attributed to McCain's late father, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who died last August at age 81.


By early afternoon, Omar has reached that unusual stage at which she can be represented in the main hed by just a pronoun (note the three witches dealing another blow to their aging leader's grip on power in the No. 2 position):

Rookie Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, fresh off igniting an intra-party uproar with comments widely viewed as anti-Semitic, took a swipe at former President Barack Obama, saying in an explosive interview the 44th president's message of "hope and change" was a "mirage" and blasting his administration's drone and border detention policies.

Another commentator reminds us of the radical takeover on Saturday, even as Fox finds a way to keep the Obama story alive:
Rep. Ilhan Omar’s attempt to shame a news outlet for misquoting her blistering attack on former President Barack Obama backfired after she released audio of the interview that only served to confirm her remarks.

Yet another commentator checks in Saturday night to keep the campaign finance issue alive:

An investigation is needed to determine if socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the media magnet on the far-left fringe of the Democratic Party, has broken federal campaign finance laws. If convicted of criminal conduct, she could get up to five years in prison for each violation.

And by Sunday, there's fresh outrage as "far-left AOC" goes after everything in sight:
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed political moderates at the South by Southwest Conference & Festivals in Austin, Texas, calling their views “misplaced” as she defended her progressive politics in a room full of supporters.

“Moderate is not a stance. It's just an attitude towards life of, like, ‘meh,’” the New York Democrat said Saturday during an interview with Briahna Gray, senior politics editor for the Intercept. “We’ve become so cynical, that we view ‘meh,’ or ‘eh’ — we view cynicism as an intellectually superior attitude, and we view ambition as youthful naivete when ... the greatest things we have ever accomplished as a society have been ambitious acts of visions, and the ‘meh’ is just worshipped now, for what?”


Despite stern competition from the both the old guard (in the form of Clinton) and her fellow newcomers, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez managed to be the lead story at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network four days out of seven. Tune in again next week for another installment of Fox Is Scared Of Girls!

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Thursday, March 07, 2019

Today's editing tips

Today's editing tips:

1) If the allegations really are "bombshell," you don't have to tell me
2) If you have to tell me, they aren't "bombshell"
3) if you have to make three parenthetical clarifications just to quote a prepared statement, you should be paraphrasing

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