Sunday, October 09, 2011

Passive aggressive: Priming

No one's ever going to accuse The Fox Nation of being a passive sort of place, and that's what makes this hed unusual. (In theory terms, we're primed to expect something particular from it, but you have to sit through some headlines before the punch line). The whole point of Fox Nation is that we know who's doing what to whom. Often that's the bad guys, as in these examples from today's homepage:

DC Organizer Admits to Paying ‘Occupy DC’ Protesters

Pitting Donors One Against Another: Obama Hits New Fundraising Lows

'Occupy Wall Street' Blasts Banking Industry -- but Apologizes to Its Own Banker

Feds Wanted to Give Solyndra More Money, Emails Show

Orrin Hatch: Obama Fuels Riots

Occupy Wall Street Protester Defecates On Police Car

Top Obama Funder Pushed Solyndra Loan From Inside

It's even more fun when the home team is batting, as in these excerpts from recent weeks:

Cain Wipes the Floor With MSNBC News Anchor

Allen West Smacks Down Samuel L. Jackson

O'Reilly Crushes Atheist Richard Dawkins

Hasselbeck Schools Behar in History 101

Noonan Smacks Down Dionne

CEO Blows Away Congressional Hearing

Ryan Schools Schakowsky On How Much Americans Should Be Allowed To Keep

Christie Slaps Around Press

Bush Official Obliterates Code Pink Founder Over Krugman Column

Krauthammer Schools WaPo's King on Obama

O'Reilly Knocks Jay Carney into Next Week

Herman Cain Schools Entire NBC News Panel

Newt Tears Left-Wing Politico Debate Moderator a New One

NBC's Brian Williams Asks Perry About Executions...And Rick Jacks It Out The Park

Santelli Schools Lib Whiz Kid

O'Reilly Blisters Obama

McConnell Knocks Brian Williams' Socialist Question Out of the Park

Paul Ryan Destroys Reid Bill in Blistering Speech

GOP Rep Schools Cokie Roberts

When you do get a passive hed, it's usually because there's no doubt who the evildoers are. The passive isn't being used to hide agency here; it's just foregrounding the bad guys:

Bank Protesters Arrested After Trying to Cash $673-billion Check

And that's why "Romney's faith attacked" is different. We aren't set up for a friendly-fire case:

Texas evangelical leader Robert Jeffress, the Baptist megachurch pastor who introduced Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit, said Friday afternoon he does not believe Mitt Romney is a Christian.

Jeffress described Romney's Mormon faith as a “cult,” and said evangelicals had only one real option in the 2012 primaries.

“That is a mainstream view, that Mormonism is a cult,” Jeffress told reporters here. “Every true, born again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian.”

No doubt there will be more in the ensuing days (as there as been for the past few centuries, so why not). Those who want to fight about such things should go right ahead. Friends of the passive voice, on the other hand, should simply be amused.

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Anonymous Ed Latham said...

Now there's a noun pile-up for the ages: 'Newt Tears Left-Wing Politico Debate Moderator a New One'! If only it had been about an actual newt...

5:36 AM, October 09, 2011  
Anonymous Ed Latham said...

I'd have to say also that 'O'Reilly Crushes Atheist Richard Dawkins' rather overstates Bill's performance in that debate, having watched it.

1:49 PM, October 09, 2011  
Blogger fev said...

And Herman Cain isn't wiping a lot of floors, come to think about it. But that's the fun of Fox Nation: It's about the way things ought to be, and the way things are doesn't really enter into it.

3:20 PM, October 09, 2011  

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