Saturday, August 17, 2013

Two Minutes Hate

Ready for today's Fair 'n' Balanced News Quiz?

a) How many times is the feckless Kenyan usurper mentioned in the version of the story at Fox?
b) How many times is he mentioned in the WSJ original?

Your answers are (a) one, maybe, sorta, and (b) none. Let's compare the ledes and speculate how things got that way. Here's the Journal proper:

Organized labor scored a win this week, as an appeals court reaffirmed that unions can choose to organize smaller units of workers at an employer.

And the Fox version, credited to the Journal and fiddled with just a bit:

A court ruling this week allowing unions to continue to form “micro” unions within a company is considered a win for organized labor and the Obama administration.

Most of the Fox edits are squarely in the just-enough-to-be-annnoying category: turning "said" into "stated," "in that case" into "in that particular case," and "despite the employer's argument" into "despite the employer arguing," to name three.* But Fox's real contribution is expanding the Journal's circle of winners to include "federal labor board" in the online hed and "the Obama administration" in the lede.

What's the journalistic purpose for that? Consider this, from the most recent (at this writing) reader comment on the Journal story:

Union 1 goes on strike, after a month they settle. Then union 2 goes on strike, settles, then Union 3 strikes, then the company goes out of business and the workers go on government welfare. Then the government comes to the rescue and takes over the business. Then nobody will by anything because, like in Russia, all the products turn in s h I t. Welcome to Obama’s America.

Maybe someone at Fox just doesn't trust the readers enough to make the  connection for themselves: if it's about unions, that Kenyan Muslim smirk** is behind it somewhere. That's how it works in the farther reaches of the wingnuttosphere, at least:
News isn't actually a naturally occurring substance, true. But it's kind of fun to see the manufacturing process out in the open sometimes.

* This is sometimes called "patchwriting," and it's a little odd to see it in a story that's bylined to the original paper rather than claimed for the source that reproduces it.
** Seriously, that's the best you guys can do? Drudge would have found a golf course photo. 

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