Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hold those calls, ladies and gentlemen!

... it looks like we have a winner in the Elongated Yellow Fruit* of the Year competition! It's as if the pandas had been lying in wait all along.

Somehow, it seems that there are no mountains left to climb.

* With thanks to the Bremner Editing Center in Lawrence, home of the World's Most Elongated Ball of Twine


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fox weirds verbing: Watership downed

Another entry in Fox's where-does-that-pesky-inflection-go ledger! Unlike the last installment, which offered a couple of verb phrases ("lower booms" for "lowers boom" and "open fires" for "opens fire"), this one features a phrasal verb -- and, cleverly, poses as a quote without trying to represent one. The lede is standard Fox:

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy scorched James Comey in a blistering opening statement at a high-profile congressional hearing on Tuesday, declaring “we can’t survive with a justice system we don’t trust.”

... but the only suggestion of watering down is in the sixth graf:

Gowdy accused Comey of watering down his initial statement on the investigation's findings and making other decisions on his own. While Comey has suggested he acted unilaterally out of concern for the Justice Department's handling of the case, Gowdy questioned why he didn't seek a special counsel -- as he indirectly did regarding concerns about the Trump administration. 

Fox is obviously a busy place these days. Do you suppose there are things Fox doesn't want you to read a lot about?

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Monday, June 18, 2018

There wolf!

Remember the days when journalists were taught to get the news into the headline and to front-load the lede for busy readers? Yeah, me too:

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) revealed the identity of the mysterious wolf-like creature that was shot dead in the state last month. Officials confirmed in a news release Monday that DNA results proved the animal was a gray wolf.   

So the evening's No. 3 story at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network boils down to: You know that wolf the guy told wildlife officials he shot last month? IT'S A WOLF!

We do seem to pick on Fox a lot around here, and for obvious reasons, but the lesson applies to everybody who's tempted by another story about Bigfoot, Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earhart, D.B. Cooper or the Loch Ness Monster. If you don't fall for it the first time, you won't have to waste the space later knocking it down.

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OMG, iz fulla starz

Looks like somebody won the coveted month of parking in Roger Ailes' old space. Behold, the Fair 'n' Balanced Network's Monday afternoon lead story:

President Trump vowed on Monday to make space great again.

Speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council, Trump ordered the Pentagon to immediately establish a national “space force” that would become the sixth branch of the armed forces.
“We are going to have a space force,” Trump said in Washington D.C. “An Air Force and a Space Force. Separate, but equal.”

The prose, alas, is pretty pedestrian -- certainly compared with the Photoshop job. But together, don't they remind you of the good old days, when the party press knew how to treat a proclamation from the Dear Leader? 

A couple of things came to mind. First, the idea of leader as visionary: Lenin striding purposefully into the future (at left is the old boy in Dresden*). Second ... did y'all really want the Dear Leader to look like a LOLcat?

... Trump did not go into details about what military role the so-called “space force” would carry out or who would command it, but he framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want "China and Russia and other countries leading us."

The president said the United States will "be the leader by far" in space and is looking to revive the nation's flagging space program by returning the United States to the moon and soon reaching Mars.

Images are vital to framing, but they aren't all of it. As Entman put it, framing is about selection and salience, so it's also important to know that Fox found the right stuff to highlight. Not, obviously, the messy and unexciting stuff that the Swamp Media led with:

Before making his remarks on the space program, President Trump also weighed in on the ongoing immigration crisis – blasting the U.S.’ current immigration laws and saying the crisis is “the Democrats’ fault.”

“The United States will not be a migrant holding facility,” Trump said. “We can't allow that to happen in the U.S. Not on my watch. We want safety and we want security.

Trump added: “If the Democrats would sit down and stop obstructing, we could have something quickly."

Almost all of which is true -- at least, it's true that he said and added the things he is reported to have said and added. And it's still all about the security! That, kids, is how you get the covered parking space.

*  From a 1990 trip (ours, not his).

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Elongated yellow fail

I think we're all saddened at the news that Superior Fish is closing, but come on -- couldn't we do better than "the eight-legged sea creature" for the required Elongated Yellow Fruit reference? I was expecting at least a "slimy eight-legged cephalopod."


Oh, stop it

The only really surprising thing here is that -- for a brief, shining moment, early Friday afternoon -- the jailing of President Trump's former campaign manager made it to the top of the Fair 'n' Balanced homepage. There's a set of rules by which news actors -- even friendly ones -- are known by their given names in Fox headlines, and why not dig up some vaguely Prohibition-sounding term like "pokey" (even correctly bending the rule against using "the" in headlines) for some cheap alliteration on the side? Aside from, you know, that reservation on the unheated cattle train to Siberia for the unfortunate editor who thought the story worth playing up, there's nothing unfamiliar here to the Fox reader.

The Los Angeles Times, on the other hand:

One, "clink." C-L-I-N-K.* Named after a real place, and attested as a term in the OED from about 1530.** Two, whether and to what degree you're pleased by any developments that get closer to the Orange Lord on his Orange Throne -- would you mind leaving a little space where the grownups can talk about it like grownups?

* It probably says something about the state of the world that the top hits on a Google search for "Klink" are for a Pokemon character, rather than you-probably-know-who-if-you're-reading-this.
**  And who else but Kipling would have written "And I'm here in the Clink for a thundering drink and blacking the Corporal's eye"?

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Friday, June 15, 2018

'The White House came out swinging'

Well, no surprise when a lese-majeste story is in the No. 4 spot on the Fair 'n' Balanced homepage. But this one is especially charming:

The White House came out swinging Friday against MSNBC star Joe Scarborough after the former Republican congressman compared the methods used in current immigration policy to the Nazis.

That must have been just awful.

Speaking about White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’ Thursday press briefing – in which she sparred with reporters over the separation of families attempting to try to enter the southern border – Scarborough accused Sanders of excessive lying on his "Morning Joe" program.

How Axis Sarah could be accused of "excessive" lying is an interesting question, but beside the point:

... “It is appalling that Joe Scarborough would compare sworn federal law enforcement officers— who put their lives on the line every day to keep American people safe— to Nazis," White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement provided to Fox News. "This is the type of inflammatory and unacceptable rhetoric that puts a target on the backs of our great law enforcement."

You can see how he might be shocked by the Nazi mention, in that the boss has managed to go months and months without one:
But what's so wrong, all of a sudden, with "inflammatory and unacceptable rhetoric" about federal law enforcement officers?

President Trump broke his silence on the scathing inspector general's report with a vengeance Friday, first tweeting that the FBI boss he fired was the "worst" in the bureau's history, then crashing "Fox & Friends" for an impromptu interview where he ripped the "scum on top" of the Obama-era bureau and said the IG "blew it."

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Emanuelle in ... wait, what?

Fetchez la vache, Nation's Newspaper of Record:

An article on Thursday about Vladimir V. Putin’s recent opportunities to project his power misspelled the given name of the president of France. He is Emmanuel Macron, not Emanuelle.

Aside from the general can't-anybody-here-play-this-game-ness, my favorite part of the correction is the coy intrusion of Times style. Apparently we're supposed to know this Putin fella well enough that we don't need to be told which country he's projecting his power from, but we still need the "V" to distinguish him from Vladimir D. Putin or Vladimir "Babycakes" Putin or any of the other Putins who came to Casablanca for the waters.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Today's top stories

No doubt you'll be glad to know that the Fair 'n' Balanced Network didn't use all its time trying to put just the right touch on its summit ledeall today, though surely you can muster some sympathy for the writer who drew the short straw:

President Trump, as part of the historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, reversed longstanding U.S. policy by calling for an end to military drills on the Korean Peninsula and saying he wants to bring U.S. troops home from the region – the president’s latest convention-defying move on the international stage in less than a week.

The easier stuff, of course, is more fun -- for example, the day's No. 2 story:

Kim Jong Un got a taste of President Trump’s pain when CNN star Jim Acosta peppered the world leaders with grandstanding questions following their historic summit in Singapore early Tuesday.

“Mr. President, how is the meeting going so far, sir?” the Trump-bashing newsman hollered as Trump and Kim exited their conference room at the Capella Hotel following a 35-minute meeting. “Any progress, Mr. President?”

“Chairman Kim, will you denuclearize?” he pressed. “Mr. President, how’s it going so far, sir?”

When Trump finally responded by saying it was going “Very, very good,” Acosta, who was the designated pool reporter assigned to represent U.S. media organizations, seemed encouraged to demand answers from Kim, who is used to a more compliant media.

Recalling the morning's top story, it is tempting to ask: More compliant than what?

“Will you give up your nuclear weapons, sir?” Acosta shouted, either unaware that Kim had just pledged to do exactly that or thinking that his probing interrogation technique might elicit a more fulsome* answer than the recently concluded diplomatic session.

But there was a more inclusive summary in the works, moving into the No. 4 slot by midafternoon:

President Trump’s historic summit with Kim Jong Un could be the first step to the Hermit Kingdom dismantling its country’s** nuclear program – but Bitter Bettys throughout the mainstream media found ways to slam the event.

CNN global affairs analyst Max Boot chalked up the meeting as something that “any previous president could have done,” while MSNBC regular Jon Meacham claimed “just because something hasn't happened before, doesn't mean it's historic.”

If you aren't familiar yet with the prose stylings of Fox's Brian Flood, this is a fine place to start.

* Ahem.
** As opposed to whose?


Friday, June 08, 2018

Up, up and elongated yellow fruit

Well, what would you call metallic balloons on second reference if you were the power company?

SCE Urges Safe Handling of Metallic Balloons
WHAT: Southern California Edison will promote safe and responsible handling of metallic balloons to increase public awareness about the hazards and hundreds of outages caused annually by the free-floating colorful gifts.

With thanks to reader Carol, because not all popular orange vegetables are available online. Though you do have to give SCE some credit for getting the right number of hyphens into "one-month high of 191 metallic-balloon-caused outages last June."


Friday, June 01, 2018

Dinner party or Donner Party?

Where's that pesky Donner Party comma when you need it?

(Captured in the wild by Language Czarina; credit for the name goes to the paleontologist Michael Fuhlhage.)

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