Tuesday, February 26, 2019

'A formal 21-gun salute'

One wonders if it took 10 days to notice the error, 10 days to track down the relevant information or 10 days to convince the writer that there really, really is a difference.

True, the three rifle volleys is not a "formal 21-gun salute" (or a 19-gun salute, or a 17-gun salute, or any of the other specified numbers), but that's because it's not a cannon salute -- not because it isn't "formal" (which, you'd like to think someone attending the funeral would have noticed, it is). None of which is any harder to look up now than it was 10 days ago. If it's too late for that prophylactic step, sometimes the best course is just to admit that you screwed up and be done with it.

Labels: ,

No, but thanks for asking

Today in Stupid Questions:

NORFOLK, Va. — Do you love Lucky Charms so much that you would like the marshmallowy cereal taste in your beer?

Smartmouth Beer is introducing its Saturday Morning Marshmallow IPA on March 2 in an all-day event that will also showcase trivia and food vendors.

Sad to note that this isn't technically an Elongated Yellow Fruit, in that "taste" isn't a variation on Lucky Charms. But ledewise, I hope we can agree that it fails the Wheaties test.

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The week in Very Scary People

And the streak is back at one, sports fans, because there were no recorded stories about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among the top 5 on the foxnews.com homepage Saturday!

Of course, she was back on Sunday (above), in a triple-byline effort lifted from the New York Post. And she and a number of other existential threats to everything Fox News holds dear made regular appearances throughout the week. Shall we have a look?

Friday morning, we have an opinion column lifted from the Washington Post, though by afternoon we were back to last week's adventures with Amazon (with a side of EWWWW scary lady eats salad with COMB!!11!1!1!1!11!! -- also, it's worth noting, not original to Fox):

On Thursday, she's the No. 2 story, a followup to last week's nearly-true story of privilege and skulduggery. But the real star Thursday is Bernie Sanders:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., entered the 2020 presidential race this week promising to transform America with a left-wing vision of economic and environmental justice. But the self-described democratic socialist’s high-end income, multiple houses and fondness for air travel have already opened him up to criticism that his lifestyle doesn't always match the rhetoric.

You should probably expect to see this one a few more times as the campaign season lumbers on:

3 Homes for Bernie! Sanders Reportedly Buys $600K Vermont Lake House (8/9/2016)

Bernie Sanders Buys $575,000 Lakefront Vacation Home in Vermont (8/12/2016)

Bolling: Free advice for Jane and Bernie Sanders (7/17/2017)

Bernie Sanders' income tops $1M for second year in row, reports say (6/24/2018)

Anyway, just so you know, Fox is also scared of guys every now and then. But not nearly as scared as Fox is of girls! Look who was the lead story on Wednesday:
And back Wednesday evening (along with a sideswipe at Kamala Harris). Note that even Fox can't quite hide the shell game behind the mystery billboards:

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a screen grab of the group's Wikipedia page that says it is funded "mainly by corporate executives and conservative foundations including the Mercer Family Foundation." However, sometime after the congresswoman's tweet was sent early this morning, the organization's Wikipedia page was edited to remove the line about its funding.

After Fox News reached out to the Job Creators Network for comment on Ocasio-Cortez's tweets, the Wikipedia page was subsequently edited again and it now includes the line that was in the New York congresswoman's tweet: "It is funded mainly by corporate executives and conservative foundations including the Mercer Family Foundation."

Another lead story on Tuesday:
And, of course, a lead with Amazon on Monday:
The Che story is worth noting because it's foreshadowed in this one from earlier Monday:
Tune in again next Sunday for This Week In Fox Is Scared of Girls! Every streak has to end sometime, after all.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Do you speak American?

Like it or not, the local treasure that is the Duke-Carolina rivalry* has gone national on us (which is one reason it's so often afflicted with Dick Vitale). But one doesn't have to speak a particular regional American dialect to wonder where CNN is phoning this one in from. The online hed might have been a giveaway, had you stumbled there first:
Amazon pirates are ruthless and all that, but I don't recall much transitive scuppering from my years of reading American sports pages. On to the text:

A star-studded crowd including former US President Barack Obama had gathered to watch hotly tipped college basketball player Zion Williamson, but the 18-year-old's night unraveled after just 33 seconds when his Nike shoe fell apart. 

Likewise "hotly tipped." You could at this point also wonder how the "star-studded crowd" of the lede became the "star-studded match" of the hed, but that risks taking our eye off a different ball. Do you suppose some of the star-studded crowd (Obama, for example) might have actually been there to, you know, watch Carolina and Duke play? But onward:

... Tickets for the local derby were reportedly available for over $3,000 and freshman forward Williamson -- described by double NBA champion Kevin Durant as a "once-in-a-generation athlete" -- was a big reason for the inflated prices.

Williamson's top-ranked Duke side was on a nine-match winning streak, but without their 285-pound 6 feet 8 inch star player the Blue Devils fell to a 88-72 defeat Wednesday.

No, no and no. "Derby" for "any kind of important sporting contest" (as the OED tells it) appears to be exclusively British. We can do "our side" or "their side," but the definite "side" -- as in "Group F's top and bottom sides" is also "chiefly Brit." And those things with 20 minutes to the half are games, not matches. (And if you can hyphenate one number compound, you can hyphenate another, and let's not forget the delightfully blown participle in the second graf: "Williamson ... went down hard when his shoe split in half while planting his foot.")

We should expect things to be different in different Englishes, and toy departments everywhere will always provide their own delights. (I affirm that my life is richer for the British sports phrase "banana skin," but I wouldn't bet on me to use it correctly in a headline.) But could we at least raise the possibility that CNN misunderstood both its audience and its story here?

I raise the latter point because of this follow-up, which suggests why news organizations tend to be easy prey for practitioners of fake news:
Nike is playing damage control after Duke basketball phenom Zion Williamson tore his sneaker in a game Wednesday evening.

Nike's (NKE) stock was down more than 1% on Thursday. Nike builds its reputation around creating premier shoes and clothes for athletes, but that image took a hit with Williamson's sneaker snafu. 

That's the sort of combination of evidence and guesswork that leaves you open to claims that we have the Greatest. Economy. Evar. And indeed, if you overlook the baseline and increments on the Y-axis, it looks like a case for damage control:
One of the nice things about the CNN site, though: it provides the context that the reporters don't seem interested in: whether Thursday's decline (1.05%) is a lot, a little, or sort of in-between. Here's Nike for the past month:
We don't seem to be seeing much hair-pulling over a similar one-day decline at Raytheon:
... or Martin Marietta:

"True" is a necessary condition of news, but it's not always a sufficient one. If a change of 1% in a stock price isn't a story most times it happens, why are we sure it's a story just because we can run a picture that -- curse the phrase -- "went viral"?

* How old is Your Editor? "Drop-add means standing in line for 80-column punch cards in the Tin Can in August" years old.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Leaving a scalpel in the patient

Here's the relevant section, as it appears online:

Stephenson said the uranium threat was discovered in March 2018 by the teenage son of a park employee who happened to be a Geiger counter enthusiast, and brought a device to the museum collection room.
Workers immediately moved the buckets to another location in the building, he said, but nothing else was done.
I can go either way on the question at hand. There's a case to be made that most people who get 18 grafs into a story about uranium and radiation know what a Geiger counter is. But whichever way you go, do try to resolve your editing disputes before they go public. This known as leaving a scalpel in the patient, and editors caution against doing it because it looks so awful on the (wait for it) X-rays.

Labels: ,

Monday, February 18, 2019

Low-hanging yellow fruit

Try a little harder, Fair 'n' Balanced Network! This hed should have been a low-hanging yellow fruit:

The murder suspect eluded police for decades, until he got a hankering for a hot dog at a hockey game.

Jerry Westrom, 52, ate the hot dog while watching his daughter play hockey, then he wiped his face with a napkin and threw it away.

Westrom did not know that while he watched the hockey game, police were watching him.

Police retrieved the napkin Westrom discarded and found his DNA matched that collected at the scene of the 1993 cold-case murder of 35-year-old Jeanne Ann "Jeanie" Childs. Westrom, who was charged with second-degree murder last week, posted $500,000 bail and was released from jail following a court hearing where his wife, children and 20 other supporters looked on from the gallery.

Turning a napkin into a "hot dog accessory" is good, sure, but you need the modifier to bring it home. Given the circumstances, why not the "mustard-stained hot dog accessory"?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Now let's not always see the same hands

It's Sunday, so it must be time for another installment of Fox News Is Scared Of Girls! Naturally, we're going to start with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, even though she's not mentioned in Sunday morning's No. 2 story (putting her in the company of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the sort of supervillain who can exemplify an issue without appearing in the text). But this week is going to include a few more Scary Girls than usual -- see Elizabeth Warren, above.

The big AOC story of the week, of course, is Amazon's decision not to plant its second headquarters in New York. Fox's feelings were still hurt on Saturday:
Is it a little strange that all of a sudden, the umbrella organization of the Amazon Washington Post has become the good guy at Fox? Well, read on. The same composite was a lead story on Friday:
And somehow Cher joined the list of the Fox faithful:

There was, of course, a bigger Ocasio-Cortez lead story on Friday:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is facing ethics questions after revelations the freshman lawmaker's office gave her boyfriend a congressional email account.

The democratic socialist waded into the issue in response to a tweet alleging boyfriend Riley Roberts had been put on staff. The tweet included a screenshot of an official House email address. Ocasio-Cortez insisted that he was only given the email account so he could access her calendar.

Though as is often the case, the fun seems to diminish after Fox talks to someone who doesn't work for Fox:

... Asked about the arrangement, David O'Boyle, the spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, told Fox News: "From time to time, at the request of members, spouses and partners are provided House email accounts for the purposes of viewing the member’s calendar."

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's single-handed victory over Amazon was the lead on Thursday:
As, of course, was the expected slamming:
... though you'll note that the text seems a little less definitive:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lambasted politicians such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others over Amazon's decision to leave New York City. Opponents of the deal with the tech giant had "put their own narrow political interests above their community," he said.

"[A] small group [of] politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community -- which poll after poll showed overwhelmingly supported bringing Amazon to Long Island City -- the state's economic future and the best interests of the people of this state," Cuomo said in the statement, which did not mention Ocasio-Cortez or other lawmakers by name. "The New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity."

(And don't miss the sideswipe at Ilhan Omar; she's on the Fox list too.)

Earlier Thursday, there's sort of a standard Fox commentary, in case you've forgotten what the real threat is:

Another lead story on Wednesday:
But Ocasio-Cortez is a secondary story by afternoon, given that Rep. Omar had dared to question the (ahem) "credibility" of Elliott Abrams on issues related to Latin America:
(Enjoy it, just for the fun of seeing Fox forced to mention things like Iran-contra and El Mozote.)

Another lead story on Tuesday:

And a secondary story on Tuesday, along with a reminder that Fox hasn't forgotten its own bag of antisemitic tropes:
And that green background was there again to kick off the Week in AOC on Monday:
You could be wondering why the Murdoch products suddenly took the side of Amazon, given how vigorously the New York Post had attacked the project, its impact on the community and the ruin it threatened to bring to the New York dating scene. And indeed, by week's end, Fox had found other sources of outrage. These are from Saturday and Sunday:
And with that, another new week is upon us.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Only one of these things can be true

How many guns, Local Daily Paper?

ARLINGTON, Virginia – Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell of Dearborn, the longest-serving member of Congress in its history, was laid to rest on Friday at Arlington National Cemetery, in a military ceremony that included a 21-gun salute

Hmm. How many guns, Other Local Daily Paper?
Since nobody seems to have cranky copy editors who remember these things around any more, you can actually look them up:

The elements of military funeral honors include:

  • A casket team (body bearers / pall bearers)
  • A firing party
  • A bugler
  • Folding of and Presentation of our National Colors
... Officers in the rank of colonel and above in the Army and the Marine Corps may be provided a caparisoned (riderless) horse, if available. General/flag officers of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard may receive a cannon salute (17 guns for a four-star general, 15 for a three-star, 13 for a two-star, 11 for a one-star), if available. Minute Guns may be used for general officers/flag officers of the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. The President of the United States is entitled to a 21-gun salute, while other high state officials receive 19 guns. The cemetery staff will make arrangements for military funeral honors when requested by the next of kin. A military chaplain may also be requested. 

Which paper do you think got it right?

Not to linger too long here, but there's also the small matter of the cutlines. Here's the Freep (print):

Rep. Debbie Dingell, wife of former Congressman John D. Dingell, reacts along with Jim Dingell, brother of the iconic lawmaker, right, during the burial service with honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

And the News (online):

Army Lt. Col. Allen Kehoe of the Old Guard presents the flag from the casket of former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., to his wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., during burial services at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 in Arlington, Va. To Debbie Dingell's right are John Dingell's younger siblings, Jim Dingell and Jule Walowac, and his son Christopher Dingell.

Both photographers were in about the same place (here's the AP shot from the News):

Who's at right, and who's on Rep. Dingell's right? I'd bet on the Freep in this case, though that's no reason to use either "reacts" or "iconic."

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 15, 2019

Adventures in punctuation

There's still quite a bit to get through in Fox's coverage of the Amazon contretemps (let alone the week's Fox coverage of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez), but the punctuation hijinx in this short-lived frontpage story are amusing:

Outspoken singer Cher took to Twitter on Friday to slam New York City's role in Amazon's decision to walk away from its planned headquarters there.

The Jeff-Bezos lead company announced Thursday it was turning back on its plans to build its second headquarters in New York City after backlash from lawmakers, notably Ocasio-Cortez, who bemoaned the project.

What on earth could cause Fox to make common cause with Cher, Jeff Bezos and Andrew Cuomo? Tune in tomorrow for more!

Labels: ,

'To the brink of war'

If you're one of those Hannity viewers who were disappointed beyond measure that you missed an ad for a documentary about the great German-American Bund rally of February 1939, relax. Here's what it looked like the following day at the World's Greatest Newspaper.

No, of course the headline doesn't want you to fight Nazis (be serious; it's the Trib in 1939). It's a classic flying verb or "implied subject" headline -- somebody fought some Nazis, but we can't tell you who and still make the hed big enough to carry the page, so calm down.* But with midtown New York "thrown into a turmoil," it still seems to have been a rather big deal, even half a continent away. A recounting of that event is what Fox News deemed "not appropriate for our air," according to the Hollywood Reporter.**

You can see how the page overall would create a bit of cognitive dissonance for the committed Fox viewer. There's a Carey Orr cartoon bashing the New Deal, but the "attacks on foreign governments" are actually "driving away our customers." There's a mayoral hopeful warning that a vote for Democrats in the mayoral primary "is a vote in support of the war-bent national Democratic administration." But the really confusing part has to be that attack on rampant executive powers in the first column:

The house*** today heard demands that President Roosevelt be stripped of the extraordinary powers granted him in "emergency" legislation during the six years of his administration.

The President was charged with dragging this nation to the brink of war because of his use of some of those powers to take sides in European and Asiatic conflicts. A special Republican committee, recently appointed to study the extraordinary powers of Mr. Roosevelt, led the attack with a request for liquidation of the Export-Import Bank as soon as is consistent with its present commitments. A bitter fight ensued when the house banking and currency committee sought approval of a resolution to continue the existence of the bank until June 30, 1941. The bank expires by law next June 30. 

Rep. Ham Fish has heard that the Ex-Im Bank "recently sent 23 million dollars to China," and he is none too pleased:

... The first purchase made by the Chinese government was 1,000 war trucks, he said. This constituted a direct violation of the neutrality policy of the United States, he charged, and put this country in the position of affronting the Japanese invaders of China.

Results in Entanglements
"This is only one instance of the manner in which the administration, through the special powers delegated to the President by a jittery congress, is involving the United States in foreign entanglements," Fish said.

Good thing Congress was exercising its authority over spending, right? Especially given that our relationship with the Japanese invaders is a good one and nobody's tougher on China than we are.

Anyway, aren't you sorry you missed the ad?

* Hint: It's the "50,000 foes of Bund held back by police" in the deck. It takes some work to figure out the Trib's style on cutoff rules under a streamer.
** Some newspapers were a little overenthusiastic. Here's the Washington Post ,Feb. 11

Some viewers of Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” on Monday night will get a jolting image: scenes from a rally of American Nazis in New York.

The images are meant not as promotion but as a warning: They will come as part of a 30-second spot for “A Night at the Garden,” a new Oscar-nominated documentary short about the rally of the German Bund at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1939. It was directed by the liberal-minded filmmaker Marshall Curry.

*** Lowercase "house" was Trib style.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Double hat trick of iconic forbidden things

This is one of those issues you live for in Copy Editor Bingo: a Triple Forbidden Things Score on one page,  bisected by a Triple Forbidden Word Score running vertically through the A section.

At top, on the business front, there's a Stupid Question in the hed, followed by an "iconic" teeing up a perfectly formed Elongated Yellow Fruit in the second graf:

Called the "Sole of the UX," the tires were revealed at Elliott’s New York Fashion Week after-party on February 9. They were modeled after Elliott's AF1 shoe partnership with Nike. The iconic perforated leather shoes, which retail for $150 a pair, are sold out on Nike's website. 

What really makes the magic, though, is the intersecting iconic axis, starting on page 2A:
and going on to the second business page (12A):
 We're not in the word-banning business around here, really. But some shops can feel free to put particular words off limits until the susceptible get over it. In rule form, it goes something like: If you're tempted to call something "iconic," that's a sign that you don't need to.

Labels: , , , ,

Today in public opinion reporting

And how do we back up our authoritative claim about whom Those Blacks are lukewarm on, Reagan's Favorite Newspaper?

Democrats have the highest-powered and most diverse potential presidential field in history, including two candidates who are black — yet two black leaders say none of them stands out so far.

And if you had Feb. 13 in the office pool for "day on which the Washington Times neglects to run screaming in fear at the mention of Black Lives Matter," you can retire to your tropical island now:

Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat and former mayor of Newark, doesn’t have a great reputation with activists, said Hawk Newsome, president of Black Lives Matter in greater New York. Sen. Kamala D. Harris, a California Democrat whose parents were Indian and Jamaican, has a problematic background as a former prosecutor, he said.
Tanya Faison, a Black Lives Matter leader in Sacramento, California, is also dissatisfied with the two black senators. She said Mr. Booker is generally OK but could be doing more, whereas she doesn’t support Ms. Harris at all.

Certainly interesting points, but you can see why the WashTimes almost immediately thought better of its original hed:

OK, not much of an improvement, but you have to admit -- it is an improvement, right? OK, sorry. You don't. It isn't.

Labels: ,

Monday, February 11, 2019

Fox News is REALLY scared of girls

Mommy, why is the scary lady the lead story at the Fair 'n' Balanced network again?

A top adviser to New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has admitted that an official "Green New Deal" document posted by Ocasio-Cortez's office contained a guarantee of economic security even for those "unwilling to work" -- but not before he went viral in progressive circles for claiming the exact opposite, repeatedly, in an interview with Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight."

Hard to see how that adds up to a schooling of the "freshman Dem," but you can tell there's still nothing that scares Fox News quite as much as Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. She's so scary, indeed, that she was the subject of the commentary in the No. 3 position on Sunday afternoon as well:

We are reaching a turning point that will forever determine our future -- how we live our lives and how our children will live theirs.  The gap between the ever-widening left and right has never been wider, and yet amazingly it continues to widen.

Every time we turn on a TV, open a laptop or listen to the radio, another bizarre, offbeat, outlandish idea brings us closer to socialism and the destruction of capitalism. And it is being pushed by the left.

Here she is again on Feb. 9 -- the almost-as-scary Ilhan Omar is the lead story, but there's another commentary in the No. 2 position in case you thought the socialist menace was retreating:

The Democratic Party’s lurch to socialism led to a presidential rebuke at the State of the Union on Tuesday night. From Sen. Bernie Sanders’s call for “Medicare-for-all,” to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal of a “Green New Deal,” to Democratic presidential hopefuls’ hankering for stiff tax hikes, prominent members of the Democratic Party seem unwilling to miss any opportunity to advocate for greater government control of the economy.

Yet as Democrats justify grandiose proposals by decrying income inequality, many of us who immigrated to the United States from socialist countries see great irony. After all, unending income equality is what drove us to leave our native lands in the first place.

Ocasio-Cortez is the lead story three times on Feb. 8 (note that the third example has another twofer with the "slam" from a Wall Street Journal columnist; Ocasio-Cortez herself is mentioned exactly once in "Guns, Grub and Driveways"):

 And the lead story twice on Feb. 7:

She was especially scary on Feb. 6, the day after the State of the Union address. It's tempting to score this as a hat trick, but the "sullen Dems" in the commentary at the No. 2 spot isn't quite conclusive):
She was the lead story on Feb. 5:
... with, in a different daypart, another commentary meant to reinforce the danger of it all:

It’s been two years since the end of the Obama presidency and in that span, the mainstream Democratic Party has made an extreme shift to the far left.  In 2019 the Democrats have put their weight behind increased taxes, universal health care, open borders, and third-trimester abortions.

How do we account for this radical trend?

I don't know, dude. No Schlitz, Blatz. No Blatz, improvise. But of course, she was also the top story on Feb. 4:
Imagine, using the guest list to score political points. But there were two other downpage appearances that day as well:
Another lead story on Feb. 3:
Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore declared U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the new leader of the Democratic Party, while urging political moderates to take a position because there “is no middle ground anymore.”

“She is the leader. Everybody knows it. Everybody feels it,” Moore said of the freshman congresswoman from New York during a Friday interview on MSNBC.

For a Friday story at the top of the Sunday page, that seems singularly low-bore, but perhaps Fox is unusually scared of Michael Moore too. Or it could have been trying to make up for lost time, in that there seem to have been no stories about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among the top five on Feb. 2! There was, though, this to start the month:
New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged her “privilege” as a “cisgendered woman” during a podcast interview this week, explaining she will never know the “trauma” of being transgender.

The progressive-favorite’s comments came during a wide-ranging discussion with The Intercept, a liberal news site.

Fox has its usual liberal hand with the scare quotes, though whence the hyphen in "progressive-favorite" is beyond me. That's probably not as interesting as Fox's inability to decide among "democratic socialist," "Democratic Socialist" and "Democratic socialist," or its swinging back and forth in January between Ocasio-Cortez's family name and given name, or assorted substitutes like "AOC" and "Alex," or the more customary "Dem Socialist darling." Indeed, there's a whole catalog of frontpage representations from January that just kept getting -- overtaken by events. 

Our question at the end of the year was whether Fox News is scared of girls. The first few weeks of 2019 seem pretty conclusive. Fox News is absolutely petrified of girls. If you are a girl, please don't knock Fox News down on the playground and take its lunch money.

Labels: , , , ,