Saturday, October 05, 2019

Radar love

If you were peacefully leafing through your Thursday Freep ad following the jumps of those hard-hitting 1A stories, you might have been a bit taken aback by the radar:

In a case of trickery and thievery pending in Detroit federal court, Gills is among a growing number of targets who have come under the government's radar in recent years for what prosecutors describe as a pervasive and costly crime: the theft of dead people's benefits.  

Now, you might have thought that "under the radar" meant more or less what the OED says: "In phrases in which the detection of something, or the relative amount of attention given to it, is indicated by whether it registers on a figurative radar," not some strange variant of "under the scrutiny of." Indeed, the figurative radar is pretty common on the sports pages:

The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder has been flying under the radar of many recruiting services, despite holding scholarship offers from Illinois, Bowling Green, Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and Toledo. (6/19/2015)

A guy who was living under the radar of Detroit Lions media and most fans. (9/8/2016)

A sleeper quarterback to keep an eye out for is Frankie Potenza of Rochester Stoney Creek. Potenza is flying under the radar of most recruiting services, but that could change after this weekend. (6/16/2017)

But despite a few traditional hits, the news pages seem to be a different story:

According to Lane's affidavit, Bates came under the radar of the Office of Inspector General in 2013, after an audit revealed more than $478,000 in potential losses from the VA Canteen. (5/6/2015)

According to officials, the infamous duo's crime spree took them through Missouri, Georgia, Alabama and Florida before they first came under the radar of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office after an armed robbery at Famous Footwear on Davis Highway. (12/29/2016; apparently a year-end pickup from a Gannett cousin)

Smith’s activities have also come under the radar of the federal government, specifically the FBI, which is also investigating the suburban prosecutor, according to a source familiar with the case. (4/17/2019)

Sure, language changes and nothing is permanent and all that, but given that the OED's definition implies a straightforward distinction -- something "under the radar" is something that isn't "on the radar," and writers might take that as a hint -- you'd like to think some old editor would push to preserve the Old Ways.

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