Sunday, March 23, 2008

AP: Sun rises in East

Sometimes you wonder which bodes worse for the future of American journalism: the growing tendency to run AP stories and suggested heds without editing, or the urge to amplify AP 's breathtaking naivete with one's own hed skills. Anyway, there's the hed, and here's AP's lede:
JERUSALEM -- In a bold defense of Israel, Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday that the U.S. wants a new beginning for the Palestinian people but will never pressure Israel to take steps that would jeopardize its security.

Is it too much to suggest that, boldness-wise, what the vice president is doing is sort of like telling the inquisitors that here I stand, I can do no other, water does too run downhill? That "bold" might be something like ... oh, some one-term administration hinting that maybe U.S. underwriting for new-housing loans might be reduced by the amount spent on housing construction in the occupied territories? Really. What in the last few years, or few decades, could remotely lead anyone to believe that Cheney is stating anything but the most thoroughly self-evident status quo?
In terms of U.S. media discourse about the Middle East, this ... no, wait. Tell you what. Here are three statements by major U.S. political figures. Two are from actors whose expertise is unquestioned. One of them comes from a figure who, in the conventional wisdom of media accounts, has some serious hurdles to overcome regarding foreign-policy sophistication and experience. Can you figure out which one is from the naif?
"Al-Qaida is going back into Iran and is receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran."
"I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering, pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel."
"They've* declared they want to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people, some in the Middle East."
For bonus points, as you ponder cosmic questions like who should be answering the Great White Telephone at what ungodly hour of the morning for the next few years, identify the three speakers.
*"They" being "the Iranian government." Keep your pronoun issues to yourself; this is a content-editing question.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the first quotation is from John McCain, and the third is from George Bush. Since both statements are untrue, either speaker could be the naif. But I think the second is Barack Obama, and since that statement just sounds like common sense, he's probably the naive one.

11:59 AM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Someone has mistaken "bold" for "brazen", methinks.

"Since both statements are untrue, either speaker could be the naif." And someone else has mistaken "naif" for "liar"... :-)

But they did get the attributions right!

1:08 PM, March 24, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

Ah, but that's the fun part! Is truth-telling a necessary condition in the media construction of "expertise"?

1:49 PM, March 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "bold" and "brazen" point is spot-on, but brazen probably hasn't been used by the hed writer in ... never. And it wouldn't have fit the count.

8:16 PM, March 24, 2008  

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