Saturday, June 07, 2008

Effective writing: Media edition

Sometimes, as one of our contributors likes to put it, "it ain't what you eat, it's the way how you chew it." Here is an example of Wonkette gnawing on something we're all struggling to swallow:
The Dow is down 370 points (2.5%) while the NASDAQ and S&P500 make similar terrible plunges, unemployment shot up the most since 1986, oil hit $138 and gasoline costs $4.50 a gallon at the start of summer, teen-age unemployment hasn’t been this bad since 1948, the housing collapse is really just beginning, foreclosures are at another new record high, even 3.5% of “prime” mortgages are now heading into default, and the dollar is worth a mumbled “Fuck you” in French. Things are looking up!

“I don’t think we’re in a recession and the data suggests that we’re not,” Treasury Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy Phillip Swagel said in a press briefing today.
We've all heard or read virtually the same list of catastrophes repeatedly in the last day, but somehow this one nails it. Except for the text in blue, this could be straight from AP. We talk about what makes fake news (now a phrase with a very specific meaning) so much more effective than MSM reporting. They are usually reporting straight news with starker juxtapositions of information and the occasional, well-placed twist, like above. Of course, Wonkette doesn't even claim to be fake news but a kind of faux gossip column.

But this morning, after thinking the administration had saddled some flunky assistant secretary with making himself the sacrificial goat for saying the stupidest thing imaginable, the NYT runs a quip from Swagel's boss:
President Bush … held out hope that $100 billion in tax rebates now being distributed to American households would spur spending and generate jobs. "We’re beginning to see the signs that the stimulus may be working … ."
My god.

We'll get back to linguistics here in a bit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, even when the MSM is direct, they seem less effective. But consider just how direct CNN is getting, according to this quote

During an economic speech today, President Bush partly blamed a dramatic rise in unemployment on new workers entering the workforce. Later, in a CNN interview, Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Chao also said that the increase the unemployment rate was "caused in part by a surge of young entrants into the job market."

CNN senior business correspondent Ali Velshi weighed in that Bush administration excuses for the poor economy were "ridiculous." Velshi explained, "I just wish they wouldn't say that. President Bush said something earlier about how the unemployment rate today -- the increase -- was because a whole bunch of teenagers have joined the workforce, that's the point. 100,000 people join the working age working force every month. If we don't create 100,000 jobs every month, we're not doing the right thing."