Monday, September 20, 2004

Headline verbs and campaign climate control

I just saw these two totally conventional headlines stacked on Google News...

USA Today:
Kerry hits Bush for 'colossal failures of judgment' in Iraq

BBC:
Kerry blasts Bush over Iraq war

...and though typically I've been glad as any other liberal, arm-chair Democratic campaign advisor when Kerry takes Bush to task, this time I was irked. We're constantly reading pleas for Kerry and the press itself to address plain old facts about the Bush administration's record. Headlines like these make it seem like engaging in any substantial debate assures you'll be painted as motivated by antagonism and using abusive tactics.

4 comments:

Kip Oren said...

You write: "Headlines like these make it seem like engaging in any substantial debate assures you'll be painted as motivated by antagonism and using abusive tactics."

But isn't Kerry doing just that?

Murky Thoughts said...

_Conceivably_ the headlines are appropriate for the utterances with which Kerry made news. I doubt it, but I can't discount it, not having read beneath the headlines. My point, though--which I'll remain confident in even if I go read Kerry's speech and find that it fails to support it--is that headlines like these are the nature of campaign coverage, and they tilt the playing field in favor of the candidate who only mentions achievements, real or imagined.

Murky Thoughts said...

A balanced climate would make it just as acceptable for the premier news outlets to head a story with such constructions as "Bush spins..." or "Bush floats..." but search those on Google News and you won't fish out more than one obscure hit. "Kerry blasts" gives you 174.

Murky Thoughts said...

Having read a story about the speech, feeling fairly comfortable in the assumption that New York Times journalist Maria Newman is competent enough to have quoted some of Kerry's more provocative statements and accounting even for the possibility that Kerry was beet red, gesticulating and shrill of voice when he said them, I feel I can now answer Kip Oren's question. "Duh, no."