Saturday, March 8, 2008

Saturday Morning
Journalism Round-up

Let's start with the lede from this article by Steven Lee Meyers of The New York Times:

"President Bush on Saturday further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to shut down a Congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency’s latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques."

I don't know Meyers' writing, but this strikes me as a somewhat Times-ey lede, meaning that the first time I saw it, I had to read it twice to get the meaning. Why not switch things around and simplify a little bit:

"President Bush vetoed on Saturday a Congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency's ability to torture terrorism subjects, further cementing his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers."

I think that reads a little better, but we're still left with the rather weak "legacy of fighting for strong executive powers." For a paper often accused by the Right of liberal bias, that terminology makes me think either Meyers or his editors handcuffed his writing a little bit. One could just as easily say, perhaps in a different paper with a slightly more partisan bent, that Bush's veto further cements his legacy (maybe the Rove legacy, more accurately) of asserting the supremacy of executive power. To me, "fighting for strong executive powers" implies that Bush is some sort of crusader, bravely defending the rights of the West Wing.

Side note: The Washington Post seems to agree with me:

"President Bush vetoed Saturday legislation meant to ban the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, saying it 'would take away one of the most valuable tools on the war on terror.' "

Right on, Dan Eggen.

And what would a journalism round-up be without the Chicago Tribune and their ever-depressing front page?

"1 student killed, 1 beaten"

"Woman charged with stabbing teen over boy"

"Police have suspect in UNC student leader's death"

From the San Francisco Chronicle, a story about today's Wyoming caucus, which Obama is leading, contains this sentence:

"Obama generally has outperformed Clinton in caucuses, which reward organization and voter passion more than do primaries."

Now, I like this piece of background info, which I've seen repeated in several different papers. It's useful to know the difference between primaries and caucuses. But what about that little "do" stuck in there, as in "more than do primaries"? Seems to me like the case of an over-eager editor trying to make the sentence's grammar perfect, though I'd like someone else to weigh in and tell me if that "do" is really necessary.

Finally, the opening paragraph from a piece found in the Feb. 11 and 18 New Yorker, which piece is unfortunately unavailable online. (note: I think "which piece" is the right way to refer back to the article, and not the entire New Yorker edition, thoughts?)

"My nickname when I was in junior high and high school, in Kansas City, was Loyd, my father's name. It was given to me inadvertently, in 1967, by my seventh-grade math teacher, who had taught my father thirty years earlier and sometimes forgot which of us he was calling on. In my father's day, the math teacher's nickname had been Tarz, short for Tarzan, because he was built like Johnny Weissmuller; by the time I had him, his nickname was Wheezer. He looked like Lyndon Johnson, with tremendous gravity-stretched jowls and earlobes. Age must have lengthened his scrotum, too, because he was always careful to lift his testicles out of the way before sitting in a chair or leaning back against the front of his desk. Sometimes, my friends and I, as we took our seats for math, would pretend to lift our testicles out of the way, too."

No comments: