Tuesday, February 24, 2009


You call this a news lede?
Standing before a nation on an economic precipice, President Barack Obama aimed to balance candor with can-do Tuesday night in his first address to a joint session of Congress. Millions more anxious Americans were tuning in on TV.

Let's take this point-by-point:

  • Begins with a dependent clause. WTF ever happened to direct declarative sentences?
  • Uses an awkward metaphor. If the nation is on "an economic precipice," yet Obama is "standing before" that nation . . . WTF? He's levitating?
  • Imputes intent. "Obama aims to . . ."? WTF? Jennifer Loven is a mind-reader who knows what Obama's objectives are?

That's three strikes in your lede, a$$holes. How about you hire a reporter who, instead of presuming to tell us what the president "aimed" to do, understands that it is her job to tell us what the president actually said?

Leave the g--d--- commentary and mind-reading for the pundits on the op-ed page and just report the story, you idiots! Stop stacking up the story in a transparent effort to clue readers what their attitude should be about the news, and instead just give them the facts. This can be done, you know.

(H/T: Michelle Malkin.)

UPDATE: Excuse my extreme wrath, but I had the benefit of being under the thumb of good editors for more than 20 years, and it infuriates me to see an organization as prestigious as the Associated Press so flagrantly violate the basic principles of news reporting.

When I arrived at The Washington Times as an assistant national editor, I was introduced to Wes Pruden's First Rule: "Never begin with a dependent clause." If an editor let a dependent-clause lede get past him, he'd be sure to hear about it.

I have no idea what journalism "stylist" first came up with the dependent-clause lede, but Pruden was right in forbidding it, as this Jennifer Loven story illustrates. The dependent clause is where the supposedly neutral and unbiased reporter tells the reader what to think. In this case, Loven wants to impress in the reader's mind the notion that America is teeting on the brink of disaster, so as to present the president as the saviour whose "can-do and candor" will rescue us from catastrophe.

The insulting thing about it is that Loven suppose her readers to be so stupid that they can't see what she's doing. She looks down her nose at the reader who is so thick-headed he can't decide for himself if she limits herself to declarative sentences stating facts.

UPDATE II: My God, Ron Fournier -- while avoiding the dependent clause -- actually manages to out-wretched the wretched Loven:

President Barack Obama gave America the audacity to hope again.
Earning himself a drool bucket award from Malkin. Look, witnesses can be produced who will attest that there were occasions at The Washington Times when I complained about POTUS fellatio by certain White House correspondents who had clearly imbibed of the Bush Kool-Aid. At least those guys had the excuse that they were trying to balance the vitriolic anti-Bush bias of the MSM. What excuse do Fournier and Loven have? They're balancing Bill O'Reilly?

The AP might as well get it over with and hire David Axelrod to cover the White House.


  1. >>>UPDATE: Excuse my extreme wrath

    No, you're dead on right. It's pretty s***ty writing caused by their bias.

  2. "What excuse do Fournier and Loven have? They're balancing Bill O'Reilly?"

    Heh...they don't even have that. O'Reilly gone pretty easy on Obama.

  3. Another note on the Fournier copy:

    "...that every president tries to capture in words. And great presidents embody."

    Shouldn't that have read "And WHICH great presidents..." or "And THAT great presidents..."? Closing the paragraph with asentence beginning with "and" is more befitting the sometimes lax, conversational style adopted by adverstising copy.

    Oops. Check that. I think I just answered my own question. How silly of me.

  4. While waiting for the high and mighty ,long winded bama to finish his blather , I went channel surfing and hit on a local TV channel which was showing belly dancers from a local dance group. I never had so much fun! (: I need to exercise more.
    I wish you all could have turned the bama off but you are too obsessive.
    I did turn back to FOX for Jindal's response and he is NO SARAH PALIN. He is THROUGH before he even gets his second support letter to me.
    Sorry Bobby.

  5. I'm sharing this wherever I can. It's an absolute disgrace, and the fact a bigger stink isn't being made about it speaks volumes about how far we've fallen.

  6. What the hell is a dependent clause? Whoa! Just kidding!

  7. Thanks for the writing lesson. I'm going to share the power of the dependent clause with my children today.

  8. Uh, Pundette, this post is rated PG-13 for extreme graphic violence.

  9. I'll bleep out the bad words but try to leave the rage intact.

  10. Loven was indeed a mind reader. Her story was filed at 3:22 p.m. Obama didn't speak until 9:00 p.m.

  11. We enlightened rednecks hate dependent clauses. The dependent-clause lead in particular is horrible. They were commonplace when I became the managing editor of Technology Daily years ago, and I did my best to excise them from our copy. They are easy to write but awkward to read, which is a polite way of saying it's lazy writing.

  12. Do grammar rules only apply to print media? Why is it acceptable to pepper your blog with the phrase "WTF" like a flustered 15-year-old girl? Grow up.

  13. Flustered 15-year-oldWed Feb 25, 09:00:00 PM

    Patrick, GFY ya PITA.