Sunday, December 21, 2008

Two stories, one with actual facts but no picture

Hey, there are new chickens in town. My backyard neighbor has a chicken coop and recently installed a dozen new residents. So far this bunch isn’t nearly as entertaining as the last group, which was headed by a handsome rooster who routinely led daring escapes into my yard. Brewster the Ringleader would head straight to my patio door and peer inside, curious about the universe contained within -- or more likely just fascinated by his own reflection.

I really miss Brewster.

Okay, now here’s the second story, an AP story that took three paid reporters to write and which is irritating as all heck.

Headline: Senate-for-Sale Case Threatens New Chief of Staff

Motivating factors for story: silence* has “prompted questions”; any “hint of scandal” damages Obama and potentially could destroy the United States

Unique sources: 2 tangential people and an indeterminate number of anonymous aides, sources, and supporters not authorized to speak on anyone's behalf

Main rhetorical hedges: "believed to be"; "what, if anything"

Adjectives of note: troubling, friendly

Nouns of note: ties, liability

First astonishing fact: A lot of people live in Chicago and a good many of them are politically active

Second astonishing fact: “a friendly rapport” or “a friendly relationship” may not constitute “a close friendship”

Moment of inscrutability: “It was not clear whether Blagojevich inferred Emanuel's motive for advocating [Valerie] Jarrett….”

Wasted-space acknowledgement: "The coming days will offer the first answers about Emanuel's recent interaction with Blagojevich and discussions about filling Obama's Senate seat."

Tidy moralistic conclusion useful even if Emanuel did nothing wrong but which damns him anyway: "We're not going to end corruption in Illinois by arrests and indictments alone," the prosecutor [Patrick Fitzgerald] said. "What's going to make the difference is when people who are approached to 'pay to play' first say no, and, second, report it."

Bonus fun: The caption for the accompanying photo reads: “White House Chief of Staff designate Rahm Emanuel listens to President-elect Barack Obama, not pictured…." We’ll just have to take their word for it that Obama was there.

*Prosecutor-requested silence

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