Just Some horrid Writing at CNN.com

-By Warner Todd Huston

Usually I point out the bias and left-wing lies of CNN, but in this short post I just want to point out that CNN can offer up some really poor writing, too.

In its pre-Thursday GOP convention coverage, CNN foisted this gem on its reading public (my bold):

Republicans' nearly singular focus on the economy took a back seat Wednesday when Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took the stage to talk foreign policy, a topic Mitt Romney makes little mention of on the stump and that has been largely absent from the national political debate.

Apparently CNN's writers -- and it took three, count 'em, THREE writers to put this mosh out -- apparently CNN's writers don't have any idea what "took a back seat" even means.

What happened on Wednesday was that out of 8 main speakers, a mere two speakers -- Condi Rice and John McCain -- talked about foreign policy. That was hardly an example of the economy "taking a back seat."

Now, if every speaker or even the preponderance of speakers eschewed the economy to speak solely on foreign policy, then CNN could have legitimately said that the economic issues "took a back seat."

You see, CNN, "take a back seat" means something is off the table, something pushed to the back and ignored, in this context for an event. Having only two speakers out of some 10 diverting from a main theme is NOT any example of forcing that theme to "take a back seat."

Not only that, but there was all manner of topics discussed that night including religion and immigration. In fact, in its very next point, CNN notes that Huckabee talked a lot about faith that night.

Anyway, this was just an example of bad, bad writing.


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  • Whatever the stylistic merits of the CNN passage, I think you are mistaken about the misuse of "took a back seat". The reader clearly said that the economy took a back seat "when" McCain and Rice addressed the assembly. Not throughout all the speeches.

    That's why the focus on the economy was "nearly singular".

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I think what I object to is the lack of specificity. If they'd have writing "took a back seat for the moment," for instance, I think it would have been fine. But they made it a wider context by not specifying that it only "took a back seat" for two speakers.

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