Thursday, June 09, 2005

Putting Your Foot In It

Via Yahoo News: USA Today reports a story on the Bush's administration's editing of reports on climate change. The poster child is a lawyer (and former oil lobbyist) who presumably made the strongest edits, or had the most nefarious biography.

This stuff may be old news (it's originally based on reporting for an article in the Times) but I got a perverse kick out of one of the sentences. At first I thought it was USA Today's spin, but it turns out the Times uses close to the same language. Here it is: Some of the changes were as subtle as adding the words "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," the Times reported.

Subtle? There's nothing subtle about that change. "Significant and fundamental" signals exactly that: that it is significant and fundamental. As the rest of the Times article points out, that's what this game is all about -- introducing uncertainty where there isn't any and making whatever uncertainty does exist seem more widespread and of a greater magnitude and importance than it really has.

No comments: