Journalist Makes News, Apologizes
Politico editor-in-chief John Harris takes pride in having coined the phrase “slow-bleed” to describe John Murtha’s plan for forcing the Bush administration out of Iraq while punching up the story in which that phrase debuted. At the same time, he expresses remorse at having inadvertently become part of the story.
It is Murtha’s job to defend his own policies. But I’d prefer not to hand his opponents ammunition in the form of evocative but loaded language.
A journalist’s job is to clarify political debate, not further muddy it. In the two weeks since his original article, Bresnahan’s reporting has continued to clarify the unfolding Iraq argument, even as his editors made life more difficult for him.
It’s inevitable that these sorts of things will happen, since reporters, editors, and headline writers all want to write lively, clean, succinct prose. But cutesy terms have connotative weight that a more bland description might lack.