deadlines amuse me

exploring how the world works and why it works that way …

Archive for February 24th, 2008

Sen. McCain and sex? It only seemed like a good story

leave a comment »

Perhaps the most disingenuous word a journalist can deploy is seemed. My newsroom godfather taught me that the use of seemed, seems or other forms of the word means the reporter is guessing, that the reporter has found no clear evidentiary link between Fact A and Fact B.

In its now highly ridiculed story about Sen. John McCain’s relationships with lobbyists, particularly with Vicki Iseman, The New York Times used seemed twice:

But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest. [6th graf]

One of his efforts, though, seemed self-contradictory. In 2001, he helped found the nonprofit Reform Institute to promote his cause and, in the process, his career. It collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in unlimited donations from companies that lobbied the Senate commerce committee. Mr. McCain initially said he saw no problems with the financing, but he severed his ties to the institute in 2005, complaining of “bad publicity” after news reports of the arrangement. [31st graf]

To seem means to be judged to be; to appear to be true, probable, or evident; or to appear to be something. As a transitive verb, seem is used to suggest uncertainty — not, as The Times failed to do, tie one set of facts to another set of facts and thus conclude with certainty we gotcha.
Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

February 24, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized