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October 21, 2005

More Dingbat Kabuki! (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? New York Times Edition)

Carl Hulse of the New York Times is not nearly as bad a reporter as Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post, but Hulse too leads with a claim that the House leadership deficit reduction plan is to "cut federal spending by $50 billion" without finding space in his first paragraph to say that the $50 billion number is (a) only a $15 billion increase over previous plans and (b) applies to five fiscal years--i.e., that the plan is to cut spending by about $3 billion in each year.

House Republicans Put Off Vote on Cuts - New York Times : WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - Acknowledging that they were short of the necessary support, House Republican leaders Wednesday abruptly put off a vote on their plan to cut federal spending by $50 billion and said they would go back to the drawing board to draft a fuller proposal that could win majority backing.

No reason to write "cut federal spending by $50 billion" instead of "increase their planned reductions over five years in federal spending from $35 billion to $50 billion." No reason at all--save that the politicians on the Hill want the number to sound *big*, and are more friendly to complaisant journalists than to critical ones.

Hulse does, however, manage to squeeze in a mention that this is a five-year number in paragraph three. And he does manage to say that it is an increase from a previous $35 billion plan in paragraph five.

Posted by DeLong at October 21, 2005 03:12 PM