Larry Schweikart: How the 24-Hour News Cycle is Leading the Loss of the English Language

Guest Piece by America’s History Teacher, Larry Schweikart

Plenty of commentators have dealt with the lunacy that affects the English language today, from banning certain words as “racist,” “sexist,” or “something-ist.” Certainly that’s obvious to all. But there is another, more subtle change going on, even among the “friendly” or “reliable news pages.

It began when the 24-hour news cycle started to run out of, well, news. (Sidebar: How many of you want to throw a shoe at the television every time you hear that Fox News “BONG” breaking news alert—which was breaking news a week ago? And it doesn’t help that it’s oddly similar to the “Law and Order “BONG”). It took more than a decade for this development to settle in. At first, the networks filled the void with simply more talking heads, guests, and “analysts” telling you what the news was.

More recently however—I started really noticing it during the Mueller investigation—a host of non-news words began to creep into news stories. We began to see mush phrases such as

“Mueller mulling demand that Trump testify,” or “Mueller considering charging Don, Jr.” These kinds of hourly non-news stories utterly took over, for reporters weren’t supposed to know what was happening in the first place (the investigation after all—wink, wink, nudge, nudge—was to be secret. Since the Mueller team was leaking like the Titanic however, so-called journalists could not produce actual documents to prove anything. As it turned out, in fact, they had nothing to prove anything with. Instead, reporters reverted to the post-1980 favorite journalistic trick, the “unnamed source.” Realize it was not all that long ago that no reputable newspaper would ever run a piece with a single “anonymous source.” Indeed, according to a Chicago Tribune  reporter I interviewed during a foreword I wrote for Professor Jim Kuypers’ book, Partisan Journalism (2013), every major fact in a story was to be doubly sourced with public sources.

In case you didn’t notice, “mulling,” “considering,” “poised to,” “about to,” “prepared to,” “intends,” and other such mush words are utterly unprovable. “Yeah, Schweikart, Mueller intended to indict Don, Jr., but changed his mind.” Lacking any paper trail or actual documents, of course, such logic is irrefutable and every bit as meaningless or useless. After all, I intende to win both a Pulitzer and an Academy Award.

So consider a stroll through these headlines from July 26, 2020:

*(Politico) “Bass: Supporters will rally to Biden despite ‘94 Crime bill.”  (“will is future tense, and de facto can have no actual evidence. “The Dallas Cowboys will win the Super Bowl.” Um hum.)

*(www.thelibertydaily.com) “WATCH: Black man drops the mic on BLM movement.” (As interesting as this is, it is one man talking on a video on social media. He has no office, no official power to do anything.

*(Washington Free Beacon) “Illinois GOP Slams Press Corps for Failure to Press Democratic Governor on Corruption of Top Ally.” So the GOP said nasty things about the press? Maybe we should have a statue erected. Wait, those are being torn down . . . .

*(Twitchy) “I am appalled: Fromer Reagan Admin Official Mark Levin Calls out WaPo/Reagan Foundation story as ‘Publicity Stunt’. Once again, one person saying something about other people. Color me shocked.

*(Daily Political Newswire) “Eric Trump Mocks Joe Biden: ‘How Daring He is to Come Out of His Basement.’ One person mocks another. That’s hard hitting news fer ya!

*(BPR Business & Politics) “Lou Dobbs: ‘Mitch McConnell is doing a Paul Ryan. He’s about to lose the Senate.’” Again, Back to the Future.

*(New York Daily News, from October 28, 2017) “The Likely Targets in the Trump Camp of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Indictment” Hint: No one actually “in” the Trump camp was indicted. The closest was Gen. Michael Flynn, an Obama appointee.

*(Washington Post, November 14, 2017) “Sessions Considering Second Sepcial Counsel to Investigate Republican Concerns, Letter Shows.” Once again, people consider all sorts of things. I am “considering” moving to Bermuda, recording a drum solo album, and starting a major ant farm.

*(U.S. News July 22, 2020), “Democratic Group Looks to Close Trump-Biden Enthusiasm Gap.” Now, let that sink in, by the way. We have been told that Joe Biden has a massive lead in the polls. Five, ten, no make it fifteen points in Alabama!!! Why would the Democrats be worried about “closing a gap” that doesn’t exist? Unless, of course, it does and they know their guys is deader than a Thanksgiving Turkey. But the operative phrase is “looks to.” I look to lose 15 pounds and up my chess game.

*Finally, here is one via the New Hampshire Gazette via the AP from May 1, 2018: “Attorney: Mueller Team Weighing Subpoena for Trump.” I’m sure you “weigh” buying a new car vs. a trip to Vegas. This mush language is pure speculation about future events that might or might not happen.

All of these and many, many more (open Drudge or www.thelibertydaily.com for example) increasingly constitute “news,” because there is no news—at least, not nearly enough to fill up a 24/7 news cycle with thousands of internet “news” sites.  Eliminating “mush” language such as “considering,” “mulling,” “hoping to,” “planning,” ‘looking to,” “anticipating,” and so on is essential to the restoration of real news. Every story should be sourced with actual names, and two named sources required for every significant fact or claim. Finally, it wouldn’t hurt for editors to immediately bounce any story that isn’t describing something that has already happened instead of future events along a “12 Monkeys” timeline.

 

Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of the New York Times #1 bestseller, A Patriot’s History of the United States and the author of Reagan: The American President. He is also the founder of the Wild World of History website with history curricula for teachers and homeschoolers (www.wildworldofhistory.com).

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is all.

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

10 thoughts on “Larry Schweikart: How the 24-Hour News Cycle is Leading the Loss of the English Language

  1. Reply
    phineas gage - August 31, 2020

    That is quite similar to the television media interview trick of ‘many people say….’ to substitute for the ‘journalist’s’ own personal opinion.

  2. Reply
    brian - August 31, 2020

    Its not just in the media or with ‘journalists’. Its in nearly every field where power and control is being sought or held. When looking at science papers in the jounals etc, you’ll see this terminology of could, might, possibly, suddenly appeared, developed a strategy etc etc… which when interpreted means… a wild guess, nothing less.

    The left coaches everything in smoke mirrors and emotional terms to try and fool people into believing the liars have the truth. Fortunately conservatives are far smarter than the zombies that inhabit demoncrap circles, and see right thru most of this communist verbal diarrhea.

    Its a war… the propaganda machine is in full swing…

  3. Reply
    Whisperin Pints - August 31, 2020

    An interesting read. Thank you.
    Critical thinking helps one identify and digest sensationalist headlines, and what is presented as “news”. Unfortunately, the practice appears to have become as distasteful an endeavor as introspective analysis.
    I wonder how many folks will be inspired to read this article after scanning the title?

  4. Reply
    phineas gage - August 31, 2020

    The first rule of totalitarianism is that if you control the language, you control information and history. Much of Orwell’s book was about this very thing.

  5. Reply
    Not Sure - August 31, 2020

    Plants crave electrolytes and right now I crave a tall can of Brawndo!
    Dr. Lexus at St. God’s Memorial Hospital says they are health supplements.
    Later I will go to the Time Masheen with Mountain Dew Camacho right after watching Monday Night Rehabilitation with Beef Supreme.
    Azz the movie is on at the Metroplex and if you don’t smoke Tarryletons well I feel bad for you.
    Forward! Yes we can.

  6. Reply
    Jimmy MacAfee - August 31, 2020

    The words “everybody knows” are the lead-in to a gross popular misconception:

    Examples:

    “Everybody knows Global Warming is making polar bears extinct” (lie)
    “Everybody knows Hillary Clinton will beat Donald Trump” (wishful thinking)
    “Everybody knows Donald Trump conspired with the Russians” (lie lie lie)

    Everybody knows that everybody should drink 8 glasses of 8 fluid ounces of water daily (lie) and that taking acetaminophen is a good remedy for hangover (dangerous lie) and that everything you read in the paper or the press must be true (a deadly lie) and that the SDNY is an ethical, honorable prosecutorial arm. Ooops. Even though that is a lie, no one actually believes that.
    On that note, Amy Berman Jackson is a great and honest judge (no one would ever say that unless they were drinking heavily) and that “Judge” Sullivan is fair, impartial and is actually a smart fellow (no one would say that unless they have the IQ of AOC.)

    Everybody (meaning only Obimbo hisself) knows that his administration was the cleanest, least corrupt presiduncy in history – (but only one dooche believes that, and his initials are BHO)

    On the other hand, every body DID know that Jeffrey Epstein would be murdered/Arkancided in jail.

  7. Reply
    Happy Cloud Painting - August 31, 2020

    Everybody Knows is a great song by Leonard Cohen.

  8. Reply
    Gregg - August 31, 2020

    When I was in DC, almost all of any conversation was the mush words Larry speaks of. Might, should, would, supposed to; you could never nail anyone down on anything. My problem was i took it all to seriously, I actually tried to execute the commands of my bosses, often to get the Emily Latella treatment or else it was OBE (overcome or overtaken by events, and another time wasting task was assigned.

    Another point of conflict was: any reasonable person would understand what was said at a meeting, yet I would later be told that what I heard wasn’t what was said. If I wasn’t explicit, things didn’t happen, if I was detailed, my emails weren’t read as they were too long. Finally, I said to hell with it, and left.

    And, lately, I’ve been noticing more and more when I go to buy a repair part for almost anything, the box says: “fits most toilets, or weedwhackers or most whatever; often it does not. Anytime a salesperson says “should fit, should work, should be compatible with, I demand an assurance it will fit, work or be compatible with whatever I want to fix.

    If I can’t get that assurance, I wind up buying both possible versions and eventually take back the wrong one. That is one reason I seldom do online purchasing.

    1. Reply
      brian - August 31, 2020

      You might possibly have heard some things semirelated to the problem that could be attached to the overall difficulties exhibited in the field of communications. Its also a possibility that an unreasonable expectation might very well have been implied or maybe not, that any reasonable individual could somewhat ascertain to be a likely logical outcome. political word salads, say’n a whole lot about nothing.

      What I found with any correspondence is to keep my emails, etc., to a maximum of two subjects or points. Anything more and its all lost. People have been so conditioned by media, google, that searchers barely go past the first three search pages, won’t read an article beyond the first four paragraphs and often the ‘headline’ is what they base their opinions on. Its that scary.

      When I was at the hospital with the wifes 97yr old pappy I had to watch the MSM. The frequency and pace of change, commercials and useless information was stunning. Its like watching a caffeine addled basement dweller with a TV remote… click click click click…. Its called social engineering… programming. Seems to work.

      1. Reply
        Gregg - September 1, 2020

        Totally agree Brian,

        The WAPO and the NYT are great at running inflammatory headlines on stories that are four thousand plus words (Dave’s articles are 800-1000 words for comparison) that nobody reads through. The first half to threequarters buttress the headline with just enough ‘evidence’ to be creditable, and the last part either debunks or admits the headline is at best speculation by anonymous or unconfirmed sources, often in a roundabout way.

        They do this for a couple of reasons:

        1) To keep their propaganda in the ‘news’
        2) To write lengthy articles to show how ‘smart’ they (the lib writers) are
        3) To be able to say they told the whole ‘news’ story

        If the media outlet(s) ever does report an actual pro-conservative view or issues any kind of retraction(s) on an obvious “mistake” or “error” it is given minimal coverage just so they can claim they reported ‘fairly’ and ‘objectively’ on the story.

        Goebbels could only have dreamed of such a compliant “free press”.

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