26 September 2006

An Admission of Bias?

The English language can be a tricky thing. The multiplicity of available words that have almost the same meaning yet contain a constellation of differing inferrences makes our tongue both clearer and more obfuscatory than most tongues depending on who is using it.

I noticed Drudge's bit of self-promotion through pointing to the book The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008 written by ABCNews' political director and Washington Post's national politics director John F. Harris.

The first thing I noticed, besides Drudge's gleeful puffing up of himself (which I admire, not condemn), is that the language of the book's title isn't neutral.

Editors inject themselves into the process of titling books, I've watched enough CSPAN Books TV to know that authors often complain that the title a book is published under isn't the one they themselves would have chosen.

Just the same, the choice of verbs tells me something. The book is "taking" the White House. That suggests that the White House is currently possessed by the "wrong" hands. If they were selling this book to Republicans primarily, the editors would have gone with "keeping" as the verb there instead of "taking". Also, in the blurbs on Amazon they speak of demystifying and praising Karl Rove. Again, a book being sold to non-Liberals would not have to justify showing Karl Rove as a non-demonic figure.

Another interesting contrast in the Amazon summary for this book is that for the Bush years they highlight Karl Rove, afterall everyone "knows" that the President is too stupid to be that smart so all the political gamesmanship must have been accomplished by his "Brain". Meanwhile, the Clinton years they highlight Pres. Clinton himself as the political mastermind. Everyone knows that he was always the smartest guy in the room, and that evil little troll Dick Morris had nothing to do with Clinton's political successes.

I'll be interested if media outlets pick this up as an advice book for Democrats specifically, or as a general book on political advice. It seems crystal clear that it is being marketed more heavily towards Democrats/Liberals than it is towards Republicans/Conservatives.

The book itself may be fair, but Random House is clearly assuming they are going to get the majority of their market share from the left.

If the book just happens to be tremendously biased, though, I don't think anyone would be too shocked.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The book is "taking" the White House. That suggests that the White House is currently possessed by the "wrong" hands.

Of course it is. It's enemy-occupied territory, don't you know? Just like France in 1944. I'm surprised they don't talk about "liberating occupied Washington."

And "to take" has yet another meaning when used in the context of women. There's probably a Ted Rall cartoon exploring that imagery.