Friday, November 21, 2008

John Broder's Word Choices Devastatingly Ineffective

In reporting Representative Henry Waxman's win yesterday over Representative John Dingell for an important committee chairmanship, John M. Broder went a little wooly over the result.

Here's the second paragraph of Broder's page-one piece this morning, which Waxman is currently having framed and mounted over his mantle:

Mr. Waxman, 69, of California, who mounted a quiet but devastatingly effective two-week campaign against his longtime Democratic colleague, won the chairmanship with a 137-to-122 vote in the Democratic Caucus.

What exactly was so quiet about it? Several major stories reported on the battle, including a page-one piece by Broder on November 16 that then described the campaign as a "nasty intramural brawl."

The Wall Street Journal's Greg Hitt had previously done a extensive takeout on the fight on November 10.

Maybe it was "quiet" in the sense that Waxman didn't debate Dingell in prime time, or criss-cross the country in search of votes. His spokeswoman did tell the Times that he didn't want to wage his campaign in the media. But no one in a position to care -- let alone vote -- wasn't aware of Waxman's vigorous and public challenge of Dingell for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, considered one of the most powerful in Congress.

And "devastatingly effective" seems a bit of bombast to describe a victory decided by 15 votes. "Successful" or "winning" might have sufficed.

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