Saturday, November 8, 2008

New Cliche Alert

Thanks to vigilant police work by the The Times’s Cliché Watch columnist Philip B. Corbett on October 20 – he found three examples in the span of a week -- there hasn’t been a single Times reference since to taxpayers finding themselves “on the hook” for the $700 billion bailout of the financial industry.

Nor will we likely see any references to “double down” bets in the paper anytime soon, thanks to Corbett's careful reading of his paper's repetitious writing.

But apparently, this ban has only forced Times writers to wrangle new clichés to explain our current dire financial straits.

Today’s example involves an identical euphemism, and can be found on the editorial page. In an editorial entitled “Money Really Is Fungible,” the Times opines:

“They must do away with a system of rewards that encourages bankers to throw away all caution in pursuit of short-term profits—leaving shareholders and taxpayers holding the empty bag.”

Yes, The Times’s taxpayer no longer hangs on a hook. Now he holds an empty burlap sack while a greedy fat cat (likely dressed like Mr. Monopoly) shakes out its contents to pay for oversize bonuses, lavish spa retreats, and golden parachutes.

Such sublime use of cliché almost makes a reader want to skip to the next editorial, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” According to the New York Times index, that phrase has only appeared 296 times in the paper since the 1970 song performed by Kermit the Frog.

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