Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sex! Evil Mexicans! Bad Writing!
CNN hit the daily double of wingnuttia last night, with Lou Dobbs citing the racist Council of Conservative Citizens as a source on immigration, and Paula Zahn spending an uncritical segment with a guy who claims to be able to "cure" homosexuals. It's hard to pick which one is more egregious. Although I'd be tempted to give the prize to Dobbs for hyping racist propaganda about Mexican intentions for the Southwestern U.S. that reads like a bad alternate-history short story, Zahn deserves it too, for failing to recognize an obvious quack when it's sitting right in front of her.

Meanwhile, over at Headline News, Nancy Grace ran one of her typical segments, about some tragically spectacular murder somewhere involving people you don't know. The on-screen graphic accompanying the report read, "Parents and Quadriplegic Son Murdered!" It's a subtle thing, but that simple exclamation point had the effect of raising the temperature of the story. Of course, more heat didn't necessarily mean more light. In fact, that one little punctuation mark served to both hype the story and to trivialize it at the same time.

An old editor of my acquaintance used to say that you should write as if you're given 11 exclamation points for your entire writing life, and when they're gone, you can't have any more. He might have added that if you're writing graphics for TV, you should type as if the exclamation-point key is broken.

One More Thing: Tonight's season finale of American Idol is such an enormous pop-cultural event that even this blog, which does not officially care who wins, can't ignore it. Whether you officially care or don't, you might be interested in a few half-baked thoughts about it over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin'.

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