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Wed Nov 27, 2019, 11:54 AM

News ruining words: likely and believe

The word "likely" should be used extremely rarely, but yesterday I heard it about five times in the course of about three minutes. First, the word "likely" is about the future. News should be focused on facts, and facts about future events are unavailable. Second, the word "likely" affirms a particular outcome, increasing its likeliness by the bandwagon effect. People want to be on a winning side, and calling an outcome likely vouches for it as a "favorite" to win in the race for outcomes. At the same time, it weakens motivations and pressure on other outcomes.

An example is when the news reports that the Senate will "likely" acquit Trump. Is it likely? I guess so. Is it news? I don't think so. The news is that there are and have been impeachment hearings going on that could culminate in impeachment and a Senate trial. Whether those things or acquittal are "likely" or not is speculation. Saying the Senate is likely to acquit biases people toward accepting acquittal. It also floats a "trial balloon" that allows Republican Senators to gauge whether acquitting Trump will be accepted.

The other news ruining word in this post is "believe." The news should not say, "Trump believes he has done nothing wrong." They don't know what he believes. They should say, "Trump says he as done nothing wrong." Saying anyone believes anything is not news, it is vouching for something the reporter can't possibly know. Trump, to continue with the example, could be lying and might actually believe he did something wrong. The news saying Trump believes he didn't do anything wrong is, in effect, reporting what could be a falsehood. (In my opinion, it is exactly that.)

Let's combine the two. The news might report, "The Republican-controlled Senate will likely acquit Trump, because many Republican Senators believe that Trump's offenses do not rise to the level of impeachment." That formulation makes acquittal a "favorite" in the horse race of outcomes and bases that (speculative) judgment on a supposed "belief" the Republicans hold (when they might believe no such thing). The right way to say it is, "The Republican-controlled Senate will hold an impeachment trial in which Trump will either be convicted and removed from office or acquitted. Many Republican Senators, who hold a majority in the Senate, currently say they believe Trump's offenses do not rise to the level of impeachment."

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Response to gulliver (Original post)

Wed Nov 27, 2019, 12:04 PM

1. There are so many negative nuances sprinkled in each program I've thought aboutlaunching MSNBC Watch

Which would require a big team effort!

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Response to gulliver (Original post)

Wed Nov 27, 2019, 01:12 PM

2. most tv "news" is not. it's marketing. look at the profits.

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Response to Hermit-The-Prog (Reply #2)

Wed Nov 27, 2019, 01:18 PM

3. I mostly agree, but am wary of false equivalence.

News for profit doesn't work very well. I would much prefer news that has no bottom line to cause a conflict of interest. Straight news loses out to emotion all too often. It's a huge cause of our current polarization.

Legitimate news organizations try to keep it under control and you can see a lot of effort and success (particularly after the "fake news" and "nothing is real" campaign by the right) on behalf of journalistic integrity. But the bottom line drives a lot of cutesy stuff, false equivalence, and emotional exploitation for viewership.

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Response to Hermit-The-Prog (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 28, 2019, 08:51 PM

5. Yes.

Viewer numbers and how many Bob Ross Chia Pets they help sell are the reality of what passes for success.

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Response to gulliver (Original post)

Wed Nov 27, 2019, 08:54 PM

4. I've noticed that believe misuse. On another note, a MSNBC anchor used both vulgar and colorful to

Describe Trump's curse words at his rally...then she settled on colorful. We never heard vulgar again.

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Response to gulliver (Original post)

Thu Nov 28, 2019, 10:01 PM

6. Passive words that are not concrete are weak and flacid literary devices.

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Response to gulliver (Original post)

Mon Dec 2, 2019, 06:42 AM

7. The word "believe" means you can say anything without responsibility

The word believe allows these politicians to say the "believe" in something meaning it doesn't have to truthful or even based in reality. Every time i hear that word it's just like hearing finger nails dragged across a blackboard. You can "believe" the earth is flat. What a stupid word to use for anything other than religious belief systems, which again are not even based in reality.

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