Saturday, 3 April 2004

Odd stuff in the Times

David Bernstein, among my co-blogger’s least favorite Volokh Conspirators, links a New York Times piece on the passage of the House version of the transportation reauthorization bill.

Now the article is written by “David Stout,” whose job apparently is to rewrite AP copy for the NYT website; to my knowledge, “his” articles never appear in print (and “he” may just be a pseudonym for a group of copy editors). What’s weird about the article? Let’s pull out some excerpts:

Regardless of the real figure, President Bush has threatened to veto the measure as too costly at a time that he and Congressional Republicans are supposed to be serious about holding down the federal deficit.

I believe this is a run-on sentence, to begin with. And the second half of the sentence looks like an editorial comment, not news reporting.

“Thirty billion, when you are cutting the deficit in half in five years, is real money,” Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, said the other day, apparently with no humor intended.

“The other day” seems rather imprecise for dating a quotation for a newspaper article. And the statement that this was said “apparently with no humor intended” is a complete non-sequitor. (The quote appears to have been cribbed from this Carl Hulse article dated April 1.)

The highway-spending bill enjoys wide support among Democrats and Republicans alike because the members of both parties have something in common: their constituents use highways (and bridges and bike paths and other incidentals wrapped into the bill.)

Again, another strange paragraph; this one isn’t even punctuated correctly—the “incidentals,” by the way, include the entire Federal Transit Administration; a rather large “incidental,” wouldn’t you think? Strange.

(Hulse’s article in Saturday’s paper is far more coherent.)