by Gene Royer
April 1, 2003
The blaring headlines from the Houston Chronicle jumped out at me from the newspaper rack. In huge, two-inch letters, the headlines exclaimed: BAGHDAD ADVANCE HALTS
Fearing the worst, I grabbed my throat to keep my heart from making a break for it: Chemical attack! Biological attack! Nukes! God only knows what else went through my mind.
With trembling fingers I inserted two coins in the slot and withdrew the horrible epistle of dread - only to discover that I had fallen victim to one of the media's most tactical and devious marketing ploys: The Dramatic Headline.
For the Coalition advance was not halted for any of the terrible reasons I had imagined. In fact, it was not halted at all. No, the Chronicle went on to say a bit farther down in the column - in nonchalant words - that the troops had stopped to get *re-supplied*.
In short, they had stopped for gas - the same way I do when I take my annual motoring vacation up to the mountains and stop to fill the tank, fill the ice chest and go inside to relieve myself. Yes, I had fallen for the ploy and spent fifty cents for a newspaper that I only use to reline the bottom of the birdcage. I felt used.
But the Chronicle's intent was more than just a contrivance to sell papers. The Chronicle is a liberal rag whose agenda is to put an America-is-losing slant on this war. The paper knows that people who buy the issue will discover the truth, but it also knows that first impressions are important. And the first impression that the liberals want to leave in the minds of people is that the war is going badly - and it's all George W. Bush's fault.
I think there may also be a psychological thing going on in the minds of the paper's editorial corps. By that I mean they get a certain release of tension - similar to that experienced by pyromaniacs when they set a fire - by being able to loudly declare something sneakily negative about the war even if they must later qualify it down inside the article.
Liberals are so devious. BAGHDAD ADVANCE HALTS. What a cruel ruse.
After I read the article, I pulled out the crossword and tossed the rest of the paper onto the back seat and went home. Thank goodness my canary can't read.
© 2003 Tocqevillian Magazine