Monday, September 18, 2006

What the Funk?

I don't know what these McClatchy boys think they are doing, but they sure do seem to be hell-bent on butchering the English language. Maybe they think the word "gimmick" has gotten a bum rap all these years by being associated in the thesaurus with words like deceit, cheat, counterfeit, dodge, fake and trick. Maybe, they're trying to elevate the tertiary definition of the word "gimmick" by associating it with something positive like Larry Kissell's gas promotion. Maybe they just don't know a good thing when they see one.

So, what is it now? Why do I have my knickers in a twist today? It seems that a certain reporter I had held in somewhat high esteem has fallen the way of the lowly hack. Once again, one of the McClatchy boys - this time Rob Christensen - has used the word gimmick to describe Larry Kissell's $1.22 gas event. Ya'll have to remember how it set me off when Tim Funk tried the same little bit of deceit.

Christensen starts off describing the recent gospel sing featuring Bill Hefner and his quartet. Hefner held the 8th District seat before he retired and Hayes won in 1998. Then Christensen slides through the muck a bit calling 8th District voters Bubbas. He paints what some might call an affectionate picture of the district, but just comes off as plain old condescending. In his words:
It is also one of the few praise-Jesus, please-pass-the-biscuits, bless-your-heart Bubba, congressional districts left in the rapidly suburbanizing South.
Bless-your-heart Bubbas? Right now I wouldn't mind seeing some of those bless-your-heart Bubbas kicking some condescending, elitist Raleigh ass. But, that's just the Bubbette in me talking.

I know I have to keep in mind that these boys have to keep the advertisers and stockholders happy. Circulation is down and the money earned from selling print copies of newspapers doesn't begin to pay for actually printing them. While they have to attract readers to attract advertisers, I'm smart enough to know that the truth doesn't always sell. So, I read corporate, for-profit news sources with an eye out for their trickery. In other words, I fact-check everything they write.

Christensen does a decent job for a few paragraphs. However, he proves his ignorance of the blogging world by attributing Larry's support in the world of blogs only to national blogs. Maybe it's an intentional snub because I took another McClatchy boy to task when he dodged objectivity last week with this same cheap dig at Larry Kissell's successful promotion.
Taking up Kissell's cause are national blogs such as Daily Kos (, which helped defeat Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut last month. Some bloggers have urged liberal Democrats around the country to help Kissell. So far, they have funneled $47,466 into his campaign, according to ActBlue, an online clearinghouse for Democratic candidates.
Fact check: #1. Local and state blogs have been louder and worked harder drumming up support for Larry. Christensen would have known this if he bothered to read the N&O's sister paper, The Charlotte Observer. The Observer carried a great piece about Larry's web appeal - "A" section, front page, above the fold. It's a bit hard to miss, but maybe Christensen just sticks to the funny pages and obits.

Fact check: #2. Bloggers have encouraged anyone and everyone to support Larry Kissell. We don't always tailor our message to liberal Democrats. (I suspect this was meant to color Larry as a liberal. This is another bit of deceit thrown in by Mr. Christensen.)

Fact check: #3. Bloggers have not raised $47, 466 dollars for Larry Kissell's campaign. We haven't raised half of that amount. Larry had set up his ActBlue account long before his cause was taken up by bloggers, so more than half of that total was raised by Larry and his staff. A really quick bit of actual research could have revealed this. Christensen could have obtained the fact by calling any blogger familiar with ActBlue, the Kissell campaign or Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer.

I know it seems like I'm asking for a lot. Getting the story straight can be difficult and it takes time and a certain level of reading comprehension, phone dialing skills and a dictionary. It also takes a desire to tell the truth. I haven't decided which of these elements are missing in Tim Funk and Rob Christensen, but I'll certainly let you know when I figure it out.

There's been reference to the fact that both men write columns on top of their various reporting duties. Don't take that bait. Christensen's article is in the B section under City/State and Christensen is listed as a staff writer, not a columnist. Tim Funk's piece last week was included in his "column", but he doesn't write it like a column. He writes it like a collection of news shorts. When a reporter delivers his opinion in a deceitful way - by masking it under the veil of news reporting - and calling himself a columnist, he's cheating his readers. A columnist might have a little more freedom to insert his opinion into what he writes, but he should still be able to support his opinion with fact.

I've saved Christensen's most egregious, blatant lie for last.
Without a lot of money, Kissell has relied on gimmicks.
So, Christensen is calling Larry Kissell a cheat? Come on Rob, give me a list of these so-called "gimmicks" and tell me how anyone was cheated. What's deceitful about selling gas for $1.22 a gallon to highlight how horribly the Republicans have governed and how much worse off most of us are since Robin Hayes took office?

Deceit, cheat, trick - that's what the word means, Rob. I realize you must have lost your dictionary, but it's usually a good idea to avoid using a word when you don't know the real meaning.

Rob Christensen, I'm not only ashamed of you, I'm appalled that you would accuse Larry Kissell of cheating people. Larry has done absolutely nothing wrong. He doesn't use gimmicks. He doesn't use tricks. He does things that will get the attention of the voters, but there is nothing deceitful about a gospel sing. Bill Hefner is well-known in the 8th District and was a very beloved congressman. The fact that Hefner was the former congressman for the 8th District was part of the promotion, so I'm sure anyone attending the gospel sing had a good idea that they would get a dose of politics along with the beautiful gospel music.

There's also certainly nothing deceitful about selling gas to over 500 people for $1.22 a gallon. You didn't have to be a Democrat to get in the line. You didn't have to pledge to vote for Larry. Hell, you didn't even have to pledge to vote at all. Many of those people who took advantage of the lowered gas price were out of work and waited hours in the heat to put $7 or $8 worth of gas in their tanks because that was all they could afford. Larry didn't cheat these people, Rob. Larry helped them.

You owe Larry Kissell an apology.


Blogger Sam Spencer said...

Gimmick n.
1. an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, esp. one designed to attract attention or increase appeal.

It's not an insult.

5:55 PM, September 19, 2006  
Blogger Yellow said...

I find it interesting that you took offense at the generalization of the District 8 votes as Bubbas – being that on the fourth of July when you went into the heart of “Hayes Country” you refereed to these same constituents as “tube-top mammas”.

I also agree with Sam that gimmick isn’t an insult – and if Larry is going to win this race he will need to come up with more gimmicks (or out of the box ideas) if gas prices really do fall bellow $2.

10:15 AM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger B. Muse said...

Sam Spencer - neither American Heritage nor Merriam-Webster list that definition as the primary definition. The word does have a negative connotation with most people.

I asked 10 educated people the question - I started with 6 - non of whom had read my post. Of the 10, 8 said that to them gimmick gives a negative feeling.

Just trying to keep them honest and point out where they are falling short.

11:55 AM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger B. Muse said...

I wasn't generalizing all NASCAR-attending women as overweight tube top wearers and I wasn't specifically speaking of anyone in the 8th District. I was speaking specifically of that group of women who attend NASCAR races who walk around in short-shorts and fall out of their tube tops while toting around an extra 100 pounds of fat and flesh.

Apparently, the tube-top mammas didn't get their invitations to this event. I've only been to one NASCAR race and it was enough to last the rest of my life. The cars on the track had no appeal, but the people-watching was some of the best I'd ever done. There's more flesh on display at a race track than in a strip club.

I simply said that group didn't show up. I also didn't say that those people attending NASCAR races all live in the 8th. I simply said I was in the heart of Hayes' country b/c the track is in Cabarrus County. There's a distinct difference between referring to overweight women who display waaaay too much flesh as "tube-top mammas" and referring to an entire district as "praise Jesus, please-pass-the-biscuits, bless-your-heart Bubbas.

Christensen was generalizing the entire district. I was speaking of a specific group of women who arrive at the races from all over the state/country. I trust you know the difference.

There might be a small group of folks who find flesh and fat spilling out over clothing an attractive sight. I'm not one of them and I have no problem referring to these women as "tube-top mammas". Also, since I happen to carry around a few extra pounds myself, it's an observation made from someone who can only think fondly back on those days when I might have been considered the least bit alluring. There are days when I'm not sure I can think back even that far.

12:23 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Sam Spencer said...

There's a good chance Funk was using the positive definition and Christensen was using the negative definition.

Obviously I'd be voting for Larry if I lived a few precincts east of where I am, but I think the most correct English word would be "gimmick." I grew up in a family of journalists, and that's the word I'd use. When a gimmick is decitful, it usually refers to a tangible device or something unseen. I didn't invent English, I just use it.

Did you e-mail Christensen and ask him what he meant?

10:06 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger B. Muse said...

I have a degree in journalism and am familiar with the standard English dictionary - several editions of it! :)

In marketing language the word does not have a negative connotation, but Funk and Christensen both were not writing to marketing specialists. They were writing to the average consumer.

Gas event, gas promotion....those work nicely.

One lousy mile and I would be voting for Larry. I will be voting for Mel Watt...not that he needs my vote. Thanks for stopping by....twice!

1:50 PM, September 26, 2006  

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