News that fits: Less snark, bet­ter verbs

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I find it dif­fi­cult to ar­gue against my con­ser­va­tive as­so­ci­ates re­gard­ing bias in the me­dia as a whole and The Post in par­tic­u­lar when I read such trans­par­ently opin­ion­ated lan­guage as in the Sept. 6 news ar­ti­cle “Trump punts to Congress, but is­sue will re­turn to his desk.”

Whereas Pres­i­dent Trump at­tracted le­git­i­mate crit­i­cism for propos­ing a uni­lat­eral ter­mi­na­tion of the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals ex­ec­u­tive or­der, the ar­ti­cle char­ac­ter­ized re­turn­ing the is­sue to Congress for re­con­sid­er­a­tion as “shunt­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity.” The ar­ti­cle de­scribed the de­ci­sion to de­fer to leg­isla­tive process as un­der­scor­ing “in­ter­nal paral­y­sis,” a “de­ci­sion not to be the one who de­cides” and a “punt.”

The un­der­ly­ing the­sis — that the White House de­ci­sion-mak­ing process seems tor­tured and even tur­bu­lent — was fair, but putting the pres­i­dent in a no-win sit­u­a­tion on the ques­tion of en­gag­ing Congress in an im­por­tant im­mi­gra­tion ques­tion was not. I ex­pect this kind of snark in the opinion sec­tion, not news re­port­ing. Such lan­guage only re­in­forces con­tentions by con­ser­va­tives that mem­bers of the me­dia bias their cov­er­age of the pres­i­dent un­fairly.

Paul Owen, Lor­ton

What’s with the me­dia’s verbs these days? In par­tic­u­lar, what’s with The Post’s in­fat­u­a­tion with “lashed”? On Sept. 6, it was in the news head­line “Putin lashes out at U.S. as rift widens.” It has ap­peared in many ar­ti­cles about pol­i­tics, par­tic­u­larly those about Pres­i­dent Trump.

But “lash” isn’t the only verb that seems wrong and overused. Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, in the “lashed” ar­ti­cle, “swat­ted away” a ques­tion. I saw a video of Putin’s news con­fer­ence, and while he in­deed called that ques­tion “naive,” he didn’t seem very vi­o­lent in his re­sponse.

Like­wise, while I usu­ally don’t care for Trump’s lan­guage — I think he dis­putes as­ser­tions and crit­i­cizes peo­ple — but, try as I might, I can’t re­ally re­call him lash­ing any­one or any­thing.

The Post should elim­i­nate sup­pos­edly “col­or­ful” lan­guage that is in­ap­pro­pri­ate and, more im­por­tant, in­ac­cu­rate.

Phil Jones, Mont­gomery Vil­lage

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