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Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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The Go-To Phrases Go Nowhere

By on February 12, 2014 in See It Here, The Way I See It, Writing

Talk Show guests have got to stop talking and start listening. Yep, this includes members of Congress (geez, what a combination). Let’s go to some examples of meaningless phrases:

At The End Of The Day—The first time I heard it was former General Barry McAffrey who used this three times in just a four minute segment on MSNBC. General, with all due respect, there are other ways to say “when you look at the big picture” or heck, even “the bottom line” works.

Send A Message–This one has been around for too long. John Boehner has “sent a message” to the White House that tax increases are not on the table and when she was Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton “sent a message” every day whenever making a public statement. Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai was usually on the receiving end but so too was Vladimir Putin about being a lousy ally for assisting Syria’s Assad and you’ve got to start thinking maybe there are too many messages being sent and they’re colliding in the air somewhere over Omaha or, just maybe, the recipients are ignoring them? Maybe we need to send a message about no more messages being sent?

Bipartisan Coalition–The winner of this oft-used-now-nonsensical phrase is Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. When I listen to the Sunday talk shows at NBC News in search of something worthy to report, Dick Durbin drags this phrase with him to every sentence. Note to the esteemed genetleman from Illinois: Bipartisan doesn’t have a meaning anymore. BTW “I work with people who see the isue differently and we reached agreement” would work just fine–and the TV viewer would sit up and say “Holy S—, he said something there.”

The Liberal Media–Fox News hosts and the comedian formerly known as Rush Limbaugh can’t make it through the day without putting forth a problem and then pointing at “the liberal media” for not providing coverage of the ideas that will save the planet. Never do these respected members of the intelligensia tell you just who is a member of “the liberal media.” And are all the ills of the world because of this one group that we don’t bother to name? Might this be a cheap shot designed for an audience that doesn’t want to think too much to we just blame the liberal media and our job is done? Memo to Roger Ailes: If you’re going to pay these folks to blame the liberal media–pay them a little overtime so they can tell us who is and who isn’t. After all, we need to know who’s against us, right?

Language is important and it’s all the more important when 3,416 talking heads are pointing fingers and using words that have become meaningless.

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