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A Contrast in Emphatic Endings



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Conservative media critics invariably complain about how liberal newspaper correspondents stuff conservative points of view into the nineteenth paragraph of a story (after the 18 paragraphs of delight at the latest socialist innovation). But the very last paragraph of a news story often seems to be calculated to leave a firmer final impression on the reader. See the contrast between Bush and Obama stories in Sunday’s Washington Post. First, a Dan Eggen report on President Bush ending his presidency with sentimental reminders of his faith-based conservatism:

“Having failed by every secular standard, Bush is trying to convince the remaining people who will listen that he has succeeded by an inscrutable divine one,” [Harvard professor Steven] Pinker said in an e-mail, adding: “These are, no doubt, the emotions he’s feeling, but it also can’t hurt to frame his presidency in touchy-feely terms rather than a hardnosed accounting of successes and failures.”

A few pages later, the Obama story (on the newfangled-ness of his weekly radio address to the people) is unfurled by Chris Cillizza. He’s a pretty straightforward reporter — no swooning Eli Saslow when it comes to Obama portraits. But he’s a little too excited about adding a webcam to the weekly radio address, which is hardly a rocket scientist’s advance in communications. The story ended with a rhapsodic passage from Democrat techno-guru Joe Trippi:

“Obama will be more directly connected to millions of Americans than any president who has come before him, and he will be able to communicate directly to people using the social networking and Web-based tools such as YouTube that his campaign mastered,” Trippi said. “Obama’s could become the most powerful presidency that we have ever seen.”



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