The Corner

Politics & Policy

On the Misleading Use of ‘Wow’

The New York Times reports:

The above quote from Donald Trump speaking to governors yesterday is remarkably misleading. Here is the second half of his comment: “We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”

“We will be backing you” — whatever it means in practice — changes the context of the first half of the comment. Trump isn’t saying the federal government won’t be helping obtain respirators and ventilators, only that governors should try to purchase them if possible.

Even out of context, though, I can’t understand the “wow.” It seems like an entirely reasonable request. Shouldn’t states attempt to obtain respirators and ventilators for their citizens at cheaper prices? I suspect many of these journalists either don’t understand how federalism works, or they have no use for it.

Anyway, I’d probably be open to believing that reporters weren’t strategically cutting off Trump’s statement to mislead their millions of followers if their tweets weren’t prefaced with a “wow.” The grating use of “wow” — a formulation that’s become enormously popular among journalists during the Trump era — is a reliable indicator that whatever news that follows is either misleading or exaggerated. The “wow” is instructing readers to be scandalized, even when what follows is often just an innocuous quote. There is plenty of fine material out there. A good reporter doesn’t need to add a “wow.” If a story is remarkable, readers will figure it out.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

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