Everyone is right to be furious over this NYT headline

Here’s the headline and the equally skiddy sub-head:

Jan. 6 Hearings Give Democrats a Chance to Recast Midterm Message

With their majority at stake, Democrats plan to use the six high-profile hearings to refocus voters’ attention on Republicans’ role in the attack.

So, okay, since I recently made a point over the frequent rages many smart people have over the Times’ headlines — and since I’m furious over this one — I’d better, um, address the situation and apply my own reasoning here. That is, let’s dissect this according to my perceptions about reading the news, especially headlines. Which, in summary, were and are:

Heightened language is used in headlines to…get your attention and prick you to read the article. I’ve always thought this was the purpose of a headline.

Once you get past the headline, a news article gives you the facts. Yes, each reporter uses his/her own language to bring the facts to life. But the facts are the facts and they are in there, in the article, no matter how they are tinted.

So does this headline hold up? Well, it apparently has done what I said headlines aim to: “get your attention and prick you to read the article.”

The headline did the first part. It pricked my attention by, first, stating “Jan. 6 hearings.” I want to read what the Times has to say about this huge event beginning on Thursday night, prime time.

But then what pricked my attention was how peculiarly off the point the rest of the headline was: “…Hearings Give Democrats a Chance to Recast Midterm Message: With their majority at stake, Democrats plan to use the six high-profile hearings to refocus voters’ attention on Republicans’ role in the attack.”

HUH? What nonsense is this before my eyes, in the Times font?

Where did the reporters get the notion that the purpose of the hearings — which clearly is to present evidence of the most massive and massively populated criminal activity against the United States and our government — is to “give Democrats a Chance…”

The biggest criminal investigation in the history of this country — and maybe any other country — is NOT a “chance to recast midterm message.” Nor did I hear or read anywhere that the Democrats “plan to use the…high-profile hearings to refocus voters’ attention on Republicans’ role in the attack.”

So what does this headline mean? Unless the article contains quotes from Democrats substantiating the headline POV, the headline is nothing more than a writer’s and/or editor’s perspective or speculation.

So now I go into the article. Do I find anything to suggest the headline has some accuracy, at least to the Democratic Party’s purposes? Immediately, I see the article — with a first paragraph replicating the suggestions in the headline — is written by Annie Karni and Luke Broadwater.

I have pretty high opinions of both journalists, especially with Broadwater’s reporting on the January 6 assault. So do they record any Democrat saying anything about these stated “intentions”? Not really.

But Democrats argue the hearings will give them a platform for making a broader case about why they deserve to stay in power.

What Democrats? Name ’em. Name at least one. That sentence is immediately followed by this quote:

“When these hearings are over, voters will know how irresponsibly complicit Republicans were in attempting to toss out their vote and just how far Republicans will go to gain power for themselves,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, the Democratic campaign chair.

Uh-uh. What Maloney said can’t be interpreted as arguing for why the Democrats “deserve to stay in power.” Maloney made a straightforward and patently accurate statement about how anti-democratic the GOP has become. It’s not even a stretch to make the claim Karni and Broadwater are making. It falls splat on its face.

So is there anything more in the article to justify the headline?

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York, said on Twitter that the hearings would “fully expose the cult’s extreme effort to overthrow the U.S. government.”

On Twitter? It’s a characteristically terse and strong quote from Jeffries but these reporters couldn’t get a direct quote from any Democrat to substantiate their own slant on the purpose and weight of the hearings.

Instead, they slight what they interpret as voters’ attention to the insurrection, and wonder in print about the opposition:

But they are facing an onslaught from Republicans who are bent on denying, downplaying and obfuscating the truth of what happened in their own messaging operation aimed at discrediting the inquiry.

What? What “onslaught”??

The GOP is so frightened of the hearings, Fox, their own propaganda network, will not be televising them — not even to have their Putin-fanatic talking heads yell arguments in real time. That’s how scared they are.

Yet, in the “fair and balanced” mode of irritating journalism, Karni (whose background is Politico, notorious for buzzy “hot stories” that fade under casual scrutiny) and Broadwater (Baltimore Sun, and he should know better), offer…Marco Rubio and Elise Stefanik:

“Instead of focusing on $5 gas, 6,000 illegal immigrants a day, record fentanyl deaths, or the violent criminals terrorizing America democrats use taxpayer money on a TV producer for the prime time political infomercial from the Jan 6th circus,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said on Twitter on Monday.

You can take Rubio apart with both your eyes closed. (Methinks he shouldn’t have reminded his audience of “violent criminals terrorizing America,” because that’s exactly what they’ll be witnessing during the Jan 6 hearings.)

Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 3 Republican who was Mr. Trump’s chief defender during the first impeachment hearing, will oversee the effort to discredit the committee’s findings, coordinating with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, and Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. They plan to book Republican lawmakers on television to push a debunked claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is to blame for the attack. [My bolding]

Oh, gee. Those claims will really win me over, especially when I note that several of the GOP leaders involved in attempts to discredit the Jan 6 Committee’s evidence are themselves heavily implicated in the insurrection. Their names may even be cited in the hearings as co-conspirators, or in future DOJ indictments.

So, does this article, despite the misleadingly subjective headline, do what I said an article has to do? No matter how brightly colored by a reporter’s language, does the article gives the facts?

Well, it doesn’t really. It’s dealing with an event in the near future and does not offer any more facts that we already have about that event. Instead, it’s imposing a purpose upon those facts, a purpose which is not in evidence.

So I guess I have to add a new category to news reporting. We have (1) news articles. We have (2) opinion essays about that news. And (3) we have reporters’ analyses of either what’s happened or what’s likely to happen.

This article is in the third category. And I, among many, think the analysis is highly slanted and way, way off the main highway, on a detour so bumpy it might have been chopped out by shovels yesterday.

The name of the main highway is mass sedition against the world’s longest-living democracy.

I believe that’s the road the Commission will take us on. Anything further the Democrats gain from it is peripheral to the purpose.

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