“Politico” editor sorry for coining brilliant phrase that accurately describes Dem strategy

posted at 5:47 pm on February 28, 2007 by Allahpundit

Pathetic, although it sounds like he had no choice. He’s not glory-seeking: the tone is overwhelmingly apologetic, and besides, I imagine it would be bad business in the newsroom if an editor took credit publicly for a celebrated passage under one of his writers’ bylines against that writer’s wishes. I have to believe that John Bresnahan, the author of the article in question, either asked Harris to write this or okayed it when Harris approached him with the idea.

And why would Harris do that? Because the “slow bleed” language has made Bresnahan’s life “more difficult.” Which presumably means either congressional Democrats are punishing Bresnahan by freezing him out or Bresnahan’s having to deal with a flood of nutroots-brand love letters addressed to the traitor who coined the term that’s caused them so much trouble.

So Harris put him out of his misery.

“Slow bleed” is my phrase. Murtha had nothing to do with it. Neither did John Bresnahan, the reporter whose name was on the Politico story in which the “slow-bleed strategy” made its debut…

Like many others who weighed in, [Republican National Committee Chairman Mike] Duncan incorrectly stated that “slow-bleed” was the name that Democrats were using to describe their strategy.

Here is where remorse kicks in. As happens all the time in journalism, this was a decision — made on the fly and under deadline — that I would have taken back in the morning. It is Murtha’s job to defend his own policies. But I’d prefer not to hand his opponents ammunition in the form of evocative but loaded language…

Please note the context: What is slowly bleeding away is the administration’s political support to keep fighting the war. Republicans pounced on the phrase because of the ease with which that context could be shorn away, to give the impression that what Democrats were slow-bleeding were the bodies of troops in Iraq.

That willingness to wrest words from context — and to attribute the phrase to Democrats even though it was not theirs — was demagogic on the part of Republican operatives. But it was never my plan to make their work so easy.

A journalist’s job is supposed to clarify political debate, not further muddy it. In the two weeks since his original article, Bresnahan’s reporting has continued to clarify the unfolding Iraq story, even as his editors made life more difficult for him.

The bolded bit about context and the alleged real meaning of “slow bleed” is shameless, groveling nonsense. The headline of the piece in which the term debuted was, “House Democrats’ New Strategy: Force Slow End to War.” The very first sentence connected the term to limiting the administration’s warmaking options, not ebbing popular support for the mission. The lefties at Salon think so, too:

See if that’s how you read the “context” in the story the Politico posted earlier this month: “Top House Democrats, working in concert with anti-war groups, have decided against using congressional power to force a quick end to U.S. involvement in Iraq, and instead will pursue a slow-bleed strategy designed to gradually limit the administration’s options.” That’s the lead. It took two more paragraphs before the story mentioned the idea that the war might be “politically unsustainable,” and the piece later referred to Murtha’s plan as a way to give “political cover to conservative House Democrats who are nervous about appearing ‘anti-military’ while also mollifying the anti-war left.”

“Slow bleed” means exactly what the right claims it means, which is also exactly what Harris meant it to mean and exactly what Murtha’s strategy actually is. But he’s getting hassled by the left now and he can’t afford to have Politico’s congressional beat dry up when the site’s just a month old and trying to compete with established political newspapers. So rather than stand by a sharp, vivid piece of writing, he cravenly apologizes for giving the Republicans ammunition.

Exit question: Salon wants to know, “Now that Harris has made it clear that Democrats didn’t call their plan a ‘slow bleed,’ will the media stop referring to the plan that way?” Exit answer: Sure. Just as soon as the left stops referring to the surge as a Nam-vintage “escalation.”


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They can’t even stop calling that turkey plastic, and they’re trying to dictate language?

Jim Treacher on February 28, 2007 at 5:57 PM

Two good posts today, nice.

Theworldisnotenough on February 28, 2007 at 5:59 PM

As usual, the MSM makes its news and then bloviates for days and weeks on what they make. That way, there’s no room or time left to fit in actual news, the kind that they don’t have any control over.

naliaka on February 28, 2007 at 6:00 PM

Two good posts today, nice.

That’s my quota!

Allahpundit on February 28, 2007 at 6:01 PM

Hey, he can just get some context-offsets and viola! Problem solved.

Mojave Mark on February 28, 2007 at 6:02 PM

The enemedia hate it when they screw up and inadvertently tell the truth, thereby making Democrats look as bad as they deserve.

ReubenJCogburn on February 28, 2007 at 6:09 PM

The guy is saying that certain words do not apply to certain people, which is …
Certain words can be used to decribe anybody if the person fit the criteria that is associated with the word. Even if the democrats did not say slow bleed, slow bleed can still be used to describe their strategy. For instance, I say, ” he is dead.” You tell me, ” No, he went to a better place.” Saying “he is dead” probably hurts you. As for democrats, we should stop using the word because it hurts them. We are being unfair. They did nothing to us. Go ahead and be nice if you think what I just said made sense.

Ouabam on February 28, 2007 at 6:12 PM

That’s my quota!

Try and work in a “Shazam!” tomorrow, please?

Theworldisnotenough on February 28, 2007 at 6:20 PM

It doesn’t matter what term the democrats like or don’t like, it only matters what they plan to do to our troops, which is to cut the legs out from under our troops in Iraq. I guess we could call it the “cut and bleed” strategy. The democrats are planning to cut off the funds for new equipment and force the troops to bleed.

Oh, and I’ll stop calling it slow bleed as soon as the democrats stop calling a retreat from battle a “redeployment.”

RedinBlueCounty on February 28, 2007 at 6:30 PM

Bonus exit question: So now that the Politico has gotten its requisite hate-mail from lefties, is this proof-positive that it’s an unbiased news source?

Enrique on February 28, 2007 at 6:31 PM

Try and work in a “Shazam!” tomorrow, please?

You know, if you don’t like the site, you don’t have to read it. No offense will be taken, I promise.

Allahpundit on February 28, 2007 at 6:36 PM

I have not read too much of the Politco. Does anyone think it is uber left or uber right? My first impression was that it was a little right of center.

Theworldisnotenough on February 28, 2007 at 6:37 PM

will the media stop referring to the plan that way?

We’ve had two decades of “Star Wars” missile defense. I say “slow bleed” stays.

a4g on February 28, 2007 at 6:44 PM

Here is where remorse kicks in

Eh, the truth hurts buddy. Suck it up.

Iblis on February 28, 2007 at 6:51 PM

Interesting little bit from media matters though.

Bresnahan’s article was the only source cited for the RNC’s claims, though Ryan Lizza, senior editor of The New Republic, was apparently the first to use the “slow-bleed” construction to characterize the reported strategy of the House Democratic leadership.

From Lizza’s appearance on the February 13 edition of MSNBC’s Scarborough Country:

LIZZA: And look, they’re reading the same polls that we’re all reading, and they realize that the American public doesn’t quite — there’s not a big majority for defunding the troops, so it doesn’t look like the Democratic leadership is going to go there. Instead, what you’re going to have is a strategy led by Murtha, which is going to be to limit the number of troops available to President Bush by putting some restrictions on what troops will be allowed to be brought over to Iraq.

So that’s the strategy that the — that’s the sort of two-part strategy: first, this non-binding resolution, and then restricting what troops Bush can use. So, it’s a sort of — a slow bleeding of our ability to do much more in Iraq

Ripclawe on February 28, 2007 at 7:11 PM

The enemedia hate it when they screw up and inadvertently tell the truth, thereby making Democrats look as bad as they deserve.

ReubenJCogburn on February 28, 2007 at 6:09 PM

RJC, you nailed it, my brother!
Cheers!

Jen the Neocon on February 28, 2007 at 7:51 PM

And there goes Politico’s credibility as a straight shooter. They would never knuckle under to Republicans like they have to Democrats–their own attempt to turn the “slow bleed” phrase around on Bush gives that game away. The “remorse” only kicks in when they hurt Democrats. As Allahpundit said, it’s pathetic. And it’s too bad, because “slow bleed” was and is a perfect description of what Murtha intends to do.

Bryan on February 28, 2007 at 8:19 PM

Believing the slow bleed term originated in nutroots circles caused me much anger. Now knowing that it is a nicley timed sarcastic term and a burr under the nutroots saddle I will use it every chance I get. Allah you rock with this post!

sonnyspats1 on February 28, 2007 at 9:18 PM

Still ain’t nothing like the “Originals”.

auspatriotman on February 28, 2007 at 9:19 PM

That’s where I come in. “Slow bleed” is my phrase. Murtha had nothing to do with it.

Sounds like someone was “ordered” to fall on his sword…..

PinkyBigglesworth on February 28, 2007 at 9:33 PM

Didn’t Murtha originally admit this to whatever lefty site he spoke to when he first announced his “slow bleed” plan?

This is interesting how the media reacts to Democrat complaints to the drive by media.
A reporter reports something, and it doesn’t take long before Democrats are demanding mea culpa’s corrections, additions or retractions.

Rush mentioned the other day how an AP reporter changed a story on the supposed Democrat Iraq war plan from what was originally posted. Rush didn’t go far enough.

I blogged about it here with comparisons between the three versions of the articles posted, showing what was added or what entire paragraphs were removed. It looks clear the story was changed after some irate calls from Democrats since the additions to the later versions were all their excuses or positions on their “plan”.

Seems the drive by media moves fast when a Democrat calls.

91Veteran on February 28, 2007 at 11:21 PM

JabbaMurtha is a slow bleder period. He hasn’t the GUTS to just defund the war beacuse all the dems want is a win in 08, sicking, spinless,bleeding leftist commies If Murtha ever got close to me I’d show him a slow bleed………..his nose, right under his pie hole. SEMPER FI, he is a disgrace to the troops period for having no spine.

bones47 on March 1, 2007 at 12:19 AM

Hmm.. Does this mean I have to change my video?

Nethicus on March 1, 2007 at 1:03 AM

Hmm.. Does this mean I have to change my video?

Nethicus on March 1, 2007 at 1:03 AM

Don’t change a thing. Great vid–great message.

hillbillyjim on March 1, 2007 at 8:11 AM

So if we were not around they would just “slit our throats”?

The reason slow bleed, and it doesn’t matter if satan himself came up with the word, it is the ideal descriptive. “Slow strangulation”, doesn’t have that ring.

How about taking back the words “balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class”. Here is where remorse kicks in. As happens all the time in journalism, this was a decision — made on the fly and under deadline…

“Or Bush lied, soldiers died”.

I have an idea, quit writting, or turn over your writing to the DNC for apporoval.

right2bright on March 1, 2007 at 9:38 AM

It is Murtha’s job to defend his own policies. But I’d prefer not to hand his opponents ammunition in the form of evocative but loaded language…

There’s that non-liberal bias again.

JackM on March 1, 2007 at 10:40 AM

Harris probably believes that he is not biased.

It’s just so obvious that the Democrats are almost always right!

The newsroom culture is so terribly ideologically inbred, that watching the news reminds me of volunteering to help out at a talent show for the mentally disabled.

I feel like I should be saying “great job! you’re wonderful! what a performance!” instead of “you moron! I can’t believe you’re that stupid! that’s not even close to true!”

I feel guilty when I cuss out the moronic newsreaders, like I found myself jeering at the athletes at the special olympics.

John Stossel’s appearance at the press club was a great enunciation of that, as well as Bernard Goldberg’s books “Bias” and “Arrogance.” They, far more gently than I would, give us an inside look at the way the “shared ideals” of the MSM workplaces have made them some of the least diverse, in terms of ideas, places in the world, and why it’s so hard for many reporters to see (and impossible to admit).

I think, if the MSM wants to get back any of that last trust, they’d better commit to a policy of ideological diversity in the workplace, and quick.

Right now, if you want trustworthy news, you really have to work hard for it. Maybe that’s the way it should be, but it means that most people are working off bad information most of the time, because they can’t afford a second career as a researcher.

Merovign on March 1, 2007 at 4:13 PM