Lots of people are picking up on CNN Money’s headline on top of an analysis of Republican positions on debt-ceiling increases by Jeanne Sahadi, such as Jammie Wearing Fool and Rob Port, among others. On top of a picture of Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Marco Rubio, CNN Money headlines the piece … well, you can read it for yourself:
Yeah, “wingnut” is such an objective, descriptive term, isn’t it? It’s not incendiary in the least.
To an extent, this misses the point, and misses a larger problem. Sahadi’s essay is pretty clearly an opinion piece, not objective news reporting. I don’t know if Sahadi chose the headline or not, as writers often suggest headlines but rarely have final approval on them. The word “wingnut” doesn’t appear at all in Sahadi’s piece, although it’s clearly derisive of conservative positions on the debt ceiling.
However, who does Sahadi use to represent the “wingnut” position? Two people who will have no say at all on the debt-ceiling increase, and a Senator from the minority party in the upper chamber. Gingrich and Palin may have interesting perspectives on the issue, but they’re not going to get a vote on it. As far as Rubio’s position goes, Sahadi seems lost in her criticism:
Freshman GOP Sen. Marco Rubio proffered a long list of demands that he wants met before he would support a debt ceiling increase.
Writing in a Wall Street Journal opinion article this spring, Rubio’s list included several demands pertaining to the budget: entitlement reform, tax reform, discretionary spending cuts and a balanced budget amendment.
Putting aside for the moment that realistically speaking such a list is too large to be accomplished in a few months, Rubio then added an entirely extraneous demand: overhaul the regulatory structure.
Well, it’s hardly wingnuttery to demand a streamlining of regulatory structures, nor to push for spending cuts and entitlement reforms. Note that Sahadi doesn’t actually offer any criticism of those demands, either, just that it will take too long to accomplish them. I’d guess that Rubio would work on timing if we had agreement on entitlement reform and spending cuts in hand. In fact, the entire essay by Sahadi is almost substance-free, the literary and intellectual of a derisive snort rather than a reasoned analysis.
In that sense, the headline makes perfect sense, and reveals much about both Sahadi and CNN.