It was a dark and stormy night.
It’s a classic Peanuts© cartoon. Lucy is reading one of Snoopy’s stories.
Suddenly, a shot rang out.
She suggests that “suddenly” might not be the best word. Snoopy takes a moment to consider and then revises his opus.
Gradually, a shot rang out.
This past week, Joe Biden was (according to wide reports) expecting disappointing results in the New Hampshire primary. Breaking with precedent, on the day of the primary he left New Hampshire before the polls closed and went to South Carolina, where he has a strong base of support (according to his own reports). The TV headline crawl reminded me of this Peanuts© cartoon.
Biden abruptly cancels NH campaign party
As opposed to what, I wondered. Biden gradually cancels campaign party?
It doesn’t matter whether I think Joe Biden is an elder statesman or an aging goofball: This headline is not journalism, it’s commentary. The news was just this:
Biden cancels NH campaign party
Biden leaves NH before polls close
But adding “abruptly” suggests concern, dismay, maybe even disarray. It does not report a fact, it draws a conclusion in a sneaky way that makes it sound like a factual report.
I’m guessing they’re not going to cut it out anytime soon — not on either side. So it’s up to me to get sharp. Suddenly. Maybe even abruptly.