Why the softball headline?
As I understand it, the purpose of a headline is to quickly and briefly call attention to a story. One of the biggest stories today ran the gamut left, right, and center could almost as well have been written with the words “GAO Bergdahl swap broke law” in no particular order:
- Pentagon violated law with Bergdahl prisoner swap (UPI)
- Feds: Obama Broke Law with Bergdahl Swap… (National Review Online)
- A Government Agency Says The Obama Administration Broke The Law In The Bowe BergdahlPrisoner Swap (Business Insider)
- Report Says Bergdahl Prisoner Swap Violated Two U.S. Laws (The Blaze)
- GAO: Obama Administration Broke Law With Bergdahl Swap (The Daily Caller)
- Taliban-Bergdahl prisoner swap broke the law, federal agency says (Los Angeles Times)
- Bergdahl prisoner swap ‘illegal’ (BBC News: US & Canada)
- Pentagon broke law with Bergdahl prisoner swap, government watchdog says – Fox News (Fox News via Google News Top Stories)
- Agency: Bergdahl swap illegal (CNN)
- Defense Dept. Violated Law in Bergdahl-Gitmo Trade (Breitbart)
- Congressional Investigators Say Bowe Bergdahl Swap Broke Law – 8/21/14 (Unedited Politics)
- GAO: Pentagon Violated Law With Bergdahl Swap (ABC News)
- Bergdahl exchange violated federal law, legal opinion says (USA Today)
- WEX Opinion: GAO: Obama administration broke the law in Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap (Washington Examiner)
- U.S. watchdog finds Pentagon broke law in Bergdahl transfer (Reuters)
- Federal Eye: Guantanamo prisoner transfer for Bowe Bergdahl violated laws, review finds (The Washington Post)
- Govt. watchdog agency determines that Pentagon broke law in Bergdahl transfer (The Raw Story)
- U.S. watchdog finds Pentagon broke law in Bergdahl transfer (Chicago Tribune)
- Bergdahl prison-swap deal is illegal says watchdog agency (NY Daily News)
- “Disturbing Pattern” Continues, Administration Broke The Law With Bergdahl Swap, GAO Says (Zero Hedge)
- Bergdahl swap illegal, top congressional lawyer says (The Seattle Times)
- Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap was illegal, says US government watchdog (The Guardian)
- Bergdahl swap illegal, says top congressional lawyer (The Sacramento Bee)
- Top lawyer says Bergdahl swap illegal (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Detecting a trend here?
The Christian Science Monitory was a touch softer in the hed, but at least they create the shadow of doubt (and interest) by asking about the legality.
Bergdahl prisoner swap: Was it legal? (The Christian Science Monitor)
Along comes The (used-to-be Atlantic) Wire with this zinger:
Nothing to see here, Atlantic Readers. Move along. DoD bureaucrats fail at paperwork is all. Never mind that they clarify it in full right in the lede.
The Government Accountability Office (G.A.O.) has said the Obama administration violated the law in the prisoner exchange that freed Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
With a headline like that, one almost wonders if the reporting was merely obligatory, but not intended to actually draw any attention at all. I just can’t fathom why that would be, however. Is there such a thing as a demographic that only gets its news from The Wire? Why shouldn’t that market get the same basic zinger instead of a snoozer? Especially given the editorial priorities evidenced by article subject matter and placement, I just do not get that hed at all, at all. One would think it would drip with “Obama admin broke law” overtones.
Here’s what their page looked like moments ago.
If I headscratch hard enough to pick a hole in my skull, the best I come up with is that they’re anti-administration, but pro-Pentagon? What kind of agenda setting is this?
Image credit: The Wire (screenshot used under presumption of fair use for criticism)