Pointing Out How the Magician Does His Tricks Would Just Be Rude

In a New York Times story (8/24/12) about Mitt Romney’s energy proposals, reporters Eric Lipton and Clifford Krauss make this observation:

With gasoline prices again approaching $4 a gallon, Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, is also trying to merge energy and economic policy in a way that will make voters see increased energy production as a pocketbook issue.

Note that Lipton and Krauss don’t say that increased U.S. energy production will actually affect the $4-a-gallon price of gas and hence the voters’ pocketbooks; that would be inaccurate, since oil is a global commodity and it’s impossible for the U.S. to increase its production enough to change it substantially. In fact, with the formulation “in a way that will make voters see,” the Times  reporters suggest that they are well aware that increased oil drilling will not actually alter gas prices–that this is a matter of changing public perceptions, not economic realities.

Buddy the Bunny in a Top-Hat

Photo by Charles Crosbie.

But then, Lipton and Krass don’t do anything in their piece to let the reader know that the implied connection between increased drilling and lower gas prices is fraudulent. They’re like savvy audience members at a magic show, able to see how the tricks are done but choosing not to give away the secrets to those who are taken in.

“In a way that will make voters see” is the wink, Lipton and Krauss’s way of showing that they don’t actually believe rabbits can magically appear in hats, even as they allow most of their readers to persist in that delusion.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.