Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"error in judgement" + "appearance of"

Outlining a new story means lots of time sitting around doing nothing, sort of, while trying to figure out what would work best in the third act.

This leads to webcrastination -- which led to checking out Slate --> then Poynter Online's Romenesko column --> and finally to this Wall Street Journal article on TV Experts getting payoffs.

Going into that article you know what's coming -- a whole bunch of weaselly business about "experts" going on TV and pimping products after getting, oh, my yearly teaching assistant salary, from the company whose products they're pimping.

What I was waiting for was the pseudo-apologetic "I made an error in judgement..." combined with some statement to the effect of "...that might give the appearance of..." [bias, undue influence, rampant corruption, moral turpitude -- okay, maybe those last two are me projecting].

Instead, we get an article from a point early in the Scandal-Cycle. This is that period of a scandal-cycle where the people getting fingered claim there's no wrong-doing at all. There's something almost acceptable about getting paid to endorse a product you already believe in -- assuming that these people really do believe in those products, and believe in them more than competing products that didn't pay for an endorsement, and are forthcoming about their financial arrangement....

My guess is that if this scandal has a decent shelf-life we'll finally get to the later stage of the scandal-cycle, which involves those phrases in the title of this post. I've grown so used to hearing those phrases close together that I now just wait to see how they pop out of the scandal-source's mouth.

Which led me to a question: how often are those phrases really used together? Now, it's unscientific but you can get something approaching an answer through the power of Google.

About 630 results (for some combination of those exact phrases). Frankly, far lower than I expected. And some of those hits are false leads, e.g., to potential difficulties in Japanese Sword Polishing.

However, five of the ten links on the first page are links to articles or statements using the phrases in their weasel way. Maybe I would have gotten more hits by using appear as or some other variant as the second phrase.

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