Out damned but

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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:30 am

James Lileks:

However the election goes will be one thing; how it’s reported is another. The thing to watch is the position of the Damning But, the old DB. The DB will probably bob up in the first or second paragraphs of most dispatches. “The election went as planned in 95 percent of the country, but violence marred polling in the disputed Sunny D Triangle, where insurgents opposed to Tropicana Juice fired automatic weapons into an juice concentrate factory.�?

Front page of the New York Times:

For Iraqi Expatriates in the U.S., a Chance to Savor the Vote

But even as they exulted in the opportunity to vote, many expatriates expressed deep fears about Sunday’s vote in Iraq.

UPDATE. The ABC included a DB within the first dozen or so words of its lead item on tonight’s news.

Posted by Tim B. on 01/29/2005 at 03:28 AM
    1. The bluer the sky gets, the faster they think it’s falling.

      Posted by Jim Treacher on 01/29 at 05:45 AM • permalink


    1. Does my “But” look big in this?

      Posted by blogstrop on 01/29 at 05:47 AM • permalink


    1. ABC interviewers use the word more often than any other – when conservative governments are in power – as the start of a following question:

      ‘But, senator, …

      ‘But, surely you must admit, …

      ‘But if that is true, …

      ‘But human rights activists have shown, …

      ‘But the UN has said, …

      Posted by ilibcc on 01/29 at 06:55 AM • permalink


    1. The correct way to punctuate a sentence that starts: “Of course it’s none of my business, but…” is to place a period after the word “but”. Don’t use excessive force in supplying such a moron with a period. Cutting his throat is only a momentary pleasure and is bound to get you talked about.

      — Lazarus Long

      Posted by Pixy Misa on 01/29 at 07:46 AM • permalink


    1. The ABC journos looked rather embarrassed by the celebrating Iraqi expats voting in Sydney. The only way they could put a negative spin on the Iraqi-Australians with tears in their eyes because they were voting in a free election for the first time was to follow up with a “but experts expect the violence to escalate in Iraq in the coming days”. Probably the same ‘experts’ who expect the world to end in a decade due to global warming…

      Posted by ArtVandelay on 01/29 at 08:22 AM • permalink


    1. The “but” is bad enough, but the EAoD (The “even as of death”) is what really worries me. They can juxtapose any two events they wish so as to demean the first one.

      Watch for it. The hilarious non sequitur potential is amazing.

      Of course, a DB/EAoD is rare but is the only thing that has the power to convey their dismay over free elections in Iraq.

      Posted by bovious on 01/29 at 11:04 AM • permalink


    1. The “even as…” construction is as bad as the Damned But. Maybe worse.

      “But even as they exulted in the opportunity to vote…”

      Posted by ErnieG on 01/29 at 11:12 AM • permalink


    1. Over here in the US, the newsghouls are about to pop their carotids because they can’t figure out a way to work Vietnam into the election angle.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 01/29 at 11:51 AM • permalink


    1. What is the term if the positive/negative clauses are reversed? E.g.:

      “Even as they exulted in the opportunity to vote, many expatriates expressed deep fears about Sunday’s vote in Iraq.  But for Iraqi Expatriates in the U.S., [it is] a Chance to Savor the Vote.”

      Or, a real example from Iraq the Model:

      “There is fear from the enemies of freedom who have their weapons already prepared to intimidate us and stop us from choosing our future. But at the same time we’re full of hope as we know that we’ve put our feet on the right track and even if we make a bad choice once, we know that we will have the chance to reevaluate the situation again. No more tyrants ruling the country for decades.”
      Blessed But?  re-BUTtal?

      Posted by debo on 01/29 at 01:15 PM • permalink


    1. Here’s the difference. Mark it well. Or, don’t. Your call.

      The administration: Something dreadful is happening. But we’re doing something about it.

      The press: The administration is trying to do something amazing and unprecedented. But dreadful things could still be down the road.

      This is the “but” that freezes Democrats.

      Hope this helps! Doubtful, but I have hope.

      (See, now *I’m* doing it!)

      Posted by bovious on 01/29 at 01:31 PM • permalink


    1. I’m gonna call my new rap song “I love a mam with a biiiig but…”

      Posted by Patricia on 01/29 at 05:54 PM • permalink


    1. After reporting the curfew, sealed borders, closed airports and blocked roads ABC NewsRadio then said “insurgent violence continued unchecked”. Seems to me ABC news copy continues unchecked.

      Posted by slatts on 01/29 at 08:14 PM • permalink


  1. That’s a good point Slatts. On the ABC also, violence is always ‘escalating’ or ‘spiralling out of control’. You’d think that after two years of ‘escalating violence’, there’d be nothing left in Iraq yet it still takes a large helicopter crash for the US to have its worst day of casualties.

    The ABC…we don’t let reality get in the way of our bias.

    Posted by ArtVandelay on 01/30 at 07:37 PM • permalink