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'Might Be' or Might Not

Reported by Judy - March 8, 2006

Fox News writers are masters of the "might be" phrase -- the mighty phrase that lets you deliver a whammy with one hand but technically take it back with the other one. Neil Cavuto used the "might be" to great effect on Wednesday (March 8, 2006).

During "Your World with Neil Cavuto," Cavuto kept promising a story about a website for Palestinian children that encourages them to become suicide bombers. At least, that was the interpretation of the website that Cavuto offered, and since I can't read Arabic, I am reluctantly taking his word for it.

"Your tax dollars might be paying for this!" warned Cavuto in one promo. "We could be funding this website," he said in another one.

At nearly the end of the hour, Cavuto had hyped the story long enough and finally got to it. Ambassador Argye Mekel, consul general of Israel, was the guest. He argued that the existence of the website is the reason why governments should cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority government after the election of Hamas to run things.

"If you give the Hamas government money, you don't know where the money is going to go. It could go to this kind of 'education,' namely this website that will teach Palestinian children within a few years to be suicide bombers. Of course, it could also go to directly finance terror itself. So we believe no money should be given to the Hamas government," he said.

Meanwhile, the chyron at the bottom of the screen read, "Who's funding Hamas website recruiting kid suicide bombers?"

Of course, the segment never answered that question. It never demonstrated any sort of link between U.S. funds and the website. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeeza Rice has said the U.S. will not give money to the Hamas government, although the aid has not yet been cut off because Hamas officials have yet to take over the government. So U.S. aid going to the Palestinian government is not going to anything Hamas is doing.

But Cavuto didn't really have to show any such link between U.S. funding and the Hamas website. After all, he didn't say our tax dollars were actually funding it. He only said they might be funding it. By the clever use of the mighty "might be" phrase, Cavuto managed to gets his viewers worked up over something regardless of whether it is true. "Might be" is a handy phrase for lazy journalists.

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