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Hume Speaks in Code About Bush Spy Program

Reported by Judy - March 13, 2006

Sometimes, the bigger the words people use, the less they actually say. That was the case with Brit Hume on Monday (March 13, 2006), and it probably was no accident.

During a segment on "Special Report with Brit Hume," Hume went to a break promising a piece on Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, and his bid to censure George Bush for "those NSA phone intercepts." Coming back from break, Hume said Feingold introduced a resolution in the Senate on Monday to censure Bush over the "NSA electronic intercept program."

NSA phone intercepts? NSA electronic intercept program? Sounds pretty obscure and technical. What Hume was talking about was Bush's program to spy on American citizens -- his administration's secret program of listening on on telephone calls to this country from abroad in the name of fighting terrorists.

But Hume could not bring himself to use a down-to-earth word like "spying," opting instead for "intercept." And he couldn't even say George Bush was involved -- it was the NSA.

Ideology aside, this was just plain bad writing. One of the basic rules of journalism is to never use a 50-cent word when a 25-cent word will do. In other words, use plain English, not the language of bureaucrats and insiders. Hume has been around long enough to know that. That leads me to believe that Hume's choice of obscure language to describe Bush's illegal spying program was not sloppy journalism, but intentional.

What I wonder is whether Hume runs his stuff by Ken Mehlman from the Republican National Committee ahead of time? Or does he have the GOP code words down so pat it just comes naturally to him?

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