Tonight we dine at Le Cliche Buffet.
Thanksgiving menu? Sorry, pilgrim. Only linguistic turkeys served here.
Chow down on this steaming serving of overused words, hoary phrases and worn-to-the-nub expressions whose removal from television news scripts would make us exceedingly thankful:
■ “The victim was gunned down.” Thanks for clarifying. We thought he was merely shot.
■ “(Fill in terrorist name) took credit for the bombing.” Would two bombings earn them extra credit? Perhaps by the third, they’ll “claim responsibility.”
■ “(Fill in newsmaker name) believes the situation will be resolved.” Reporters don’t know what someone “believes.” Only what someone “says.” Politicians, in particular, rarely say what they mean, never mind believe what they say.
■ “It was an emotional reunion for these former graduates.” How sad that the school took back their diplomas.
Give thanks for the late, great George Carlin, whose brilliant riffs on the misuse of English inspired this bunch:
■ “Police responded to an emergency situation.” Actually, they responded to an emergency. We already know it’s a situation. Everything is a situation.
■ “We’re expecting a rain event.” Can you comp us a couple of tickets to that?
■ “There was a near miss involving two planes in the skies over Vegas.” Actually, it’s a near hit. A collision is a near miss. “BOOM! Look — they nearly missed.”
■ “Legislators are trying to force insurance companies to cover patients with pre-existing conditions.” What does that mean? They existed before they existed? The difference between something existing and something pre-existing is … ?
■ “The governor is candid in this prerecorded interview.” Prerecorded? When else would you record it? Afterward?
Shout-out to Ellen DeGeneres for this:
■ Anchor: “When are you going to stop all this rain?” Meteorologist: “When you stop all the carjackings.”
■ “He’s accused of cold-blooded murder.” As opposed to what? Lukewarm-blooded murder?
■ “Two people were killed in a robbery gone bad.” If no one was killed, should we call it a robbery that went well?
■ “The candidates hit the campaign trail.” If you must use that expression, kindly add, “Yippee ki-yay” (“blanker-blanker” optional).
■ “The crime shocked area residents.” If the crime was committed in, for instance, Summerlin, would we somehow assume the residents lived in Pacoima?
■ “He was killed in the line of duty.” Why not “the circle of responsibility”? No disrespect intended toward their bravery, but ditch the police-speak. Simply and sadly, he was killed on the job.
■ “I’m so-and-so, reporting live from the newsroom.” Translation: “I’m talking to you from my desk.”
■ “Thank you, Dick and/or Jane, for that terrific report.” How considerate of them to praise each other so we don’t have to. (Also known as: “Thank you for doing the job for which you are paid.”)
■ “He has been plagued by scandal.” Plagued? Are we reporting on Job? Or have we tuned into “Action Bible at 6”?
We now return you to your regularly scheduled overstatements, redundancies, extraneous adjectives, hackneyed hyperbole and verbal hilarity.
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.