Which was it, a bend or a retreat?
Several major papers, led by The New York Times and Miami Herald, took the
most cautious approach by saying, “Obama adjusts.” A similarly neutral
choice was “shifts,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the
Washington Post, and the San Jose Mercury News.
Perhaps the most benign choice, serving to cleanse the story of any meaning,
came on page one of the Los Angeles Times, “Obama reacts.”
Other verbs of note: Sacramento Bee, “gives ground”; San Diego
Union-Tribune, “revises”; Cleveland Plain Dealer, “eases”;
Tampa Bay Times, “yields”; Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “finds
compromise”; the Akron Beacon Journal, “reverses”; the Financial
The Chicago Sun-Times and the Cincinnati Enquirer staked out much more aggressive
positions with the words, “backed down.”
Rarely does a newspaper headline present such a challenge to editors, some
of whom were clearly driven by objectivity, while others allowed their editorial
stance to affect the front-page treatment. It underscores how divided the nation
is on an issue that seems, to many on both sides, to be rather clear cut.
As for New York’s Post and Daily News, you’d never know from their
front pages what Obama did Friday. Both papers put contraception aside, apparently,
for full-page celebrations of Beyonce’s baby.
(c) Peter Funt.