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Haaretz has perpetrated a headline.

Biden Administration Braces for Potential ‘Sh**show’ in Appointing New U.S. Ambassador to Israel – U.S. News


It’s a good mental exercise to recall that whenever such scare language (here, “sh**show”) is deployed in headlines, you’re being manipulated to feel bad.

Just as whenever euphemism and omission are deployed to avoid characterizing a topic more accurately, you’re being manipulated to feel normal and reassured.

Here is the unattributed passage of the Haaretz article giving us our scare word:  “Administration officials are highly concerned over the potential for Republican grandstanding on Israel, with one official going so far as to warn of a potential ‘sh**show.’”

So this isn’t news; it’s a polemic.  Regardless of how U.S. news media used language, Haaretz made its own choice in the headline here.

Note this passage:  “[Outgoing Ambassador Tom] Nides himself faced several of these obstacles: his nomination was initially blocked on committee, and Republicans later placed a brief hold on him after his nomination was brought to the floor.”

It continues:  “The grounds for this were never publicly stated, but it was widely believed to be over the Biden administration’s stated intent to reopen the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem that serves Palestinian citizens.”

Oh.  (That last sentence is euphemism and omission at work, in fact, failing to clarify that for years, the functionally-independent consulate in Jerusalem frequently adopted positions and took actions directly contrary to actual U.S. policy.  President Trump didn’t want a consulate behaving that way anymore.)

Haaretz concludes:  “It is highly likely that a similar set of complications could emerge this time, unless the nominee has … bipartisan bona fides.”

This too is manipulation, implying that a concern about what the Biden administration was preparing to do was somehow a matter of the nominee not having “bipartisan bona fides.”  It’s deflection.  Red-herring bait.  The whole article is unparsable from the standpoint of logic.  But that doesn’t really matter when the central purpose is to say “sh**show.”

Nor does it matter that in a sober analysis of the situation, the Biden administration could well drag its heels on an ambassadorial nomination because a stand-in chargé d’affaires (Stephanie Hallett, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem) would lower the profile of the U.S. delegation and allow Team Biden to implement more policy through special envoys, or unheralded internal memos, with less explanation.

There’s no point in highlighting that salient factor, because you can’t say “sh**show” about it.

Of course, if the topic here weren’t the ambassador to Israel, media would probably hold fire on the “sh**show” scare word.  It’s especially important at the moment to relentlessly depict anything having to do with Israel as a “sh**show.”

But similar scare-word deployments infested media coverage of the entire Trump presidency, along with a usual-suspect list of other topics.  The deployments had begun, albeit at a less-toxic level, by at least the Bush 43 presidency; now they are used to frame Republicans in general as the implied reason you’re always ill at ease, with a sensation of emotional battery and unable to feel good about your world.  Tumult and shouting everywhere!  Why doesn’t someone put a stop to it?  Certainly we’re seeing that with legacy media coverage of Ron DeSantis.

At no time are such scare words being used in simple good faith.  The headline could be reworded, to give it the sound of straight news, as “Controversy Expected in Appointing New Ambassador to Israel” – but that wouldn’t make you feel depressed, discouraged, and hounded by bad news, as “sh**show” does.


{Reposted from the author’s site}


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J.E. Dyer is a retired US Naval intelligence officer who served around the world, afloat and ashore, from 1983 to 2004.