The record will show that the Erik Wemple Blog isn’t above exploiting Chelsea Clinton’s accession to NBC News for cheap blog posts and Internet traffic. It’s just that we haven’t quite yet stooped to the standards of the New York Post’s Page Six.
In a piece from this morning, the gossip page asks us to believe that Clinton is pretty much done with her gig contributing segments to the network’s “Making a Difference” series. Behold the first two sentences of the item:
Chelsea Clinton’s much-trumpeted deal with NBC seems to be nearly done. Her contract is for only 90 days, and while she’ll provide the network with two more stories, sources say it is not certain she’ll immediately sign again.
Slow down and admire the craftsmanship here, a great example of the fool-the-reader style frequently deployed by tabloids.
*Disingenuity No. 1: The “much-trumpeted deal...seems to be nearly done.” Italics added to note duplicity: Clinton has been on the job for around half of her 90-day contract term. So saying that it’s “nearly done” is a vacuous and misleading portrayal.
*Disingenuity No. 2: “Her contract is for only 90 days...” Very clever old trick here. Suggest to the readers that you have actual news — slide in that 90-day figure as if it’d never appeared before in print. Even though it did, at least a month ago.
Disingenuity No. 3: Just like Disingenuity No. 2. The piece comes forth with this anonymous emptiness:
Our source said NBC “created unrealistic expectations. Chelsea wanted a 90-day contract to see if she liked it. It’s possible she will do more for NBC in the future, [but] she doesn’t know if she’ll sign another contract.”
And here’s what the New York Times published on Dec. 3: “Ms. Clinton has a three-month trial contract with NBC, after which both parties will decide whether to continue.”
The difference? None. Same information, one published early by an outlet that trades in the news, the other published tardily by an outlet that trades in smoke and mirrors.
Emily Smith, the author of the item, responded to a call for comment but is prohibited by corporate policy to speak on behalf of her work.