Scoring a compelling interview with Roger Ailes is a big deal — especially when you can lard up the resulting story with drama dashes. Drama dashes are crutches, punctuational 2x4s used by writers to supply their copy with tension and juxtaposition — not to mention an exclamation mark or two. The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz shows us how it’s done — through the prism of his profile on the Fox News chief.

Example #1 (lede sentence):

It was part political spectacle, part American Idol, part YouTube extravaganza, a pure Roger Ailes production — and the latest sign that the Fox News chairman is quietly repositioning America’s dominant cable-news channel.

Analysis: If you’re repositioning a cable news network, hey, that merits a drama dash.

Example #2:

But the real eye-opener was the sight of his anchors grilling the Republican contenders, which pleases the White House but cuts sharply against the network’s conservative image — and risks alienating its most rabid right-wing fans.

Analysis: Playing fast and loose with rabid right-wing fans? That’s the sort of out-on-a-limb behavior that clearly entails a drama dash, if not two!

Example #3:

So too did Sarah Palin’s being widely promoted as the GOP’s potential savior — in large measure through her lucrative platform at Fox.

Analysis: Oooh, Palin used her lucrative platform at Fox to do this?

Example #4:

As he embarks on his last hurrah — Ailes’s contract is up in 2013 — he is acting not like a political operative but as a corporate chieftain who knows that fostering friction and picking fights make for good television — and good business.

Analysis: Have a look at the wonders of drama-dash deletion: “as a corporate chieftain who knows that fostering friction and picking fights make for good television and good business.”

Example #5:

Told that the network has secured an interview with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Ailes mentions that he’s been chatting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and insists Abbas should be asked about the extent of the U.S. commitment to Israel.

Analysis: Again, delete!

Example #6:

Ailes is exploiting the reality-TV tension — even as the contestants are seeking his advice.

Analysis: No way — no possible way!

Example #7:

He keeps his edge in part because after all these years, he still sees himself as an insurgent — an identity rooted in his blue-collar upbringing in Warren, Ohio.

Analysis: By far the least conspicuous and troubling of drama-dash atrocities in the piece, though a comma would have worked well.

Example #8:

Ailes says O’Reilly has “moderated” his views and that “Beck scared him” — meaning Beck was so popular on the right that O’Reilly had to find a different niche.

Analysis: Again, the humble comma would have been a nice choice.

Example #9:

For his part, O’Reilly says he supported most of George W. Bush’s policies and gave Obama’s economic plans a chance for 18 months — before opposing them as unworkable.

Analysis: Such a stunning and impactful change of tone for a cable news host demands nothing less than a full drama dash — perhaps even a double-long one.