American Newspeak

AMERICAN NEWSPEAK. Hoarded at Celebrating cutting edge advances in the Doublethink of the 90's Allegedly Written by Wayne Grytting

Buy American

In 1997, six of the top eight finishers in Colorado's Bolder Boulder Marathon were from Kenya. But corporate sponsors immediately spotted a problem with this result. The Kenyan runners were "marketing liabilities." So to insure more Americans finished among the leaders, race officials passed a new rule limiting the number of runners from Kenya, or any other foreign country, to three. But its the justification for this change, presented by race director Bill Reef, that earns particular merit. "We hope to level the playing field," said Mr. Reef in what is believed to be the first time American athletes have received protection from a nation with an average income worth less than two pairs of Nike's. Then Mr. Reed enunciated what could become the sports world's own Monroe Doctrine, "Its our country, our event, our money. American sponsors want American winners, or at least Americans among the top finishers." To "level the playing field" even more, sponsors have promised to double the prize money for our athlete's finishing in the top five. (NYT 4/16)

Friendly Pages

One of Coca Cola's major advertising agencies, McCann-Erickson, has sent a memo to magazines to help them in their job of providing a positive environment for Coke ads. Christine Maggiore, their print media buyer, advises publishers on how they can place the company's ads in locations "consistent with each brand's marketing strategy/positioning." And what is the best kind of magazine content on neighboring pages? Ms. Maggiore has the answer. "We believe that positive and upbeat editorial provides a compatible environment in which to communicate the brand's message." Ever willing to be helpful, she then goes on to list the subjects Coca-Cola considers to be "inappropriate." As expected, articles discussing politics, environmental issues, "sex related issues," and drugs head the list. But there are also some surprising categories to be axed. Not only do articles on health and food fail the test, but the whole category of hard news takes a dive. (3/6 Memo in Matador Records Newsletter)

God Bless the Landlords

Vencor, the corporate owners of a nursing home chain with 310 convenient locations, announced it is ending its relation with Medicaid. This means it is evicting up to a third of its residents in an effort to attract wealthier patients able to afford the "higher levels" of medical care it plans to be providing. The evictions of long time residents brought on a storm of protest, for as the Wall Street Journal was kind enough to explain to its readers (historians take note, in 1998 this explanation was felt to be necessary), "evicting old people can create hard feelings in the community." But Vencor CEO Michael Barr was able to put everything into perspective. "We really are doing this," he said, "for what I consider to be the right reasons. Our goal is to turn this into the best medical nursing facility in that market." Sometimes, as was said in the Vietnam War, you just have to "destroy the village" in order to save it. (WSJ 4/7)

A Mental Recess

In their undying efforts to raise the test scores of our youth, School Districts across the country are targeting a portion of the school day said to be a waste of time - recess. While School Districts in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut permit individual schools to make decisions about children's recess, cities like Atlanta have taken the lead in eliminating unproductive time spent by their children. This has brought great savings because new school buildings can now be built without playgrounds. Doing this year's best imitation of an educator out of a Dickens novel is the superintendent of Atlanta's schools, Benjamin Canada, who says, "We are intent on improving academic performance. You can't do that by having kids hanging on the monkey bars." Meanwhile, Philadelphia has compromised by allowing a "socialized recess" (which we hope is not like "socialized" medicine) with structured activities for their apparently undersocialized youth. (NYT 4/7)

New Age CEO's

Our nation's top executives appear to be going beyond materialistic demands, displaying a new found interest in holistic health. Much like Mafia wannabees who spoke of becoming "made men," CEO's now speak of wanting to be made "whole." Apparently executives can be made "whole" by being offered stock options by a prospective employer that compensates them for the stock they lose when jumping ship. For example, when Quaker Oats lured away Sprint's CEO Robert Lemay, they made him "whole" with $2.5 million in cash and 11.7 in stock options. But apparently there are levels of "wholeness" that executives can aspire to. So when Sprint replied with a $20.5 million package, it was, said a spokesperson, an effort to "make him a little more whole." I like this usage. It leaves executives with more to aim for, don't you think? (WSJ 4/22)

The Global Jail

The fear of prisoners escaping their confinement has been solved by a simple expedient, technological advances that allow the entire earth to serve as a prison. New surveillance technology employing Global Positioning Satellites and wireless modules worn on the ankle may allow for complete monitoring of offenders anywhere on the planet. Leading edge companies in the surveillance field, like Pro Tech Monitoring, are excited about the possibilities of their "offender satellite surveillance system." Says PTM president Bob Martinez, "Our business aims at taking offender monitoring into the 21st century." This enthusiasm is echoed by Jason Coheneur, sales v-p for Sierra Wireless, who praises his company's "continued strategy to deliver practical, effective wireless solutions to new segments of the public safety market." Hoyt Layson, v-p for PTM, praises his companies products as "the perfect option for our complete wireless solution'' Or maybe we could call it the "final solution"? (, 4/8)

The Gay Catch-22

Ross Perot barged back into the news by revoking the health coverage for partners of newly hired gay employees in his computer firm. Perot said he was worried that if he granted health benefits to gay partners, then unmarried heterosexual couples would want to claim the same benefits. "It has nothing to do with gay rights," he said. "It has everything to do with fairness and equity." Mr. Perot did not say whether the fact gay couples are commonly barred from marriage impacted the "fairness and equity" of his decision. But he did announce "I'll give you the biggest steak in Texas if you can find anybody who says I discriminated against them because they are gay." Rumor has it the price of beef went up 50% the next day. (NYT 4/10)

Teaching By Example

This month's best Foreign Newspeak entry comes from Rwanda where 22 Hutu soldiers convicted of genocide against their Tutsi opponents were scheduled to be executed despite an appeal to save their lives by Pope John Paul II. Answering a pope is no easy task, and rising to the occasion was Rwanda's Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana, who defended the executions with a unique argument. "It (the executions) will teach people that no one has the right to exterminate other people with impunity and that human life is sacred." How could Catholics forget the role of a good execution in teaching the value of human life? (Reuters 4/23)

Selling the War on Drugs

Newt Gingrinch's campaign for a Drug Free America hit a bump when its PR script with approved sound bites and visual props was leaked. The one page memo gave Republican leaders "communication ideas" and a handy list of descriptive adjectives to enliven their speeches. These included power words such as "epidemic," "scourge," and "poison, props like needles and syringes and ways to get Democrats to "buy into it." But even better was the Republican response to the disclosure of their behind the scenes media manipulations. An unnamed top Congressional aide demonstrated a keen grasp of the issues when commenting "That kind of stuff would be better off just talked about." Another Republican press secretary, Pete Jeffries, put it all in perspective when he defended the use of PR memos by leaders who "need to know what the event's all about so when they're in the spotlight they can perform." Like trained seals, I presume. (WP 4/30)

The Full Monty Seat

Only in America did the following regulation have to be written. For years the Occupational and Health Administration has taken the reasonable step of requiring employers to provide toilets. One throne is required for up to 15 employees and 2 for the next 16 to 35 and so on. But OSHA committed a gross oversight in making their regulations. They forgot to explain why the toilets were needed. So now in 1998 they had to make a new rule requiring employers to "make toilet facilities available so that employees can use them when they need to do so." Duh. Let's just hope the regulations require doors that open on the toilets. And toilet paper. (NYT 4/10)

Special thanks this month to the eagle eyes of Mike Allen, Mike McCormick, Mark Cohen and Nicholas Rossis. No thanks to all of you who flooded me with e-mail about incorrectly identifying Maryland as the "Tarheel" state last month. Alright already. To subscribe or make big donations, write to