Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Another Headline Non-Sequitur

The Associated Press headline reads:
Senate OKs Limiting Patriot Act Powers

You would think this would be a story about a weak-kneed Senate giving in to the Patriot Act critics and gutting the anti-terror measures within it. You would be wrong.

WASHINGTON - The Senate on Wednesday cleared the path for renewing the USA Patriot Act, swatting aside objections while adding new protections for people targeted by government investigations.

The overwhelming votes virtually assured that Congress will renew President Bush's antiterror law before it expires March 10. The House was expected to pass the legislation and send the bill to the president next week.

The law's opponents, who insisted the new protections were cosmetic, conceded defeat.

"The die has now been cast," acknowledged the law's chief opponent, Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., after the Senate voted 84-15 to end his filibuster. "Obviously at this point, final passage of the reauthorization bill is now assured."

There, in only the third paragraph of the story, we learn that those opposing passage had "conceded defeat" after declaring that "the new protections were cosmetic" only. And yet the headline writer for AP was so desperate to hand the administration a defeat that the headline directly contradicts these facts.

A word of advice to the AP. You can really only highlight one fact in a headline. It's generally best if the fact you choose to highlight is actually part of the story for which you are writing a headline.

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