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It’s Raining Mixed Metaphors

(Editor’s note: We liked the original title “It’s Raining Mixed Metaphors Right and Left and Other Verbal Buffoonery in the News.” Unfortunately, it was too long for our format.)

I knit. I knit a lot. I do this because I find that it is impossible to eat potato chips if my hands are busy with yarn. This is the only diet regimen that works. And I have tried them all. As I knit, I entertain myself by bouncing around among the numerous all-news television networks. (This constant and expert handling of the remote comprises my daily exercise routine.)

Author has obvious not seen this “hands free” potato chip hand.

Fortunately the Japanese have come up with a clever solution and it comes in four fun colors!

During the 2012 presidential campaign season, I started noticing an avalanche of mixed metaphors tumbling from the mouths of newscasters. Some of them were funny. Some of them were absurd. All of them were note-worthy. They issued from right-wing and left-wing pundits alike. Mixed metaphors, it seems, are non-partisan. No single network has cornered the market on verbal blunders. The gaffes are equal opportunity offenders, and regardless of the station my remote landed me on, I could find what I was after. So, I wrote them down. Then I lost the list. Not to worry. Pundits and journalists are tireless, ready suppliers of mixed metaphors, maliprops, and other verbal gaffes. I find new and ripe opportunities to compose lists, daily. So, I turned the page in my notebook, and I began to collect a new list. So richly rewarded was I! While mixed metaphors are the prized finds, in a few days’ time I recorded a variety of misspeaks by the dozens. Here are a few of the gems.

Within minutes of beginning my research, I heard this: I was listening to a report from a newscaster who was conducting a telephone interview with a witness to one of the recent tragic theater shootings. After asking some deeply provocative questions along the lines of, “Were you scared?” the newsman said to the disembodied voice on the phone, “I can tell by your voice that you are visibly shaken.” Now, while this boo-boo does not qualify as a mixed metaphor, it was too yummy to pass up. So, on the list it went.

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It’s a journalist thing.

We hear so many misspeaks that many of the more subtle blunders escape our notice. Had I not been hyper-attentive, I might have missed this oddly-phrased ditty spoken by Martha McCallum of the Fox News network. In a pre-commercial teaser for an upcoming discussion about the difficulties firefighters are facing in the American West, she said, “We’ll find out why the wildfires are so difficult for them to get their arms around.” Hmm. I would think the reason is obvious, no?

Fox showed a lovely picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, and then described it as a picture of a “beautiful morning sunrise.” I suppose this was an effort to differentiate it from a beautiful evening sunrise.

Fox News analyst, Andrew Napolitano, commenting on Hilary Clinton’s making light of her email debacle said, “She’s taunting the alligator before it crosses the street.” I have no idea what that was supposed to be.

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We at Unhinged Magazine, are always happy to explain tho.

Noteworthy, too, was this nugget from Morning Joe on MSNBC. Joe was talking about how scripted Hillary Clinton is. Even her jokes are canned, he complained. But this is how he explained the scripting process: “They add two drops of water, and the flower sprouts a joke.” Huh?

Entertaining slips of the tongue are by no means limited to the newscasters. Sometimes the interviewees make us smile. Donald Trump, while being interviewed by the venerable Chuck Todd on Meet the Press and speaking about our brave wounded warriors said, (and I am paraphrasing slightly because I couldn’t write his words down fast enough to guarantee a verbatim recounting) “Our wounded warriors are walking all over our cities without arms or legs.” Brilliant. Thanks for the visual, Mr. Trump.

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They are using their bellies instead.

Aymon Mohyeldin, substituting host for Ari Melbar in MSNBC, this afternoon noted that Hilary has been “in lock step and barrel with the Obama administration.” I so love this one, I want to set it to music.

Filed under, “Just Plain Annoying” is CNN Wolf Blitzer’s massive over-use of the word “very.” I imagine if the word were to disappear from the English language Mr. Blitzer would be speechless. He says “very” very, very often, indeed. After hearing him utter 14 “very”s in a very short time, I had to change the channel.

As far as goofer-uppers go, though, few could disagree that MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is Offender-in-Chief. I sit here, pen in hand, knowing I need merely wait. As I expected, Matthews does not disappoint. He talks far faster than I can take shorthand, so, while I tried my best to quote him precisely, there are times when I might have missed an insignificant word or two.

Chris has a lot to say. He rips through sentences at break-neck speed. Often, in his effort to hurry through one sentence and race to the next, he abbreviates words, leaving out entire syllables. We end up hearing things like this: “…the 14th amen to the constitoosh…” And he has standard abbreviations, like stragest (strategist) and candcy (candidacy). Tonight I heard him refer to the former NY governor as Nelson Rockfur.

Chris is so likeable a fella that we forgive his habit of constantly interrupting and talking over his guests. And some of his vocabulary malfunctions are most endearing. Here’s one. Says Chris, “This is Hardball. My ears don’t blanch when you say the word lousy.”

Sometimes, while his comparisons might technically qualify as metaphors, they are, nonetheless, strange. Chris, while trying to convey the absurdity of Trump’s position on Obama’s American citizenship said, “It’s as if he thinks Obama’s mother baked up a birth certificate as some sort of pineapple pie to throw people off who might come sniffing around.” Word salad, anyone?

Regardless of how you perceive the news these days, your experience will be heightened if you listen closely for the verbal blunders. You will be either entertained to a greater degree or horrified on an additional level. Listen carefully and you’ll catch them. The misspeaks wait for you, plain as the nose on your face, ripe for the picking.

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It’s so fun it makes time fly.

Deborah Tomasello is a successful knitting pattern designer. She knits, teaches, and writes. Contact: CoeDeborah@aol.com

©2015, all rights reserved
Published with the permission of the the author.

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