WashPost Goes Metaphorical on Blood-Thirsty "Seething" Conservatives In Virginia

Virginia state Sen. Russell Potts decided to run for governor last fall as an Independent, trashing GOP nominee Jerry Kilgore all the way. Democrat Tim Kaine ended up winning easily. But today, Washington Post reporter Rosalind Helderman takes GOP anger and goes a little wild with the metaphors: "Incensed by Potts's run against Republican nominee Jerry W. Kilgore, party activists had screamed for his blood."

But the very next sentence is more accurate and less hyperbolic: "They demanded that Potts's Republican colleagues throw him out of their caucus, kick him off his five committees and strip him of his chairmanship." Helderman then goes on to describe "seething" conservatives (and at least the reader learns why):

Conservatives are still seething over their inability to exact revenge for Potts's run at their candidate. Although his vote tally didn't cost Kilgore the election, Sen. James K. "Jay" O'Brien Jr. (R-Fairfax) said, there's no way to know whether Potts's rhetoric hurt Kilgore's campaign. Potts repeatedly slammed Kilgore as an extremist whose anti-tax positions would harm state finances. He once said Kilgore "would be the most horrible governor in my lifetime."

The headline on page B-5 in my Metro section today: "Potts Returns To a Seething GOP." It's accurate to sense "seething" here -- although not the vampire imagery in the screaming for blood -- but "seethe" is a colorful, even judgmental adjective. Your friends don't "seethe." They're just "passionate."

Does the Post ever describe Democrats having "seething" fits over say, a Zell Miller? Not exactly. A Nexis search of Democrat within 25 words of "seethe" or "seething" finds only two news stories, beginning in 1982. (Despite the search terms, the news story in 1982 still had conservatives "seething" -- at future Rep. Tom Davis.) On September 1, 2004, reporter Dale Russakoff did see Democrats missing the old liberal Zell when he was governor of Georgia: "For many of those years, Miller was also among the most liberal. His collected speeches, published in 1998, seethe with venom at Republicans. " My bet? If Miller was still seen as liberal, the Post would have used a different word.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis