Friday, September 12, 2008

Changing the Title

Although The New York Times is a left leaning newspaper, it has a slate of columnists that cover the full spectrum of political views from left to right. And of its columnists, one of the more prominent ones is Thomas L. Friedman, who represents the centrist view.

His most recent column was published on 9 September 2008 and is entitled “From the Gut”.

A read of the column will reveal that the focus of the column is on Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for the US Presidential elections, and how he is presumably failing to forge a ‘gut’ connection with Americans. John McCain is mentioned in passing more as a foil to Obama; he is not the focus here. How do I know this? Well, in addition to parsing through the subject matter of the column, we can consider the name-count.

There are 14 instances of the name “Obama” in the column, 4 instances of “McCain”, and just 3 instances of “Palin”. I’m too lazy to do so, but even if you included a count of the co-reference entities (he’s and she’s), I suspect “Obama” would still come up ahead by a wide margin.

The Straits Times reprinted Friedman’s column in today’s (12 September) print edition, and entitled it “McCain’s Connecting on a Gut Level”.

It’s an unusual choice for a rewording of the original title, considering that we have already established that the column is really about Obama and not McCain.

But perhaps this behavior on the part of the Straits Times editors is not surprising. Even though the Singapore government, like any good lobbyist, plays both sides of an election, we already know that if anyone can speak for the government, it must be Singapore’s founding father, and he has already made known his preference.

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