Sunday, October 13, 2019

Euphemism Alert: What The Hell Is An 'Associate'?

Lots of media outlets used the word "associates" of Giuliani to describe the men arrested the other night trying to leave the country.  From Google:

2 Giuliani Associates Arrested With One-Way Tickets at U.S. ... › politics › lev-parnas-igor-fruman-arrested-giuliani 
Two Giuliani Associates Who Helped Him on Ukraine Charged › articles › two-foreign-born-men-who-helped-giuliani... 
Two Giuliani associates were just arrested. Here's what we ... › opinions › 2019/10/10 › two-giuliani-ass... 
Two men connected to Giuliani's Ukraine efforts charged with ... › politics › guliani-client-arrested-campaign-finance
 (CNN) Two associates of Rudy Giuliani connected to efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden were ... 
2 Giuliani Associates Arrested On Campaign Finance ... - NPR › 2019/10/10 › 2-giuliani-associates-arrested-on-campai...
Arrest of Giuliani associates tied to Ukraine scandal renews ... › Politics › story
Two Giuliani associates arrested on campaign-finance ... › politics › story › donors-arrested-giuliani-ukrai...
2 Giuliani associates connected to Ukraine probe arrested ... › live-news › impeachment-inquiry-latest-2-giuli...

CNN at least wrote "with links to" in the headline, but then in the first sentence we see "associates."  NPR used 'with links to" in the lead sentence instead of 'associates."

The word 'associate' just seems wrong here.  It seems to have too good a connotation.  It sounds like a euphemism for a darker kind of connection than an "associate."  And besides that, what exactly is the connection among Giuliani and these two men?  I suspect a more sinister term would be more appropriate, but there's not quite enough information for me to figure out what it is.  In what sense did these men 'work with' or 'work for' Giuliani, and by extension, the president?

I looked up associate to see if I was just out of touch with other uses of the word.

associate noun from Merriam Webster 

1: one associated with another: such as

aPARTNERCOLLEAGUEbusiness associates

bCOMPANIONCOMRADEa close associate during his college years

2aan entry-level member (as of a learned society, professional organization, or profession) an associate of the Royal Academy

3often capitalized a degree conferred especially by a junior college associate in arts

Definition 1a seems the closest - "one associated with another such as: PARTNER, COLLEAGUE"

But the two men are  not attorneys in Giuliani's firm.  Does this mean that Giuliani was a 'business partner' of these two men?  And what business is that exactly?

The articles talk about what these men did for Giuliani - basically

The NPR article only says this about their connection to Giuliani:
"Two Florida-based businessmen who helped President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in his efforts to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden in Ukraine have been arrested and charged with campaign finance violations in a separate matter.
It goes on to quote the indictment:
According to the indictment, Parnas and Fruman face two counts of conspiracy and one count each of false statements and falsification of business records. Two others, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, each face one count of conspiracy.
The indictment alleges the men "conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with candidates, campaigns, and the candidates' governments." 
So is 'co-conspirators' a better word?  "Fellow schemers?"  What exactly is the connection between Giuliani and the men?  Did he hire them like someone would hire a private investigator?  That wouldn't make them associates.  Did he ask them to do this work like a Mafia boss would ask an underling to do his dirty work?  Did he pay them a fee?  A bribe?  A reward?

You get my point I think.  I think 'associate' is a much nobler sounding term than the stories suggest is the actual relationship between Giuliani and these two hence men.

And all this raises another issue.  The pack journalism that the use of this term by all these different media outlets indicates.  Someone used the word 'associate' and they all grabbed it, presumably in their rush to get something published.  And since editors, rather than reporters, tend to write headlines . . .

The race to be the first to print a story is an old one in American journalism along with the lurid and often misleading titles that sell newspapers, and now clicks.  Getting the best story should be the goal.  The only people who can change the behavior of the media are the consumers of media - by being thoughtful about where they spend their clicks.  But as long as clicks are free, that's not going to happen.  And the construction of paywalls by the media outlets who think of themselves as the best (because, they believe people will be willing to pay for their stories) means that as people realize that the NYTimes, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post all will require a subscription, these will get fewer clicks.  Unless they have something you can't get anywhere else.

1 comment:

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.