Jon Stewart, that keen observer of American journalistic practices, has revealed the use of a new kind of punctuation mark by Fox News -- the Cavuto -- which Stewart says is cleverly used to turn any statement, no matter how outrageous, into a simple, seemingly fair, question. With video.
On the "Daily Show" on Wednesday (September 13, 2006), Stewart aired a segment on the increasing use of question marks in the chyrons of 24-hour news channels. He ribbed CNN a little for its use of questions on the lower third of its screen -- questions such as "Can Your Purse Make you Sick?" or "What If ... ?"
Stewart's real target, however, was Fox News. He strung together a number of examples from Fox News' Neil Cavuto's "Your World" show to demonstrate how Fox News uses questions to ask attack questions about Democrats and other news media and supportive questions about Republicans. Examples: "Have the Democrats Forgotten the Lessons of 9/11?" "Is the Liberal Media Helping to Fuel Terror?" or "The Best President?"
"Technically that's not really a question mark at the end of that. It's a similar punctuation symbol known as the 'the Cavuto.' It's named for the 'journalist' who pioneered its use," Stewart said.
"...Cavuto's not saying these things. He's just asking, like, 'Is your mother a whore?' What? I'm not saying she's a whore. I'm just wondering out loud if she is a whore. All I'm saying is that reasonable people who have banged your mother for money can disagree."
Stewart then has his own chyron with a question mark. I won't spoil it for you. Enjoy!