Caught on tape

This headline from CNN.com falls into a familiar trap — including words that can be read as either nouns or verbs. That ambiguity leads to reader confusion. The pileup of adjectives doesn’t help matters.

Here are two ways to interpret this:

  • CIA agents are recording questions that they expect will come up at a White House briefing.
  • Videotapes made and destroyed by the CIA are expected to be a topic at a White House briefing.

The second option is the meaning intended here, although it’s possible that the first is true as well. These days, who knows?

On a related note, the White House is unhappy with this New York Times story on the CIA tapes.

Remarks from Dana Perino, the White House press secretary, took a journalistic tack. She criticized the headline package as well as the use of anonymous sources.

A correction on this drophead is reportedly in the works.

UPDATE: Read the correction here.

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