Cliche of the Day: Window-Offering

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 3 2013 9:09 AM

Cliche of the Day: Window-Offering

Ah, windows. You open them. You create them, usually by knocking out part of the wall. And in the world of awkward journalism transitions, when you're desperate, you try to say that something-or-other "offers a window" or "offers a rare window." It's a cliche that jumps from beat to beat, though it's often used in politics when reporters have to argue that the subject of a story will reveal a ground truth. For example:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.

Whether McQueen's death was a murder or a suicide, the tale offers a rare window into the grim realities of post-war mental trauma.
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- Mark Thompson, "Murder Trial Points to War Trauma," 3/27/08

[T]he summary offers a rare window into the life and training of Al Qaeda recruits living in the mountains of western Pakistan, not to mention a view of the life and longings of Mr. Vinas, a pale and dark-haired convert to Islam halfway around the world, to battle American troops.
The memo offers a rare window into what top aides clearly believe is a hurdle facing the president. While Obama's road to the White House in 2008 was paved with promise, his efforts to win a second term rest, in large part, on convincing the disappointed not to jump ship.
The episode offers a rare window into the sometimes uneasy relationship between the powerful Special Operations Command, whose dynamic boss, Admiral McRaven, is pushing hard to achieve broad changes to his forces, and the more traditional interests of Congress, the State Department and some top military commanders.
Mo’s literary legacy offers a rare window into this larger cultural-political mission, and to judge him by his public actions neglects much that can be learned from his work, which traces China’s history of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

- Sabrina Knight, "Mo Yan's Delicate Balancing Act," 3/1/13

I bring this up today because Dylan Byers, in a fun piece about ex-Obama staffers who troll reporters on Twitter, has added some Sriracha sauce to this bland recipe.

Liberated from any official constraints, overflowing with opinions and no small measure of old resentments at political foes and the news media, they are letting the world know what they really think — and seemingly enjoying themselves no end while doing so. In the process, they are offering an unequaled window into the culture of the Obama West Wing.

- Dylan Byers, "Obama's trash-talkers," 4/3/13

There is no window like this window -- it has no equal. It's not anything like the window referred to on the next page, when former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett suggests that "Twitter offers a window into the internal frustrations of an administration and the arguments people make on the inside." Why, that window's offerings aren't even rare!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.