idiom watch: "riding the tire swing"/"swinging on the tire" etc.

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Oct 17 20:18:17 UTC 2008

TPM now has this tire-swinging roundup:

On Fri, Oct 17, 2008 at 2:58 AM, Geoffrey Nunberg <
nunberg at> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Geoffrey Nunberg <nunberg at ISCHOOL.BERKELEY.EDU>
> Subject:      idiom watch: "riding the tire swing"/"swinging on the tire"
> etc.
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> Coined by a Talking Points Memo reader "to describe a reporter who has
> gotten way too cozy with a politician and has had their supposed
> objectivity affected."
> The reference is to a youtube video posted by Meghan McCain in March
> 2008 (see
> Narration:
> Yesterday we hosted the press corps at our cabin in Sedona and my dad
> grilled his famous ribs and chicken for them. And it was a really fun
> experience. I thought it was going to be a lot more difficult than it
> ended up being because anytime there's a big group of press around you
> have to be 'on' in some context or another. But everyone really
> relaxed and it was really fun to kind of see, you know, big
> journalistic figures like Holly Bailey [of Newsweek] swinging on the
> tire swing and Jon Martin [of], like, helping my dad
> grill ribs and it was really funny to see just, like, the
> juxtaposition of, like, the D.C. reporters at my cabin in Sedona and
> having the press corps meet longtime friends.
> The expression was picked up by Josh Marshall and quickly adopted by
> bloggers to describe  journalists who uncritcally take their lead from
> the McCain campaign. It's occasionally used of Obama as well ("Gwen
> Ifill on Obama's Tire-Swing"). "'Tire swing' mccain" gets ca. 600
> hits, a large number in this sense. Syntactically versatile: variants
> include "the tire swing that dare not speak its name," "Those of Us
> Who Are About to Tire Swing," "Where's the happy little tire swing,"
> etc. Examples:
> Judging by Mark Halperin, John McCain's tire swing is going to get
> crowded again pretty fast. The focus on ads rather than actual
> statements by the candidates ignores the whoppersMcCain and Palin
> continue to offer on the campaign trail, but it allows pundits to draw
> an equivalence and appear "balanced." Tapped (American Prospect blog)
> I don't want to alarm anyone. But you should be aware there's a
> significant chance we'll see some real tire-swinging from tonight's
> moderator Tom Brokaw. Brokaw is a pro with a long and distinguished
> career. But he does appear to have a real thing for the tire-swing.
> Talking Points Memo
> Richard Cohen jumps waaaaaaaaaay off the tire swing.I mean, this is
> betrayed lover counter-tire-swingism. Left Word
> CNN has always been on McCain's tire swing. When they stray they get
> denied interviews. Anyone Rants
> Geoff Nunberg
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