CBS News broke the absurdity meter in a Monday afternoon tweet and related story about today's sidewalk attacks by the driver of a van in Toronto. Despite acknowledging that the man's actions appeared to be deliberate, the networks described them as "hit-and-run."
Dictionary.com defines "hit-and-run" as "fleeing the scene of an accident or injury one has caused, especially a vehicular accident, thereby attempting to evade being identified and held responsible."
The definition is entirely in the context of an accident, i.e., something occurring unintentionally.
That can't credibly be said of today's attacks in Toronto. The plural version of "attack" is appropriate, because, as Heavy.com reported, "Witnesses said the man drove onto the sidewalk multiple times."
Additionally, as seen below, a Google News search at 6 p.m. ET Monday showed that the original headline at a New York Times story on the attacks described them as having occurred "at two locations" (proof of headline and original opening text is here):
The CBS tweet's story tease, CBS's story headline, and the story itself characterized the attack as the result of an inanimate object, i.e., the "van":
Van strikes pedestrians in Toronto, killing 9 -- live updates
A van struck and killed nine pedestrians Monday afternoon in north Toronto and fled the scene, Canadian police said. Sixteen others were injured in the incident. Authorities said the van has been found and the driver was in custody. Police Constable Jenifferjit Sidhu said authorities do not yet know the cause or reason for the collision.
I guess we're supposed to believe that the van not only acted on its own to strike pedestrians, but also decided on its own to flee the scene.
As to the description of the pedestrian attack as a "collision," that word is obviously inappropriate, and even if used, it should have been plural, given that 25 people were hit.
The headline at CNN's report also inappropriately described a "collision," while the content referred to "collisions." But at least the network tagged the driver as the person responsible for the carnage:
Toronto collision leaves 9 dead, 16 injured; suspect in custody
Nine people are dead and 16 are injured after the driver of a van plowed into multiple pedestrians in Toronto on Monday, Acting Police Chief Peter Yuen said.
The driver, who authorities said hit pedestrians on a busy street north of downtown Toronto, was in custody after leaving a trail of destruction stretching up to a mile, officials said. The van has been located, Toronto Police media representative Gary Long said.
Authorities have not said publicly if the vehicle collisions were intentional.
CBS's tweet and story, and to a lesser extent CNN's story, appear to betray a desire to downplay the attacks' potentially broader significance.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.