Classic journalese calls for using the word “unclear” when a reporter or editor has absolutely no idea of the facts. “Unclear” sounds much better than, “We don’t know what the hell is true, but we’ll report it anyhow.”
A great illustration was in a cutline of a page 1 photo in the Boston Globe, Dec 3, 2020, showing a bunch of Trump supporters. Cutline read: “It’s unclear how many will vote next month. ” Unclear ?? You mean the Globe doesn’t already know?? Where are their informed sources? Amazing. Story was about Georgia Republicans worried that Trump’s campaign visit Saturday will totally screw up their Senate election hopes.
But wait, there’s more. A New York Times story, in the same Boston Globe, about the Justice Dept. investigating a potential bribery scheme for a Trump pardon, reported, “The documents were heavily redacted, and it was unclear who may have been involved. Nothing directly tied Trump to the scheme, and the documents said no one had been charged.” There were two more “unclear” items in the story.
File under: For lack of facts, speculation becomes “unclear”.