Metaphor — you’re doing it wrong.
One of the big stories today involves President Obama’s Monday meeting with bailed-out Wall Street executives that included a conference call with three of them. The Huffington Post is running the giant headline “BANKERS PUT OBAMA ON HOLD”, with a picture of the President holding a phone.
So, not only did 3 of these guys not even show up, they actually had the brass to say “Can you hold a sec, Barry? We gotta take this?” Not exactly.
The headline is pegged to this New York Times column, entitled “Putting Obama on Hold, in a Hint of Who’s Boss.” The column starts out describing the conference call, but there’s nothing about putting the President on hold. A lazy or casual reader could easily get that impression, but it didn’t happen.
Such is the nature of headline-writing, I suppose, but isn’t it a good idea to put a little bit of distance between your metaphor and your actual subject matter? If you were writing a story about an insolvent racing team, you wouldn’t headline it “Racing Team Goes Off Track, Crashes and Burns,” would you?
There’s no real need to oversell the story, anyway. It takes a special kind of person to treat the President of the United States the way you would the fry station at your local McDonald’s.