SCHEME: (1) : a mathematical or astronomical diagram (2) : a representation of the astrological aspects of the planets at a particular time b : a graphic sketch or outline ; 2. a concise statement or table; 3: a plan or program of action; especially : a crafty or secret one ; 4: a systematic or organized configuration :
If one goes by Webster (and if it’s good enough for West Hartford, it should be good enough for everyone), then Sen. Eileen Daily was actually very precise in her recent description of the tax plan the finance committee she chairs is considering.
Sen. Daily, one of the harder-working state senators in the General Assembly, has been getting slapped around pretty good for using the word “scheme” to describe part of Gov. Malloy’s tax plan on last Sunday’s edition of WFSB’s “Face the State.”
The Shad can’t stand it when newsmakers try to walk back something they said by saying, “That was taken out of context!” Yet in the case of Daily’s use of “scheme,” it was in fact taken out of context. Daily was talking about the proposal to tax items on their retail price even if the actual sale price is reduced with a coupon. She said, “Under this scheme…” Host Dennis House, who has a unique talent for pressing guests for answers without being overbearing, immediately picked up on the word and very fairly gave Daily a chance to clarify. Daily said that she thought “scheme” was a fair word for a plan and said, “I didn’t mean it as a pejorative.” Clear enough, right? Guess again.
WTIC-AM mid-morning radio host Jim Vicevich, who has a huge audience made up mostly of angry, white, retirees, spent three hours Monday pounding Daily for using the “S-word,” implying she was admitting the plan her committee was reviewing was some sort of nasty, negative, manipulative proposal. He played the sound clip of Daily using the word but never played the part where she clarified and said she didn’t mean it in a bad way.
Admittedly, the common connotation for “scheme” is negative. But when someone who is not an experienced or frequent TV guest uses it and clarifies what she meant by it, she deserves a break. Obviously, when one appears on TV, one must choose words very carefully.