A Word About the Phrase, "Thrown Under the Bus"

A Word About the Phrase, "Thrown Under the Bus"

Baseball

A Word About the Phrase, "Thrown Under the Bus"

There is right now a dispute in Houston between a baseball coach and a newspaper reporter. If you’re familiar with such disputes, it won’t come as a huge surprise to see that the newspaper reporter has been accused of “throwing (something) under the bus.”

The specifics of the matter concern Seth Romero, ace pitcher for the Houston Cougars and potential first-round MLB pick. Last month, the team suspended Romero indefinitely, but didn’t explain why. As the Cougars beat writer for the Houston newspaper, Joseph Duarte set about finding the answer to that question, and was successful. It all turned out not to be such a big deal — he was photographed in full uniform holding a bong and tested positive for marijuana, plus there was a blown curfew.

Houston coach Todd Whitting doesn’t seem to be disputing the veracity of Duarte’s story, he’s just mad that it exists, and in expressing such he relied on the hottest cliche of 2008: Throwing things under the bus.

This reveals that Todd Whitting doesn’t understand his relationship with the media, doesn’t understand the meaning of that phrase, or both.

To “throw someone under the bus” is to betray an ally for selfish reasons. The most familiar example would probably be when a kid in trouble with the parents blames a sibling for something that wasn’t really their fault. Though it doesn’t necessarily connote self-preservation, that’s the most useful deployment of the idiom.

Duarte, of course, was not in that position. Nor is he an ally of the University of Houston’s baseball team. Nor should anyone expect that he would be. His checks are signed by the Hearst Corporation.

Whitting is not the first coach to grandstand in this manner, and he won’t be the last. Assuming Whitting has some idea what “thrown under the bus” means, it’s a cheap shot at Duarte’s character, and a guilt trip without a rational basis.

And anyway it has lost all its meaning. This is phrase was already tired when Barack Obama was still a senator. Here’s the Washington Post on the phrase from May of 2008:

The maim-by-bus concept really came into vogue last year and now, through overuse, it has been drained of nearly all of its bone-crushing vividness. It’s just a little fresher, at this point, than “out of touch with mainstream America” and “There Will Be Blood” puns.

For one thing, Joseph Duarte didn’t throw anybody under the bus. For another, stop using that phrase.

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