"Google Antitrust Probe by U.S. Could Take Years" is the headline over a Bloomberg News article that begins, "Google Inc. (GOOG) may be forced to spend years defending itself in a U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation that could be the government's biggest antitrust probe since the Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) case. Even if Google ultimately prevails, the probe might create uncertainty around the company's business, slowing its momentum, lawyers and analysts said." [Emphasis ours.]
Note all the wiggle words: "could...may...could...might." This investigation could be the biggest since Microsoft and create business uncertainty for Google for years. Or it could not. The article focuses on the possibility that it could.
It reminds me of the coverage this week of the World Health Organization's classification of cellphone signals as "possibly carcinogenic," and the explanation by a doctor involved in the decision that "there could be some risk."
If you are a Google shareholder (as I am) or a cellphone user (as I also am), you don't necessarily want to wait to read this news until Google is definitely in the middle of a huge antitrust investigation or scientists find out that cellphones definitely cause cancer. But there's a certain risk of hype attendant in the journalistic pressure to be first with this sort of bad news, including the risk of overreacting to a threat may in the end turn out to be less than the worst case scenario laid out by the hype.