Damning by faint praise is a time-honored rhetorical device. It's a subtle dig, usually done tongue-in-cheek.
That's what Madison Square Garden CEO Hank Ratner (no relation) did recently in an interview with Crain's New York. While complimenting Barclays Center --"a good thing," he referred to it as one of "the secondary plays" around "the marketplace" in New York and noted, that "We cannot book everything that we'd like to book. So there's a need for other venues."
When the Crain's reporter noted that the Barclays line-up "looks a lot like the Garden" with the NBA, concerts, and soon the NHL, Ratner got all huffy.
"I don't think anybody sees it that way," Ratner replied. "I'm surprised that you would frame the question that way unless you were just trying to be provocative. The Garden is the Garden, and it's been here since 1879."
Garden CEO Hank Ratner dismisses new crosstown rival - Aaron Elstein - Crain's New York