September 8, 2004

How to Read a Newspaper (Updated)

I'm annoyed at the AP. My post yesterday made no sense after several people in my comments box pointed out that a Dick Cheney quote I republished had been Dowdified by the reporter.

I didn't agree with the Dowdified quote. I didn't agree with the real quote, either, but at least what Cheney actually said was less obnoxious than what I first thought.

Mark Twain famously said "The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers." This is so true. I know this in part because when I know a subject well I often scoff at how non-specialty newspapers cover it. My wife says the same thing, and her areas of knowledge are completely separate from mine.

So count me as one who appreciates what Jeremy Brown wrote today on his blog:

The trick is to not just believe what you read in the papers anymore. Naw man, you got to swagger in like you goin' into a used car dealership. Then you got to show them motherfuckers you ain't no easy mark, that you ain't nobody's two bit skank, never was, and got no plans to be.
Yep. I guess so. It's been that way for centuries now, hasn't it Mr. Twain?


UPDATE: Katherine in the comments points to this this Washington Post story:

In a change that highlighted the sensitivity of Cheney's statement, the White House yesterday released a revised version of the transcript of his remarks. The official transcript, posted on the White House Web site Tuesday afternoon and e-mailed to reporters, said: "(I)t's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again."

In a version released Tuesday to reporters traveling with Cheney, however, the period at the end of "hit again" was removed and replaced with a comma, which linked his blunter statement to his standard stump language expressing concern that future attacks would be treated as "just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war."

(Sigh.)

So, okay. Maybe the quote wasn't actually Dowdified. It was taken out of context, which is kinda lame but a lot less lame. Then again, I'm going to follow Jeremy's advice and remain suspicious of newspapers at least for the rest of the day.

I would ask if anyone has an audio link to the Cheney speech, but it isn't really important. The reason I wanted to comment on this in the first place was to make a couple of points that aren't even relevant any more anyway. There is a point when a "he said, she said" argument about punctuation gets tiresome (how do you pronounce a comma, anyway?) and I think we've passed it. Next subject...

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 8, 2004 7:59 PM
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