Hair-Splitter Nitpicked

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Jack Shafer reference-checks William Safire.

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  1. Please, all Shafer did was verify that the term used by Safire wasn’t journalistic vernacular, which says nothing about the accuracy of the charge.

  2. “keeper” versus spiked

    And to think Safire has been known to criticize his colleague and my sweetie, Maureen Dowd, for using esoteric words.

  3. I’m not surprised Safire knows words that other people don’t: he’s been in the business a long time (he’s probably got 20 years on any of the journalists Shafer asked), and he writes books on language, for heaven’s sake. And, as wellfellow points out, Shafer seems to think if he can’t find enough references to the term, that he’s somehow proved the practice is rare or non-existent. Here’s a recent one: the LA Times’ late sexual harassment hit on Arnold, just before the recall election.

  4. You are aware that just BECAUSE a story comes at a politically oppurtune time doesn’t mean that the story’s release was politically timed, right?

  5. Morat: It’s not conclusive, but there’s some evidence that the LA Times’ stories were politically timed.

  6. Wellfellow,

    See title of post. Thank you.

  7. Papa,

    There’s much stronger evidence than that:

    http://www.jillstewart.net/php/issues/issue1014.php

  8. Tim,

    Point taken, however, if the thrust of the story had been that Safire was merely being nitpicked, that’d be rather banal. Let us not pretend that Shafer was genuinly interested in etymology. So, Tim, read between the lines. Thank you.

    Morat, did anyone suggest that?

  9. wellfellow,

    I may have misunderstood your remark – did you mean it to be directed at Shafer (I took it to be directed at Welch)? I agree entirely that Shafer’s article was petty, and I’d infer from the headline that Welch agrees. In fact, Shafer is “nitpicking,” but that is a criticism, not a description. I’m sure Shafer thought (foolishly) that he was casting doubt on Safire’s conclustion. In any case, my bad if your remark was directed at Shafer and not Welch.

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