Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Editors don't expect to be loved. The way we keep those baskets of fruit and sacrifices of small furry animals coming is by keeping writers from looking silly (or worse). Here, alas, an unknown number of editors missed such an opportunity, and the whole paper looks ... well, judge for yourself:

Karl Rove’s well-known political tactics also reached Missouri, observers said Monday after he left the post of chief political adviser at the White House.

As a pivitol state in national elections, they said, Rove — if not his strategies — was a player in Show-Me-State politics.

Michael Smith, a former Washington, D.C., speechwriter and Columbia resident who now works in the Missouri State Department of Health, pointed to Mel and Jean Carnahan’s 2000 U.S. Senate race against John Ashcroft as evidence of Rove’s influence.

Smith said questioning opponents’ patriotism was one of Rove’s trademark tactics. Ashcroft lost the election by a small margin, but Smith said he remembers state residents being swayed by the administration’s message that patriotism and support for Iraq were inherently linked.

You could dive back into the files (what's the point of free Lexis-Nexis if you don't use it?) and note the issues that came up in that campaign: Social Security, the "patients' bill of rights" and the like. Or you could just do the math and note that the "administration" in those days was Bill Clinton's, that 9/11 (the dawn of the current patriotism/fear era) was still nearly a year away, and that "support for Iraq" is talking about something as far in the future as 2010 is today. No doubt the speechwriter "said" he "remembers" this. But if the writer falls for that sort of thing, an editor needs to step in and point out that memory is tricky -- and, in this case, flat wrong. What the guy says is irrelevant. It didn't happen.

We'd win points for noting that it's "pivotal," not "pivitol" (how did that one slip past spellcheck?). And that, dangler-wise, Rove wasn't a pivotal state. And that the hyphenation gets a little excessive. But the prize in this one is the whole story. It should have been killed, and some anonymous editor should have been able to paint a big red CORRECTION on the copydesk splinter shield. Woe.


Blogger LL said...

Just to pile on, Rove didn't actually leave on Monday.

10:52 AM, August 14, 2007  

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