TV Journalists Conned by Language Prank !

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Aug 25 14:23:49 UTC 2005

New York.--Aug. 25 (Special to ADS-L)  Flash !  A bizarre incident involving Fox News anchor E. D. Hill today fueled doubts about TV journalists' ability to judge the truth of elementary statements about language.

The unusual incident began early today when Hill, veteran co-anchor of Fox News Channel's morning show "Fox & Friends," called attention to a published British study claiming to show that men's IQ's are five points higher than women's, on average.

After questioning the objectivity of the report, because it written by male researchers, Hill pointed out the article's subhead stating that men may be "cleverer" than women.

"_Cleverer_ ?" Hill asked the camera in a tone described alternatively as "bemused" or "indignant."   "_Cleverer_ ?  _Cleverer_ is not a word."  Observers believe she intended to cast doubt on the competence of researchers who would write "cleverer."

Later, however, Hill stated on air that a colleague had looked up "cleverer" at Dictionariesonline and discovered that "cleverer" actually was "a word."  Hill admitted that her assertion that it was not a word was in error. It is widely believed that Hill's admission of error in a comment on language is the first in journalistic history.

But in a surprising twist that left linguists in the viewing audience reeling, minutes before the show ended, Hill laughed as she said, "We've received an email from a viewer [name unintelligible] who has a _doctorate_, and she writes as follows :  " 'Cleverer' is not a word.  It is not a verb and cannot be declined or inflected.' "  Hill concluded, "So I was right all along ! It's not a word ! "

In a telephone interview with himself, Dr. J. E. Lighter, a lexicographer and contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary, commented,  "What is most troubling in this case is the show's readiness to accept the gibberish word of an essentially anonymous member of the public over the evidence of a dictionary compiled by professionals.  This would seem to violate
a basic principle of journalism."

We declined to reach Hill for comment.

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