[Ads-l] The Mooch and print journalism

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jul 29 18:14:42 UTC 2017

On the topic of The Mooch:

Interesting moment in the history of the F-word and related asteriskabilia... 
As many of you have no doubt noticed, The Mooch’s rant (first of what we can hope will be many) has led to the Decency Drawbridge being significantly lowered by the Gray Lady and other news sources.  Am I right in thinking this was the first (or one of the first) instances in which the Times has printed “fucking” in so many letters? (Jesse will know.) Not to mention the bit where The Mooch maintains that he, unlike Bannon, isn’t “trying to suck [his] own cock”.  Note this article in today’s print version reflecting on the issue:


At The New York Times, editors had a lengthy, raucous discussion about which obscenities to include, and how many. Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, made the final decision.

“We concluded that it was newsworthy that a top Trump aide used such language,” Cliff Levy, a deputy managing editor at The Times, wrote on Twitter. “And we didn’t want our readers to have to search elsewhere to find out what Scaramucci said.”

Still, the publication of so many expletives and vulgarities, while deemed newsworthy, may have baffled any reader accustomed to The Times of yore.

“There is no question in my mind that in recent years, we have been more open to considering exceptions in a range of cases,” Phil Corbett, the standards editor for The Times, said. “Fifteen years ago, we almost never would have made exceptions like this.”

One Times policy has remained intact: after publishing vulgar language and obscenities in an article, the paper rarely repeats them in subsequent ones. And, thus, this story.

—That is, Ember’s article itself avoids all such terms, referring instead to "an F and G with asterisks between" and “C-blocking”.  But while that may be the Times’ policy, it apparently can be relaxed for columnists, as seen in this op-ed by Bret Stephens in the same issue, which spells everything out in full (sixth and seventh paragraphs down):



The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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