Ever since I was quoted as saying something along the lines of “there’s a lot of stuff out there” in an interview with the Toledo Blade, I have been aware of the usual policy of cleaning up quotations from interviews to best represent what the subject was saying. We all pepper our speech with ums and uhs, employ false starts at the beginnings of sentences, and speak in comma splices. (That’s a photo of me during the interview, I believe.)
Typically, journalists will clean up such things to make sentences coherent.One consequence is that you can usually tell when an editor or reporter does not like someone: their quotes are verbatim. While he does indeed use many malapropisms, I believe President Bush was on the receiving end of this. The glee with which people portrayed him as dumb seemed matched only by the enthusiasm newspapers had for printing verbatim remarks.
Another person who has recently been on the receiving end of this is Caroline Kennedy, who has unfairly been portrayed as the Queen Of You Know. While she may indeed use the phrase a bit often, her newspaper quotes are clearly unvarnished. Here is an interesting discussion of this, comparing Kennedy’s treatment with treatment of then-president-elect Obama.
Ends the piece:
Why the apparent double standard? During the interview, it seems, Kennedy annoyed the reporters by dismissing one of their questions: “Have you guys ever thought about writing for, like, a woman’s magazine or something?” Perhaps, like, the verbatim transcription was, you know, uh, payback.