On the F-bomb watch

To set the scene, a winning caption in the May 2 issue of The New Yorker:

Meanwhile, Donald Trump hasn’t been reluctant to say the word in public, and media outlets are struggling to cope with how to report it.

(Hat tips to Ben Zimmer.)

A report (with video) on April 29 on Talking Points Memo by Evan McMorris Santoro:

Trump On China: ‘Listen You Mother F***ers’

on a stump speech in Las Vegas (to a Republican women’s group), in a partial transcript edited by KTNT-TV:

… while discussing Iraq: “We build a school, we build a road, they blow up the school, we build another school, we build another road they blow them up, we build again, in the meantime we can’t get a f***ing school in Brooklyn,” Trump says.

To the audience’s approval, while talking oil: “We have nobody in Washington that sits back and said, you’re not going to raise that f***ing price,” he says.

And finally, while speaking about taxing Chinese goods: “Listen you mother f***ers we’re going to tax you 25 percent,” Trump says.

Other media outlets were more cautious and indirect about reporting Trump’s words. From the Poyner site, by Jim Romenesko on April 29:

A Romenesko reader notes that the Associated Press story on Donald Trump‘s Las Vegas speech reports the real estate mogul “unleashed a tirade of profanity,” but doesn’t give any examples. The AP describes Trump’s profanities as “curse-bombs” while Reuters says he used the “F word.” [Update: A new version of the AP story uses “F-word” in the lead.) “Fortunately Reuters filled in the blanks this morning,” writes the reader, who sent both services’ dispatches for comparison.

Then, after sitting grimly unsmiling through jabs at him during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Trump explained himself — he was just tailoring his words to his audience — in an interview for the NYT (“Trump Reacts in Character”), which of course is far too modest to even hint at the specific profanities he used:

The obscenities in his Vegas speech drew criticism: Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, for example, said on Sunday that such language was not presidential. Mr. Trump said he had catered the speech to the largely working- and middle-class audience.

“It was a great crowd and great people,” he said. “But it was also a crowd that loves that kind of emphasis.

“Would I do it in a different location, would I do it in front of a different crowd, even a different crowd in Las Vegas? Uh, no.”

He said he “rarely” curses. But minutes later, he used a profanity to describe a political consultant who had offended him.

Well, it all depends on the occasion and the provocation, right?

2 Responses to “On the F-bomb watch”

  1. LOLcats and captions « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] (huge numbers of examples on this blog and Language Log; and see the New Yorker cartoon competition here), though wordless cartoons are common, and occasionally text on its own is framed as a […]

  2. Comic machines « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] (huge numbers of examples on this blog and Language Log; and see the New Yorker cartoon competition here), though wordless cartoons are common, and occasionally text on its own is framed as a […]

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