Nasty journalism

What with global warming to worry about, and Syria, and the Sixth Extinction, we really shouldn’t be spending any of our attention on what Donnie Darko said about Meghan Markle, or vice versa. But a small amount of attention is necessary in this case, for the sake of both fairness and the language.

(Also, it pains me no end to defend President Donorhea in any way – but everyone, even the communicable disease himself, deserves justice.)

All of the world’s news sources have been blaring that he called the Duchess “nasty”; much of the reporting is structured to put at the heart of the story the “fact” that, in typical fashion, the great CheesePuff both said this on tape and then blandly denied that he had said it.

A very small amount of digging shows that the truth is entirely different, at least for anyone with an elementary understanding of the English language; it’s not God-in-a-Golf-Cart who’s being dishonest.

Trump was asked whether he knew about the highly critical things Ms. Markle (as she then was) said about him during the run-up to the 2016 election. 

It was the perfect opportunity for El Cerdito to launch a classic display of his bona fides as a racist, misogynistic, thin-skinned bully. Probably the interviewer was fishing for just that. But in fact all he did was reply, with a reasonable degree of diplomacy I thought, that he “didn’t know she had been nasty.”

Here there are – obviously obviously obviously: ye gods! – at least two relevant senses of “being nasty.” And anyone not trying deliberately to be uncharitable would understand Grump to be using the sense “saying something highly critical on some specific occasion(s)” rather than the sense ” revealing oneself to be someone of unpleasant underlying character.”

In other words, it’s clear from the context that the Poisoned Marshmallow was simply reframing the question, and saying “No, I didn’t know that.” The other interpretation doesn’t make sense – grammatically and logically doesn’t make sense – even if we antecedently think he thinks it.

Sadly, because this doesn’t fit the understandable, well-supported narrative that The Runtette is a vicious creep, the supposed guardians (oh yes and Guardians) of clear language and truth-telling worked hard to ignore this distinction.

A sad, dishonest performance. Language matters. That’s one of the main reasons Trump and his oleaginous hangers-on are so dangerous.