August 5, 2005

"Mr. Novak responded with a profanity."

Here's how the NYT describes Bob Novak's recent outburst:
After Mr. Carville tried to interrupt Mr. Novak twice, Mr. Novak said: "I know you hate to hear me. But you have to."

Mr. Carville interrupted again, saying of Mr. Novak, "He's got to show these right-wingers that he's got backbone."

A moment later, Mr. Carville said directly to Mr. Novak: "The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching you. Show them you're tough."

Mr. Novak responded with a profanity, before telling Mr. Carville: "I hate that. Just let it go."

He stood up, removed his microphone and walked off.
I say, it's ridiculous to report it that way. You should at least have the word with asterisks -- otherwise we're left to imagine he said something worse than "bullshit," which is, so often, the perfect word. Why there's that bestseller, "On Bullshit," written by a philosophy professor, and that Penn and Teller TV show "Bullshit!" Bullshit is pretty mainstream. With the Times's circumlocution, we might imagine Novak had called Carville a f***ing c***.

My son -- John Althouse Cohen -- says it's like that thing in McSweeney's. What? This:


"Among the hundreds of Web addresses owned by Mr. Bloomberg... are more than a dozen with names like and Many of these names, including some registered last week, include a slang expression of contempt, labeled vulgar in some contexts by dictionaries. The pure-minded could construe it to mean that Mr. Bloomberg has a fondness for lollipops."

— The New York Times, May 12, 2001

"An Internet site for the posting of complaints about American corporations, celebrities and political figures can continue to use a Web address that denigrates Michael R. Bloomberg, the New York City mayoral candidate, according to a ruling a week ago.... The protest site, which is run by Dan Parisi, a pornography publisher, uses many addresses created by adding to the names of companies or politicians a slang expression of contempt associated in other contexts with baby bottles."

— The New York Times, June 14, 2001

The Times needs to get back to these more scrutable circumlocutions. Or just cut out the circumlocuting altogether. I know it's their thing to show off their "fit to print" standard, but a quote's a quote.


Sloanasaurus said...

One would wonder how the Times even has time to report on the rants of CNN hosts. After all they seem to be sp4nding their resources these days prying into the sealed court records of adopted children.

Maybe the Times will reveal details about the children's biological parents so that everyone knows about them before the children themselves. How wonderful!

Aaron - Free Will said...

With the Times's circumlocution, we might imagine Novak had called Carville a f***ing c***.

That's just the dream. That, and having an opportunity to do the drum solo from Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick" on Carville's toes with a pair of rock hammers.

Dirty Harry said...

Sloan: Don't know if you saw Brit Hume last night (the only show left on FOX worth watching. An Aruba-free zone.), but he caught the Times is a bald-faced lie about this adoption thing.

Their ombudsman claimed they only made a few inquiries about the adoption for general research purposes and it was never about getting in those records. Brit discovered they were trolling lawyers to find a legal way to do just that.

More than one lawyer. So Brit's better sourced than the liberal media ever is.

They are a reprehensible organization. But at least they can't get away with it anymore.

ploopusgirl said...

You know, Dirty Harry, with the way you hate the New York Times with every fiber of your soul, it's almost as if you work for them or something! Or maybe they just killed your first-born child or something...

IE: Lighten up. God.

Head of Royal Intelligence said...

There was actually an article in the New York Times this past Sunday that dealt in part with how the newspaper handles obscenities. Most relevant quote to the current discussion:

"And very rarely does [the Times] print those obvious, winking, letter-word stand-ins. As The Times's two-page stylebook entry on obscenity says, "An article should not seem to be saying, 'Look, I want to use this word but they won't let me.' ""

What do you want to bet that that last line was added to crack down on writers using those creative circumlocutions pulled from McSweeney's?

Sloanasaurus said...

Yes, I saw Hume last night (and I will agree with the Aruba fee comment...a matter for another discussion).

One of the commentators noted that the Times was after any evidence of "special treatment" that Roberts may have gotten in his if adoption is akin to organ donations.

I don't think the Times would have any qualms about blabbering private information about Robert's kids if the Times felt it would lower the image of Roberts himself. After all the Times is a partisan publication (and a quality one).

A more interesting inquiry by the Times would be why families such as Roberts seek to adopt children internationally. (of course such a story could result in conclusions that are against the "party-line" so don't expect it).

Dirty Harry said...



Oh, it's much more than that. You obviously haven't read my blog.

diNa said...

slate had an interesting article on novak's antics during his interview on cnn, and it sounds very similar to the james carville episode:

what a drama queen this guy...

Goesh said...

Poopusgirl, I think in all fairness Harry is simply trying to be fair and balanced.

leeontheroad said...

One of the commentators noted that the Times was after any evidence of "special treatment" that Roberts may have gotten in his if adoption is akin to organ donations.

Actually, it's much more psychically intrusive, Sloanasaurus. And it produces more paperwork, too-- not just (or even necessarily) family court records, but immigration forms etc.. And it tends to be a great deal more expensive, but that's irrelevant.

Anyway, until you said the Roberts children were internationally adopted, I didn't know that, so so much for the children's privacy.

I think it's slimy to investigate folks' minor children, myself.

But it's fair game to look into whether an adult public figure received some kind of preferential treatment in the international affair that is inter-country adoption, however. Why? Because it might signal that public figure is indebted to someone in the fed (about whose dept. a case may arise, in theory.)

I'm not in favor of "fishing expeditions," and I expect that's what this is.

But the Times hasn't reported anything yet and, hopefully, it will have nothign to report. If it tries to make a splash with nothing, then it's time to criticize them; and I'll happily join anyone who wishes to do so.

Tom said...

What the Times is doing is just good old fashioned, gum shoe, cover your bases reporting, the kind of reporting newspapers used to do and are now doing again because if they don't, some blogger will find out and call them on it. Imagine what kind of fire would burn through the blogosphere after Roberts' is confirmed if it turned out he pulled in some chips and cut some corners to facilitate his adoption but nobody knew about it because the media didn't ask the right questions. We'd see more obits about the death of mainstream media, more hand-wringing about lazy reporters, more gripes about bottom-line oriented corporate media, and and it would be more "proof" for the lefties that the media is firmly in control of the right. Kos' head would explode with such fury that we'd be able to see the blood and gray matter on our computer monitors. Lee is right--there's nothing wrong with simply doing the reporting and seeing if there's a story there, as long as they don't try to manufacture a story where none exists.

ploopusgirl said...

Goesh: You're incessant insistence on changing my name to 'Poopusgirl' every single time you address me is quite amusing. I'm sure there are five year olds who would find that kind of humor obnoxious by now.

Dirty Harry said...


We agree on something!

"Goesh: You're incessant insistence on changing my name to 'Poopusgirl' every single time you address me is quite amusing."

Yes, it is.

Sloanasaurus said...

" turned out he pulled in some chips and cut some corners to facilitate his adoption but nobody knew about it because the media didn't ask the right questions...."

I think you miss the point entirely on how ethically wrong investigating these adoptions are.

But here is another rationalization that is surely on the minds of liberals....

Noting that Roberts has adopted children most likely results from fertility issues that he and his wife may have suffered. Because of the number of abortions in the United States, the opportunity to adopt American children is limited, and the opportunity for "closed" adoptions is non- existent. Roberts probably learned this through his quest to adopt children and ended up seeking adoption outside the United States. As such, Roberts is probably too emotionally invloved in this issue and should recuse himself in any case involving adoption or abortion rights that could come before the Court.

We haven't heard this argument yet...but we will.

vbspurs said...

You know, Ploopusgirl, with the way you hate Ann Althouse and her readers with every fiber of your soul, it's almost as if you're out to get her or something! Or maybe she just killed your first-born child or something...

Or maybe you're just a troll. Or something.

Bloody hell. And I thought USENET trolls were pathetic.

Tom said...

Sloanasaurus: Then explain the point to me.

Eh Nonymous said...

Fun as this little flamewar is, I want to get back to the subject at hand: what if the Times' real intent is that "we might imagine Novak had called Carville a f***ing c***."

Now, funny as that is, I prefer to read the words with integrity. Novak used "a profanity," not "a compound phrase involving a gerund and a word [formerly associated with poultry/ never uttered by feminine lips prior to the 1920s]..."

But I prefer to imagine... to daydream, if you will... that Novak said,

"C'ville, you mother****ing piece of ****, your ***** *** *********** never ****ed until it took its ***** **** out of ***** and stopped ****************** its own ****." And then the Times took the prim way out.

vbspurs said...

Ooh, the last post allows me to reference an Eugene Volokh blogpost on Profanity (and obscenities), and their accepted usages in public.

Like me, interestingly enough, he doesn't mind them in fiction or in print, but doesn't go around saying them.

Unlike the rat-faced Mr. Novak.

OTOH, this little outburst allowed CNN to get a sweet little boost in the ratings, although I can't imagine it'll last, since they're hardly like to replay the incident time and again, like the other networks have.


Dean said...

I agree that bulls*** is rather mild, even for this conservative Christian.

But how many times have we imagined that someone would finally call James Carville a "f***ing c***"!

Daryl Herbert said...

Ann: So do you think Novak was correct to call bulls--- in this instance?

I think the insult Carville used was specifically designed to frustrate Novak, so we shouldn't really be surprised that Novak got frustrated:

Carville said Novak was a wuss who had to prove he was tough. Thus if Novak backed down, Carville's "right" that he's a wuss. If he steps up to Carville and gets into a yelling match, Carville is "right" that Novak is trying to prove something.

I think if Novak was a guest, he could be justified in walking away. But a host isn't supposed to do that so lightly. This situation would be better handled by yelling "bite me."

bos0x said...

Sloanasaurus: You have no idea how hard and long I cried for the wonderful American couples that are unable to adopt sweet, adorable, white American infants because of those mean abortionists. If only there were a wider selection of homeless American children the world would definitely be a better place.

Sloanasaurus said...

There are people who do care and cry for the unborn. I guess your not one of them.'s a free country.

bos0x said...

What are you trying to say? I cry for the unborn every day for hours and hours, especially the real American-looking ones. Sometimes American women are so selfish, having abortions and like menstruating and things when there are nice wealthy conservative couples out there that really need children. Some people think that there are plenty of homeless and needy children in the world but what they don't tell you are that the children are like black and Mexican and old and who wants to deal with that, really? Pregnancy is awful and painful and it is sometimes difficult for women to work while pregnant if they need to, but hey, at least infertile rich politicians will have a wide variety of attractive American children to choose from! And who gave poor people permission to have sex, anyway? LOL.

Sloanasaurus said...

There are also a lot of needy Asian kids, kids from the subcontinent, from the Middle East, and European kids in Russia/Eastern Europe as well.

bos0x said...

Thanks for reminding me, Sloanasaurus! Did you also know that there are over 61,000 pizzerias in the United States?

Freeman Hunt said...


Good call. You're right that all anti-abortionists are racists. Plus, I'm sure that all those aborted children would rather be dead than be orphans.

Hmmmm. . .

As to the Times article: Would have been funny to hear Novak say "f***ing c***" though.

bos0x said...



Because I was obviously refering to all anti-abortionists, not just sloanasaurus or anything. I didn't mean to be offensive! Now I know that abortion is wrong because how would the adoption shopping mall ever get stocked with fresh American infants if everyone was having abortions? Oh, and I don't think aborted children have a preference for anything, being dead and all.