Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Refudiate This

I’m no fan of Sarah Palin, but I am beginning to be convinced that she is indeed receiving hostile treatment from the media.

Today was a good example. The headlines screamed “Sarah Palin Compares Herself to Shakespeare.” When I saw the headline, I was shocked. I figured Palin must have gotten a hold of some bad bear meat or something … until I read a little further.

As it turns out, Palin had accidentally invented a word on her Twitter account. She said “refudiate” when she really meant “repudiate.” That’s not such an egregious sin in this world of 140 characters. I’ve been a professional writer for more than 20 years, and yet I’m sure my Twitter feed wouldn’t withstand a full-blown investigation by the grammar police.

Since I’m not a conversional national political figure, I get by with it. No such luck for Palin. The media pounced on her misstatement, sensing a Dan Qualye “potatoe” moment. Palin’s response was self-effacing. She joked that “Shakespeare liked to coin new words, too.”

Somehow this was interpreted by headline writers at CNN and others as Palin “comparing herself to Shakespeare.” That might be factually accurate, but it certainly didn’t capture the context. If you glanced at the headline alone, you would have thought – as I did – that Palin had lost it when she was actually just being playful.

Palin clearly wasn’t seriously comparing her mastery of the language to Shakespeare. In fact, she really was suggesting just the opposite.

Ironically, Palin’s gaffe may actually have helped her image with people like me who bothered to read the whole story. It humanized her. I, for one, appreciate the fact that she’s willing to post her thoughts – warts and all – without a bevy of speechwriters sanitizing them.

If you don’t agree, then I invite you to refudiate me.

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