The PolySigh blog takes a look at what all reporters and editors know to be the hatchet they carry around in their back pocket– quoting their source verbatim and making them sound like an idiot. It’s common for reporters to clean up quotes by correcting grammar and removing verbal pauses (like uh), but at times reporters decide to let it slip to make a point.

It was common to see reports do this to President George W. Bush when they wanted him to be seen as a bumbling idiot, but PolySigh points out they have recently started including Caroline Kennedy’s repeated “You Knows” in her quotes.  Apparently, 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?”

Polysigh also looks at an interview with President-elect Obama and compares the quotes in the article to an audio file of the interview.  Even thought Obama is a precise speaker, his quotes had to be cleaned up quite a bit, too.

Here’s a transcription below, with “cleaned-up” material in bold:

It is not clear that, uh, uh, an ongoing, open-ended presence has prompted political change in Iraq either. I mean, the fact of the matter is that we still don’t have an oil law. We still don’t have pro-, provincial elections. Uh, we haven’t dealt with Kirkuk, and the argument for staying is that we haven’t made sufficient political progress. So it, it strikes me that for us to deliver a message of clarity to the Iraqis, to the surrounding, uh, the surrounding countries that we are not looking at a permanent occupation, but we want to partner with you to structure, uh, a, uh, a stable, uh, and uh, secure Iraq — that actually will force the Iraqis to make some decisions that they would not otherwise make.

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