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Thursday, September 6, 2007
Kinsolving's Semantics Problem
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In a Sept. 6 WorldNetDaily column, Les Kinsolving takes offense to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann naming him to his daily "Worst Person in the World" list for insisting that Fidel Castro endorsed a Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama presidential ticket. Kinsolving also references the Media Matters item (which, in turn, references us) similarly pointing this out; Kinsolving suggests that Media Matters got the idea from Olbermann, but Media Mattters' item appeared before Olbermann's citing of Kinsolving.

Kinsolving insists that Olbermann and Media Matters (and us) are suffering from a semantics problem: 

In other words (of Olbermann on MSNBC), Castro's written statement that Senators Clinton and Obama are "an apparently unbeatable ticket" is no endorsement at all, no endorsement whatsoever, no endorsement in any way.

This, therefore, has been turned by Olbermann into a semantic argument.

How does "Webster's New World Dictionary" define the word "endorse"?

Several ways – beginning with what is done on the back of a check – then:

2. To write a note, title etc. on (a document);

3. To give approval to; support; sanction; to endorse a candidate.

In other words, there are six different definitions of the word "endorse" before the dictionary mentions any endorsement of a political candidate.

Fidel Castro – as neither a Democrat, nor a Republican – and surely not a U.S. citizen but a Cuban communist – surely did fulfill more than one of those dictionary definitions of the word "endorse" since he undeniably "gave approval to" and "support" as well as "sanction."

I will surely not denounce Olbermann as being one of the World's Worst People for this spectacular blunder. I would merely suggest that his comedy writers need, seriously, to recruit either a semanticist – or at least someone who is more familiar with the dictionary than Mr. Olbermann is.


To these two Internet critics and to MSNBC I would suggest: 1) Back to the dictionary! and 2) Try to avoid such astringencies as "false claim." 

But Kinsolving doesn't acknowledge (except through his reproduction of the Media Matters item) that Castro also wrote that Clinton and Obama's pro-democratic views are an "error," and he said of the two candidates, "They are not making politics: they are playing a game of cards on a Sunday afternoon." If Castro is attacking Clinton and Obama in this manner, how can he be simultaneously "endorsing" them?

It appears that Kinsolving is as unfamiliar with the rules of logic as Olbermann supposedly is with the dictionary. Then again, Kinsolving also believes that Bill Clinton was "indicted, tried and found guilty of both perjury and obstruction of justice."

UPDATE: Media Matters weighs in.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:34 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2007 3:10 PM EDT

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