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An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 10: It Depends On What The Meaning of "Clinton-Obsessed TV Commentators" Is

The Media Research Center fixates on a tiny grammatical error by President Clinton.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/16/2001

If you were unsure of just how much spare time both Fox News and Media Research Center have on their hands and how difficult a time they are having getting away from covering a man who no longer holds public office and holds no power, the following item in the Feb. 16 MRC CyberAlert provides the answer:

Did Clinton avoid the word "is" on purpose? All the networks on Thursday night quoted Bill Clinton’s statement denying he did anything improper in granting the Marc Rich pardon, but only FNC picked up on Clinton’s grammatical error in which he incorrectly used the word "are" instead of "is."

During the roundtable segment on Special Report with Brit Hume viewers saw this text on screen of Clinton’s statement: "Any suggestion that improper factors including fundraising for the DNC or my library had anything to do with the decision are absolutely false."

Hume observed: "So the suggestion ‘are’ false. Mort, any thoughts as to how because that statement is not grammatical and we’re using the word ‘is’ there, is that a way out of this statement if it turns out to be true?"

Mort Kondracke postulated: "Maybe the word ‘is’ is not in Clinton’s vocabulary anymore." Kondracke urged a careful "parsing" of the words and jokingly suggested: "Maybe the ‘fact,’ if it were a fact that he gave the pardons out in return for money or for the library or something like that, the fact would be true but the ‘suggestion’ is false."

Don’t be too quick to dismiss that parsing.

It's never pointed out that instead of "are" needing to be "is", the other way Clinton could have avoided making a grammatical error was by making "suggestion" plural.

That's a lot of attention on a small grammatical error from people who supported a man for president whose torture of the English language is an almost daily occurrence. But if Fox News and MRC gave the same attention to this as they did to Clinton's noun-verb disagreement, there wouldn't be time for them to cover anything else.

My diagnosis: Back to third-grade grammar class with the lot of 'em. Their Clinton obsession is at a third-grade level already.

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