Quote o’ the Day (‘To Know Trump’ Pre-Verbal Edition)

From our To Know Trump (established in 2010!) desk

Last month STAT’s Sharon Begley wrote this piece about Donald Trump’s increasing disconnection with the English language.

Trump wasn’t always so linguistically challenged. What could explain the change?

It was the kind of utterance that makes professional transcribers question their career choice:

“ … there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but I can always speak for myself — and the Russians, zero.”

When President Trump offered that response to a question at a press conference last week, it was the latest example of his tortured syntax, mid-thought changes of subject, and apparent trouble formulating complete sentences, let alone a coherent paragraph, in unscripted speech.

This is nuts graf.

STAT reviewed decades of Trump’s on-air interviews and compared them to Q&A sessions since his inauguration. The differences are striking and unmistakable.

(Check out this very nuanced exploration of those differences on Slate’s irrepressible Trumpcast.)

Now comes Exhibit Umpteen, courtesy of the essential Maggie Haberman in her New York Times piece yesterday that detailed Trump’s latest interview on White House organ Fox & Friends, in which he tapewormed about his conversations with fired FBI director James Comey.

“I’ve been reading about it for the last couple of months, about the seriousness of the horribleness of the situation with surveillance all over the place,” the president said in the interview. “So you never know what’s out there. But I didn’t tape, and I don’t have any tape and I didn’t tape.”

That is one pre-verbal President of the United States.

Scary, yeah?

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When a Nation Forgets Its Own Clichés (‘Tamper Down’ Edition)

From our That’s Just Sad desk

Every now and again the hardclipping staff chronicles the mangled phrases uttered by the differently clichéd among us and, man, they are legion. Here’s our latest batch, in reverse chronological order.

• The other day the Boston Herald reported that “Boston’s Irish community is on high alert after ICE agents detained a local leader for deportation, sparking fears that thousands of other illegal immigrants living and working here for years could be next.”

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh had this to say: “There’s a fear out there, we have to try and tamper the fear down.”

All due respect, Mistah Mayah, but you can temper the fear, or tamp the fear down. Either way, please stop tampering with the English language.

• Back in January, the New York Times featured this headline on Page One of the Business section: “Fears for the Future Prompt a Boon for Dystopian Classics.”

Er, not to get all negative on the Grey Lady, but wethinks you either prompt a boom or are a boon. Bon?

• Also in January, NPR’s All Things Considered ran a piece about young undocumented immigrants currently protected under the Obama DACA policy but worried that Donald Trump might rescind it. Without that protection, a young woman said, “maybe I could do a job under the books.”

Actually, she would do the job under the table, or off the books. We just hope she’s okay.

• Last December, as Trump struggled to find “top-name talent for his January inauguration,” the Herald reported that Ayla Brown, American Idol distant runner-up and daughter of Scott Brown and Gail Huff, said she’d be “‘honored to perform’ if tapped by the  president-elect.”

Brown added, “It surprises me that a lot of people are turning the other cheek.”

Turning him down, yes. Giving him the back of their hand, maybe. But turning the other cheek? Nah.

• Last November, a Boston Globe piece in the Sports section featured this statement on trade rumors swirling about the Boston Celtics: “And, unsurprisingly, they caught like wildfire . . .”

Surprisingly, the writer didn’t know that the rumors would have either spread like wildfire or caught fire. Not to damper things down.

• Headline on Mediaite last September: “Colbert Shreds Into Gary Johnson’s Gaffe History: ‘Bombing That Bad Should Be a War Crime'”.

Sorry – you could tear into Gary Johnson’s gaffe history, or you could shred it. Either way, Johnson definitely deserved to be ripped.

• Also last September, Politico’s 2016 Blast tipsheet featured this item about the jockeying over whether NBC’s Lester Holt should fact-check Donald Trump in his first debate with Hillary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON’s campaign is pressing its case to anyone listening not to let DONALD TRUMP get away with it, POLITICO’s Nolan D. McCaskill reports. Trump’s campaign is firing back, arguing that the media is biased against the GOP nominee and that Clinton is, in fact, trying to “game the refs.”

Not to get technical about it, but she would have been trying to game the system, or work the refs. Just for future reference.

• Again last September, during a discussion of New Hampshire’s “silver tsunami” of seniors on WGBH radio’s aptly named Under the Radar, Granite State radio personality Arnie Arnesen said “we’ve really been dragging our knuckles in addressing this problem.”

Ouch. Much less painful to be dragging your feet, yeah?

• Yet again last September, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton talked to Politico’s Campaign Pro about his super PAC’s focus on digital advertising in the 2016 elections.

A factor that distinguishes us is that we buy almost no broadcast TV. Almost everything we do is digital and social media communications because, one, it’s the way of the future, and two, it’s much more cost effective and three, we want to catch up with Democrats on digital.

Not to get super PICy about it, but one, digital and social media communications might be the wave of the future, or two, they might be the way forward. As Sam Spade would insist, there’s no third way.

• Finally – from both last September and Politico’s New York Playbook – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-Mario Not) said this about the 2016 New York State Fair, which broke the previous attendance record from 2001: “This fair is a different fair than it was. Not to cast dispersion on what it looked like last year, but I’m casting dispersion on what it looked like last year.”

First of all, it’s cast aspersions.

Second of all, the definition of dispersion is “the action or process of distributing things or people over a wide area.”

Which is exactly what Andrew Cuomo has not done as governor of the Empire State.

So maybe shut up.

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Instagram Fesses Up to Instascamming Users

Turns out it’s not a pretty picture at Instagram.

The wholly owned subsidiary of Facebook (a bargain at $1 billion five years ago) is the mobile equivalent of three-ad monte, allowing sponsored posts to masquerade as genuine content.

As Gavin O’Malley wrote on MediaPost, “as its star has risen, Instagram has become a hotbed of shady marketing tactics, and influencers who specialize in blurring the line between their personal and paid-for product preferences.”

Problem #1: The Federal Trade Commission has busted about 90 Instagram influencers and told them to disclose that their posts are ads in Instaclothing.

Problem #2: Many of Instagram’s 700 million users are being bot-licked by marketers, as the New York Times’s Sapna Maheshwari reported . . .

Read the rest at Sneak Adtack.

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Gillette and Harry’s Cross Blades in Sunday’s New York Times

The Battle of the Blades between longtime category leader Gillette and upstart razor maker Harry’s went full-page boogie in yesterday’s New York Times.

First up: This Gillette ad on A7.


The Harry’s ad (back page of the Sunday Styles section) interestingly skipped its razor’s edge – lower prices – and instead focused on the company’s new gender-neutral parental leave policy as related by new parent and Harry’s co-founder Andy Katz-Mayfield.

Mazel tov!

Regardless, Gillette is clearly feeling the razor burn from a host of new competitors. So expect more price shaving in the coming days.

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Zero Bostonians Pony Up For AJC Ad Supporting Israel

As the 50th anniversary of Israel’s six-day war unfolds in myriad narratives, the American Jewish Committee (a.k.a. the AJC) ran this ad in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

Here’s the text:


But what really caught the eye of the hardcounting staff was the list of those who funded the ad.

There’s the predictable majority from The Big Town, multiple Florida funders, dual contributors from Baltimore and Dallas and Chicago, and individual contributors from Cincinnati to Las Vegas to – good lord – Galveston.

But no one from Boston.

The headscratching staff has no idea what that means.

But it’s gotta mean something, right?

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Dead Blogging Church of the Covenant’s Tiffany Sanctuary

Well the Missus and I trundled downtown yesterday to partake of Common Boston, this weekend’s festival that calls itself “a unique opportunity to discover and explore the region’s rich architectural, cultural, and historic resources.”

From innovative wood shops and rooftop gardens to 300 year old houses and tiffany’s stained glass adorned sacred spaces, Common Boston’s diverse range of sites sheds light on the great and hidden architecture of Boston.

We went for the tiffany’s stained glass adorned sacred space at Newbury Street’s Church of the Covenant and, say, it was . . . spectacular.

A little background:

The Gothic Revival Church of the Covenant, designed by Richard M. Upjohn, was completed in 1867. It quickly became a landmark with its spire rising 236 feet, the tallest in Boston in its day. The sanctuary was completely redecorated in the 1890s by Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company with mosaics, decorative tracery, carved woodwork, trompe l’oeil paint stenciling, a huge lantern, 42 Tiffany windows and a color scheme that unified the elements.

It’s an absolutely magnificent structure (and, just for scale, the Missus and I have recently returned from visiting the vaunted – and vaulted – Sainte-Chapelle, along with the hidden Paris gem Val-de-Grâce, a stunningly beautiful church “built as a thank you gift. Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII, commissioned it after the birth of her son in 1638 (the child went on to become Louis XIV, the Sun King).”

Anyway, here’s a nice video of the Church of the Covenant sanctuary. There’s also a tour of the Tiffany windows here.



The church has achieved National Historic Landmark status as the largest Tiffany-designed ecclesiastical interior in the country, but a lovely tour guide told us it needs about $8 million worth of restoration.

Regardless of your philanthropic resources, you should stop by the church today.

It’s a revelation.

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JFK Library Shuns Boston Dailies, Runs Wall Street Journal Ad

The new exhibition JFK 100: Milestones and Mementos at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum will no doubt get some rocket-fueled promotion in the coming weeks, but its marketing campaign has sort of blown up on the launch pad.

That’s because the JFK Library chose not to blast off with a full-page ad in one of the local dailies, but in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.



Call us provincial, but shouldn’t that ad have run first in the Boston Globe or – God forbid –  the Boston Herald?

C’mon, JFKniks: Think lunar, buy local, no?

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Museum of Fine Arts Gets Shoutout From Turkish Government

From our Late to the Regifting Party desk

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey ran this ad in Friday’s New York Times.



Talk Turkey grafs:



Nice! Happy ending!

Except . . .

What the Turkey lurkers fail to mention is this detail, as reported by the Boston Globe’s Geoff Edgers in 2011.

In agreeing to the return, the MFA is making a rare about-face, acknowledging what archeologists and other critics have long argued: The museum should never have allowed the top half of the statue to enter the collection . . .

[T]hose who have advocated for the return of the MFA’s half of “Weary Herakles’’ say they’re amazed it has taken so long to resolve the dispute.

So when the Ministry of Etc. talks about the “institutions and individuals that have helped to repatriate lost artifacts,” it means “reluctantly helped” in the case of the MFA.

Not to get technical about it.

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Donald Trump Is Truly America’s First Cubist President

From our Pablo Picasso desk

Last fall the hardworking staff noted – Exclusive! – that Donald Trump Is Our First Cubist Presidential Candidate (Because He’s on Every Side of Every Issue).

We even provided this handy clip ‘n’ save graphic, compliments of Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury.



Not surprisingly, Trump is just as fractured in the Oval Office. Exhibit Umpteen: This PolitiFact Flip-o-Meter.

Tracking Donald Trump’s flip-flops in his first 100 days

Donald Trump went into the White House with a mandate to break with tradition.

In many ways, he’s embracing it.

As he marks 100 days in office, Trump has adopted more establishment-friendly positions, as well as habits of his predecessor, than his campaign persona let on.

He has changed his position on a dozen key promises and positions, our analysis found.

Plenty more here.

All that flopping sort of makes Trump the Sea Bass in Chief, no?

Gotta seem mighty fishy to the Trumpiacs eventually, don’t you think?

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Seriously, When Did ‘Based On’ Turn Into ‘Based Off Of’?

From our Syn Tax on Bad Grammar desk

Well the hardworking staff was blithely perusing the relentless Brian Stelter’s CNN Reliable Sources newsletter let night when we came across this:

Really? Based off of?

The hardwincing staff has endured this example of American linguistic carnage too long!

Plug “based off of” into the Googletron and you get over 17 million search results, among them this admirable dissent from GrammarBook.com.

Once again we say: There should be a Syn Tax – a monetary fine – for every grammatical error in America. Google can be the referee.

Rest assured, splendid readers, we would wipe out the national debt in a matter of months. And that’s just from tracking our pre-verbal president. (See his Associated Press interview this week for details.)

Imagine the possibilities in the Halls of Congress.

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