Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lying Down on the Job

I know I'm a lonely voice when it comes to pointing out incorrect word usage in the media, and most people probably find it tiring. I intend to continue. Proper use of the English language is rapidly becoming a "who cares" issue, but I will soldier on. The latest example comes from the halls of power in Washington, D.C., namely the Office of the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. When asked to comment on the controversy surrounding Illinois Senator Roland Burris, Gibbs replied, in part, that Senator Burris should "take some time this weekend to either correct what has been said and certainly think of what lays in his future." (Quoted from the official White House transcript of the February 20, 2009 Press Briefing; emphasis mine.)

If Mr. Gibbs – generally acknowledged as a skilled professional – wasn't lying down on the job on this one, he'd know that he should have said "what lies in his future." Perhaps the news organizations that quoted him, including the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun, might have used the (sic) convention to denote that they weren't responsible for the mistake. (I won't mention that, in addition, Gibbs should have not used "either" with "and" in that phrase – proper usage would have been "both." Oops, I mentioned it.)

President Obama is greatly concerned about education; maybe he should start with his own Press Secretary's office.

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