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Profanity, Politicians, and When It’s Okay to Cuss at Reporters

March 28, 2012
, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

A younger Rick Santorum. This picture was probably taken when there weren't any New York Times reporters in the room. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though I rarely use profanity in writing, I am known to occasionally let loose verbally with some foul language.  If somebody cuts me off in traffic, I’ll cuss.  When my kids bring home bad grades, I’ll cuss.   When my priest’s sermons go over ten minutes long during football season, I cuss (very quietly).  Profanity is almost an impulse, and when I speak, the first word is sometimes profane. 

A couple days ago Rick Santorum cussed at a New York Times reporter in public with witnesses and microphones on.  His opponents are going to keep criticizing him for it, and his supporters will defend him (and give him money), but I don’t care about any of that.  

I don’t have a problem with a presidential candidate picking a fight with a reporter.  President Bush (the first) boosted his primary campaign in 1988 when he got into an argument with Dan Rather (back when Dan Rather was kind of a big shot).  But then again, Vice-President Bush didn’t curse at him. 

And even though I’m not a big fan of reporters , I’m not convinced the New York Times reporter’s behavior warranted Santorum’s mild profanity.  The reporter was simply doing what reporters do (asking annoying questions), and Santorum probably overreacted (and I don’t have a problem with that, either). 

But there is a time when I kind of wish somebody would cuss at reporters. 


The morning news television shows do a lot of interviews every day, and one of their stories each day usually involves somebody going through a tragic situation.  Many of these tragic situations are truly horrific, things I wouldn’t wish on anybody, and yet these (mostly) normal everyday people going through tragic situations find the fortitude (or whatever it is called) to do an interview on a national news show. 

And no matter how tragic the situation is, the interviewers on these various morning news shows start with an almost cheerful, “Good morning!” 

The interviewees going through these tragic situations always respond with a polite “Good morning” even though these interviewees are going through the worst moments of their lives.  These interviewees are far better people than I am. 

If I were going through a tragic situation, and for some reason I decided to go on a national news show to talk about it, and the reporter who was talking to me knew that I was going through the worst moment of my entire life, and he (or she) started off the interview with a “Good morning,”….  

I might have to cuss at him. 

It might not solve anything.  It might not help me at all with my tragic situation.  But it might make reporters think of another way to begin their uncomfortable (often really awkward) interviews with people going through tragic situations. 

And maybe I could get a job working for Rick Santorum.

From → Dysfunctileaks

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