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Caveat lector

13 October 2000

Our current howler: The boys will not be boys

Synopsis: Broder and Connolly gave us the dope about how those bad boys were behaving.

Bush, Gore Find Accord Abroad But Clash Over Domestic Issues
David Broder and Ceci Connolly, The Washington Post, 10/12/00

Sorry, folks. Our entire staff has performed at the Washington Improv all week, and as a result, our resources have been stretched. But we did want to note one amusing passage from the Day One reporting on Wednesday's debate. On Thursday morning, the Manners Police were out in force, impressed with their usual trivia. "Candidates Meet in Restrained Debate," read the New York Times lead headline. "Bush, Gore ease up," USA Today said. But in paragraph three of the Washington Post's page-one story, David Broder and Ceci Connolly gave us a look at what matters:

BRODER AND CONNOLLY (paragraph 3): Both men were on their good behavior—with Gore even apologizing for "minor errors" he made in their first debate in Boston six days ago. But the TV cameras often caught severe expressions and pursed lips on both their faces when their rivals were speaking.

Third paragraph! Our press corps loves the trivial stuff, and has often turned this year's campaign into a mind-numbing discourse on manners. Broder, recall, tends to fall asleep when hopefuls list off their real policies. But we thought that this passage by Broder and Connolly really did take home a big, gooey cake. Not only did Bush and Gore make "severe expressions"—the hopefuls were even caught "pursing their lips!" We thought we heard the voice of Connolly in this passage from the joint report. The Scolding Scribe has been Blaming One Of The Boys for his rude, naughty conduct for two years now.

Last night, our entire staff read that passage on-stage; in fact, they discussed the passage at some length. And yes—a room full of Washington Improv attendees were struck by the Post's absurd offering. Trust us—audiences simply do not laugh at topics which they don't find silly. Now for the good news—normal people still can see the absurdity of this sort of focus.

The boys sat politely Wednesday night—no interrupting, no conflict, no naughty back and forth. Pundits hovered like worried parents at a first-grader's birthday party. Our pampered press rarely seems to care about the things that actually affect average people. What a shame that such trivia rules the press—and will help determine the decisions we make, which will affect so many lives in the future.

Monday: Back to our normal schedule.