Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Dowdification (n): Using ellipses to willfully and substantially alter or change the meaning of a quotation. Also dowdify (v). Pejorative.
Originated from WSJ's Best of the Web column by James Taranto (28 May 2003). Taranto was criticizing NYT columnist Maureen Dowd for using ellipses to radically after the meaning of a statement by George Bush in her column of 14 May 2003:
Dowdified quote: "Al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated.... They're not a problem anymore."
Original quote: "Al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly, but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top Al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore."
The ellipses altered the antecedent of "they", making it appear that Bush said Al Qaeda as a whole was not a problem anymore.
The AP ran an earlier story on the Osama bin Laden tape that included an admission implicating two Gitmo detainees in the 9/11 attack. However, the the AP later ran "excerpts" of the Bin Laden tape, that admission curiously went unreported -- even though it would have a significant impact on the debate over the fate of Gitmo detainees.