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Uh's the Story

Ask a journalist or editor why they clean up quotes, and they’ll say it makes them unreadable. Plus (they’ll add) it’s not relevant — it’s the story.

Can anyone honestly say that this isn’t the story?

No, I, I, I, I don’t, that we didn’t do a better job? Or they didn’t do a better job? (smile) Not at all. I think, I think I’m proud of the efforts we did. Uh, we liberated that country from a tyrant. Uh, I think the Iraqi people owe the, the American people a huge debt of gratitude. That’s the problem, here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that’s significant enough in Iraq.

It’s uh (sigh), you know I, uh (looking to sky), uh, it’s hard to, uh, for the family members to recount, uh, or relive their love in front of the President (shrug). Yet, you know once we get beyond the initial (pause), kind of meeting, it’s amazing how strong the folks are and umm, they want to just let ’em, let me know a lot of things. They want me to let me know what their son or husband was like.

(From excerpts of a verbatim transcript of President Bush’s 60 Minutes interview, posted at Daily Kos the other day. For constrast, look at CBS’s cleaned up transcript. )

The Kos comment thread then runs its tick-tock course through the usual linguistic critiques, which I’ll analyze in another post.