What Did He Say?  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   December/January 2005

What Did He Say?   

By Caroline Zaayer
Zaayer is a former AJR editorial assistant.     


Dan Rather's quirky election night Rather-speak has become so bizarre even journalists aren't quite sure what he's saying. Not only did newspapers disagree on the wording of the anchor's quotes, even a CBS News press release was slightly off. For the love of accuracy!

To set the record straight, AJR's Caroline Zaayer went to the videotape, listening scrupulously to Rather's November 2 coverage. Here are a few of the botched "Danisms":

"You don't want to taunt the alligator until after you've crossed the street."
Minneapolis' Star Tribune

"Don't talk to the alligator until you cross the creek."
Portland's Oregonian

"Don't taunt the alligator until you cross the creek."
CBS News press release

Actual Quote:
"Don't taunt the alligator until after you cross the creek."


Bush's "lead is as thin as turnip soup."
Cleveland's Plain Dealer

..he had stressed that [Bush's] lead was "as thin as turnip soup."
Perth's West Australian

Actual Quote, in reference to Iowa:
"John Kerry has a his lead is as thin as turnip soup."


"Ohio is a sauna and the candidates are going to have to sit tight and sweat it out."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Ohio becomes like a sauna for the two candidates. All they can do is wait and sweat."
The Hotline

Actual Quote:
"Ohio now turns into a kind of sauna for both of the candidates. All they can do is wait and sweat."

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