‘Nuts’ Case: How Did Media Cover Jesse Jackson’s Choice of Words?

By: Greg Mitchell

When a major political figure or celebrity utters a newsmaking, off-color, remark it is always interesting to observe how different news outlets handle the offending word or words.

We monitored this recently when former President Bill Clinton called Vanity Fair writer Todd Purdum a bunch of names after the reporter had raked him over the coals in a major piece. Everyone in the media quoted the ?sleazy? part of the Clinton quote but most skipped the ?scumbag? reference.

So how did the media on Wednesday handle the now-infamous Rev. Jesse Jackson off-mike reference to Barack Obama while awaiting an appearance on Fox and Friends a few days ago?

The New York Times was coy: ?Mr. Jackson made disparaging remarks, apparently including a crude reference to male genitalia, about how Mr. Obama was talking to black people.? A later Times article cited a “vulgar reference.”

But CNN.com let it all hang out, so to speak, quoting Jackson: “See, Barack’s been talking down to black people … I want to cut his nuts off.”

Reuters quotes the Reverend, evermore: “I want to cut his nuts out.”

The New York Post topped that, of course, putting it right in the headline: JESSE JACKSON SAYS HE WANTS TO CUT OBAMA’S ‘NUTS OUT’

Huh? “Off” or “out”? USA Today’s “On Politics” blog tried to address that. It quoted Jackson saying, “I want to cut his nuts off,” but added, “a Fox News transcript has that last word as “out.”


The Los Angeles Times’ ?Top of the Ticket? blog went with: ?crude language.?

The AP first quoted Jackson mentioning the ?regretfully crude” choice of words. Later in the day it got a little more specific, citing “a slang reference to his wanting to cut off Obama’s testicles.”

The Washington Post?s ?The Trail? blog really played it cool: ?Whatever the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said in a live microphone on Fox News, it was really, really bad….?

But the Chicago Tribune eventually offered a more full report than nearly anyone: “‘I want to cut his nuts out,’ Jackson added, gesturing as if grabbing part of the male anatomy and then pulling.”

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