As of now, I am in control here, in the White House


Oh God. Get some people in the White House press office with at least a rudimentary understanding of English grammar.

The White House has now, at least three times that I’ve seen, sent out this announcement about President Obama’s event today at Georgetown University:

On Tuesday, May 12, President Obama will participate in a discussion with Robert Putnam, professor of public policy at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University.

I live in the DC area. I guarantee you folks, THERE IS NO POVERTY AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY. Quite the contrary.

You like that? Here’s another one I saw recently:

First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver remarks at a White House convening on Creating Opportunity for Native Youth in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

I’ve covered the White House for many years. I’ve been in that building, which is part of the White House campus, countless times. I can assure you, there are very few opportunities for young Native Americans in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Okay, yeah, I know, I make grammatical mistakes too. But I work alone. I’m the writer, and the editor, a dangerous combination for the well-being of the English language. And many of you are helpful enough to correct my mistakes. I mean that seriously.

And this is “White House Dossier.” Not “White House.” I’m not responsible for the nation’s nuclear stockpile. You’d expect those who are to at least be able to construct a sentence in their native language.


    • Thank you for mentioning that!
      For several months I have noticed that sometimes, they leave out part of what was stated. So if I am reading the news, and have the TV on mute, I miss part of what was stated.

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  2. With the increasing popularity of this site, Keith’s staff had better get on the ball. :)

    Luckily, Mr.K has an elite cadre of reporters that are proud to provide links that further enhance our knowledge.

    Well done Keith.

  3. For an administration that has set “the soft bigotry of low expectations”, I have low expectation of them. It started with a Commander-in-Chief who on multiple occasions in the same speech pronounces “navy corpsmen” as “navy copse-man”.

  4. On the topic of WhiteHouseSpeak, the next time Keith bumps into Mr. Earnest, I hope he advises him to stop using the word “robust”, and the introductory adverbial clause, “As the President has made clear many times…”.

  5. When my sons were younger and attending public schools; they were required to write and write and write. ‘Put your thoughts on paper!’ No spelling or grammar instruction was provided. I made an appointment with the English teacher and asked her to teach grammar. She replied, ‘We don’t do that anymore. We don’t want the children doing worksheets.’ She was adamant about not teaching grammar and her only concession was to give me some ‘old’ grammar books so that I could teach them at home. This motivated me to put my sons in private school.

    They both write beautifully now.

  6. John Hinderaker misplaces the exact same modifier in a link you provide.

    I wonder if in this case because the word “poverty” is capitalized as part of a title, this particular grammatical rule might not apply? Of course, it would have been better to say “On Tuesday, May 12, President Obama will participate in a discussion at Georgetown University with…”

  7. While you’re at it, have a go at explaining why the positive comparative and superlative forms of adjectives have gone by the wayside! For example, a local announcer here in Columbia, SC has a commercial in which he proclaims “You can get your teeth more clean by brushing first without toothpaste.” He’s not the only so-called “broadcast journalist” who has abandoned the basic principles of English grammar!

  8. Two of my pet peeves:

    (1.) Using “that” in place of “who.”

    John Boehner: “…you can’t find a doctor that [sic; who] will see Medicaid patients…”

    (2.) Using “podium” in place of “lectern.”

    You stand ON a podium; you stand BEHIND a lectern (and place your notes on its slanted top).

    Journalism school apparently skips those two topics.