Monday, May 23, 2011

Never Let Accuracy Get in the Way of a Headline

This from today’s “Afternoon Scoop” from The Daily Beast:

Really. The President of the United States “chugs” a Guinness. Huh.

Well, for one thing, being of Irish background Mr. Obama certainly knows, instinctively, that one does not “chug,” “slam,” or “throw back” a Guinness. One sips it, so as to be able to enjoy the complexity of flavors that make Guinness the exemplar of all beers. At most, one quaffs it. But sipping is recommended. On this point I am unanimous.

Then there’s the little matter of the story itself. Click through to the article at National Journal, and you will read this (which, apparently, the staff of The Daily Beast had no time for):

    When he finished talking, Obama said, “And with that, let me have a pint.” After being cheered for taking the first swig of his pint of Guinness, Obama announced, “I just want you to know the president pays.” The normal price of a pint of Guinness is 3.75 euros. He finished at least three quarters of the pint.

Not having been there, I cannot comment on the use of the word “swig,” except to reference my comment above in re sipping. But given that the standard definition of “chug” means to down a drink at one go, without stopping for air, but the National Journal indicates that the president finished “at least three quarters of the pint,” I think it safe to conclude that “chug” was a pretty poor choice of verb.

But I have observed over time that The Daily Beast is little concerned with accuracy where its “Cheat Sheet” headlines are concerned. Provocative trumps precise every time.

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