Next question: If we suppose that 5 percent of these readers were likely to stumble over "contretemps," should the writer have discarded it and substituted "embarrassing mishap" in its place? Now the sentence would be instantly clear to everybody! Isn't that every writer's goal? To be read? To be understood? We're talking everyday prose, not poetry -- the kind of prose that goes into a sermon, a book review, a corporation's annual report, the minutes of the ladies' sodality.
Writers must write to please their readers. Otherwise, they won't be writing long. But dammit, writers also write to please themselves. If all those puzzled readers don't know "contretemps," let 'em look it up.
Fox News' Roger Ailes: Administration's Excuses Won't Work, Americans Died For Press Freedom | Katie Pavlich