James J. Kilpatrick

Why throw snowballs only at USA Today? In The New York Times last July, columnist Bob Herbert discoursed on the problems of Israel. He wrote: "As a true friend of Israel, the task of the United States is to work as strenuously as possible to find real solutions to Israel's security." Admirable! But who is this true friend of Israel? It clearly is not "the task of the United States."

The Times truly is a great newspaper -- its daily report ranks in overall excellence with the chronicles of Homer -- but as Quintus Horatius Flaccus aptly said, Quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus . Sometimes even good old Homer nods. In drafting a four-column head six weeks ago, some copy editor drowsed: "Six Days of Snow Buries Area Near Lake Ontario." Subject and predicate must agree in number! Horace wrote that maxim too.

Newspapers such as the Times and USA Today publish millions of words every day. The wonderful thing is that they make so few errors in spelling and syntax -- but it's always fun to twist the tails of the biggest lions in the journalistic jungle.


James J. Kilpatrick

James J. Kilpatrick has been reporter, editor, columnist, commentator, and briefly an adjunct professor of journalism.

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