Jake Tapper a David Cross Fan?

I wrote about this more broadly at AOL this morning, but I wanted to zero in on a funny throwaway in Jake Tapper’s email exchange with a pissy Sarah Palin aide, Bill McAllister.  Not to be confused with Bob McAllister.

The guy was pissed about a post that Tapper did on Palin and earmarks.  He and Tapper exchanged emails, and I loved this part of the exchange:

“Governor Palin is a fiscal conservative,” he wrote. “Literally moments ago, the Alaska State House of Representatives passed a budget that differed little from what she proposed, that spends less in the next fiscal year than this one. She has spoken out on reform of the federal process, and it is a disservice to her that her position was so egregiously mis-reported last year and that those same false stories are now being used to make her look like a hypocrite — adding insult to injury, quite literally.”

Alarmed, I asked McAllister how Palin was “literally” injured. Was she okay? Was she infirm?

Any fan of David Cross (or of Caleb Howe) would laugh in recognition of one of his signature bits, but Tapper delivers the hit perfectly.   The apoplectic Palin flack reacts cluelessly.

I could’t find a Youtube video of Cross’ bit on misusing words like “literally,” but here’s a post with an audio clip, and supporting documentation from John Locke (not that one).

I did manage to find an article by a “literally” apologist.  His argument rests, quite literally, on the featherbed of the lazy mind, usage:

Why, though, did this usage of literally suddenly come under such fire? It is not the first, nor will it be the last, instance of a word that is used in a seemingly contradictory way. There are many such words, and they arise through various means. Called “Janus words,” “contranyms,” or “auto-antonyms,” they include cleave (“to stick to” and “to split apart”), dust (“to remove dust from” and “to sprinkle dust upon”), moot (“able to be discussed; arguable” and “purely theoretical”) and peruse and scan (each meaning both “to read closely” and “to glance at hastily; skim”). Usage writers often criticize such words as potentially confusing and usually single out one of the meanings as “wrong,” the “right” meaning being the older one, or the one closer to the word’s etymological meaning, or the one more frequent when 18th-century grammarians began to examine language systematically. It’s not always possible to predict when something will be condemned: While the “skim” sense of peruse is often criticized, the “skim” sense of scan—the main current sense—is rarely noticed, even though it’s a recent development, quite different from the meaning the word had for centuries.

Screw that guy, literally.  And you can paraphrase me verbatim on that.

Of course, when someone uses literally in this way, the listener understands what’s being said.  But David Cross, John Locke, Jake Tapper, and I are not about to let some usage whore deny us the right to mock someone who does so.   I would literally die before I would allow that.

Bonus:  I was able to find a Bob McAllister “Wonderama” clip and a different David Cross clip.  I also found a website devoted entirely to the misuse of literally.  Enjoy.

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2 Comments

  1. […] wasn’t taking the criticism lying down, letting McAllister know exactly how much he appreciated the notes.Tapper even gets a pretty funny one-liner in on […]

  2. […] the right is quick to attack him when it suits them.  Both sides ought to be aware that the guy is pretty good with a zinger.This happens to me all the time.  Although I make no bones about being a liberal, I am a  writer […]


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