The Corner

Gwen Again

I just received a phone call from PBS journalist Gwen Ifill about her October tweet on Sarah Palin:

Sarah Palin: party like its 1773! ummm,

Many conservatives (including me) have accused Ifill of thinking she had caught Palin in a gaffe for referencing 1773 instead of 1776, when in fact Palin was alluding to the Boston Tea Party of 1773 rather than the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. I mentioned the tweet on a New York Times blog about the Civil War (of all places) as well as here on The Corner.

“My intention was not to mock Gov. Palin,” says Ifill. “I’ve never done that. I have respect for Gov. Palin as a political person. I thought her comment was a play on Prince’s song ‘1999′ and I was trying to indicate that. It turned out to be my rude introduction to tweeting rather than an innocent dash-off.”

Twitter has many virtues but nuance isn’t one of them. Ifill could have been a lot clearer; all of the misunderstandings are understandable. But I accept her explanation and join her in hoping that the misunderstandings now will end.

John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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