So, Who in the Press Went PG Over the A-Word?

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What's an editor to do when a word favored by the road rage brigade finds itself uttered by a presidential candidate? Print it or take a more blushing-bride approach? That was the dilemma faced in newsrooms all over the country Monday when George W. Bush, while proclaiming that he wants to run a G-rated, family-friendly campaign, was overhead making making distinctly PG-13 comments to his running mate, Dick Cheney, about Adam Clymer, a New York Times reporter covering the event.

Many of the country's biggest papers did Bush a favor, toning down his comments with a few well-placed dashes. A few, however, relayed the epithet in all its original glory. Here's a quick guide:

Family-friendly political coverage (G rating)

The New York Times

Despite its obvious stake in the debate, the Times took the high road, running a prim article about Bush's slip: "While waiting to speak, he leaned over to his running mate, Dick Cheney, and used an obscenity to describe a New York Times correspondent, Adam Clymer, who was in the crowd."

The Chicago Tribune

Another carefully phrased reference, perhaps designed to mollify Midwestern readers: "In an aside to his running mate before a rally outside Naperville North High School, Bush used an expletive to refer to a newspaper reporter in the crowd. Former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney agreed, and both comments were picked up by a live microphone."

Lock up the toddlers (PG rating)

The New York Post

The Big Apple's rough-around-the-edges tabloid went a bit schizophrenic in its coverage: In a box dissecting the candidates' Labor Day activities, the Post printed "asshole" in its early editions, although not in the larger article describing the flub. In a reprint of the box, editors substituted "a------" for the epithet.

Pray your kids can't read yet (R rating)

Oh, Joe Lieberman, cover your eyes. Three of the nation's largest papers went for the full monty Tuesday morning, printing the governor's comments in all their off-color glory. Kudos to the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Miami Herald for telling it like it is: "'There's Adam Clymer,' the Governor said, 'major-league asshole from the New York Times.'"

A quick note to our readers: As you've undoubtedly noticed, here at we've taken the liberty of using the word "asshole" in its entirety (except in headlines). First, we figure that reporting the news means telling the whole story, and, second, it strikes us as a bit prissy to ignore the actual wording of a quote in favor of a milquetoast replica.