Here's Yesterday's Bushism at Slate:
"And the question is, are we going to be facile enough to change with—will we be nimble enough; will we be able to deal with the circumstances on the ground? And the answer is, yes, we will."—Washington, D.C., July 25, 2006
To Slate's credit, they point to the video of Bush's comments (referring to the material starting at 17:44). I followed the video and noticed that the transcript was incorrect; here's what I wrote to Slate (apologies for the typo in the parenthetical):
Today's column says, [quote omitted] .... Fortunately, it includes a link to the video.
I followed that link, and it turns out the transcription is mistaken. President Bush says:
"And the question is, are we going to be facile enough to change with the c—will we be nimble enough; will we be able to deal with the circumstances on the ground? And the answer is, yes, we will."—Washington, D.C., July 25, 2006.
I understand that you folks might still want to fault Bush for having cut off the word "conditions" (assuming this wasn't just a technical glitch (note that the audio might have some skips, see 18:10-18:16). But at least the transcript ought to be corrected, I think.
To my surprise, here's the message I got back from Slate:
Geoff (Jacob's Bushism researcher) followed up on this, and here's what he has to say.
Bush makes an audible, vague "c" sound in the video, very briefly. But he often makes a lot of sounds that don't end up in the White House transcript. Plenty of "uhs" and "ums" and sometimes real starts and stops to words or thoughts. And part of what the White House does to indicate that he's changing gear abruptly is they use those em dashes between disjointed points. We print their version faithfully and I think we have to. I'm glad we run video so that people can see how these things are actually delivered.
Bush's comment was widely quoted in the form in which it appeared in the White House release. I don't think Volokh would find it fair if we got into the business of "correcting" the White House transcript in this way.
This struck me as pretty remarkable: The video conclusively proves the transcript to be mistaken; whatever one may say about the "c" (and it seems to me clearly audible enough to be included), the transcript clearly omits the word "the." Yet Slate insists on continuing to cite the transcript, which is what I suspect 95+% of its readers will rely on) even though it's wrong.
I don't see how that could be proper. Even if Slate feels uncomfortable departing from the White House transcript — odd, given that it's quite entitled to transcribe the video itself — surely there'd be nothing wrong with noting that the transcript was mistaken. And it seems to me quite wrong to continue to use a transcript that one now knows to be in error.
Naturally, one could conclude that even the corrected version somehow shows a risible error on President Bush's part (assuming there's no video skip); I've never found such slips in extemporaneous speech to be particularly telling, but others may disagree. Still, I'd think a basic rule of journalism would be: When you give a transcript, give an accurate transcript, and if you learn that it's wrong (by comparing it with an actual live recording), correct it, even if you think that the error in the transcript is immaterial. That apparently is not Slate's view, though.