Olivia Nuzzi is the Washington correspondent for New York magazine. Her profile ticked upward last week when, leaving the White House, she noticed she had missed a call from a number she didn't recognize, and the digits turned out to be those of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Was Nuzzi still at the White House? Because the president wanted to talk to her. It developed that Trump had evidently got wind of Nuzzi interviewing people on the question: How is it that Chief of Staff John Kelly, who is widely reported to be regarded by Trump with disdain, still has a job? And what exactly is he doing these days? Turns out Trump wanted to steer her reporting in a certain direction, and the upshot is her startling--at least, it would be startling, if we weren't by now getting accustomed to the current president's buffoonery--article, "My Private Oval Office Press Conference With Donald Trump, Mike Pence, John Kelly, and Mike Pompeo." It's not much more than a transcript of the conversation. I won't try to describe it, except to say it's not Lincolnesque. Follow the link if you want to eavesdrop on the leader of the free world interacting with some of his top lieutenants and a reporter.
But that's not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to weigh in on a question that Nuzzi raised the other day on her Twitter feed. The context is an interview she did with Stormy Daniels. Here's something Daniels told her:
I actually have Trump supporters come out and get pictures and autographs and be like, 'I just want to meet the lady that he picked to have sex with him.' I'm like, 'What's wrong with you?'
Assuming her question is not rhetorical, I think the answer relates to the self-selection principle and the observation someone once made concerning the percentage of people seen smoking cigarettes while pumping gas who voted for Trump (100). But that's not the question I wanted to weigh in on, either.
Another thing Daniels told Nuzzi is that, while working, she meets a lot of women who come out to tell her how much she means to them, that they've been used by powerful men, too, blah, blah, blah, and they get all emotional about it, and Daniels's response was: "Jesus Christ. There's no crying in tittie bars!" Nuzzi called this the single best quote she'd ever gotten out of anyone. (One wag replied that only someone who'd never used an ATM in a tittie bar could possibly believe the greatest quote of all time was true.) Anyway, Nuzzi soon discovered that she was the second journalist to have been fed this line by Daniels. The first was Amy Chozick, of Vanity Fair, whose article containing the quote referred to "titty bars," whereas the style sheet for Nuzzi's employer, New York magazine, requires "tittie bars." Nuzzi wondered: which is correct? This is the question I'd like to weigh in on.
In junior high, I resolved these kinds of questions in my writing assignments by avoiding them altogether. Just pick a different word that you know how to spell, such as "topless." But obviously this solution won't work for a professional journalist. Daniels said "tittie" (or "titty"), and you're quoting her words, so you'd be misquoting her if you deployed "topless." Besides, not to get all artsy about it, but Daniels is a character in this story, and you'd be giving readers a false view of her self if you took away her slangy, carefree, half vulgar expressions. (Think of the way people at City Hall might feel about competing neon street signs, one "Topless Revue" and the other "Tittie Bar"; it's noteworthy that the mayor would prefer the one that Daniels abjures.)
Well, is it "tittie" (analogous to "cookie") or titty (analogous to "fairy")? I can tell you that neither one is recognized by the word processing program underlying this blogging platform's dictionary--both spellings get the squiggly red line that calls into question either your typing or your vocabulary. I have to say that I think Nuzzi is wrong inasmuch as she suggests there is a right answer. It's a question of style and preference. That is, "tittie" versus "titty" is analogous to "Topless Revue" versus "Tittie Bar" (or "Titty Bar"). I prefer "tittie," I think because it's longer, and if there's something you aren't used to seeing in print I feel there should just be more of it for the eye to take in. Also, "titty" seems too clipped and buttoned-up for what we're talking about here.
Alas, mine is a minority view. Nuzzi sponsored an online poll in which people could voice their opinion and, of 5083 respondents, 78% preferred "Titty Bar."
In other news today, the President of the United States, after a judge dismissed Stormy Daniels's defamation lawsuit against him, composed a celebratory tweet in which he referred to her as "Horseface." I suppose he's not the only fellow susceptible to forming a new opinion about a woman he once ... esteemed.