Sure, I guess credibility is kind of important when it comes to the White House, the President, and the United States government. Yes, that was sarcastic. Spelling, grammar, and overall writing quality is a testimony to a person’s intelligence and credibility. Most recently, two days ago to be exact, our U.S. Education Department was criticized for misspelling something in a public document. But, is the media being hypersensitive to the situation because of the prior animosity between the Trump administration and the main stream media? While I am flabbergasted to see typos released from the White House, we need to remind ourselves of two things: the first is that sadly, typos happen, and the second is that the frequency of typos released from the government is much higher than we realize.
Anything Betsy DeVos does, says, or acts upon will be scrutinized by someone. Her
confirmation was one of the most controversial in senate history. So the press had a field day, when someone in her department misspelled W.E.B. Du Bois, who was a black sociologist, historian and civil rights activists as well as co-founder of the NAACP. Someone in the U.S. Education Department spelled what should be Dubois as Debois.
Hey, I get it. Someone of power, whose credibility is constantly questioned, will feel the backlash of publicly misspelling a historic civil rights activist’s name, especially during times of racial angst in our society. Spelling and grammar errors don’t pair well with reputation management. In a blog post aimed to discuss The Importance of Grammar In Business Communication, the realities of spelling and grammatical errors are discussed:
“If you send out an email with poor grammar, you appear to be an amateur, not an expert. And when you’re marketing communications are sloppy, prospective and current customers will probably question what other mistakes you’ll make.”
This blog also discusses how common typos happen, and why most grammar online is below average. When it comes to publications, handling the business that the material is correlated to, should be more important to the author than the grammatical delivery. I think this point is very important to keep in mind, before wasting your breath on Betsy DeVos’ credibility. There are way better reasons and examples to use when questioning her credibility, anyway. But typos have happened under most administrations.
To name a few:
Donald Trump Administration – 2017: The White House misspelled British Prime Minister “Theresa May” three times, prior to her meeting with President Trump. This meeting was planned to be the first face-to-face meeting between Trump and a foreign leader. The typos were entangled with the schedule sent out about the upcoming meetings.
Barack Obama Administration – 2015: Typos were made during the Obama Administration too. In 2015, “February” was spelled incorrectly in 5 different news releases, released from the Office of the Press Secretary. The typos are all pieces of the largest headlines on each of these news releases. “February” is spelled like “Feburary.”
George H. W. Bush Administration– 1992: Vice President Dan Quayle openly misspelled the word “potato” in front of a crowd in 1992, when he was visiting Rivera Elementary School in Trenton, New Jersey. When 12-year-old a student named William Figueroa, was asked to present his spelling skills and write the word on the chalk board, the Vice President immediately “corrected” the student by having him add an “e” to the end. But there is no “e” in “potato.”
I do think the acceptable moment to criticize White House officials for their spelling is when and how they correct their errors. Vice President Dan Quayle explained the situation in a letter he wrote as, “It was more than a gaffe. It was a ‘defining moment’ of the world imaginable kind. I can’t overstate how discouraging and exasperating the whole event was.” Typos are bound to happen, but we need to pay attention to how they’re handled afterwards.
The mainstream media and the Trump Administration are at odds right now; there are inconsistencies with the current governing tactics, civil rights are being tragically questioned, and the country is divided. Reporters want to cover all of this. Citizens are eating it all up.
As important as it all is, we need to remind ourselves on what truly questions credibility, and focus on aspects that are more impacting to American citizen’s lives, rather than taking that extra 5 seconds to read a word that was spelled wrong. Yes, spelling and grammar is important, but the context in which they are used are more important in a lot of these situations. Let’s have a reality check before freaking out about typos.