When the latest flash came across the wires--CNN reporter and White House official go at it again!--we wondered if the AP should keep that slug line in type. Like newspapers used to do in the old days with paste-up headlines. Some stories are so frequent and unchangeable that it saves time to keep the headlines in the can. Such as "Mid-East Peace Deal on Hold" or "Yankees Win." For the editorial section, you've got "Whither NATO?" or something worse, if anything can be.
This week, the cameras caught Kellyanne Conway and Jim Acosta going at it in front of the White House. The flash said she called him a "smartass" in front of the cameras. Which may be one of the more pleasant names CNN's top publicity hound has been given these days. What happened to reporters who just report? Have they been relegated to newspapers? We suppose this is what was bound to happen for a generation of TV personalities raised on Dan Rather.
Embarrassing as it may be, we did click on the video. Some of us are drawn to this kinda comic routine like we are to bad movies or car wrecks. After some back and forth about coverage, Jim Acosta started with: "Ma'am? Ma'am? Ma'am?" And Ms. Kellyanne shot back, "Don't call me ma'am, to make up . . . ."
And that was that. We were on to more important stuff.
Except some in the press wanted to report that she had told the reporter "not to call her ma'am." Leaving out "to make up" part.
Obviously Kellyanne Conway knows that somebody using the word ma'am is doing so in a friendly, or at least mock-friendly, way. And that the term is one of endearment, not insult. Unlike a senator from California we remember, one Barbara Boxer, who a few years ago chewed out a general in front of her committee for using the term "ma'am" when addressing her.
"You know, do me a favor," she said at the time. "Could you say Senator instead of Ma'am? It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title, so I'd appreciate it, yes, thank you."
As if people don't work hard to deserve "ma'am." And they work from childhood.
Maybe more folks in Washington should be refreshed: You're in a Southern city. You can look it up. That was part of the deal between Alexander Hamilton and James Madison/Thomas Jefferson. You're allowed to talk like it.
Ma'am sure beats other titles, like senator and president. Or even CNN chief White House correspondent.
Editorial on 01/12/2019
Print Headline: Ma'am? Ma'am? Ma'am?