“I remember seeing a piece of where I said something about Sweden, there was not exactly doing so great and I was very badly attacked and then the next day they had a unbelievable terrorist attack” — President Trump, May 2017
Do you see both typos in the above quote that is currently published on NBCNEWS.com?
Unfortunately our 45th US president speaks very inarticulately, interrupting himself and never quite finishing a sentence. How do you write verbatim quotes for someone who speaks this way?
If you are a supporter, you edit his quotes to make him sound less choppy.
If you have a bias against him, you not only use his words absolutely verbatim, but you magnify every cringeworthy language violation.
But the author of a piece of writing has a moral responsibility to fairly quote someone and not disrespect them. In fact, they could be on the hook for libel.
One of my pet grammar peeves is quotes that could have been tweaked slightly to avoid making the speaker look uneducated and stupid. Reporters, please don’t let your bias creep in. Relax on the verbatim bit. It’s not a court of law. If changing “gonna” to “going to” gives a more favorable impression of a person, then change it. Who’s to say your ears heard “gonna” instead of “going to” spoken very quickly? People’s speech patterns vary, especially regionally. Using slang spellings or words in a quote may also constitute an ethnic slur. Please have some sensitivity, folks.
So if you’re going to quote me, don’t get me wrong!
If you’d prefer, you can view the below screenshots full-size here.