A New Low in the Craven Conditional

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A New Low in the Craven Conditional

Frederick and I share a pet peeve over the now-conventional form of public apologies: "I apologize if anyone was offended." William Safire, IIRC, called this the "craven conditional."

It appears that the A&E television network has offended a town in Appalachian Kentucky by portraying its inhabitants as hillbillies. The town claims this broke A&E's promise, when filming a true-crime show there, to portray the town in a favorable light.

A&E responded with the following statement:
It was not the intention of A&E Network to malign the town of Pikeville, but rather to examine it through the eyes of people who live in that community and who were affected by the particular case we were profiling....We are deeply sorry that the mayor's office of the city of Pikeville was offended by the portrayal.
Well, at least it's not conditional. But if I were the mayor, I'd be mighty peeved that A&E was apologizing for my behavior.

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