Lately, the White House has had quite the potty mouth. Barack Obama called Kanye West a “jackass,” Joe Biden told a senator to “gimme a fucking break!” and one top economic adviser said that America hadn’t had its “holy shit” moment. That’s an unusually high naughty word count, rhetoric experts tell Politico, but the difference probably isn’t the administration: it’s the media.
“Cursing happened all the time, across the board, wherever you went in the White House,” says one longtime Washington Post reporter. “It simply wasn’t written about.” Intense competition and online clip culture have changed that, but he worries that it’ll erode politicians’ trust in—and honesty with—the media. But another reporter argues that four-letter words are “one of the signifiers of authenticity,” and that including them gives readers a better understanding of the person.