Wherein MoDo Should Brush up on Her Jane Austen

This post is entirely trivial and nitpicky and superficial. On a related note, it involves Maureen Dowd’s latest column.

Discussing, this weekend, the dramatic complexities of the political bromance between Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Dowd noted,

Obama aides say the president went out of his way to stroke the vice president — who felt he helped interpret the exotic Obama for the hoi polloi during the campaign — by putting him in charge of a middle-class working families task force.

Still, the president should brush up on his Jane Austen. When Emma Woodhouse belittles Miss Bates, an older and poorer friend, at a picnic, Mr. Knightly pulls her aside to remonstrate. “How could you be so insolent in your wit?” he chides, reminding her that it is unfeeling to humble someone less fortunate in front of others who will be guided by the way she behaves.

A very astute and appropriate Canonical Literary Reference, to be sure—the kind Dowd is known for—but it would have been nice if Dowd herself had, you know, brushed up on her Jane Austen before making it.

It’s Mr. Knightley, Ms. Dowd, not Mr. Knightly.

Which is no big deal, in the scheme o f things…but, still, this is the Times, and that is Austen, and the correct spelling of the Emma protagonist’s name is, regardless, easily Google-able. If one is to be insolent in one’s wit, after all, one had better as well be correct.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.