One of today’s New York Times headlines raises an interesting point for the word nerds among us.
Comey …. accuses the White House of ‘Lies.’
The implication, subtle but unmistakable, is that there is some doubt about the appropriateness of the final word. But there isn’t any doubt. Whether or not the White House in fact lied, that is indeed exactly the accusation that Mr. Comey was making. Surely therefore, the correct, unmealy-mouthed headline is:
Comey …. accuses the White House of lies.
… or (better)
Comey …. accuses the White House of lying.
… or (because better still without that equally mealy metonym):
Comey …. accuses the President of lying.
Ah! So bracingly simple. In an interesting coda, presidential advisor Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed to be insulted when asked whether the Great Cheese-Puff had lied, because “I can say definitively that the president is not a liar.” Since it’s a matter of public record that he definitively is a liar (viz. his recent Cheese-Twit about Democrats ‘obstructing’ what in fact are non-existent judicial appointments), this was apparently a lie about lying. And not a ‘lie’ about ‘lying.’