Protecting the dignity of the office

by Chris Bertram on October 24, 2005

The New York Times “reports”: (hat-tip JD – via “The PoorMan”: ):

bq. You might have thought that the White House had enough on its plate late last month, what with its search for a new Supreme Court nominee, the continuing war in Iraq and the C.I.A. leak investigation. But it found time to add another item to its agenda – stopping The Onion, the satirical newspaper, from using the presidential seal.



Slocum 10.24.05 at 9:12 am

“It is inconceivable that anyone would think that, by using the seal, The Onion intends to ‘convey… sponsorship or approval’ by the president,” wrote Rochelle H. Klaskin, the paper’s lawyer, who went on to note that a headline in the current issue made the point: “Bush to Appoint Someone to Be in Charge of Country.”

Well, I’m not defending the whitehouse actions, but it’s not inconceivable that anyone would think an Onion story was a real news item — it has happened more than once, for example:


Alex R 10.24.05 at 10:02 am

I’m actually disappointed by the Onion’s response to this, if it is serious. From the NYT story:

Moreover, she wrote, The Onion and its Web site are free, so the seal is not being used for commercial purposes. That said, The Onion asked that its letter be considered a formal application to use the seal.

I can only hope that the Onion will in fact defend itself based on the fact that its use is satirical and protected speech, and that the legal response I quoted was itself satirical. If not, the notion that a publication supported by advertising is “not commercial”, because the customers don’t pay, is ridiculous.

Of course, maybe I should take the statement that the Onion’s letter be considered a “formal application to use the seal” as a clue that the Onion’s lawyer *is* trying to pull the White House’s leg…


Ginger Yellow 10.24.05 at 11:16 am

I’m sure I’m not the only one to appreciate the chutzpah of a White House that paid journalists to write favourable articles and produced unattributed propaganda videos for TV news shows to accuse someone else of improperly conveying endorsement or approval.


Ginger Yellow 10.24.05 at 11:52 am

Apologies for the incoherent grammar in that post.

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