"A ‘gaffe’ is the opposite of a ‘lie’: It’s when a politician tells the truth,” wrote political pundit Michael Kinsley in 1984. It’s become known as Kinsley’s Law of Gaffes or a Kinsley Gaffe: “A gaffe is when a politician (accidentally) tells the truth.”
A Kinsley gaffe might be a form of political “Freudian slip.” For example, a politician might campaign against raising taxes, but let slip that taxes will have to be raised.
Wikipedia: Kinsley gaffe
A Kinsley gaffe or “gaffe in Washington” in American politics is an occurrence of someone telling the truth by accident. Typically, it refers to a politician inadvertently saying something publicly that they privately believe is true, but would ordinarily not say publicly because they believe it is politically harmful. The term comes from journalist Michael Kinsley, who said, “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.” He first said this in The Guardian on 14 January 1992.
Wikipedia: Michael Kinsley
Michael Kinsley (born March 9, 1951) is an American political journalist, commentator, television host, and pundit. Primarily active in print media as both a writer and editor, he also became known to television audiences as a co-host on Crossfire. Kinsley has been a notable participant in the mainstream media’s development of online content.
“A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.” — this definition became known as a Kinsley gaffe.
28 July 1974, Ada (OK) Sunday News, pg. 1 (above the masthead):
When a politician tells the truth, he delights half the people and astonishes the rest. Mark Twain said that.
15 May 1984, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Mondale Tries Demagoguery on Mortgage Interest Issue” by Michael Kinsley, pt. 2,
The dictionary defines “gaffe” as a social error or faux pas. Its usage to refer to political misspeak. (...) A “gaffe” is the opposite of a “lie”: It’s when a politician tells the truth. It doesn’t take much to commit a gaffe.
Curse of the Giant Muffins: and other Washington maladies
By Michael E. Kinsley
New York, NY: Summit Books
A Gaffe Is When a Politician Tells the Truth
THE NEW REPUBLIC, June 18, 1984
29 March 1992, Washington (DC) Post, “The American Candidate, Inside and Out: Run for President Or Be a Normal Human Being - Take Your Choice” by Lloyd Grove, pg. C1:
Columnist Michael Kinsley has defined the gaffe as an instance in which a politician tells the truth - that is, departs from his carefully calibrated script.
28 April 1993, Washington (DC) Post, “Confounded by Candor; Panetta Commits a Washington Anomaly” by David Von Drehle, pg. A1:
Kinsley, the pundit, was reminded yesterday of a column he wrote back in 1984, in which he observed that “a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.”
The Quote Verifier:
WHo said what, where, and when
By Ralph Keyes
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
“A GAFFE is when a politician tells the truth.”
Michael Kinsley made this memorable observation in a somewhat different form in 1984. Here is the exact line, from Kinsley’s “TRB from Washington’ column: “A ‘gaffe’ is the opposite of a ‘lie’: it’s when a politician inadvertently tells the truth.”
Verdict: Credit Michael Kinsley for this idea.
The New Yorker
January 17, 2008
Laffs and Gaffes
Posted by Hendrik Hertzberg
No article or blog post of this kind can be complete without a reference to (Michael) Kinsley’s Law of Gaffes, which states that a gaffe occurs when a politician accidentally tells the truth. Perhaps this should be supplemented by the notion of a Deductive Slip, meaning something a politician says, however inadvertently, that can be shoehorned into a pre-existing “narrative.”
The Definition of a Gaffe
Thursday, 10 July 2008 09:19
It"s been said that a political gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth. Never have we seen a clearer illustration of a classic gaffe than in Jesse Jackson"s recent remarks on FOX News. He intended his remarks to be private, but his words were picked up by an open microphone and distributed for all the world to hear.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics • (0) Comments • Thursday, December 10, 2009 • Permalink