Naughty Naughtie

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 6 2010 3:01 PM

Naughty Naughtie

While browsing aimlessly through the British press thismorning, I came across a teaser for what seemed like my kind of story: " JamesNaughtie: veteran Radio 4 Today presenter in 'Jeremy Hunt' on-air gaffe "declaimed the Daily Telegraph in anartless but exceedingly SEO-friendly headline. I like veteran Radio 4 presenterJames Naughtie (his bookabout Tony Blair's relationship with the U.S. presidency was excellent),and I love an on-air gaffe, so off I went to see just how the Scottish anchormight have muffed the culture minister's name.

Frustratingly, the Telegraph piece seemed to presume that readers already knew how Naughtie had goofed. "The 59 year-old struggled tocontain a coughing fit after he realised his blunder over the minister'ssurname just before the 8am news" it began. But what did Naughtie say? WriterAndrew Hough couldn't bring himself to explain. (The second paragraph of thestory does contain a link to a recording of the magical moment, but it refersto a "spoonerism," which made me wonder why Brits found "Heremy Junt" sonaughty.) Still, I was sure I would find out just how Naughtie misspoke in thetwo related articles promoted on the page: " JamesNaughtie Jeremy Hunt gaffe: BBC blunders over the years ," and " JamesNaughtie: no stranger to the political gaffe ." But no, still no indicationof what Naughtie said. Surely the Telegraph wouldn't try to leverage page views from curious Web surfers without having thecourage to print the gaffe?  Indeed itwould.

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Thankfully for fans of fleeting expletives, the Guardian was far less coy, announcing ,"The Today presenter James Naughtie was both congratulated and condemnedafter he accidentally introduced the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, asJeremy Cunt live on air today."

By the way, don'tmiss the audio ; Naughtie's post-slip cough is priceless. Be careful,though, this verbal infelicity is apparently catching. As the Guardian noted, in a discussion of Naughtie'sslip on Radio 4's Start the Week ,host Andrew Marr madethe very same mistake just an hour or so later.

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

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