Fallen Language Guru's Illness Obscured by Lack of Truthiness in NYT Magazine
No doubt, the brass at The New York Times knew William Safire's time was limited -- as it sadly is for just about anyone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
That he solidered on in his last weeks still producing On Language columns as late as Sept. 19 (though it's not known when he actually wrote them) is a tribute to his fortitude and determination.
Regardless of whether you shared his world view -- and I usually didn't -- you know that as a man who loved words, he'd insist on the right ones.
So, was it disingenuous, sloppy, or just plain wishful thinking, when Sunday's On Language column, written by Ben Zimmer, had a note at the bottom that Safire "is on hiatus for a few weeks." This, on the day he died.
True, the magazine goes to press early in the week. But a hiatus? C'mon. You can just feel Safire itching to get out a red pencil and strike that sucker. Nothing wrong with telling the truth artfully.
"William Safire is off this week." After all, he was.