If you’re going to mention E!’s Chelsea Handler in a written story, don’t do it in parentheses.
New York Times reporter Bill Carter penned a piece last week about Jimmy Fallon‘s takeover of NBC’s “Tonight Show” and the network’s hope that he’ll capture a younger audience. Within the story was this paragraph:
Even with potent competition for younger viewers all over cable, from the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central and Mr. O’Brien on TBS, the host NBC is clearly most concerned about is [Jimmy] Kimmel, who is 46. (The only female host in late-night is Chelsea Handler, 38, on E!)
Here’s how Handler interpreted that in a blog post for the Huffington Post: “I wanted to confirm what a parenthetical suggests, so I looked up the definition. The first few definitions that came up were: incidental, subordinate in significance, minor or casual. … [H]ow, in this paragraph, could I only be mentioned as an aside? Was it because I’m a woman?”
Carter himself, probably.
He told TheBlaze Blog in an email that mentioning all of Fallon’s competitors was never supposed to be central to his piece. But that a row of photos of the other comedians accompanied the story (“I hope Chelsea noticed it was nicely in the center, though I had nothing to do with the placement”) so the paragraph about them was added.
Carter continued, “I suggested the sentence about Chelsea and it was an editing decision to put it in parentheses. I also heard from people about Craig Ferguson and Arsenio Hall who had much better gripes because they got left out altogether and obviously they deserve as much recognition as any of the others. It was sort of a function of after-the-fact adjustments in the text because of the layout.”
Carter maintained that his piece was not meant to slight “any of these talented people.”