Correction: An Anomalous Rise in Public Knowledge

01.26.09 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Secrecy News last week misquoted a line in President Obama’s inaugural speech.  He did not say: “And those of us who manage the public’s knowledge will be held to account….”  What he said was “And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account….”

The erroneous reference to “public knowledge” was also published by the Washington Post, United Press International, and other news outlets.  It may have originated with a mistake by the FDCH transcription service.

The text of the inaugural address on the White House web site says “public dollars,” not “public knowledge,” and it is clear from the tape of the speech that that is correct.  Thanks to reader LD for questioning the discrepancy.

There must be lots of historic events that were mistakenly transcribed and reported.

“You can’t make an anomalous rise twice,” said J. Robert Oppenheimer, according to the official record of his momentous hearing before the Atomic Energy Commission in 1954.

But what Oppenheimer actually said was “You can’t make an omelet rise twice” (as noted by Philip M. Stern).  Oh well.

The Oppenheimer case is to be reviewed once again in the latest episode of PBS’s American Experience tonight.