Sunday, 22 February 2009

How privately exactly?

When journalists say that someone says or thinks something "privately", they usually mean that person has expressed an opinion that they would like to see repeated but without attribution. Last week the BBC's Frank Gardner told us that officials were privately dismissing criticism from former MI5 chief Stella Rimmington that ministers are exploiting terrorism fears.

Today, the Observer reports that Gordon Brown has won "the race" to be the first European leader to meet Obama:
Privately, there was delight at Number 10 that Brown, who is struggling in the opinion polls as the economy goes from bad to worse, had got one over his French rival and would have a chance to raise his profile as a world leader alongside the new president.
So privately that it's in a national newspaper...

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