WARNING: This story contains graphic language.
The 2005 videotape in which Donald Trump can be heard making vulgar comments about women posed a dilemma for news outlets: do they run in full the most vital and graphic line of a news story that could help determine a presidential election — or do they censor it for the sake of decency?
On the tape, Trump can be heard making a number of sexist remarks. But the one that has gotten the most attention thus far is one in which he brags, “And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
The Los Angeles Times, for one, decided to censor. As of Friday evening, the story on its website about the tape read, “At one point, he is heard saying, ‘Grab them by the [crotch],’ though Trump uses a more vulgar term. ‘You can do anything.'”
The Washington Post, which broke the news, also censored itself, using “p—y.” A story on Fox News’ website Friday evening didn’t use the quote at all. “The developer and reality TV star-turned GOP presidential candidate uses a vulgar anatomical term and discusses trying to have sex with an unidentified, married woman,” the article read.
On the other hand, the historically staid New York Times didn’t censor itself, and used the word in full. So did Politico, and NBC News’ website. CNN also used the word on air, as well as in its its stories online, but presented a disclaimer at the top — as in this article — warning readers of the graphic language. (It also bleeped the f-word on air.)
Other outlets were more creative. The New York Daily News tweeted out the cover of its Saturday edition, which uses images of cats to censor the word.
Some outlets that did include the word in their stories avoided using it in headlines, instead opting for descriptions like “vulgar” and “crude.” Others — including Talking Points Memo, Esquire, The Daily Dot, and Mediaite — presented it in their headlines as “p***y,” “p—y,” “pus*y” or “p*ssy.*
Following the revelation of his remarks, Trump issued a statement saying that it was “locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”
CNNMoney (New York) First published October 7, 2016: 7:47 PM ET