Alan Jones, former English teacher, must have been infuriated by this report last week:

NSW corruption watchdog will not take contempt action against
broadcaster Alan Jones for comments he made criticising a witness in
the Orange Grove factory outlet investigation… Independent Commission
Against Corruption (ICAC) Assistant Commissioner Ian Harrison, SC,
today said he accepted ‘a fulsome retraction and apology’ from Mr Jones
for comments he made on air criticising evidence given by NSW Premier
Bob Carr’s chief of staff, Graeme Wedderburn…”

Fulsome is a word
that is constantly misused. It does not mean full or complete. The
dictionary definition of fulsome is “unpleasantly and excessively suave
or ingratiating in manner or speech”. Other synonyms are cloying and
insincere. Surely ICAC has not accepted a cloying and insincere apology
from Jones?

The claim, however, reminds one of other recent
howlers misusing fulsome. The first was a report that Tony Blair’s
former press secretary Alistair Campbell demanded a “fulsome” apology
from the BBC after the findings of the Hutton Inquiry were released.
Campbell is, er, blunt. He would have wanted an unambiguously
grovelling apology. The second was the response of Wedderburn’s erudite
boss, Bob Carr, in a radio interview about a released prisoner who had
re-offended. When asked whether his government would offer a “fulsome”
apology to the victims, he replied “certainly not” to the complete
bewilderment of his interlocutor.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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