A Chatterbox Contest!

Chatterbox is something of an aficionado when it comes to ridiculously-hedged denials of malfeasance. A particularly piquant example appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post and was reprinted in today’s Houston Chronicle. (Chatterbox has been in Houston these past few days, staying as far away as possible from all waterways.) The Post’s George Lardner, Jr., reported that “informed sources” attending a gathering of former Secret Service agents said they heard P. Hamilton Brown, executive secretary of the Association of Former Agents of the U.S. Secret Service Inc., say that it would have been better if “a contract” had been put out on the former agents who spoke to Seymour Hersh for his Kennedy-bashing book, The Dark Side of Camelot. Chatterbox assumes this was a joke. Ha ha ha!

Anyway, when Lardner asked Brown if he indeed said that, Brown said, “I don’t think I did,” but also said, “If I did, it was inexcusable.”

Chatterbox has never seen this particular move before, and is impressed by the multitude of interpretations it makes room for: 1.) I didn’t do it. 2.) I can’t remember whether I did it. 3.) I did do it, and I’m sorry. 4.) I have Tourette’s, so please accept a blanket apology from me now for anything I may say in the future. 5.) I’m going to deny it till you’ve got it on tape, and then I’m going to say I’ve already apologized.

Can this be topped? Chatterbox invites readers to send in their own outrageous non-denial denials. Please include citations from news sources. (To qualify, the denial has to have appeared in a newspaper, still Chatterbox’s news source of choice.) The lucky winner will receive an as-yet unspecified prize.

–Timothy Noah