President Donald Trump's alleged use of the term "shithole" to refer to some countries was front-page news — and, in many newspapers, including The Baltimore Sun, the vulgarity itself ran in print. That wasn't the case 27 years ago when then-Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer used a similar term to describe Maryland's Eastern Shore, which went for his opponent in the preceding year's election.
As recounted by biographer C. Fraser Smith, while walking to the rostrum to deliver his fifth state of the state address, the Democratic governor spotted a delegate from a district near Ocean City, and asked him, "How's that shithouse of an Eastern Shore?"
Sun journalists found plenty to write about the remark, but did not relay it verbatim. The lead of the story in the Feb. 5, 1991, Evening Sun said that Schaefer used "a vulgar term synonymous for an outhouse." Within the quote itself, a strategically placed dash let readers fill in the blank.
The next day's morning Sun also used the text equivalent of the an audio bleep, with hyphens standing in for the missing letters. That piece said the governor and Shore legislators were moving on, but the episode had enough staying power to make Schaefer's obituary two decades later. There, what Schaefer had always insisted was a joke was described merely as "a derogatory term."
Baltimore Sun researcher Paul McCardell contributed to this article.