Dianne Feinstein

Hold your fire

A McClatchy dispatch on President Donald Trump’s attack on Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California includes this sentence: “The consensus-minded senator has drawn flack from progressives in California for not taking a tough enough stand against the president in the past.”

No.

A flack is a spokesperson, representative, press agent, publicist, or some such person employed in public relations. It is traditionally a pejorative term, like stooge or mouthpiece. American Heritage conjectures that the eponymous Gene Flack, a movie press agent of the 1920s and 1930s, may be the source of the word.

The word the writer was reaching for, and in which...

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