The Art of "Quotemanship" and "Misquotemanship"

Quoting people accurately is really hard — and you can quote me on that.

Going Toe to Toe with Mike Tyson, Any Journalist Will Want to Get the Quote Right


Earlier this week in the Guardian, writer John Crace (right) interviewed boxer Mike Tyson (above) for the Guardian newspaper.
The interview was published this week (10 April) and was headlined “Mike Tyson: ‘Why are you asking me about pigeons?'” Crace found that he was lucky to be well out of range of Tyson’s devastating reach. At one point, Tyson accused Crase of trying to misquote him.
Here’s the exchange:

Crace: Your show in Las Vegas is called Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth. What undisputed truths are we going to learn that we don’t already know?
Tyson: You’re going to have to come to the show to find out.
Crace: Umm … but can you just give me a flavour?
Tyson: When I was in prison, I got one of the [the telephone connection isn’t that good and Tyson isn’t talking that distinctly and what Crace hears is…] wardens pregnant.
Crace: What? You got one of the wardens pregnant?
Tyson: That’s not what I said, John. You’re trying to misquote me.
Crace: I’m seriously not. I want to make sure that I heard you accurately. If I got it wrong then I want to correct it.
Tyson: OK. What I said was that I got one of the counsellors pregnant. There’s a big difference.

He’s right. There is a big difference. Anyway, Crace did a good job of “reflective listening” right on the spot. Crace could have plowed right ahead with the interview, assuming he had heard Tyson correctly (despite any poor diction or poor phone connection) and going with “warden” instead of “counsellor”. For what it’s worth to Crace, I give the interviewer high marks for speaking up and getting it right. He might have irked Tyson a bit, but imagine how “Iron” Mike might have felt if he had read [?!] that he had gotten a WARDEN pregnant. I’m sure Crace would like to keep BOTH of his ears far from Tyson.

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