Ironically swapped subhead

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From a recent email enticing me to read the current edition of The Atlantic magazine:

The link is to this story, whose actual subhead is "New Trump-administration rules stand to block the public from knowing anything about the treatment of migrant children in America’s detention facilities."

The ad's subhead was taken from Russell Berman, "Will Hurd Could Be the Canary in the Coal Mine".

Random swaps of this kind are often amusing — for instance,

Headline: The space between galaxies isn't empty
Subhead: The president’s narrative stands in stark contrast to what is happening on the ground.

The full email context of the original swap:


  1. Jerry Packard said,

    August 25, 2019 @ 9:28 pm

    I don't get it,

  2. Rodger C said,

    August 26, 2019 @ 6:39 am

    Yeah, if there's a "swap," where's the story about the Texas Republican?

  3. George said,

    August 26, 2019 @ 7:33 am

    Well, for what it's worth, I thought I'd got it but what I thought on reading the headline was that the post was going to be about the use of 'him' rather than 'they' for a generic child and how the Atlantic really ought to drop silly style rules like that. Then I looked at the subhead and, not being fully up to speed with US politics, thought that maybe some Texas Republican had decided to retire because he wasn't happy about how child migrants are being treated and maybe this Texas Republican was the 'him' in question and he was so unhappy about how child migrants are being treated that he's actually been known to cry about it in public but now that he's retired nobody will hear him cry, so the post was maybe about the way the headline took us off in the wrong direction, which is pretty classic here…

  4. George said,

    August 26, 2019 @ 7:35 am

    I meant 'them', not 'they'… Life can be so confusing sometimes.

  5. Ellen K. said,

    August 26, 2019 @ 10:23 am

    The article the subhead goes with:

  6. Ralph Hickok said,

    August 26, 2019 @ 11:24 am

    Very early in my newspaper career, when I was about 14 or 15 and filling for reporters on vacation during my summer vacation from high school, there was a very funny swap between two columns in the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

    One was Charles Goren's daily bridge column; the other was a column by Robert Ruark in which he fulminated about the possibility that Nathan Leopold of Leopold-Loeb infamy might be granted parole.

    The compositor somehow attached the final portion of Ruark's column onto the end of Goren's analysis and the result read something like this (a very broad paraphrase from memory):

    "Bidding 3 no-trump on this hand was a heinous offense which should have been punished by death in the first place. The prison sentence should include a diet of bread and water, with daily torture as part of his punishment."

  7. Karl Weber said,

    August 27, 2019 @ 6:27 pm

    Two great instances of swapped cartoon captions, both involving The Far Side and Dennis the Menace. In both cases, the results were rather creepy.

  8. Andrew Usher said,

    August 27, 2019 @ 6:57 pm

    I don't, either, see why this particular example is 'ironic', which I imagine was what Jerry Packard was referring to. It's just a mistake between two stories that are related only in being political.

    I did not even notice the use of 'him' and don't believe anyone should; I don't think I would have paused at 'them' any more, while I of course would have if 'her' had been used, as that would not be English.

    k_over_hbarc at

  9. Ellen K. said,

    August 27, 2019 @ 7:04 pm

    @Andrew Usher

    The headline with "her" would be fine to me if I saw it, though I would assume they had one particular female child in mind, which isn't the case. That is, raising a larger issue from the case of one particular child, is how I would read the headline with "her" in place of "him".

  10. Jerry Packard said,

    August 27, 2019 @ 8:18 pm

    Yes, the Far Side examples always split my sides and are the perfect example of the phenomenon in question.

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