The Associated Press (AP), which is the largest newswire in the United States, has apologized for an “inappropriate” part of a tweet that essentially claimed the word “the” was offensive.
The AP faced online mockery after referencing “the French” in their tweet requesting that people stop using the word “the” in certain phrases.
In the since-deleted tweet, the outlet’s APStylebook Twitter account recommended that writers stop using the word “the” in phrases such as “the disabled, the poor, and the French.”
The tweet claimed that the phrasing could be dehumanizing.
Twitter users widely ridiculed the tweet. Even the French Embassy joined in on the mockery, sharing an image showing them changing their name to the “Embassy of Frenchness in the United States.”
“We just wondered what the alternative to ‘the French’ would be. I mean, really,” Pascal Confavreux, a spokesman for the embassy, told The New York Times.
Before the AP’s tweet was deleted, it had roughly 20 million views and 18,000 retweets.
“The AP has declared the word ‘the’ offensive. I thought this was a @TheBabylonBee story for a second – and I run The Babylon Bee,” responded Kyle Mann, editor-in-chief of satire site The Babylon Bee.
The AP has declared the word "the" offensive. I thought this was a @TheBabylonBee story for a second – and I run The Babylon Bee. pic.twitter.com/JLXrzeH3Sy
— Kyle Mann (@The_Kyle_Mann) January 27, 2023
“I agree, these days we probably should label ‘the college-educated’ people with mental illnesses instead. Also, we should stop calling people ‘the French’ and instead call them ‘people suffering from cheese-eating surrender monkeyness,’” Daily Wire host Ben Shapiro replied.
I agree, these days we probably should label "the college-educated" people with mental illnesses instead. https://t.co/8Vo2hi2UOV
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 26, 2023
Apologizing for the tweet, APStylebook noted that its reference to French people was “inappropriate” and that it “did not intend to offend.”
“We deleted an earlier tweet because of an inappropriate reference to French people. We did not intend to offend. Writing French people, French citizens, etc., is good. But ‘the’ terms for any people can sound dehumanizing and imply a monolith rather than diverse individuals. That is why we recommend avoiding general ‘the’ labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the wealthy, the disabled, the college-educated,” the tweet read.
We deleted an earlier tweet because of an inappropriate reference to French people. We did not intend to offend.
Writing French people, French citizens, etc., is good. But "the" terms for any people can sound dehumanizing and imply a monolith rather than diverse individuals.
— APStylebook (@APStylebook) January 27, 2023
Lauren Easton, vice president of AP’s corporate communications, also responded to the backlash in a comment to the French daily newspaper Le Monde.
“The reference to ‘the French’ as well as the reference to ‘the college-educated’ is an effort to show that labels shouldn’t be used for anyone, whether they are traditionally or stereotypically viewed as positive, negative, or neutral,” she said.