The scandalous and unproven tabloid reports of a celebrity being up to no good are fair game to any broadcaster provided they use one word with the story: allegedly.
It’s true. You can make the wildest claims, recite the nastiest gossip and make any person look like a clown as long as you say “allegedly” in the story.
We’ve heard it a lot in recent months. Whether it is a report that President Trump had an affair with a porn star (allegedly) or a celebrity was busted with a ton of drugs and had a wild orgy at their house, provided you indicate you’re passing on hearsay you likely won’t get in trouble for slander or any of those other potential lawsuits someone who’s the victim of a smear campaign might consider. (Though I am not a legal expert I can’t say that with certainty.)
Many broadcasters are enjoying this and love talking about the salacious details of a tabloid scandal. You might even notice some get caught up in the story and throw in “allegedly” close to the end or add it into a sentence as though it’s an afterthought.
Well, it probably is. They probably have a producer in their ear telling them to use the word. Use the word and the lawyers won’t have to get on the phone and hear of a lawsuit threat.
It’s almost as good as making a horribly offensive joke and then covering with “just kidding” after. That doesn’t make it any better. You still made the joke.
In the years I’ve been doing broadcasting I’ve picked up a bunch of other deflecting phrases: reportedly, sources say, it’s said that… to name a few.
It’s brilliant. You can basically make the accusation but pass it off as second-hand reporting just by saying “allegedly” even though what you’re really doing is help spread the news as untrue as it might be.
Remember this when you’re on social media commenting about someone’s life after you’ve just heard a rumor about them.