The New York Times, for the first time ever, used "talks smack" to characterize a prominent politician's criticisms of his or her political opponent.
The phrase appeared in The New York Times in a "Reporter's Notebook" opinion by Mike Powell, published on Sunday, February 24th. Senator Obama, Powell writes, "talks smack about President Bush, who served two terms in that capitol building that looms behind him."
The entire sentence paints Obama in a starkly uneducated and unrefined light against the backdrop of a looming, dignified establishment. Moreover the article refers to his supporters as "rave" attendees, a type of dance party associated heavily with drug use, giving the impression that the black man is winning over a following of druggies and hooligans.
The opinion entitled "On Center Stage, A Candidate Letting His Confidence Show," includes this racial dig in reference to an Obama rally last Friday in Austin, Texas.
A search of the Times' archive using the words "talk" and "smack," "talking smack," "talk smack" and "smack talk" reveals that the Times has never used the slang phrase in reference to a white politician's remarks about a political rival.
The phrase "talking smack" or "smack talk" means to tell someone off or belittle someone, as defined in the Urban Dictionary online.
The slang phrase appears in several sports articles, movie reviews, and even a political article about Giuliani. Powell also wrote the Giuliani article, but he used the phrase "talk smack" to describe the comments of a caller from Brooklyn, identified only as "Marvin."
In that article Powell writes, "But talk smack to him? He’s right back at you. On Aug. 8, 1998, Marvin from Brooklyn complained that the mayor talked too much about the Yankees...Marvin got off the line but the mayor was not finished with him."
The national news bureau of the Times hung up on this reporter when asked for comment and no one else at the Times could be reached. As of the publication of this article, the phrase remained in the online version of the article.