We all have the experience of reaching for a common expression and not getting it quite right. This happened to NBC Today weatherman Al Roker last week when he apologized for a tweet he had sent criticizing newly elected New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio’s decision to keep schools open as a major snowstorm threatened.
DiBlasio had blamed faulty weathercasting for his decision, angering many weather forecasters who had in fact accurately foretold the troublesome storm. Roker was so angry that he tweeted that his long-range DiBlasio forecast was for a single term.
The next day he regretted the tweet, saying it was a little “below the line.”
He might have meant to say “below the belt” or “over the line,” but it came out as a combination of the two.
This could well the be result of a mental censorship impulse tangling his tongue. The prohibition against hitting “below the belt” was originally a boxing rule, meant mainly to prohibit blows to the crotch. Something probably told him he didn’t want to convey that image on television.
It would have been a low blow.