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As innuendos go, few are more familiar to journalists than the adverb quietly — used to suggest something done on the sly that should have raised a certain clatter.
For instance, this AP story that I found Sunday on the Tribune Web site out of Kabul begins, "Don't call President Hamid Karzai a U.S. puppet. Far from it," and offers as an example of his waywardness, "...and Karzai last month quietly signed off on a controversial law allowing Shiite Muslim husbands to refuse food and money to wives who deny them sex."
The problem comes when quietly is dropped into a story to liven it up with a gratuitous hint of perfidy. As in a Sunday Tribune business story reporting that "U.S. Secretary of Education and former Chicagoan Arne Duncan has cut one of his many ties to Chicago, quietly selling his four-bedroom townhouse in his native Hyde Park for $525,000."
Should Duncan have sold it noisily? What does quietly mean in this context besides "without telling us"?