FROM A TELEVISION review by David Wiegand in today's Houston Chronicle about a new Amazon series on detectives from Romania ("Cold War spoof 'Comrade Detective' goes poof"):
There are some brief moments making fun of American capitalist values and extolling the thin virtues of life as a Soviet Socialist Republic . . . .
A problem that apparently escaped the notice of the writer, his editors in San Francisco, and the editors in Houston is that . . .
. . . while Romania was occupied for some years by the Soviet Union and was ruled by communists and was an ally of the Soviet Union and was a member of the Soviet-controlled Warsaw Pact, it was never part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as Mr. Wiegand intimates.
Romania, along with Albania, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, East Germany, and Hungary, is properly referred to as a Soviet satellite state.
It won't do to say that Republic is meant generically and does not refer specifically to the USSR. The proper style for saying that is with a lower-case r in republic.
But even that would not have fixed the problem. The word soviet refers generically to a communist governing body, but when capitalized is universally understood to refer to the USSR -- the Soviets.
In the big picture, this is a small mistake. It is representative, sadly, of newspaper journalism in an era of thin staffs and careless, poorly schooled reporters and editors.
If they can't get the small things right, why trust them on the big things?