What’s different, according to linguists, media analysts and reporters who’ve covered past administrations is the media: Networks and newspapers have become far more willing to run with quotes, video and audio of political figures and their aides saying things that never used to be repeated. They attribute the growth of the political potty mouth alternately to the proliferation of recording technologies; intense interest in all things Obama; the explosion of new media platforms that both circumvent and push traditional media while sharpening competition; a general coarsening of the public dialogue; or some combination of all of those factors.

“Cursing happened all the time, across the board, wherever you went in the White House or on the trail or in campaign offices – it simply wasn’t written about,” said Haynes Johnson, a former reporter for The Washington Post who covered the campaigns or presidencies of every president from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton, and has written books about the working White House, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and, most recently, the 2008 presidential election.